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Twick ow Tweat!

Ghouls, goblins, fairies and unicorns are back for the most fun time of the year! Whether we’re heading out with our own little knights or waiting to see all the happy little ghosts coming to our doors, there’s a single phrase we’re all going to hear over and over again: TRICK OR TREAT!

It won’t always sound that way, though. It’s certain we’re going to hear quite a few “twick ow tweats” on Halloween night. It’s fine for many kids who can’t make their “r” sound. After all, that is the last sound expected to develop on its own, because the acrobatics our tongues have to pull off to make this sound are impressive. So if you don’t hear 6-year-old Dwacula roll his “r”, it’s OK! 

But what about 8-year-old Wapunzel? In her case, the “r” sound should be acquired – or at least be well on its way to being acquired – in a child’s eighth year. This is a minimal expectation; most children have mastered the sounds that naturally occur in their language by eight years old (barring any long-standing hearing difficulties). Should something be done about the “r” sound for kids at this age? That depends.

One helpful factor is if a child makes no other errors in their speech sounds or has no history of speech or language delays. This may not predict whether or not the child’s “r” will correct on its own, but it is a good predictor that a little bit of help is likely to correct it. It is always a risk to “wait and see” on developmental milestones that have not been met on time.

Unfortunately, the “r” sound is tricky to produce and correct, and therefore takes more time and professional skills to remediate. And as with all therapy for speech sounds, the older a child is when therapy starts, the longer therapy will take. So, see your Friendly Neighborhood Speech Pathologist soon. Let’s help make it a “Merry” Christmas (instead of a “Mewwy” one)!

Happy Halloween!


Mohamed (Mo) Oshalla, MHSc.,
Speech-Language Pathologist & Executive Director,
Ontario Speech & Language Services


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