Monthly Archives: July 2016

Work! The Secret to Achieving Speech Sounds Quicker

Work! The Secret to Achieving Speech Sounds Quicker

Want to Achieve your speech sounds quicker?

The secret to achieving speech sounds quicker is really too obvious to be considered a secret. It is work. Plain and simple work. 

There is good news though.  All the work does not have to be done by the Speech Language Pathologist. A parent who learns to effectively work with their child at home will be a huge factor in speeding up the therapy process. The reason for parents being a huge speed boost to speech therapy lies in the fact they can work with their kids every day, maybe even 2x a day for short sessions. A SLP might get one or two sessions a week if lucky. A well trained parent will get more work done each week.

But I'm worried I'm not doing it right!

Some non-Speech Language Pathologist are intimidated by working on speech therapy homework drills. A big fear is that they are making things worse by practicing incorrectly. I assure you there is nothing a parent can do that can not be undone. I actually get excited when I see I parent has practiced something that causes the speech to be a little off. This tells me that something occurred at home. That I can work with. It is when nothing gets done at home that I struggle with. The absolute worst thing a parent can do is do nothing.

Consider this: Your child may be saying their speech sound incorrectly hundreds of times a day. Even if a parent is practicing incorrectly, they are already saying the sound incorrectly in conversation anyway. There is a likelihood that the sound the parent is practicing is an improvement over the incorrect sound. When it comes to speech homework there is no harm in trying but there is harm in doing nothing.

What work is best done by a Speech Language Pathologist?

Some work is best left to the speech language pathologist. Assessing speech sounds and choosing speech therapy targets is  the speech language pathologists domain. Developing sound stimulability so that the child can consistently produce sound correctly in isolation is also best left to the professionals. Once a child is producing their speech therapy target drills accurately in their sessions, then it becomes the best time for parents to get involved with their home work program. This is when big gains can be made.  At this point a Speech Language Pathologist and your child can use all the help they can get!!!  Do you want to learn how to best support you child?  Download the 20 best tips for speech practice.

Your Speech Therapy Needs a Strong Foundation

Your Speech Therapy Needs a Strong Foundation

Your speech therapy needs a strong foundation. 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. 

Always Start with Sound Level Drills

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 was 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 was 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 spent 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.

Do you want to learn how to best support you child?  Download the 20 best tips for speech practice.


2 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.

Do you want to learn how to best support you child?  Download the 20 best tips for speech practice.

Where do I begin Speech Therapy at Home?

Where do I begin speech therapy at home?

When working on speech therapy at home 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:

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    Try and find an SLP to help you get started.
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    Only identify sound errors yourself as last resort. It is best to leave this to a professional.
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    Always start with a stimulable sound.
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    Be accurate increasing speed while maintaining accuracy.
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    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.​

Do you want to learn how to best support you child?  Download the 20 best tips for speech practice.