A difficulty in sound production in children may result in a speech sound disorder, more precisely an articulation disorder. If you have concerns regarding your child’s speech, please consult a speech-language pathologist. A speech-language pathologist will assess your child’s speech and language skills. The assessment will tell you what speech sounds your child needs help with. If your child is assessed with an articulation disorder, your child’s speech-language pathologist will also guide you on how articulation therapy works.
In this blog, you will understand the step-by-step process of articulation therapy. Let’s get started!
The first step in articulation therapy is to check for stimulability. What does it mean to be stimulable? A child is stimulable if they can say a speech sound correctly on imitation. If your child can imitate their speech therapist correctly, that’s great! If not, your speech therapist will try to use some strategies to elicit the correct production of the sound.
As the word suggests, your speech therapist will attempt to elicit the target sound by teaching your child. For example, if your child is not able to imitate or produce the /p/ sound, the speech therapist might instruct them this way, “Put your lips together and release the air like a puff”. Once your child is able to elicit the speech sound correctly, your child will then produce it in isolation.
When you practice the sound in isolation, it means you practice the sound by itself. You wouldn’t use any vowels. For example, if your child was practicing the /p/ sound in isolation, they would practice it as “/p/…./p/…./p/…./p/… etc. You would practice it multiple times. When your child can say the sound in isolation, you can move forward to the next step.
At this time, it would be useful to remember that many children have difficulty producing a speech sound at an isolation level. Your speech therapist, in this instance, may skip this level and move on to the syllable level.
At this point, your child understands how to produce the speech sound. It’s time to use it in syllables. Practicing the speech sounds in syllables means that vowels will be added to the target speech sound. The vowel can be added either before or after the target speech sound. For example, “/pa/, /pi/, /po/, /ap/, /ip/, /api/” etc. Your speech therapist will use the target sound in the initial, medial and final positions of the syllable. Once your child is able to produce the speech sound in syllables consistently, you will move on to the word level.
Your child will start practicing their speech sounds at the word level. The target speech sound would be practiced in the initial medial and final position for example: (pot, apple, and cap). A set of words will be selected and will be practiced. Your speech therapist will practice these words using different fun-filled activities in the form of smash mats, flashcards, puppets, etc. Your child should be able to use the words independently or with good accuracy to move on to the sentence level.
When we start off with sentences, we use the above word in carrier sentences such as “I see the word____” or “Put the word____ in the box”. Once the child is able to use the words in sentences, you can ask the child to make some silly sentences. You can take turns doing so. If you are using picture cards, you can also ask the child to describe the picture in a sentence. Some examples are “The pot is brown”, “Apples are sweet” and “The monkey wears a cap”. Once this level is mastered, your child’s speech therapist will start using some stories.
This is one of the most interesting and fun-filled levels. Children love stories. And what can be a better way than to practice the speech sounds in stories? Stories can be used in different ways. For younger children, you can use story generation, story narration, and story re-telling tasks. Older children can benefit from reading stories as well. Once they achieve this, you can move on to the conversation level.
You can use the target words in conversations. Have your child interact with you and your family members. You may use a jar full of conversation topics or even target words. Have the conversations using the target words. You can even use spin-the-wheel activities. Once your child is able to use the target speech sounds in conversations, you can move towards generalizing.
Once your child has mastered words, sentences, stories, and conversations, your child will start generalizing the sound in all contexts of language. They might exhibit some difficulty in doing so. Your speech therapist will guide you on how to correct it accordingly. Practice the speech sound till your child can use it correctly in daily communication. Remember to always consult your child’s speech-language pathologist if you have any concerns.
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