A Strong Foundation Means Quicker Results

Building a strong foundation

Having a strong foundation will speed up achieving speech goals. This is something I reinforce with every client I work with. A core principle that I follow is this:

It is not enough to be able to say the sounds accurately. We are striving for productions that are smooth, effortless and automatic. To achieve this takes work. The speech work will always flow through the same progression.

The review starts with sound level drills. It then progresses through syllable, double syllable, word, sentence and conversation level drills. Homework always starts at sound level. Even if the speech ceiling is sentence or conversation levels. To skip starting at the beginning would be a missed opportunity.

This approach is different from what I learned in graduate school. I remember being told  to work on word level drills as soon as possible. The importance of working in a “meaningful context” was stressed. When I followed this way of doing therapy, I found the progress to be slow. I would get stuck at the word and sentence levels for extended periods of time. There was a long waiting period for the sounds to emerge into conversation. Not an ideal solution.

I switched to doing high repetition speed based drills. These drills focused on developing the child's speed and accuracy of productions. The progression was systematic. It starts with sound level drills until mastery. This is followed by syllable level drills. Next we work on mastery of double syllable level drills. These are the most productive of all drills and are my favorite. It is not until the double syllable drills are mastered that we attempt word level drills. This method repeatedly yielded quicker results. Why? More repetitions are performed. Quicker repetitions are produced. Less correcting is occuring. A noticeable practice effect occurs when approaching the speech drills this way.

Additionally, I was spending more time working on what I knew the clients could do. This gives me peace of mind when the clients are following their program at home. I know the clients are practicing their sounds accurately. I am not worried about them reinforcing an incorrect sound. This is such a critical point that it evolved into the “golden rule”. Accuracy first, once established work on speed while maintaining accuracy.

The Golden Rule

​The Golden Rule

So what is the Golden Rule of Rapid Speech Therapy?

The golden rule is elegant in it’s simplicity. Accuracy always comes first. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. When we practice something, we need to make sure that we are practicing it correctly. Practicing incorrect productions defeats the purpose.  

Accuracy is only half of the equation though. Practicing accuracy on it’s own is limiting. We need to challenge and stretch ourselves. We do this by adding speed into the mix.

Speed is Critical​

Speed is a critical skill to have when it comes to speech sound production. When you think of the sounds that your child can say accurately in conversation, they can say these sounds rapidly in isolation. When we talk, speech production is rapid. Everything that is happening in the mouth is happening extremely fast. It is happening automatically as well.

When was the last time you had to concentrate on saying a /p/ or a /b/? It doesn't happen. Yet every client learning to say a new speech target correctly has to focus  to say the sound accurately. These initial productions usually take effort and lack smoothness. The quickest way I know to develop the smooth, effortless and automatic productions is practice and lots of it.  

When we practice for speed while trying to maintain accuracy, we are positioning ourselves into the optimal training zone. This is where good  things really start to happen. With practice will come a practice effect. A noticeable difference in the productions and performance that was not present initially. This is what speech therapy is all about. Making a difference through practice.

They way to make that difference quicker is by practicing consistently. To truly accelerate the process, the parent or some other homework agent needs to be on board to do the practice. If it is only the SLP doing the practice, the progress will be in the slow lane. If others are involved helping practice for accuracy and speed, the level of progress will accelerate. It is a simple equation:

Try building these principles into your ​daily homework drills.  The results may surprise you.  Feel free to reach out to me and let me know how it is going.  I am here if you have any questions.

Where do I begin?

Where do I begin?

When working on speech sounds it is important to have a starting point. The best starting point would be having a Speech Language Pathologist do an assessment on your child. This will identify the speech errors that are present. It will also provide some guidance with what order to work on the sound errors.

A speech assessment is worth the investment. It will provide a starting point and a path to follow. If there is no possible way of getting an assessment, don't give up. Keep trying to find a way. In the meantime see if you can identify the errors yourself. Sometimes it is very obvious when only one sound is in error such as an /r/ or /s/ and it is easy to spot. Other times there may be many sounds in error and that can be intimidating.

​Stimulability is the starting point

Regardless of what sounds are in error, the starting point will always be stimulability. Stimulability is the ability to say a speech sound on it's own. Can the child do it if shown a model of how to do it? If the incorrect sound is an /f/, can the client bite down on their bottom lip and blow creating an accurate sound?

