When your child has speech and language difficulties simultaneously and there are many goals to work on, how does the speech-language pathologist (S-LP) work on EVERYTHING and at the same time make therapy fun and engaging?
Speech-language pathologists know that there is a strong relationship between language and speech sound disorders (SSD). For example, if a child has difficulty with the /s/ sound, he/she may also have difficulty with expressive language as well. For example, a child who mispronounces the /s/ sound may also have difficulty with plurals “I have many boys in my classroom” and possessives “The boy’s shoes are blue.” These combined disorders can affect a child’s ability to tell a story, ask questions and more.
There are many techniques and activities S-LPs can select to ensure that there are frequent communicative opportunities in therapy and at home. These individualized concepts allow the S-LP and the parent(s) to work together to help the child produce the correct sounds and language structures in a fun and engaging way.
Johnny is a 4 year-old boy who has difficulty producing /s/ sounds and has expressive language issues with plurals, possessives, asking questions, taking turns and having a conversation with a beginning, middle and end.
What do we do?
The first thing we do is conduct an assessment and set speech and language goals/recommendations for therapy. In this instance, we begin by addressing the speech concern (/s/ sound), first in isolation and then in words.
We do this by introducing functional activities (i.e. reading his favourite books, telling fun stories, playing “grocery store”) that engage Johnny in “play” and allow him to practice the /s/ sound. These activities also allow us to simultaneously address language goals (i.e. increasing vocabulary, telling a story that has a beginning, middle and end, asking questions and turn-taking).
Parents are always informed of the speech and language goals and the therapy techniques used to achieve them and activities are recommended for home practice between therapy sessions. These can include: playing /s/ word “I spy” in the car or at home, going through a magazine and cutting out things with /s/, gluing them into a book and making a story out of it, and playing “grocery store” at home with /s/ words.
At the Speech Therapy Centres of Canada we feel very strongly that speech therapy should be fun! Although we set individual, specific speech and/or language goals for each child, our ultimate goal is to ensure that he/she is a proficient communicator at home and at school, and is successful at making friends and maintaining friendships. And this is more likely to occur if he/she enjoys therapy sessions and is proud of his/her progress.