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2 How can a parent best help their child with speech therapy?

How can a parent best help their child with speech therapy?

Being a parent myself, know that we want what is best for our kids. I think it is safe to assume that all parents want their kids to be the best possible versions of themselves. With that in mind I will now answer this common question, “What can I do as a parent to best help my child?”. The answer to this question can be broken down into 4 different topics:

  1. Finding a starting point
  2. Use a systematic method to build a strong foundation.
  3. Develop automatic productions by focusing on speed and accuracy
  4. Practice….practice….practice….

Finding a starting point

Knowing where to begin is half the battle. Your best bet is to have a speech language pathologist assess your child. They will be able to give you a run-down of all the sounds which are in error as well as an order to approach working on the sounds. This will be money well spent. If you do not have access to a SLP or money is an issue (I know Speech Pathologists don’t come cheap) then try and find a sound that your child is stimulable with.

Stimulability refers to your ability to say a given sound (in isolation) when given a model. Quite often a child can be stimulable for a sound at sound level but unable to say the sound accurately in conversation. I see a lot of this. For me, Stimulability is always the main criteria I have for starting a speech sound. These targets will be easier to work with in comparison to sounds that are not stimulable.

Once a sound is stimulable, you will be able to start working on it using a Systematic approach.

Use a systematic method to build a strong foundation

Now that you have achieved a starting point you can start working on it using a systematic approach. I like using a systems approach because you will know what to do next each step of the way if the system is easy to follow. I like to use the following approach which breaks down the speech therapy process into manageable chunks.

  1. Sound level drills
  2. Syllable level drills
  3. Double syllable level drills
  4. Word level drills
  5. Sentence level drills
  6. Conversation level drills

Develop Automatic Productions by Focusing on Speed and Accuracy

You now have a systematic approach to use that shows you a pathway to follow. To further speed up the therapy process you need to focus on developing the speed of your productions while maintaining accuracy. Accuracy is always your starting point, but it is critical to boost the speed of your productions when training. Speech sound production requires rapid movements. Most clients require much focus and attention to say target sounds correctly when first working on a sound. This is the only way to override their automatic way of producing their sounds. In order to build automaticity for the correct sound, develop the speed of your productions.

My favorite way of doing this is getting in a rhythm. Always set your rhythm for sets of 5. This allows for easy chunking of sets and makes tracking number of reps much easier. Start with 2 slow productions to help accuracy then follow with 3 rapid productions. I call this the golden rhythm. By default it helps establish accuracy and provides the opportunity to work on speed. 

This is powerful because it is built into each set of 5. You will be able to rack up some serious repetitions in little time using this method. Sounds losing accuracy? Slow it down and reconnect with your best sounding productions, then switch to pushing the speed using the golden rhythm. Developing your speed while holding onto your accuracy will optimize your results.

Practice…Practice…Practice

It is easy to overlook the simplicity of practice. Don’t be fooled. It is one of the most important elements for achieving quicker results. Do not leave the work of helping your child’s speech to the SLP only. There is only so much work the SLP can do. I found that when I was working with a child in the school system and was the only person doing the work, it simply took longer. I have long believed that the thing the kids need the most is what no SLP can give them.

Consistent daily practice has to be done! Work is the key that will unlock your child’s speech. 

Make sure you our working with an SLP who takes full advantage of your willingness to help and contribute to your child’s speech success. By having the parent (and anyone else for that matter) contribute with helping the child with their speech homework you are upping the likelihood of a quicker outcome.

The key is getting everyone on the same page. Everyone needs to be working on the same sounds in unison. This is where having a simplified and easy to follow method is great. It creates a pathway for all to follow. By creating a speech team supporting your child and providing them with an optimized approach you are creating an ideal situation for your child. They will have plenty of opportunity to practice and thrive with their sounds.

Developing Automaticity – The Need for Quicker Speech Therapy

Developing automaticity -
the need for quicker speech therapy.

When reflecting on courses I took in my academic career, there is one course that stands above the rest. Ironically it isn’t even a SLP specific course. Go figure. The course was “Cognitive Psychology”.  I wrote a paper in this course on the concept of “attention and automaticity”. It was this paper above all else that has had the most influence on the articulation therapy that I do today.

What is the concept of “attention and automaticity”?

Automatic processes are tasks that people do without conscious control.

Examples would be tying shoelaces or the task of writing. Once a person has decided to write something, they no longer need to visualize and consciously control each motion. Automatic processes ultimately require little attention or awareness. They can be done simultaneously with other processes once learned and internalized. 

The key to the internalization of the process is repetition. Practicing the task over and over again until it becomes fluid, effortless and automatic. I remember struggling to write in the primary grades and hated doing it. Daily, I find myself writing homework notes by hand to parents. It is no longer a struggle (but I still hate doing it…).

Another example would be learning to drive a car. I remember learning to drive was overwhelming. This was especially true for learning to drive standard. 

Trying to keep track of the gas, brake and clutch coupled with rules of the road was initially quite a challenge. Now I find myself effortlessly driving as well as maintaining a conversation at the same time. Automaticity is a beautiful thing.

What does “attention and automaticity” have to do with articulation therapy? Everything! Each client I work with must initially focus on proper articulator placement. Those first productions are effortful and forced. Success does not occur until they can produce their sound effortlessly in conversation. 

The pathway to success is repetition coupled with speed. I like the music analogy the best. Anyone who has tried to learn the piano has been instructed to practice musical scales over and over. This is needed to develop the motor planning necessary to play the music effectively. Automaticity is the key to success.

Highly repetitive drills are critical in developing the automaticity of speech sound production.  

When I first started treating clients 19 years ago I would have told you 100 repetitions would be great for a 45 minute session. Now my clients will produce between five and six hundred repetitions in 15 minutes.

I found I could get quicker results and actually spend less time with the clients. This occurs if the therapy was highly condensed and focused.

In closing...

High repetition drills will develop automaticity of speech sounds sooner. In my opinion, they are the biggest thing you can do to accelerate the results of speech therapy. Learning how to ramp up the number of targeted repetitions will have a huge impact on the speed of your success.

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:

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

What is Rapid Speech Therapy?

What is rapid speech therapy?

So, What is It?

Rapid Speech Therapy is two things:

  • 1First, It is a method of doing speech therapy with a focus on developing the speed of sound productions.
  • 2Second, 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 which brought the errors to the surface and 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.

  • checkStimulability is the starting point.
  • checkSpeed drills will yield faster results by making productions smooth, effortless and automatic.
  • 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.

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