Sometimes when you’ve been working on perfecting a certain sound, like /h/ for so long, the process can become diluted in your mind. And before I sat down to write this post, I had to really ask myself, When did it all begin?
As I dove into my memory bank, I remembered the first /h/ word we worked on … Hot! I’ve always had an overwhelming fear while cooking dinner with small children in close proximity that I would turn my back for a second or run out of the room to grab something, and they would climb into the oven.
Now that I am older and wiser and have more common sense, it seems pretty unlikely. Or maybe since so far they’ve survived without any major burns, my fear is now obsolete. Yes, I know there are baby-proof contraptions to prevent this from happening, but isn’t cooking dinner with kids skirting in and out of the kitchen difficult enough without making the stove nearly impossible to open?
So, I took another approach … one that I learned from my mother. I taught my kids to steer clear of the oven by pointing to it, eyes wide with expression, and saying the word “hot” in an over-emphasized, scary, and you-better-not-EVER-open-it voice. The /h/ obviously is the driving sound in this word, which makes a child stop and pay attention. When my mom and I modeled this word for my other son, who is now eight, he opened his mouth and it easily came out. Jake, however, just stared silently at me, his expression saying, “I get it, mama. Chill out! Why in the world would I want to get in that hot oven?”
After doing a bit of research, I ran across a great website by Karen George of Chicago Speech Therapy. Here’s what she has to say about the /h/ sound …
Since the sound is so simple to produce, babies develop the ability to articulate this sound very early. Children should have a firm grasp on the /h/ sound by age 2 or 3 years. If you notice that your little one has difficulty with the sound or is unable to pronounce it at all past the age of 3 years, it is strongly recommended that you seek the intervention of a professional speech therapist to help correct the delay and to prevent such a foundational sound from becoming a future barrier to speech development.
Jake has been practicing /h/ words on a consistent basis for the past eight months. For the most part, he gets it, but it’s not a sound that flows spontaneously from his mouth in a natural kind of way. Although he doesn’t always get it right on the first try, he can mimic it. Some examples of the Kaufman words that Jake is learning right now are: hi, hay, he, ho, who, house, and heat. Quite often, our SLP breaks even these one syllable words down into two distinct sounds with the /h/ heavily emphasized by itself.
What has helped this sound get stronger?
- Our SLP tells Jake to, “Take a deep breath in and then blow it out” (while saying a /h/ word).
- The Barney Song, “Laugh With Me!” (Ha, ha, ha! Hee, hee, hee! Come on get silly and laugh with me!)
- Our SLP, who is trained in PROMPT, presses on Jake’s chest and back simultaneously to “push” the sound out.