I am not a fan of typical articulation therapy goals. To me they are missing a main ingredient. They usually contain a quantitative element but almost never identify the “qualitative”, and by this I mean how the target is being produced. Let’s look at the following goals for articulation therapy. These will probably look familiar.
1. CLIENT X will produce /target/ in isolation with 90% accuracy.
2. CLIENT X will produce /target/ in syllables with 90% accuracy.
3. CLIENT X will produce /target/ in all positions of words with 90% accuracy.
4. CLIENT X will produce /target/ in sentences with 90% accuracy.
5. CLIENT X will produce /target/ in oral reading tasks with 90% accuracy.
6. CLIENT X will produce /target/ in structured conversation with 90% accuracy
7. CLIENT X will produce /target/ in spontaneous speech with 90% accuracy.
8. CLIENT X will improve carry-over of the target sound /target/ outside of therapy setting with 90% accuracy.
These goals are too vague to be meaningful. The quality of the target production is assumed. This is a problem. A goal needs to speak to the quality of the production as well. I used to celebrate my clients achievement of 100 % accuracy at the word level and sentence level and then would have to wait for endless periods for them to achieve their sound in conversation. This was because my clients could only produce their targets if they “emphasized” their sounds or were “pausing” before their target sounds. If I change the goal to address the qualitative issue of removing pausing and emphasis it becomes much more powerful.
CLIENT X will produce /target/ in spontaneous speech without pausing before target or emphasizing of target with 90% accuracy.
This simple shift in my speech therapy goal setting allowed for my clients to drastically reduce the amount of time before acquiring their sound in conversation. This was due to adjusting the client’s therapy focus to address how to eliminate “pausing” and “emphasis” of speech targets.
By adding the qualitative dimension of “pausing” and “emphasis” to your speech therapy goals you will not only be creating more powerful goals but doing your clients a great service as well.