This advice-column-style blog for SLPs was authored by Pam Marshalla from 2006 to 2015, the archives of which can be explored here. Use the extensive keywords list found in the right-hand column (on mobile: at the bottom of the page) to browse specific topics, or use the search feature to locate specific words or phrases throughout the entire blog.
Q: My school district has been suggesting that we work on stopping before s-clusters, and I thought that would be a mistake leading to lots of frustration for both the SLPs and the students. Do you have any comments?
I think that whenever we set policy –– “my district has been suggesting that we work on stopping before s-clusters” –– we are forgetting the individual child.
There is no hierarchy or policy that should “work.” What “works” is what works for that individual child, not what “should work” for everyone. For example ––
- One child will learn clusters before singletons, and another will learn singletons before clusters.
- One child will learn a postvocalic S before a prevocalic S, and another will do it in the reverse.
- One child will learn all his [+Anterior] sounds first and have great difficulty with the [+Back] sounds, while another child will get all his [+Back] sounds right away yet have tremendous difficulty gaining the [+Anterior] sounds.
It is not a curriculum we are teaching. We are designing individualized programs that work for individual children. What does the term “IEP” mean? It means Individualized Educational Plan.
To set a policy for approaching phonological skills means to ignore the important concepts of stimulability, readiness, and trial-and-error. It also means to ignore who we really are –– we are people who help others in the ways that they can be helped. We are not people who shove pre-set curriculums down our students’ throats.