Dalia:

"It’s become a game to catch Orli saying her final sounds."

Orli:

"I feel better because now I can tell Morah what I need and I’ll get it."

Avital:

"My mother keeps saying Orli’s doing great, but I know she still needs me at recess." 


At Orli’s first session, Dalia comes armed with a list. “The teacher gave me these words,” she explains. “She says these words most important for Orli to learn to use clearly.”

I scan the page, a list of common school-related words, then turn to Dalia. “Orli’s teacher is trying to help her,” I explain. “She wants her language to develop as quickly as possible so she can socialize and function better. But we can’t teach Orli to speak word by word. She knows what the words are. Her mispronunciations all follow the same pattern. Let’s incorporate these words when they’re relevant to the pattern we’re working on. We need to teach her to pay attention to the pattern and correct it.”

Orli and I sit cross-legged on the floor. I pull out a stack of cards. “You and Avital are twins, right?” Orli nods. “So you’re probably similar in many ways.” She smiles shyly. “But are you exactly the same?”

A definitive shake of the head. “No.”

“Do people ever mix you up?”

“Yeh.”

“I bet you hate it when people call you ‘Avital.’ ”

An emphatic nod.

I place two cards face up: One shows a foot, the other a toad. “There are many words that sound similar, but not exactly the same. Twin words. We need to be careful to call each of them by the correct name. Show me the toe,” I say clearly. Orli points.

“Now the toad.” I emphasize the final consonant.

I turn over the next two cards, a view of the sea and a seed.

“Show me the sea… Good. Now the seed.” Again, I emphasize the final consonant.

We make our way through the pairs of cards, and I teach Orli to listen for that final consonant.

At our next session, Orli and I make jewelry. I hold a case of beads. Also on the table is a plastic toy bee.

Tongue between her teeth, Orli carefully chooses a hot-pink lanyard. I hold out the tray and Orli gestures to the silver beads.

“What do you want?” I prompt.

“A bee.”

Instantly I hand Orli the plastic bee. She looks stunned for a minute, then laughs. “Bead,” she says, straining to pronounce the final consonant. I hand her the bead and she slides it on, then looks up at me. “Bead,” she says again, with a little smirk.

As our sessions progress, we move on to activities that are more open-ended, forcing Orli to practice a wide range of words and sounds.

“What should your doll wear today?”

“Reh boo.”

I exaggerate a puzzled expression.

“Red boot!”

Orli’s awareness grows and with practice at home as well, she is almost always pronouncing the final sound. Her speech has become much more intelligible. It’s time for the next frontier: fronting.

As always, visuals are crucial. The cards illustrate clearly to Orli that if she says the wrong thing, her intention won’t be understood.

The goal here is for Orli to become more aware of the final consonant and of the fact that when she deletes it, she is saying a completely different word.

Orli talks all the time, not just in therapy. Without carryover at home, she will not progress. (Originally featured in Family First, Issue 570)