Don’t freak out, it’s just the SH sound

There was a moment Monday, before I started my first day of my full-time school internship, where I panicked. Heart fluttering, mind-numbing, terrifying panic. I couldn’t verbalize how to teach the “SH” sound. I couldn’t think of its place or manner of articulation. It was like the knowledge was lost in an ambiguous depth of space and time. *POOF* 4 years of undergrad and a 1.5 years of a Master’s in Speech-Language Pathology, gone. Just. Like. That.

Now that my melodrama is over, it was truly only a momentary freak-out. Followed by a frenzy of technology, clicking, typing, and a slight hand-cramp from the manic episode. It happens to the best of us (that’s what I’m telling myself). So, what did I find you might ask? Allow me to share:

According to Secord in Eliciting Sounds: Techniques and Strategies for Clinicians (2010), the SH sound is a palato-alveolar, voiceless fricative. One must raise the tongue to touch the sides of the upper back teeth while the blade of the tongue is retracted. The creation of a shallow groove at the midline helps create the sound. The most common phonetic features are

  • Blade of the tongue nearly touches the front of the palate and back of the alveolar ridge
  • The lips are protruded, but not puckered
  • Air comes out like a bat out of hell, not really, but it comes out of the groove created by tongue placement
  • Close the velum
  • No voice…turn your ‘voice box’ off and throw away the key

My next stopping points were SLP blogs which I religiously follow (some might say ‘stalk’). There is a gold mine of information; the nuggets of knowledge remind me to be professionally thankful for the internet. Shall we…

There were other stops along the way back to my SH sanity, however these were the ones I have bookmarked for those kiddos who need my skills. Do you have any to share? I still don’t know every trick for every sound, nor will I until I have more experience. Until then, I have the #slpeeps, #SLPbloggers, and #slp2b who will continue to be around. Thanks ladies and gents.

8 thoughts on “Don’t freak out, it’s just the SH sound”

  1. Wonderful post! I was in my first job trying to help a kid who couldn’t say “r” and realized that nobody had ever taught me how to teach sound production. I could transcribe, tell you which phonological process was in play, and what age a kid should develop any sound, and how to put together a cueing hierarchy, but I didn’t know how to help them fix it! (Didn’t help that I did my training in Boston!) It’s at those times when you realize you have the knowledge, even if it’s not explicit, and you have the resources you need – you just have to piece it together, usually while trying not to let on that you’re racking your brain for an answer and feel like a fraud. Hang in there! It’s just speech therapy 😉

  2. You comment about me in this post brought tears to my eyes. Thank You. When I share these things I wonder if anyone reads them and if it actually helps anyone. So I appreciates your comments more than you know.

    Your MommaSLP

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  5. Hi,

    Thank you for this post. Last week I had an episode very similar to the one you described, in which I forgot how to teach the “sh” sound right before my session. I had a panic/anxiety attack while I was sitting there with the student in front of me, and I just had to sit there and wait for it to pass and then we just played board games for the rest of the session. I had another session with that student today and I used all the resources you shared, and it went great. I felt proud of myself, and of the student. So thank you 🙂 Next time, I’ll remember that it’s just speech therapy.

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