I recently completed a webinar series (gotta get in those CEUs…) about speech therapy for moderate to severe Speech Sound Disorders (SSD) in young children, and the presenters talked A LOT about phonological awareness. I know phonological awareness is critical for future reading ability, but I didn’t realize how teaching phonological awareness can actually help drastically improve articulation and sound production! I’ve been using two of the activities that the presenters shared, and I’m LOVING them! I’ve been using them for about 2 weeks with one of my clients, and I’ve already seen some great progress. This post will talk all about the first activity. I’ll write another post for the second activity later. They are both so great that they need their own spotlight! 🙂
One of the presenters, Teresa Farhnham M.A., CCC-SLP, a school-based SLP, really stressed the idea of improving overall intelligibility for children with moderate to severe SSD, as opposed to focusing on and perfecting a few specific sounds. One of the ways she accomplishes this is with a consonant sound chart that contains all consonant phonemes organized from anterior to posterior placement of production. Each session, she has the individual student or group use a “magic wand” (whatever engaging pointing toy she can find) to point to each letter and say the sound of the accompanying letter. She says that she rarely has to work on teaching actual placement for any sound. This quick, simple activity helps her students learn placement of nearly every consonant phoneme within 6 weeks. Talk about a bold statement!
As you can imagine, I was pretty skeptical that I wouldn’t have to teach placement, but I thought I’d give it a try with one of my clients. Here’s what my chart looks like. I velcro a small mirror in the middle of my chart so that my clients can watch themselves as they produce the sounds. First, I say the sound while the child watches me. I use hand signals as a visual cue for each sound. Then I have the child repeat the sound.
I have used this activity with my client for 3 sessions now. The first two sessions, my client produced 60% of the phonemes correctly in isolation. On the third session, he produced 76% of them correctly! That’s right! My client spontaneously began correctly producing a few of the phonemes that he never before produced correctly in any context! I couldn’t believe it! I’m now very excited to continue using this activity with other clients to see if I see the same results!
Teresa also discussed the issue of writing measurable goals to address increased intelligibility. She solves this problem by writing goals stating that the child will “increase intelligibility by correctly producing 60% of words in a 5-minute language sample.” Then, at the beginning and end of the term, she takes a language sample of each of her students and simply marks whether or not they produced each word correctly. This eliminates the problem of finding an “unfamiliar listener.” It also takes her professional and accustomed ear out of the equation, because she simply marks a word as right or wrong regardless of whether she understood the word or not. Teresa states that she is able to measure progress this way because most children begin with about 30% intelligibility. Pretty simple, huh?
So, try this with your students, and let me know what you think!
Until next time,