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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.

About the author 

Marcus Little

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