What is Initial Consonant Deletion?

Initial consonant deletion (ICD) is considered a phonological disorder. ICD is when a child consistently misses the first consonant at the start of a word. It can be common for children to leave consonants at the end of terms. However, it is quite uncommon for a child to get rid of the first consonant of a word.

Because ICD is considered a phonological disorder, the child has developed a rule that tells them to remove the initial consonant in words. It is not a conscious error; some children may not even realize they are doing it. So, it is just their brain finding an easier way to say the word.

It is recommended that a child sees a speech pathologist, no matter what their age is if they are showing signs of initial consonant deletion. You may notice them saying words incorrectly, for example, displaying ‘ee’ instead of ‘tree.’ A speech pathologist will be able to work with the child and help them with this phonological disorder and, hopefully, will be able to correct it.

How to help children with initial consonant deletion

Although initial consonant deletion may sound worrying when you say it is a phonological disorder, it can be reversed, and a speech pathologist will work with the child to ‘re-train’ their brain.

A speech pathologist may use minimal pairs to help the child with initial consonant deletion. For example, they will find minimal pairs where one word has an initial consonant and the other doesn’t, for example, ‘cup’ and ‘up,’ as well as ‘off’ and ‘cough.’

You can hold the minimal pairs up in front of the child and explain the differences between the two. If you can get images of each word, this will help the child to understand each word and the differences between the two.

You can ask the child to point to certain words; for example, say, ‘point to the card that says cup,’ and the child will have to find which card has the word ‘cup’ on it. Then, as they point to the card, you can say the word they are pointing to. For example, if they point to the wrong card, you could say, ‘Nice try. That word says ‘up.’ We are looking for a card that says ‘cup.’

Once the child has got the hang of pointing out the cards and can do so correctly, get the child to say the words, they might not be able to say these words correctly straight away, but you can work on it and keep repeating the correct words.

You can give them examples by saying the word in sentences and getting the child to copy it. The most important thing to remember is to keep practicing. The more you practice, the easier it will become for the child to say the words correctly.

If a child is finding this process challenging, you could try the following:

  • Focus on one initial consonant at a time
  • Focus on commonly used words
  • Exaggerate the initial consonant in the words

It is important to remember that these things can take time to correct, and it isn’t going to happen overnight. So stay patient and keep practicing. The more you do it, the easier it will become.

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