Speech Therapy in Metuchen and Edison



K. Bruce Harpster, M.A. CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist
SPEECH-LANGUAGE SUGGESTIONS  FOR PARENTS http://www.SpeechAccentSolutions.com
"In the short time our son [name withheld] has worked with Mr. Bruce, he has improved his speech.  The best part is the parent is allowed to see the speech session which is very very good.  I learned a lot from [Bruce], like how to make my son do his homework.  The other five days, I practice with him doing his homework and he is able to improve his skills.  [Bruce] has a lot of patience and excellent technical skills.  We are highly grateful to Mr. Bruce Harpster"

--Bala and Padma Gajjala,
Software Designer-father and  mother of a 7-year-old boy with Autism









Home>Resources/Links>Autism Resources>Language Facilitation

Techniques to Help Your Child Learn
Language, Speech and Communication Skills at Home
At Home Practice:

Dear Parent/Caregiver,

Each specific case requires individualized clinical judgment  and treatment planning.  Parents are advised to seek the advice of a Speech-Language Pathologist.  In the meantime, for suggestions on how to help your verbal child with speech and language delays, please find a few tried and true techniques at the bottom of this page. 

For more information, please visit this website's
Disclaimer Page

Controversial Treatments

Since parents searching for helpful suggestions often encounter controversial treatments, we offer description links of such controversial treatments below as a "heads up":

Sometimes, some providers suggest controversial articulation and/or non-speech oral motor methods.  Parents may refer to Theory, Logic and Evidence Against the Use of Non-Speech Oral Motor Exercises to Change Speech Sound Productions from the 2006 ASHA Convention.  The title says it all.

Facilitated Communication is another controversial treatment of which parents should be aware.  Please see ASHA's Facilitated Communication Position Statement.

Also, parents may encounter providers certified in various audio-training programs.  ASHA's AIT Position Statement  states little peer-reviewed scientific evidence exists supporting the efficacy of audio-training programs which use an "Audiokinetron" or which play musical compact discs (CDs) ("Auditory Integration Training" and "The Listening Program" are two examples).

Here are informative and helpful suggestions from the Journal of the Texas Speech-Language and Hearing Association on how to evaluate the efficacy of controversial or experimental treatments.

Suggestions for Parents

For parents of non-verbal chilren who display limited communication or speech/language delays, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln's web page has some great suggestions:


If you have questions regarding any of the techniques listed above or below, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

K. Bruce Harpster, M.A., CCC-SLP

Suggested At-Home Practice Strategies for Parents

1 Planned Misunderstanding (also known as Planned Stupidity)-   When your child makes an incomplete communication, pretend you don't understand the message.  For example, if the child points at a desired object or says only the name of the object (e.g., food, toy, candy) when the intended communication was a request, cue the child for more information by saying something like "Yes, that's right. That's what it is.  What do you want?"  If your child then says a request, "I want [the object]," provide it and offer praise: "You said, 'I want [the object].  Good job!"  If the child simply repeats the same utterance, model the correct form and offer another communication opportunity.

Another example might be if your child verbally says a mistaken pronunciation of "boat" as “bow” without the “t.”  In such a case, pretend to misunderstand by saying, "A bow and arrow would sink!  Who would go fishing on a 'bow'?" 

In each instance, whether or not the child repairs the mistake by saying “boat,” give multiple models of the correct pronunciation, such as, “Oh!  You wanted to go fishing on a ‘boat.’  You wanted a ‘boat!’  You’re right!  I would fish on a boat!  Good idea!  A boat is much better for fishing!”  Such playful modeling encourages the child to revise his or her communication in conversation.  Children often find such word play entertaining and motivating.

2.  Repetition and Expansion- When your child speaks to you, repeat what the child said and then expand upon it.  For example, if the child points to an animal and says “dog,” when the intended communication is “There is a dog,” repeat and expand upon what the child said by saying and signing, “There is a dog.  There is a little dog.  The little dog is over there."  Such expansion offers the child multiple models of increasingly complex syntactic structure.

