Have you ever heard a child talk who drops off every consonant that occurs at the end of a word? I’m guessing you have or you wouldn’t be reading this article. But seriously, it makes it so difficult to understand that child!
“dog” becomes “dah”
“cat” becomes “ca”
And “Please Mom, can I eat some eggs and toast?” becomes “Plee mah, ca I ee suh eh a toe”?
Really, who’s going to understand that?? What you’re experiencing is called final consonant deletion and it can make a child VERY difficult to understand. Young children typically do this to make speech easier to say but most kids figure out how to use final consonants by 3 years of age. Children who continue to use final consonant deletion past 3 years are considered to be atypical and should see a speech-language pathologist for therapy.
So what do we do about final consonant deletion?
Fortunately, the therapy to fix final consonant deletion is pretty straight forward. You just need to help the children hear that there definitely are consonants on the ends of many words and then help them say those final consonants. Here are the steps:
Step One: Listening
The first thing you will need to do is help the child hear the difference between words that have final consonants and words that do not. To do this, you will need to come up with some pairs of words that are exactly the same except that one has a final consonant, and one does not. Fortunately for you, I have listed as many as I can think of here:
- Baa (like a sheep noise…but only if you say “baa” the same way you say “bag”)/bag/bat/bad/bass/bath/back
- “R”/”arm” (technically /ar/ is a rhotic vowel, though if the child is having trouble with /r/, skip this one)
Once you have picked some of these pairs, you will need to make picture cards for each word. Fortunately for you, I have made worksheets with some of these word pairs for you:
Place two pictures in front of the child from the same pair. Tell the child what each picture is called and then have him close his eyes. Hide a penny (or a piece of candy) under one of the pictures. If it sticks up and is obvious to the child, use two paper cups and put the cards on top of the cups and the candy/penny under one. Then, have the child uncover his eyes and tell him which picture to look under. (Or, if you don’t want to do the penny game, just tell the child to point to one picture or the other). For example, if you had “bee” and “beak” out, you could say “look under ‘bee”. Make sure you exaggerate the final consonant when you say it. If he looks under the wrong picture, say “Oh listen, that word has a final/end sound (or doesn’t have a final/end sound)” and exaggerate the sound for him again. Keep doing this until the child can correctly pick the right picture each time. The child may be able to do this right away or it may take several weeks. Keep at it!
Step Two: Speaking Single Words
Once the child can hear the difference between words that have final consonants and those that do not, it’s time to start having the child say those sounds in single words.
Put two words from a pair in front of the child again, but this time, tell the child that he will have to tell you which picture to look under. Have the child close his eyes and then you hide the penny (or candy) under the picture with the final consonant (always under the one with the final consonant). Have the child open his eyes and this time have him tell you where to look. The child will probably say the word without a final consonant first so repeat the word back to the child and look under that picture. (For example, if you’re doing long and short sounds with the pair “bee” and “beak”, hide it under the “beak”. When the child tells you to look under “bee”, say “bee. Ok, I’ll look under “bee”. Oh, it’s not under bee”). Then, have the child guess again. If he says the word without the final consonant again, repeat his error back to him, and then model the correct pronunciation of the word. In our example, you would say “you said ‘bee’ but it’s not there. Do you mean, beaK?” Then, help the child say the word with the final consonant so you can look under that picture.
Once your child can do this, try having the child label a picture of a word with the target sound by just showing him the picture and saying “what’s this?” At this point, you should also start having the child practice other words with final consonants. Start pointing out other words that the child says incorrectly and practice those as well. Once he can do this consistently, you’re ready to move on to the next step.
Step Three: Words in Sentences
Now that the child is able to produce the class of sounds in single words, you are ready to move on to having the child say final sounds in single sentences.
Use the card pairs from before and have the child say two sentences, one with each word in the pair. For example, he could say “I see a bee. I see a beak”. You could also have the child say one sentence with both words. Make sure that the child correctly produces any final consonants that occur in the sentence. Continue to ask the child to make up sentences with other words and make sure that all final consonants are present and accounted for. Keep practicing this until the child is consistently using final consonants in simple sentences.
Step Four: Conversational Speech
Once the child knows how to produce final consonants in sentences, you can start working on conversational speech. Here is some information about working on sounds in conversation:
And there you have it! That’s all of the steps to eliminating final consonant deletion in children who are older than 3 years of age. For more step-by-step guides and worksheets like this one, check out my e-books:
Speech and Language Therapy Guide: Lesson Plans and Worksheets for Speech and Language Skills
All-In-One Articulation Program: Everything You Need to Do Articulation Therapy