How to Practice /t/ & /d/ Sounds
When looking at the developmental milestones for speech sounds, /t/ and /d/ are two of the earliest sounds to develop. The /d/ sound is mastered by 2-3 years old, while the /t/ sound is generally mastered around 3-4 years old. A great part about both sounds is that they are produced in the same part of the mouth. To produce /t/ and /d/, the tip of the tongue raises up behind the teeth to touch a bumpy spot called the alveolar ridge. Simultaneously, the sides of the tongue also raise up and touch the back teeth, the molars.
Tips for Practicing at Home
Since /t/ and /d/ are produced in the same part of the mouth, the key difference between both sounds is voicing. The /d/ sound is voiced. In other words, when we produce /d/, we are “turning on” our voice or using our vocal cords. The /t/ sound is not voiced. Rather than using our vocal cords, a quick burst of air is released outside the mouth. When helping a child with both sounds, I enjoy using the following strategies:
- Visual feedback- place a piece of paper or tissue in front of your child’s mouth. When they produce /t/, the paper/tissue will move. For /d/, the paper/tissue will stay still.
- Sensory feedback/stimulation- place a soft food that will stick behind your child’s front teeth (i.e. nutella, peanut butter, yogurt, etc.). When they produce either sound correctly, they will touch the food behind their teeth.
- Tactile/Sensory/Visual cue- place your child’s finger on their throat when they produce their /d/ sound. They will feel the vibration of their vocal cords. Tapping their throat or making a gesture with your hand, as if you were turning something on, also serves as a visual reminder to turn on or turn off their voice.
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