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Reply To: Generalising speech (phonology) targets to everyday talking

Rachel Barton

Hi Victoria,
I often think this is the most tricky stage if it has not all clicked by this point. Some of the key things I work on are:

– developing self-monitoring and self-correction. I use a prompting hierarchy of the cues I give and train parents/staff to do the same. We talk about ‘fixing’ words (stolen from Caroline Bowen) and give praise when a child notices an error and self-corrects “Wow you noticed that word needed fixing and you fixed it all by yourself”. I will attach the handout I give to adults that explains the prompting hierarchy to stress that we are aiming for the least amount of prompting to enable a child to self-correct
– alongside this I make lots of errors myself (or with a puppet) and ask the child to help fix the words
– I try to emulate the speed and/or linguistic load of normal conversation within structured activities e.g. using story dice to tell a story, giving instructions in a barrier game, using conversation cards, but always with the emphasis of remembering the targeted sounds as we talk and fixing words as they crop up. These cards on Twinkl are great for working at conversational level:https://www.twinkl.co.uk/resource/t-s-1023-question-cards-for-conversation-practise
– I ask the child to monologue by telling me about their favourite game / what they like doing when it snows / what animal they would like to be and why etc. As they are doing this I show a thumbs up and then if a word needs fixing I wave. This means that they have to identify what word needs fixing before moving on and I don’t need to say anything. I get them to monitor me/other adults while we monologue too. I’ve found https://wheelofnames.com/ to be a great website for making this fun – add questions to a wheel and then spin the wheel to see what question comes up
– we make up characters for a story which are loaded with the target sounds (I had ‘Steve the Spider’ and ‘Stella the Snail’ for an s blend story recently) and then weave other target words into the story
– If it seems like there is more of a processing / speed of articulation element I do ‘speed trials’ laying out target words on the table and seeing how many the child can say correctly in 30 seconds. They love having another go to see if they can improve their score whilst maintaining accuracy. I use a tally counter to click for every accurate word and then reveal the number at the end (they’re about £5 on Amazon)
– If connected speech continues to really unclear, despite having achieved well with individual sounds, I sometimes work on pacing more generally using pacing boards. This can sometimes make a massive difference as the child is allowing themselves more time to include the new sounds in their connected speech – here’s a useful blog: https://nwspeechtherapy.com/blog/pacing-boards/
– to encourage practise in other contexts I give the child some of their target words on a keyring which goes on their school book bag with an invitation to ask the child to make up a story with their target words
– some children prefer apps for home and so I use http://www.pinkcatgames.com to set games to be played at home
– if the speech issue is phonological or articulation with phonological implications then continuing to include minimal pairs within activities is important so that the emphasis of lost meaning remains
– in a few cases where progress has been particularly slow I have queried whether the child is cluttering and tried to look at strategies with this in mind

Sometimes, despite all of these fun and games, things still don’t generalise and so we take a break and come back to it. There is no shame in that, particularly if there are risks to confidence and self-esteem.

I hope that helps, it will be good to hear ideas from others too!

Best wishes,

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