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Saturday, November 4, 2017

4 ways to help children with speech difficulties in the classroom


Do you have a child with speech difficulties in your class?  There seems to be a much greater prevalence of speech disabilities among young children these days.  Not all qualify for speech therapy but those that do often have to wait months or years on waiting lists (at least in our area).



Let's take a closer look.

What does the speech child look like?

They may have articulation problems.  They may leave off beginning sounds, ending sounds or substitute sounds in their speech.  They may demonstrate disfluency (stutter), that is, they may repeat a beginning sound, word or several words at the beginning of a sentence.  They may be speaking at a single word level or have no speech at all.

They may.......

* demonstrate inappropriate behaviour due to their frustration level
* be self-conscious if they have an awareness that they don't talk like their peers
* they may have poor language skills (but this is not always the case)

They may try.....

Repeating themselves over and over
Give up all together and rarely talk 




If your student is involved with a speech pathologist, please consult them before implementing any strategies.  If your student is still on a waiting list here are 4 strategies that you can try in the classroom.

1.  Children are often very excited to tell us a story.  When they come up to us out of the blue and start talking, for the unfamiliar listener, a child with a speech difficulty can be virtually impossible to decipher.  When you don't know the topic, you don't have any reference to start figuring out the conversation.  One resource we have found helpful in the classroom is a clarification board.
With a clarification board you can ask the child "who" questions.  
"Who are you talking about?"
"Your family?", "A friend?" etc.
Wait for conformation and/or move on to where.
"Are you talking about something that happened at school?"
Continuing using the board to narrow down the scope of what the child is trying to tell you.  Below is an example of might a clarification board might look like.


2.  Augmentation communication boards are essential for children with little to no speech.  In our classroom setting we have moved to CORE boards.  CORE boards contain high frequency words.  These words can be used in different situations and with a variety of people.  CORE words make up about 80% of the words that we use everyday.  Fringe words can added to the boards.  These are words that are specific to locations or situations.  The CORE board featured below is available for free from the Minspeak website 



3. Children using augmentative systems need lots of exposure to the symbol set they are using.  We put symbols up all the room, and use them on a daily basis.  Seeing everyone using symbols helps the children realize that this is "normal" and an acceptable way to communicate.  The picture featured below uses Pixon symbols.




4.  Using visual schedules is another great way to incorporate symbols into your classroom.  They can be used to schedule the day, part of the day or a single activity.  They can be used for the whole class, such as the whole day schedule or they can be individualized for particular children for certain activities or routines throughout the day, such as a bathroom routine.


I hope I've given you a few ideas that you can take back to your classroom and implement with students in your class that have speech difficulties.  

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