Mispronouncing the “r” sound is among the most common speech errors, and is the most challenging to correct in speech therapy. For other sounds – such as “t” or “p” – speech pathologists can give clear verbal, visual, or tactile cues to help children understand how the sound is created, but “r” is difficult to show or explain. In addition, some children may have trouble hearing the difference between correct and incorrect “r” sounds, making it even more difficult for them to improve.
A growing body of evidence suggests that speech therapy incorporating visual cues — or visual biofeedback — can help. Visual biofeedback shows a someone what their speech looks like in real time. For instance, speech might be represented by dynamic waves on a screen.
Research led by Tara McAllister, assistant professor of communicative sciences and disorders at NYU Steinhardt, and published in May in the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, suggests that visual biofeedback can be effective in helping some people to correct the “r” sound.