A Parent from New Zealand Shares her Experiences
Sometimes I get some really great-emails from parents sharing how they are working with their kids speech at home. This is one of them. Thank you Pam from New Zealand.
Thanks for your reply. I would like to say first of all that because we are so remote and because my son absolutely hates any away from home, after school activity except soccer training and playing with friends I am the sole speech therapist for him. In NZ the government does not provide speech therapy at school except to those very disabled students. I find Ben very easy to work with because he enjoys his speech work with me and willingly does it each day. ( We do take some breaks.)
I have read your posts and boy, does what you say make sense to me. It all just sounds so logical and although I have no speech therapy training at all nor any experience in speech therapy of any kind, I now feel perfectly confident to work with Ben. I have carefully analyzed his difficulties and at the beginning quickly whipped out a pencil and took note of his errors when he was not aware of it during normal daily conversations. I put these into categoreies,e.g. sound troubles and the position of these sound troubles in relation to other sounds and then grammar troubles and habitual left off word parts and etc. Once I had these all written up and this took several days of careful observation, I then invented drills. I am not as fast as you are, Marcus. I have not reached 4 to 5 hundred drills per session yet, but we do go fast and we do cover a lot of ground in one session. He actually loves this. Of course as you could predict he likes the drills he is most familiar with and it is hard introducing new ones although he likes new things too. So where does the innovative bit come it? Well, we don't just sit and drill, we get on the mini trampoline and the balance board and we pass bean bags back and forth. We use sticks that twirl and small balls and slightly bigger balls that are one kilogram each. We also sit for a time and we do reading of the drills together. He loves the rhythm of the drills. So for example I say "go" and he says "went". I say "do" and he says "did". We do this really fast and we reverse roles.. I ask him questions like " Did you go to the movies last night?" then he must answer saying "No. I went to the races." the target is proper use of the past tense of irregular verbs. I have a series of 20 such questions using different irregular verbs that he got wrong often but is now getting correct more often in ordinary speech. He never used to use the auxiliary verbs, do/does, was/wasn't, have/haven't and others. The negative from of these expressions was simply "not" plus the present tense of the verb for all conjugations. He has vastly improved in this area over the past 2 months. We don't correct him much in everyday speech and never did but now he will self-correct at times and makes most of his errors when tired or upset.
I am having so much fun making up these drills and doing them with Ben. I colour code the drills where we ask each other questions or have dialogue. This means we can easily find our place. I also use headings at the top of pages or at the beginning of drills that name the target. He does not drill this but I read it to him so he knows why he is doing each drill.
I had been racking my brain thinking "Where do I start?" before stumbling onto your website. I knew correcting him was not the answer but how to help him??? Well, you have answered that question for me and I have been going to town. The drills (inspired by you) have not only helped him to speak more clearly and smoothly, but they have also been an enjoyable activity for us both. I have read a lot of research regarding the fact that physical activity stimulates the brain and increases recall of information ( Such as Braingym and Vis-a-Ball) and it is on this account that I have included physical movement with the speech drills. He can do the two at once though with new drills it seems best to start out seated on the couch. I sometimes get him to read the drills from a large format spiral drawing book (I also use what we call A4 size spiral lined notebook which is your sort of equivalent of 8×11 inch) which I flip as he finishes each page. He just bounces lightly as he goes. Sometimes he simply holds a beanbag in each hand as he does the drills or holds these as he stands on the tramp just lightly bouncing so as not to even lift his feet off the trampoline. We make up the physical movements as we go and do what seems to work best.
So that is me for now. Kind regards, Pam from Wellington region, Wainuiomata, New Zealand