Today I’m sharing about a tiny little tool I find fascinating. It’s called Bite-R, and it’s specifically designed to help students produce that pesky /r/ sound we all love. 🙂
I had the honor of meeting Susan, the creator of Bite-R and fellow SLP, at a conference this past year. I can truly say Susan is passionate about the /r/ sound and knows her stuff (which is so fortunate for the rest of us, right?!) She wants other SLPs to succeed in teaching this very difficult sound and will walk you along in the process.
***Susan generously gave me the Start-Up Kit to try on one of my students and then to write a review of my very own thoughts on the product.***
What is the Bite-R? (Taken from their website): The Bite-R is a speech therapy device that after being inserted in the mouth and removed causes the student to be able to produce the necessary movements for a perfect R! The device is designed for tongue tension, but also provides jaw stability, lip stability, proper tongue position and placement for R.
Now I have a LOT of students on my caseload this year receiving intervention for the /r/ sound. It seems as if they are flocking to me (which I don’t mind, of course)! 😉 However, I’ll admit that /r/ is NOT my favorite sound to teach. It’s downright difficult since it’s so invisible.
***Fun fact: Did you know this SLP (as in ME) received speech therapy in grades 5-6 for my /r/ sound? I love to tell this to my students because I feel like that is pretty late so if I can achieve a perfect /r/, there’s hope!
I had one student in particular that I wanted to use this tool on. He had somewhere learned to lift the tip of his tongue up and so far back that it reached the back of his soft palate when producing the /r/ sound. What resulted was a very “throaty” distorted /l/ sound. Not pretty.
The best way to describe this tool is that it consists of two tiny “Ts” held together with a rubber band. The device is then inserted into the student’s mouth and they are told to “bite down.” It was difficult to get the picture below because the student’s mouth is fairly closed since they are biting down when using this device.
The student is then encouraged to push on the rubber band with the tip of his tongue, which results in the back of the tongue flattening and raising to the soft palate. You can try this in your own mouth if you pretend to push an imaginary rubber band with the tip of your tongue right behind your front teeth.
It took a few times but this student’s /r/ did improve after a couple of sessions using the Bite-R! It really does provide that tactile reinforcement of where and how the tongue should act when saying the /r/ sound.
My absolute favorite part of this product, however, was the practice cards. Each card contained a word having an /r/ sound on the front. On the back, typical wrong responses let you know EXACTLY what the student was doing in his or her mouth that resulted in the distorted /r/ and then how to fix it.
Obviously Susan knows her stuff!
The only considerations I have are:
- The product is an investment. Each student must have their own Bite-R (no sharing allowed!) which can add up fast for an SLP serving a lot of students in a district. Some districts may help with the cost or parents may even be allowed to buy a Bite-R for their SLP to work on with their child. I love Susan’s Parent Page and her statement on parent involvement.
- It does take some time to set up and also put away. You must be equipped with rubber gloves, mouthwash, water, and sanitizer.
Thanks Susan for allowing me to use the Bite-R and write my thoughts! If you have a student who just cannot achieve that elusive /r/ sound, it’s definitely worth looking into!