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 5-year-old has been in speech therapy since he was 2. After many years of therapy, he pronounces a word right during speech and at home speech activities and he uses them in a sentence, however he’s not carrying over with conversational speech. His SLP tells me to correct him when he says a word wrong, but I’m correcting nearly every word he says which makes him get frustrated and not even want to talk to me. I don’t want to destroy this child’s self-confidence at such an early age. Please help!!!!
Ooooo. I am sorry to disagree with your therapist, but she is way off base on this. You are speaking of the process we call “carryover.” Carryover has to be handled like all other aspects of therapy––with a plan. Your experience of his reaction to your correction is normal. The child should get frustrated when you try to correct him all the time. That type of crude process turns you into a nag and it puts a wall between you and the child. You don’t want that.
There are many excellent ways to engage the process of carryover in conversation, and I have spelled out hundreds of activities in my book called Carryover Techniques in Articulation and Phonological Therapy. Let me give you three examples that would be appropriate for a five-year-old. I hope these help—
Have the child sit in a certain chair at home. Talk to him for 5-10 minutes about any subject that gets him to talk freely— e.g., what he would like to do for his next birthday or his preferences for his lunches at school. Or tell knock-knock jokes to one another, etc. Tell him that you will correct him while he is sitting in the chair but that you will NOT correct him any other time. Have a good time while he is in that chair. Make it a place of special fun and special attention. Tell him how much you love him when he in on it. DO NOT CORRECT HIM ANY OTHER TIME OF DAY. This is a basic Van Riper technique he called “Nucleus Situations.”
A second excellent way to begin work on carryover at home is to use what we call “key words.” Chose one, two, or maybe three words you will correct. For example, if the child is working on “S” use the word “Please.” Key words are words that have your child’s target sound and that come up often in your home– please, yes, no, okay, maybe, pretty soon, mommy, daddy, upstairs, can I…, car, eat, drink, juice, breakfast, lunch, dinner, homework, chore, etc. Tell your child you will correct him on those words only. Let all other errors go uncorrected. After a week, add another few words, then more another week later, etc.
Try a game of “word tag.” Sit together on the couch for 5-10 minutes and strike up a general conversation about anything. Lightly and playfully slap the child’s hand or knee every time he says a word with his sound, and he will do the same for you. Make a game of it by crying out “I heard one!” when a tag is made. The idea is simply to make these words stand out. After a few minutes, change the game so that you only tap each other when a word is spoken correctly (or incorrectly). Do not correct him outside of the game unless he likes it and wants to. Once it is learned, the game can be played for a minute here-and-there throughout the week.