Speech Therapy for articulation typically involves doing a lot of drill based work on helping a client correctly produce a sound (or many sounds). Articulation therapy is designed to help a client correctly pronounce a sound, or sounds that they are having difficulty pronouncing. It begins with working on the sound in isolation, or in some cases, the word level, and then targeting that sound in different positions in the word (beginning, middle, and end). Clients listen to the therapist make the sound, watch their face to see how the sound is made, and are given guided practice to produce the sound themselves. The speech therapist will give the client feedback on their sound production, and work with them on shaping the sound so that it is produced correctly. Following work on producing the sound correctly in all positions in words, the client moves on to working on using that sound in words at the sentence level, and then on carrying that sound over into ordinary conversation. The work that the client does is very repetitive, and can, at times be uninteresting, although speech therapists are excellent at incorporating drill based work with activities such as reading a book, playing a game, or making a craft.
Speech Therapy sessions are often 30 minutes to one hour, and occur 1-2 times per week. Current research has found that, on average, clients do best when they are practicing working on the correct production of sounds for 5-10 minute intervals, 3-5 times per week, as opposed to the way speech therapy has been traditionally structured. This is because the work of improving articulation involves retraining the motor movements (physical movements) that the tongue, lips, jaw, and teeth make. To effectively and efficiently retrain motor movements, regular short bursts of practice are often more effective than less regular, longer periods of practice.
When a student receives speech therapy in a school setting, some speech therapists are now providing therapy in a model referred to as “5 Minute Articulation”. They work with a student for 5 minutes, drilling them on their sound, 3-5 times per week on a 1-1 basis. In my experience in the schools the past two years, I used this therapy methodology with all of my students in grades 2 and up for whom it was appropriate. I saw success rates in correcting their articulation that were, on average, 1-2 years ahead of the success they would have had doing 1-2 30 minute group sessions each week.
Once you have seen that kind of therapeutic success, you never want to go back to the former way of doing things. The question becomes however, how does one bring this methodology into the private practice setting? It is not feasible on a practical level, or on a financial level, for a family to have their child go to private speech therapy for short bursts that often throughout the week. Thus, the model of a home program for articulation was born. This model involves the following:
1. Initial session that includes an evaluation of sounds client is having difficulty with; (this includes a short write up)
2. Follow up within approximately one week to go over results, explain basics of articulation therapy for specific needs, and provide materials to get started for a couple of weeks
3. Future follow ups up in 2-4 weeks intervals (based on client preference and need) to see how home sessions are going, provide tips on working on sound, provide materials and training until next sessions
The client, with the help of their family, can then practice their articulation using materials that have been provided by the speech therapist, for 5-10 minute intervals, 3-5 times per week. Follow ups are scheduled based on client need and family preference, and provide a chance for the speech therapist to informally assess the progress the client has made during home practice, provide feedback on how to make continued improvements to their articulation, and adjust future practice as needed. This program is best suited to clients ages 5 and up who are able to do short routine practice sessions on a regular basis.
If you would be interested in learning more about how your child might benefit from this type of articulation therapy, or with any other communication need, please contact us. We are happy to answer any questions you have.
For more information on the 5 minute articulation model, go to: http://www.5minutekids.com/ResearchArticle.pdf