How to Pronounce little, bottle or Cottle – Syllabic L

Little Bottle how to pronounce words with -ttle Syllabic L“How can I pronounce the street I live on?”  my ESL student asked today.

She spelled it out for me “C-O-T-T-L-E”.  This is a major street in our community.   It’s pronounced like “bottle”.  To say this with an American accent, you must reduce the T to a D (some of these words are already spelled with D) and make the last syllable an “ul”.  Stress the first syllable  ‘Kah”.

Cottle – KAH  dul

Here are some other words that follow the same rule:

  • bottle   BAH dul
  • little      LI  dul
  • shuttle  SHUH   dul
  • rattle     RA   dul
  • cattle     KA  dul
  • middle  MI  dul
  • fiddle    FI  dul
  • saddle   SA  dul
  • huddle  HUH  dul
  • Cottle    KAH  dul

Hear the word list here.



How to Pronounce “World”

How to pronounce WORLDMy ESL students are having trouble pronouncing “world”!     I have Asian, Iranian and Spanish speakers and “world” is pretty difficult.    Bunch L  between  R and D and no amount of Ethel the English Teacher advice helps!     Ethel the English Teacher tells you “world” is one syllable because it contains a beginning consonant + a vowel + an ending consonant cluster.   Ethel’s advice is simple (not helpful)  “Just say all the sounds!”

“World” could be one syllable if you are a native speaker of American English.   But in many places, “world” is held out longer when pronounced.   And the L becomes “vocalic” (it becomes a vowel + an L sound).   Non-native speakers of English need to pronounce “world” more slowly and insert a neutral vowel sound (the schwa sound “uh”) between the R and L.  This means you will need to say “wer – rulld”, so that the three sounds in the final consonant cluster, RLD, will be fully pronounced and understandable. (Remember, often with any vowel + R, Americans end up saying “e+r” anyway!)

Americans can say it quicker.  We’ve had years of experience.  But if you’re learning English as a 2nd language, you will probably need to slow down and purposefully stretch it out into 2 syllables.   Have a  look at these words:

  • world     wer ruld
  • curled     ker ruld
  • hurled    her ruld
  • whirled    wer ruld
  • swirled     swer ruld
  • pearled      per ruld
  • squirreled*     skwer ruld

Listen to the list of “world” words here.

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*Squirreled” as in “squirreled away” – which means “saved up for the future”


“The Friend Ship” – Music CD for Autism

The Friend Ship music CD autismI am so excited to tell you about a new music CD for kids.  It’s called The Friend Ship and it contains 9 fun and catchy songs to “encourage social communication and emotional regulation in young children”.  It was created by speech language pathologist Erica Bland of California.  The songs include ideas like turn-taking, following a schedule, how to join in a play group, using words to connect to others, tools for staying calm and much more.  My favorite song is These Are My Feelings, which reinforces the idea that we can tell a person’s feelings by looking at their face.  And not just their face, but specifically where to look such as eyes, eye brows and mouth.

Many of you know I love Michelle Garcia Winner’s social thinking program, and I love The Friend Ship CD of songs too, because it uses many ideas from social thinking.  I worked several years with groups of children for early intervention (age 18 months to 3).  This CD is just perfect for kids in early intervention.  Kids who are diagnosed on the autism spectrum, kids with sensory integration difficulties and kids who have developmental delays would all benefit from learning and singing these terrific songs.

Lastly I myself have a son on the autism spectrum.  As a parent, I look for tools that would support him at home and school.  This CD is the kind of tool parents should play at home or in their car.  Car rides are a perfect time to learn new songs and have fun doing it!  The CD is only $9.95 and comes with a lyrics sheet, as well as a helpful booklet of companion activities for parents and teachers.  For more info and to order, contact Erica at The Friend Ship.




The Importance of the Social Fake – Social Thinking

“Why do I have to use the “social fake”?” my adult Asperger client protested. “I hate people who are fake! I want people to be themselves with me!” My client was taking the idea too literally, so I told him this story to help him understand the “social fake”.

Yesterday I got pulled over for speeding in my residential neighborhood. When the cop pulled me over my initial thoughts were,

“No! This is not happening. He does not want me. I don’t want to stop driving. I’m late for work already. Now I’m going to be even later. Maybe I can just keep driving. Maybe I can get away. I can drive pretty fast. Maybe he won’t be able to catch me….”

I did stop my car and talk with the police officer. While getting out my license and registration, I began to do the “social fake”. I pretended the conversation with the police officer was the most important thing on my mind. I gave him my full attention, smiled and quickly obeyed the instructions he gave me. I had lots of thoughts running through my head (not wanting a ticket, wanting him to let me go so I could get to work, etc.) but I did not say any of the thoughts I had. I kept my filter very tight, only letting out the thoughts that would make the officer comfortable.

He gave me the ticket and let me go. The social fake helped me to minimize any problems of this difficult situation. Imagine if I had not filtered my thoughts, and said everything that was on my mind? That would have made the officer uncomfortable, and may have caused him to create more problems for me.

The Importance of the Social FakeI got to work late and used the social fake to my advantage again. It was very busy at work and my lateness caused problems for my co-workers that morning. I could see that they were upset. I gave a genuine apology and began my work,  but did not explain why I was late that morning. In this situation my colleagues would have interpreted my explanation as an excuse, and would have had no sympathy for me. And they were right. Had I left early enough, I would not have been speeding, and the cop would not have pulled me over to give me a ticket. Later that morning someone asked why I was late. I quietly and humbly explained I got pulled over and got a ticket. (Social faking it again, I kept my filter on, and I did not say everything that I was thinking.) My co-workers were understanding and sympathetic, however that is because I tried to fix the problems my late behavior caused, and I did not whine or complain about my issues.

