Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Speech Therapy At Home: A Minimalist Approach

I've experimented with several approaches to home therapy. We've done 30 minutes sessions five times a week in addition to the therapy services Ava was receiving elsewhere. That was intense and a schedule that was hard to maintain even when the children were only in daycare two mornings a week.

We tried doing a 15-20 minute therapy session nightly after dinner. That was working well at least 3 days a week until summertime hit and our schedule was less regular. Then sessions dropped to once a week and then we got distracted all together.

When fall approached, Ava was switching from daycare two mornings a week to preschool five mornings a week. She was also starting her speech group again twice a week for 45 minutes after the summer break. I decided to postpone home sessions until we settled into our school-year schedule.

Things are finally calming down. Ava has transitioned well to preschool. She's doing fine in her speech group twice a week. Her speech group is wonderful. They have a group for preschool-aged speech-only children. The therapists use a cycles approach working on each sound for a week or two before moving on to another sound. After moving through all the targeted sounds they begin the cycle again. Ava has a somewhat unique spectrum of speech sounds she has vs. has not acquired though. She has (with the exception of /sk/) pretty much mastered the /s/-blends. /s/-blends are typically a sound most preschool children need to address, so the group spends quite a few consecutive sessions on /s/-blends Ava already knows. Therefore, I am feeling the need to supplement at home again.

I don't want to overwhelm her though. Already her schedule is at least three times as busy as it has ever been. So I'm taking a minimalist approach to home therapy right now. I've taken a card deck upstairs to her bedroom. Usually we do final /k/, but right now her speech group is working on /sk/ so I'm switching to /sk/ this week (extensive /s/-blend sets are currently available in the Testy Shop).

I keep the deck on her bedside table and we practice the deck before nap and again before bed. It takes no more than 5-7 minutes to do a speed drill consisting of at least 50 productions. I can tell she's fatiguing near the end of the 59 card final /k/ deck (coming soon in the Testy Shop) because she's at 90% accuracy for the first 20 and down to more like 30% accuracy by the final 20).

I like this approach. It meets the two essential criteria for getting it done in our house.
  • It is quick.
  • It is built into our routines (before bed and nap) in a hard to forget way.
  • As a bonus, it is heavily focused on child productions which is essential for progress with motor-speech problems.

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