Home Speech-Language Pathology Figuring Out Speech

Figuring Out Speech

by Kim Swon Lewis

Do you ever feel like you’re slogging through another therapy session?  Especially if you are working with a long-term child who has been with you awhile and is likely to stay with you a good deal longer?  Sometimes adding a new person to your group with the identical deficits can be just what the party needs.

And what if this new client required no paperwork?  Does it sound too good to be true or have you figured it out? What I’m suggesting is the inclusion of an action figure to the circle.  I have one kiddo that really improves his articulation productions when he’s speaking for the action figure.  The fact that he slows his speech rate certainly helps, but the authoritative tone that superheroes apparently require is a big part of it too.

I’m kind of partial to Thor myself, but you could have a variety of action figures for the kids to choose from or have them bring one from home (or have them check their pockets, the male version of Mary Poppin’s bag).  Using action figures is also a great way to break the ice with a quiet child who might be more willing to speak for someone other than himself.  And while eye contact is ideal, the honest truth is that eye contact can be sensory overload for some kids.  Providing an object for joint attention, can be a happy compromise.

(This post originally appeared on Activity Tailor)


Kim Lewis M.Ed, CCC-SLP has a private practice for pediatrics in Greensboro, NC. She is the blogger at www.activitytailor.com, providing creative ideas for speech therapy, and the author of the Artic Attack workbook series.

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Jeanette W. Stickel March 8, 2012 - 3:48 pm

Fun idea! I imagine the students would love having that kind of addition to their group.

Kim Lewis March 8, 2012 - 5:34 pm

Thanks, Jeanette! I had another therapist tell me she has success by creating an audience with stuffed animals/puppets. I love the idea of giving instructions to an entire team of superheroes!

Tatyana Elleseff March 8, 2012 - 11:33 pm

Awesome tip Kim, I am so trying this. I have this adorable toddler who is a perfect candidate for it (just have to find a perfect puppet/figure for him). Talking Tom worked really great with him for a while but now he considers himself too “sophisticated” for it

Kim Lewis March 9, 2012 - 9:36 am

Glad to hear it might work for you! I wonder if your cutie might have his own idea of who the figure should be 🙂

Pam Williams March 9, 2012 - 2:54 pm

Action figures are SO motivating! I have a talking Buzz Lightyear on my desk, and my male students will do ANYthing to get to press the buttons to make him talk, shoot the “laser”, and flip out his “wings” at the end of our sessions. But I think I will add some speechless figures to my arsenal, too – my kiddos are partial to Transformers, Power Rangers, Ninja Turtles (still!), Spiderman, and Ben 10. We do have to downplay the weapons part though, being in a public school – it makes it difficult to use some figures that have built-in “weapons”. Think I’ll stick to the unarmed figures for now…

Kim Lewis March 9, 2012 - 4:51 pm

It will be interesting to see if the upcoming movie “Brave” will provide us with a good action figure for the girls! The lead character, Merida, looks tough (you might need to remove her crossbow!). Kim

Pamela Rowe, MA, CCC-SLP March 10, 2012 - 5:44 pm

Wonderful idea. Thank you for sharing this idea. It is a great way to spice up sessions.
Pamela Rowe, MA, CCC-SLP

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