I used social thinking in these situations to keep people around me feeling comfortable (or at least neutral). Modifying my behavior also makes things comfortable for me, because my co-workers continue to enjoy being around me and working with me.

Learn more about Social Thinking here.

Rules Change with Age – Social Thinking

How rules change with age Social ThinkingStudents with Aspergers, a type of high functioning autism, are very logical thinkers. I find my son (diagnosed with Aspergers) is not a flexible thinker. It’s hard for him to remember that rules change as we age. For example, a child who is in the first grade may react to a joke by laughing hysterically and falling on the floor. By the time a child is in the 4th grade, he is expected to only laugh (it can be loud, but not hysterical) and he shouldn’t fall on the floor. Rules change as we age and often this is not explained explicitly to students with social thinking difficulties. It is a hidden social rule and most students know this information intuitively.

This month I took a Parenting with Love and Logic class hosted at the Shire House.  I learned many good ideas for communicating with my college-age son, and providing logical but loving consequences in our home. But parents of special needs students have a particular problem that parents with typically developing students don’t have. We have been solving most problems for our kids throughout their lives. As my son grows up, I need to break that habit and allow him to solve more and more of his own problems. Problem-solving is a skill he needs to develop.

This week I began to make that change. I had this conversation with him (a suggestion from my Love and Logic teacher):

“Son, I need to apologize. I have been a bad mother. Most of your life, when you had a problem to solve, I stepped in and solved it for you. I took away something very important. I took away the opportunity for you to solve your own problems. I’ve decided I won’t do that any more. From now on, I’m going to stay out of your problems. You will be solving your own problems from now on.”

To my surprise, he was glad to hear it and was looking forward to solving his own problems now that he was attending college.

Next I provided him with my Parental Green Sheet for College just to be clear that our expectations of him have changed since he left high school (remember “rules change with age”).   Since he was reviewing the green sheets (class syllabus and rules) for his college classes, it fit right in. It covers the particular topics that were relevant to our son’s college experience. On the green sheet I wrote

  1. you will be solving your own problems now
  2. we won’t nag you to do your homework
  3. we won’t interfere by contacting your teachers
  4. we understand some kids fail college classes and we won’t interfere there either.

See my Parental Green Sheet for College here.

Thanks again for reading and I hope these ideas are helpful.  Please read other posts on our parenting experience by clicking on the Autism/Aspergers tab above.



Talking Too Much at Work or School – Social Thinking

When adults with Aspergers (a kind of high-functioning autism) talk too much at work or school, there are some things that help. Here are some techniques I’m using with my adult clients. If you are the person talking too much, try these ideas for yourself.

Talking percentages. If there are 2 people having a conversation, each person gets about half the talking time, or 50%. If there are 4 people, each person gets about 25% of the talking time, and so on. Reminders to know what percentage is theirs may  help. For the “too much talker” – count up the people in your conversation group and only use “your percentage” of talking time.

How to not talk too muchRespond in 30 seconds (or 1 – 2 sentences).  One or 2 sentences should take about 30 seconds. For conversations at school or work to be efficient, keep to the 1 -2 sentences (or 30 second) rule.  Practice this with a friend and a timer.  At first you may find it really hard to keep your response at 1 – 2 sentences or only 30 seconds.  That’s probably because you are in the habit of going on and on!  Practice with a time at 1 minute.  If you can do it at 1 minute then try decreasing the time to 50 seconds, then go down to 40 seconds, and down to 30 as you are able.

Try a challenge – make your response in 15 seconds!  One of the most frequent complaints people at work have is that co-workers are not respectful of their time.  It may be that a “too much talker” does not know the hidden social rule that conversational comments and responses need to be 1 – 2 sentences, or about 30 seconds.

Filter!  Ever had a classmate or a workmate have their eyes glaze over with boredom?  Is it possible you are not using your talking “filter”?  how to not talk too muchA filter is like a spaghetti strainer or colander.  It allows some things to flow out (water) and some things to stay in (spaghetti)  I use a small strainer, a kitchen tool, with my clients.  When they give me too much information, I hold up the strainer!  At first they wondered what that was for, so we talked about filters and how it’s important to not

  1. say everything you’re thinking, or
  2. say everything you know about a topic, or
  3. repeat something that your listener has heard before

A filter needs to be over your mouth at all times.  Actually this a universal idea, because all adults need to filter what they say, throughout their whole life, in every situation.

Learn basics for conversation.  There are really only 3 ways to respond in a conversation where you are trying to stop talking too much and help the others in the conversation feel comfortable. Doing these things will make your conversational partner feel like you have a genuine interest in them. For a logical person it may seem silly to have to be concerned about your classmate or workmate’s feelings, but that is really what people need to be able to work well together, and share space efficiently.

  1. Asking questions to a person about that person
  2. Supporting comment/response
  3. Add-A-Thought

This idea comes from the Social Thinking website, and is aimed at clients who need help in the area of social skills thinking and social skills training.

Self-discovery.  Ask a trusted friend to provide his or her honest feedback about how much you talk and how it affects them.  Write down their answer.  Review the information and allow it to inform what you do next.  Have you  recently become aware that you are a “too much talker”?  Explore the reasons why you do it.  What is driving you to talk too much?  Do you have areas you can address that will help you to stop talking too much?  A friend or a counselor may help you to discover why you are talking too much, and knowing more about your reasons why may help you to make some positive changes.

Best of luck trying out these ideas.  As always, I’m happy to hear your comments or questions.  Thanks!