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Monday, April 25, 2011

Adventure Pack Software

Good Monday Morning! I hope each of you have had a wonderful Easter. I went to DC to visit my son and daughter-in-love and had a fantastic time. It's always great to spend time with family and DC is such an amazing and fun city to visit.

Today's blog post is out of sync from our eliciting sounds series, but one I think you'll enjoy. I don't often take time to boast about our fabulous materials but I want to tell you about our Adventure Pack Software. We developed this with the aid of my son when he was a senior in college. This was our first product as 2 Gals Speech Products, LLC and our first attempt to create software.

The intent of these games is simply to habituate the sound once it has been established in words. It does not teach the sound. As you know, drill and practice can be very boring so this is our attempt to make practice fun! Our kids love it and beg to play it. This is a great product for pro-active parents, so please feel free to tell them where it can be purchased.

It does not record their responses nor does it have voice recognition so it is up to the therapist to keep data and make judgments on correctness of responses. Quite frankly, we couldn’t afford to produce a product with those features. Most SLPs have “super ears” and can detect errors while multitasking so that wasn’t viewed as a problem to us.

We use the Adventure Pack in many ways:

  • For drill and practice with the SLP along side the child, keeping data and making corrections as needed.
  • For practice alone while the SLP is working 1:1 with another student.
  • For practice alone while the SLP does other job related tasks (paperwork). I still verbally correct from my desk as needed ;)
  • As a reward, when they reach a particular goal or when you have an extra 5 minutes left in therapy.

As you can see there are many ways it can be utilized in your therapy. Two major benefits that we had not expected but were thrilled to see:

  1. The kids wanted to move along in their carryover. They would ask, “Can I practice phrases now? Can I go on to sentences?”
  2. With their focus on the game and not their speech production it virtually eliminated that over exaggeration of the correct sound in words so that their production quickly became fluent and natural!

I hope you will take a few minutes and explore it further by watching this powerpoint presentation:

Leah and Dean

Monday, April 18, 2011


Little Linda lives alone

Lonely little Linda

Has no one to call her own

Lonely little Linda

If you are as old as I am, you will recall this practice poem from The Big Book of Speech. I never think of the L sound without recalling that poem, so, of course, I had to include it. I found it to be a terribly depressing poem and I always felt so sorry for little Linda. I have always hoped she one day found someone of her own, but if not, she at least helped thousands of kids habituate the L sound.

The L sound is usually so easy to correct. It’s the “singing sound” la-la-la-la-la ♫. Kids can pick up and imitate that so easily, right? For the most part, but it never fails one kid will come along who just cannot get the correct placement. What do you do for that child? Today Leah and I will share our tips and tricks of how we do it.

TIP #1: Jaw Stability and Segmentation

The child must have good stability of the jaw and must be able to segment the articulators. He should be able to hold his mouth open and lift his tongue tip up to the alveolar ridge without any jaw movement. All movement should be from the tongue and independent of the jaw. There should be no lip movement either.

While I am not going to get into the oral motor debate regarding NSOME (Non Speech Oral Motor Exercises), I am going to tell you that the exercises that I have used have been exceedingly beneficial in teaching the child how to achieve jaw stability and segmentation. Once those skills were learned then regular articulation therapy could begin. I would even go so far as to say that taking the time to ensure the child had good jaw stability and could segment his articulators decreased the amount of time spent in therapy working on the L sound. When it comes to articulation therapy, I think we are all guilty of rushing into production and not spending time preparing the child for speech.

Personally, I (Dean) am a huge fan of the bite blocks from Talk Tools and Sara Johnson’s procedure to teach jaw stability and tongue tip elevation. Pam Marshalla has techniques for this as well. Just remember oral motor exercises are not the goal of therapy. Your goal is /l/ in isolation in this case. The exercises are to facilitate correct production.

