A Child who Omits Voiceless Sounds at the Beginning of Words

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I am working with a preschooler (3.5 years) who cannot turn on his voice with air release sounds such as /h/ and /f/. He can say those sounds if he whispers the entire word but he cannot say /h/ and then turn his voice on to say ‘eart’ for example (heart). If he turns on his voice he omits the /h/ or /f/. He is capable of saying all other age appropriate sounds and is currently working on production of /k, g/ as well. Any suggestions how to say the /h/ and /f/ in words and sentences?

My Thoughts:

  • Try non-sense syllables with a visual, like a rainbow with /f/ at one side and “uh” at the other.  Stretch out the /f/ or /h/ as long as possible before saying the “uh”.
  • Try some breathing exercises to talk about what it means to turn your voice on and off.  Once he knows how to do that, have him start with saying /h/ and then slowly turn on the voice to say “uh”.
  • Talk about loud and soft and have the child practice whispering words, as well as saying them loudly.  Then, see if you can get him to start a word whispered and increase his volume until the end of the word is loud.
  • Try replacing the voiceless sound with a voiced one (/v/ for /f/) and then once he gets that, transition from the /v/ to the /f/.
  • Try some auditory discrim with minimal pairs that do and don’t have a voiceless initial sound (like “hi” and “I” or “foe” and “oh”).