Stimulability – The Foundation for Success.

In the world of Speech Pathology, stimulability is a key concept.  It is one of the first things a Speech-Language Pathologist will look for once identifying the existence of a misarticulation.  So what is stimulability?  It is simply the client demonstrating the ability to accurately produce a target sound when given a model for that sound.  Stimulability is typically achieved at the sound level first but can be identified at each of the sound production levels leading up to conversation.  These include the syllable level, double syllable level, word and sentence levels.  Once a sound is identified as being stimulable, it signals to the SLP that this sound may be ready to be targeted specifically to be developed through the levels into conversation.  Stimulable sounds display a readiness for therapy. 

The extent to which a sound is stimulable is a key factor in target selection. I would not necessarily choose the most stimulable target as my therapy target.  For instance a sound which is stimulable in sentence level drills with multiple target sounds in multiple positions, I may choose to overlook.  A sound at this level is on the verge of emerging into conversation and I may choose to monitor this sound while choosing a lesser stimulable target to focus on. 

Early on in my career as a Speech Pathologist I imagined I would be spending the majority of my time developing stimulability in clients.  I was amazed that this simply was not the case.  Clients with multiple speech errors usually had a mix of stimulable and non stimulable sounds.  Quite often when working on the stimulable targets, the non stimulable sounds would develop stimulability on their own.  In the instances of having no sounds that are stimulable, it usually does not take multiple sessions to develop stimulability.  I have encountered sounds that were highly resistant to developing stimulability but these cases have always been the exception.    I strongly believe that once a client becomes stimulable for a sound it is simply a matter of doing the work to get the sound to ultimately emerge into conversation.  

I have put together a training video covering the concept of stimulability.  This video also provides some techniques to develop stimulability of the /s/ sound as well.  I am very pleased with the production quality considering this is our first video offering.  I encourage you to leave questions and comments.  I am here to serve you.

Marcus Little