TIP #2: Tongue Tip Elevation

Once you have established good jaw stability and segmentation you can begin to work on tongue tip elevation. For some kids this is not a problem now that they have learned to separate the tongue and jaw, but for others they need a little more help. A very effective way to do this is to use Cheerios or Fruit Loops cereal. Actually any cereal with that shape will work well. The idea is that the child will hold the cereal up to the alveolar ridge using the tip of his tongue to achieve correct tongue placement. Full instructions for this technique can be found in the Talk Tools manual. I do not know if sharing them here with you would be an infringement of copyright or not, so I will err on the side of caution and simply tell you where you can find them.

TIP #3: Shape from Interdental /l/

If the other techniques are not working for you, you might want to try this. Have them place the tongue between the teeth touching the upper lip. From there you shape by gradually moving the tongue to behind the teeth.

TIP #4: Smile

A quick remedy to eliminate lip-rounding-or /w/ for /l/, when they are at the syllable or word level, is to tell them to smile broadly when saying the stimulus. Important: Choose your stimulus syllables and words carefully here as you do not want to choose words in which the lip rounding is needed to say the word. You’ll be setting the child up for failure if you do. Good vowels to use would be: lay, Lee, lie. You want to avoid low and Lou because the vowel will cause lip rounding and that is what you are trying to teach them not to do. Also, avoid words ending in lip sounds as you do not want them to use their lips at this point in therapy. Good words to use: lake, late, lazy, etc. You can use the word ”line” but not the word “lime” because lime uses the lips. You can use the word “leak” but not “leaf.” I’m sure you are following me. Just give thought to what you are having them do. Once they can say these words with sufficient accuracy you can then introduce all the other L words.

TIP #5: Dark L (final /l/)

When I was in school 100 years ago we were taught there were two sounds for /l/. There was a “light” /l/ and a “dark” /l/. I actually do not know if it is still taught that way but will share this with you because I found it handy when teaching the final /l/.

The “light” /l/ is your initial and medial sounding /l/ or the “la, la, la.” The “dark” /l/ is the final /l/ and has more of an “uhl” sound to it. In the area of the country in which Leah and I live, the final /l/ is often dropped from the words. Pool is pronounced “poo” and school is pronounced “schoo” Being anal, I take the time to teach it correctly even though it is probably considered a regionalism.

The easiest way to get the final L is like this:

1. Have to child say “ah” or “uh” and continue to voice it (say it for as long as they can keep it going)

2. Next, as they say “ah” have them slowly move the tongue tip up to the alveolar ridge for the /l/

3. At this point it should sound like “ahl” or “uhl” depending on which vowel you were using.

4. Now tell them freeze the tongue in that position (tongue tip up) as they stop the sound. It is important that the tongue stay up in position after the sound has ended to eliminate them saying “luh” at the end of the word (ball not balluh, etc)

5. Once they can do this successfully on several words you can usually move right along with traditional therapy.

I also use hand cueing for when to stop the sound. I say the sound with them as they are learning and gradually fade my voice so that only they are saying it.

I cannot remember where I learned this technique but do want to make it clear that this is not my original idea. However, Pam Marshalla teaches it this way, so I probably learned it from her J here’s the link to her site:

TIP#6: Clusters

For the kids who insert a schwa between the consonant clusters of bl, pl, etc, (puhlay for play, buhlue for blue) a quick trick is to simply tell them to say both sounds at once. I tell them to get their tongue ready for L and hold it and then put their lips together and say it at the same time. May take a few tries but they seem to understand what they are supposed to be doing this way.

Make therapy fun for your kids this week! HAPPY EASTER!

Leah and Dean

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Eliciting Sounds-SH and CH

Good Monday Morning Everyone! Today we will look at a few techniques and strategies to elicit SH and CH. This is in no way everything you need to know about teaching SH and CH. These are just some tips we found worked for us and would like to share. Usually when the child learns the correct tongue position for /s/ the other sibilants simply fall into place with little to no attention. However, as with everything else in life, there are exceptions and some need direct instruction so we will share our tips for eliciting these sounds.


