Friday, November 9, 2012

Ketchup to the Rescue!

This week we have been working on the letter C, focusing on the "hard C" or /k/ sound. Jude was struggling to hear the /k/ sound at the start of several words.

The exercise we were doing was to sort words that started with /k/ sounds from ones with miscellaneous other sounds (/p/ and paints, /h/ and horse, etc).  He was mispronouncing /k/ as /t/ - the word "comb" was sounding like "tome", cup like "tup" etc.  When I asked him what sound they started with, he was confident it was /t/.  When I corrected him and had him repeat the sound, he said, "Yeah, /t/."  He was over-enunciating, and I was able to see into his mouth - it was a classic "right church, wrong pew" moment.  His tongue was against the top of his mouth, but too far forward.  Instead of being a "palate"sound, it was coming out as a "dental" sound, with his tongue just behind his teeth!

Ketchup as a speech aid.  Who knew? 
I know that in speech therapy, it is not uncommon to apply a viscous food to the mouth to encourage the tongue to position itself in that area.  The most common food traditionally is peanut butter - most kids like the taste, and it stays put until the tongue wipes it away.  There is just one - slightly major - problem with that. Jude is allergic to peanuts.  We do have sunflower butter in the house for Matthew (also allergic to nuts), but Jude hates the stuff.  He also dislikes nearly every other sticky substance we have - marshmallow fluff, a Nutella style but nut-free chocolate spread, honey, etc., and even refrigerated, Hershey syrup is still pretty runny. Suddenly, a thought hit me like a falling brick--ketchup!!  This is a kid who eats a few fries with his ketchup, and then licks the leftover ketchup from his plate.  I know he will accept that!  I poured some into a bowl, grabbed a clean paintbrush, and we got back to work.

I had him open wide so I could see his palate, and dabbed ketchup about halfway back.  I told him to lick it off with his tongue while he said the word "cow."  Eureka!  It started with a /k/ sound.  Another dab and the word "cup." Spot on!  We went through all of the words in the unit, and with ketchup, he got them all.  I never thought we would be using ketchup to learn letter sounds, but since it works, why not?  When we work on other sounds/words, we will try it and see if it helps get them more accurate -- and accurate sounds are the first step to isolating sounds, because you can't isolate the sound you're not making or hearing! 

And since ketchup makes everything more palatable, maybe it will make phonics and speech not so dreaded. 

1 comment:

  1. Jude's lucky to have such an awesome mom that doesn't let little things like food allergies stand in the way of making progress. You should be sure to add "speech therapist" to your unofficial resume.


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