Early Intervention Strategies for Success

Sharing What Works in Supporting Infants & Toddlers and the Families in Early Intervention

Early Intervention Strategies for Success, Tips, Insight and Support for EI Practitioners


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  • Ditch the Animal Sounds! – Who’s Ready for the Next Talks on Tuesday?!(current)

It is hard to believe but it is almost May!  The final Talk of the two-part series, entitled “Ditch the Animal Sounds: Writing Appropriate Outcomes that Lead to Effective ImplementationAre you ready?,” will be presented live on May 5th!  In anticipation of the upcoming webinar, I am excited to share with you just a few of the key points that I will be presenting in the session

In my first two blog posts on articulation and addressing language development, I talked specifically about how important it is to remember that functional services should be based on the appropriate diagnoses of the young children with whom we work.  These kids DO need services—but when we are diagnosing appropriately and accurately, our services for infants and toddlers will typically be based on a diagnosis of a language disorder versus a speech sound disorder. With that in mind, we should, therefore, be providing services that focus on language development rather than on speech sound development…or better yet, we should be using best practices by coaching families to facilitate speech sound development within (rather than separate from) activities that target functional communication by and with the child!

Sounds easy enough to do, right?!

Outcomes – Focusing on What’s FUNCTIONAL

When we are working with a child who is really struggling to get his basic needs or wants met because he does not have the LANGUAGE, focusing specifically on and teaching a child to produce a bunch of animal sounds is really not a FUNCTIONAL choice.  So a child learns to ‘moo’ or ‘meow.’  Does that really help him get a drink of milk or call his mom when he needs her?!  Those sounds can be fun…and for most children, they really do grab their attention and make them smile…if not even eventually imitate.  But what about those children for whom language is a challenge?  When writing outcomes, animal sounds, environmental sounds, and silly sounds are just not functional.

…Think about this for just a minute…

Is the family’s goal for this child really to produce animal sounds or to imitate the sound of an airplane or a car engine?!

When we work with young children who are struggling with language development, we recognize that they need to be able to produce sounds in order to produce words.  Those sounds, however, need to be addressed within functional, natural contexts.  Addressing a child’s ability to obtain needs and wants by learning how to label desired objects or to make a verbal request…THESE are functional outcomes.  In order to request a drink, or to ask for more, or to label the boots that a little boy wants to wear to play in the snow, he needs to be able to produce an approximation of the words “milk”…and “more”…and “boots”.  While the outcome itself is not to produce the /m/ or the /b/ sounds specifically, the production of these sounds can and should certainly be EMBEDDED into the intervention itself.

What should these outcomes look like?  Need examples of functional outcomes for a toddler who presents with an expressive language delay or disorder?  How can or should we select target words to include within a child’s outcomes? Join me for the May 5th Talk on Tuesday to answer these and other questions you may have about writing outcomes!

Intervention: What Does It Look Like?!

When I work with families, I always keep a few key considerations in mind…and these considerations—or TIPS—tend to form the foundation by which I coach the parents and the caregivers on ways that they can embed speech sound development into their everyday activities and routines.  Each of these tips is intended to help families embed speech sounds into play-based or routines-based, language rich activities while they are engaged with their children. By now, we are all aware of the fact that children need to be able to make sense of stimuli in order to learn from it.  In order for a child to process information, it needs to be presented within a normal, naturally occurring event or opportunity in his or her own environment.  Using flashcards to teach sounds or words, or creating superficial teaching opportunities like pushing a child to imitate sounds, is not going to work.  Infants and toddlers truly do NOT learn, and ultimately develop, speech or language through artificial methods.

Instead, their verbalizations—their LANGUAGE–should be based on models that we have provided within the natural routines and activities—these are the opportunities that will have meaning, and positively impact learning, for, a child. Young children will naturally imitate the speech sounds that are embedded within the language that they can, and want, and need to use within their everyday lives–even those who are struggling with their language.  They do NOT, however, tend to imitate sounds that do not have a place within naturally occurring, everyday activities and routines—and those are the opportunities in which we can encourage and coach families to embed sounds in language.

So…anyone want to know what these fancy tips are?  Again, be sure to tune in to the May 5th Talk on Tuesday to learn more about how to work with families and coach caregivers to embed speech sound development into everyday routines and activities. 

Do you have some tried-and-true strategies that you use to embed speech sounds into natural learning opportunities with the families with whom you work? 

Share your ideas here!

If you missed either of Corey’s webinars, visit the Talks on Tuesdays 2015 recordings page on the VA Early Intervention Professional Development Center, or click below:

It’s Almost Never Apraxia: Understanding Appropriate Diagnoses of Speech in Early Intervention

Ditch the Animal Sounds: Writing Appropriate Outcomes that Lead to Effective Implementation

If you’d like to catch up on all of the posts in this series, visit:

What’s the Bottom Line Regarding Articulation in EI?!

Address the Language: The Speech Will Follow!

ICD-10 Codes and Insurance Reimbursement in EI: The Fun Stuff?!?

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