A multidimensional investigation of children's /r/ productions: Perceptual, ultrasound, and acoustic measures

Harriet B. Klein, Tara McAllister Byun, Lisa Davidson, Maria I. Grigos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This study explored relationships among perceptual, ultrasound, and acoustic measurements of children's correct and misarticulated /r/ sounds. Longitudinal data documenting changes across these parameters were collected from 2 children who acquired /r/ over a period of intervention and were compared with data from children with typical speech. Method: Participants were 3 children with typical speech, recorded once, and 2 children with /r/ misarticulation, recorded over 7-8 months. The following data from /r/ produced in nonwords were collected: perceptually rated accuracy, ultrasound measures of tongue shape, and F3 - F2 distance. Results: Regression models revealed significant associations among perceptual, ultrasound, and acoustic measures of /r/ accuracy. The inclusion of quantitative tongue-shape measurements improved the match between the ultrasound and perceptual/acoustic data. Perceptually incorrect /r/ productions were found to feature posteriorly located peaked tongue shapes. Of the children who were seen longitudinally, 1 developed a bunched /r/ and 1 demonstrated retroflexion. The children with typical speech also differed in their tongue shapes. Conclusion: Results support the validity of using qualitative and quantitative ultrasound measures to characterize the accuracy of children's /r/ sounds. Clinically, findings suggest that it is important to encourage pharyngeal constriction while allowing children to find the /r/ tongue shape that best fits their individual vocal tract.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)540-553
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican journal of speech-language pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2013


  • Acoustics
  • Articulation
  • Speech production
  • Speech sound disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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