Being able to say a sound accurately is critical. You don’t have to fixate on the sound being 100% pristine. You just want the sound to be as accurate as possible. It should be a clear improvement over their incorrect way of saying it. If you are going to be practicing speech sounds at home, it is important that the sound is accurate. If you are practicing a sound that is incorrect, it will be an exercise in futility.

Start building on how many times the child can say the sound correctly. Can they say the sound 1x? That is great. Try saying it 2x then 3x progressing up to 5x in a row. Start slow with the target sound stretched (saying it slowly) and emphasized. Gradually increase the speed and try to say the sound quicker with less emphasis. It should start sounding more natural as you go quicker. Keep at it until you can do 5 sets of 5.

Lets Recap:

  • Try and find an SLP to help you get started.
  • Only identify sound errors yourself  as last resort.  Best to leave to a professional.
  • Always start with a stimulable sound.
  • Be accurate increasing speed while maintaing accuracy.
  • Keep going until you can do 5 sets of five repetitions.

Final thoughts

Believe in yourself. Do a little bit each day and amazing things will happen. Do not be afraid of making things worse. Doing nothing is probably the worst thing you could do. Stay committed to making a difference.

Let me know how you make out. I would love to hear from you.​

What is Rapid Speech Therapy?

What is Rapid Speech Therapy?

Rapid Speech Therapy is two things:

  • First, It is a method of doing speech therapy with a focus on developing the speed of sound productions.
  • Second, it is a way of getting the job done quicker if done correctly.

Lets look at the four core principles of this method.

Stimulability

Stimulability refers to being able to say a sound correctly when given a model. This is always the starting point. You can progress no further until a sound is accurate in isolation. You have to practice the right sound from the start. Interestingly, as a Speech Language Pathologist I find I spend a small amount of time on stimulablilty. I spend my time developing sounds through syllable, double syllables, words , sentences and conversation. Once a sound is stimulable, it is a matter of doing the work to achieve success.

Speed

We practice drills to develop speed. We reinforce the skills that the client can already do. The focus is on doing it smoother, quicker and faster. Speed makes the most difference. Conversational speech requires rapid mouth movements that must be automatic. All beginning speech clients need to focus on their sound production initially. They have to pay attention to their mouth to say their target sounds. My experience shows focusing on developing speed makes the speech sounds become automatic sooner. If a speech sound is unable to be produced rapidly, it will likely not be spoken accurately in conversation. It is likely the automatic production that is easy to produce will be an error. When I was just out of Grad school I initially avoided doing speed drills because they caused errors. I learned to embrace speed drills. This brought the errors to the surface which allowed for quicker resolution. The key to the quicker results lies in practicing the speech sounds rapidly. This will ultimately develop productions that are smooth, effortless and automatic. Working rapidly produces results!!

Remember the golden rule of rapid speech therapy. Accuracy first! Increase your speed while maintaining your accuracy.

Always work on increasing your speed until the accuracy fails. Slow down to reconnect with the accuracy and repeat the process of speeding up. Master this and amazing things will happen.

Simple Systematic Method

Speech therapy can be a complex and challenging topic. An easy to learn approach for parents to follow is important. A simple, systematic approach breaks the process down into manageable chunks. It allows parents to see a clear starting point, and pathway to follow. Parents who understand the approach are far more likely to use it and do the homework. Giving a parent an easy to follow program that makes sense will build their self confidence. It gives them some promise and hope because they feel like they can make a difference. When this happens, they are more likely to succeed in their home program.

Consistent practice

Daily practice is what produces quicker results. I consistently see quicker results in parents practicing daily. When no practice happens results are slower and sometimes do not happen at all. Ensuring practice takes place daily will speed the process. Make your daily practice manageable. Do your daily homework in a small dose that does not overwhelm or frustrate the child. It needs to be as manageable as brushing your teeth daily.

Lets recap

Rapid speech therapy is a method that leads to impressive results if done correctly.

  • Stimulability is the starting point.
  • Speed drills will yield faster results by making productions smooth, effortless and automatic.
  • A simple systematic method helps parents succeed by making the homework process manageable.
  • Consistent practice yields quicker results. Getting practice done daily will put you on the fast track.