Since those of you reading this are professional SLPs I am not going to tell you the correct tongue placement. You know it. I will instead elaborate on how to fix what they might be doing wrong.

The most common label for the SH sound is the “be quiet sound.” We visually cue by putting one finger in front of our mouth, pucker our lips, and blow. The simple act of putting one finger in front of our lips causes us to naturally round them which is necessary to produce this sound correctly. Most of us do not even realize we do this. Cue with this to get lip rounding.

Sometimes a child will make the sound more like an “ess” because they are placing their tongue too forward in their mouth. Tell them to move it back mid-palate. If they are not getting what you mean about mid-palate use the straw trick. Have the child to smile broadly and slightly open their mouth. Place a straw (I like to use the fat ones from McDonalds, but one from your cafeteria will do) laterally across their teeth from cheek to cheek. The straw should be sticking out both sides of the mouth. The broader they smile the closer to mid-palate you can position the straw. Tell them to keep their tongue behind the straw with the tip down. I usually use the wording, ”pull your tongue back in a bunch behind the straw.” If you try to produce the SH sound at this point it will sound terrible, so don’t. The point of this is for oral awareness of where mid-palate is for the tongue on SH. Tell them to hold that position as you ease the straw out of their mouth. Tell them to “freeze” their tongue as they pucker up and blow. It will not sound perfect but it should result in a palatal fricative. Now that they have the mid-palate position you can teach SH as you normally would.

Pam Marshalla recommends teaching SH from the Long E to get the correct tongue positioning. Using this method will get the sides of the tongue touching the sides of the teeth. Here’s the link to those instructions

Leah teaches SH by shaping from /s/+/j/ (e.g., “miss you”) This is another simple technique for helping the children who sound say “ess” for “sh.” By saying the words “miss you” quickly and repeatedly, it will go from sounding like “miss you” to “mih shoe.” When it does sound like that, ask them to mouth the movement for “miss” and say “you.” It will usually sound like “shoe” instead of “sue.” After practicing this several times, have them say the “shoe” without the silent mouth movement for “miss.”


A great way to get the child to conceptualize the CH sound is to demonstrate it as the “Sneezy” sound. Most kids can imitate that and you’re off and running with therapy. Another common label is the “Choo-Choo” sound. I will try both to see which the child prefers. When I demonstrate the Sneezy sound, I put my finger under my nose and use an exaggerated inhale while squinting my eyes closed. Then a let an explosive CH erupt. Sometimes I will even say “uh, uh, uh” on my exaggerated inhale for dramatic effect. I think my silliness with the sound is all the prompting they need to want to try it themselves. Kids love to act silly! When I present CH as the “Choo-Choo” I say “CH-CH-CH-CH” with my arms doing the train motion. I begin my choo-choo movements slowly and build in crescendo until my train is going fast.

Now you’re ready to begin therapy or not. What do you do when the usual and customary visual-auditory prompts don’t work? You will try shaping from a sound they have in their repertoire. One way is to shape from /t/ to SH. Practice saying them separately (/t/ -pause -sh) and increase in the speed at which you say them until you are saying them together which will result in CH.

Another shaping trick is to work from /t/+/s/+/y/ (e.g., “itsyou”). Again you follow the same procedure as for the “miss you” trick in saying it faster until it begins to sound like CH.

Another trick you might try is to have them say the SH but hold the tongue on the roof of their mouth and build up pressure before they release. Sometimes just telling them to push hard on the roof of their mouth will be all they need to get the CH sound.


Jack Hartmann has a fun cd teaching sounds through music

Carolyn Bowen (you’d think I was her new best friend the way I speak of her) has wonderful pictures for minimal pairs on her website

So here you go, a few more tricks to add to your magic speech therapy bag! We’ll see you next Monday morning!

Leah and Dean