Why phonological therapy?
Phonological therapy is best for children that use phonological processes to simplify their speech. These children need to be taught a specific rule, not specific sounds. Teaching children a specific rule (ex: 2 sounds go together-clusters) rather than teaching the articulatory placement for every cluster results in faster progress.
What is cluster reduction?
Cluster reduction is when a child produces one sound in a word that contains a cluster or blend instead of two sounds. For example, a child will say “top” instead of “stop”. Most likely, the child can produce the /s/ sound, but has difficulty putting two sounds together.
How many target words should I use in a session?
Typically, you want to choose 2-5 target words per session.
How does phonological therapy work?
I follow the cycles approach which includes auditory bombardment, feature awareness, and then client practice. The goal is to get as many repetitions as possible of the target word. I like to target one word per activity.
1. Auditory Bombardment
I say “I am going to say some words and I just want you to listen”
2. Feature Awareness
This is where you teach the rule…it is important to pair the rule with a visual the child will understand.
Rule: two sounds go together
Visual: Two friends holding hands
I say “here are two friends, they are holding hands because they have to stay together. It is important that our two friends stay together so they don’t get lost. In some words we have to say two sounds together like when we say STOP. We can’t forget a sound just like we can’t forget our friend.” While explaining this I show the visual of the two friends.
Discrimination: I will give the child the visual and tell them I am going to say some words. They have to tell me if I used 2 sounds in the beginning or 1 sound. I have them show me using the visual. I will then say 5-10 words some correctly, some using cluster reduction.
The goal is for the child to become aware of the phonological process and be able to discriminate between correct and incorrect production.
(I cut out each person, laminate, and apply Velcro to hands)
I then pick 1-3 activities depending on the length of the session. In each activity I have 1-2 target words. I pick a word that will be said over and over again throughout the activity. I will provide a carrier phrase and the child will produce ONLY the target word.
It is important to provide specific feedback after each production. It is also important to focus on the rule when providing feedback, not the specific sound or articulatory placement.
Example of what to say:
I like how you used two sounds in the beginning of your word. Your two sounds stayed together like your friends stay together (show visual).
Oh no! We forgot a sound…I heard top instead of stop…we need to make sure our friends and sounds stay together so no one gets lost. Let’s try it again with 2 sounds in the beginning. I want to hear /s/ and /t/ together!
Example of what not to say:
Good job! I heard your snake /s/ sound at the beginning! (we don’t care about the sound, we care about the rule).
I heard you say top I need to hear your snake sounds…sssssssstop.
*Target each sound for 60 min before moving onto next target
Phonological processes can be difficult to explain to parents. I made this parent friendly handout to help educate parents.