3.  Developing Routines- Routines such as getting dressed, washing dishes or cleaning up a room allow for consistent practice.  But an added benefit to establishing routines is that, when adults violate learned routines, children often try to correct the violation by explaining what's wrong.  This need to correct the routine creates highly motivating practice opportunities for children.  For example, one routine would be "washing dishes."  If the child is working on prepositions, put a plate away in the silverware drawer.  The child may try to correct the error by explaining that putting plates away in the silverware drawer is silly--that you should put plates in the cabinet.  If not, the adult can cue such communication; i.e., point to the drawer and say, “Something's wrong here.  Oh my gosh!  Where are we going to put the silverware?!”  Then model the use of prepositions “in," "out," "on,” “off,” “over” and “under” correctly in many sentences to provide good models.

5.  Self Talk -  Self talk means the adult describes his or her own actions.  For example, when setting the table, say something like "I'm setting the table now.  I think I'm going to put your placemat here.  I'll put the plate on your placemat.  See the plate?  The plate is on the placemat."

6.  Parallel Talk-  Parallel talk means the adult describes the child's actions.  This can be done with a sense of play and humor.  For example, when the child is eating, say something like," You're eating your chicken.  I'm eating chicken too.  Look at you!  You drank some milk.  You're eating a chicken nugget.  I think I'll take another bite, too."

7.  Imitations-  Repeat back to the child the child's correct speech utterances.  This often leads the child to imitate an adult's correct speech.

8.  Expansions- When the child speaks, expand that speech utterance by taking what the child said and adding grammatical or semantic detail to increase complexity.  For example, if your child takes off her hat and says "hat off" expand the utterance with ”Your hat is off.  The hat is off your head.  Whoops!  Now the hat is on your head."

9.  Extensions-   Extensions are when an adult adds semantic meaning and complexity through additional comments.  For example, when the child takes her hat off and says "hat off," say, "Yes, we came in.  It's warm in here.  The weather is very cold outside!"

10.  Buildups and Breakdowns-  When the child speaks, build up the child’s speech with an expansion and then break the expansion into pieces.  For example, when the child says "hat off," say, "Yes, your hat is off your head."  Then, break the utterance down by saying,  "Your head.  The hat is off.  Off your head.  The hat is off your head."

11.  Recasts-  In recasts, take what the child says and expand it into a different category.  An example of this would be when the child says "hat off," recast the utterance into a question, "Is the hat off your head?"

Parents can best provide at-home practice through multiple models and examples of correct speech and language.  When an adult uses multiple models of correct speech, the child has more fun.  In addition, such practice is more effective because it is more practical and less abstract than when the adult "teaches" grammar or corrects the child’s speech.  Please try to avoid teaching, correcting or telling a child to say something a “right way” such as, “No!  Not 'eated.'  Say ‘ate.’  ‘Eated' is wrong.  Say I ‘ate’ lunch!”  Such instruction discourages  communication because it is too abstract for the child.  Additionally, it  tends to confuse children because it
calls as much attention to the incorrect form as the correct form.

Rather, try bombarding your child with correct grammatical examples during real conversation.  For example, when your child incorrectly says something such as, "I eated with my friends," respond with multiple models such as, “Really!?  You ate outside?  You ate with your friends?  Wait a minute.  You ate lunch outside with your friends, today?  Really?  That must have been fun when you ate lunch outside with them.  I'm glad you ate with your friends.  I ate lunch with my friends, today, too.”  Such modeling provides more opportunities for the child to learn, encourages correct language in a functional setting and helps your child connect with you, giving the child more confidence!  Also, it's more fun.  To a child--and most adults, for that matter--fun is what it's all about.

All  the best,
K. Bruce Harpster, M.A., CCC-SLP

Ideas for the above were taken in part from general language facilitation techniques of Speech-Language Pathology and Language Learnability Theory and The University of Nebraska at Lincoln (please see link, above).

For further, more detailed explanations, read:
Paul, Rhea.  (2001) Language disorders from infancy through adolescence.
St. Louis: Mosby, Inc.

If you have any questions, or wish information regarding appointments for screenings, treatment, specialist referrals etc. in NJ, please feel free to email kbharpster@SpeechAccentSolutions.com

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SpeechAccentSolutions.com, a speech-language and communication website.
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