Getting sounds to generalize into a child’s everyday speech can be challenging. We have all had or know of those children who absolutely rock it in the therapy session only to entirely fall apart once they walk out of the room/session. Here is one of my favourite ways to help children generalize speech sounds.
My Special Five
My Special Five is a trick that my very first boss shared with me when I was still doing my practicum. You, parents, and teacher sit down and pick five words that contain the child’s sound(s). These are high-frequency words for that child. They can be
- characters from a book, show, or video game.
- names of people or pets
- favourite activities
- food that they eat often
- seasonal vocabulary
I write these down for everyone. For a copy of the form I use, go here. Then whenever the student mispronounces anyone of those five words and only those five, the adults will correct them, and the child then repeats the sentence back, ensuring that the target word is pronounced correctly. Once the child has mastered those five words but still is having trouble pronouncing that sound in other words, then we set up another round of different five words. If everyone is working on these words, you usually don’t need more than two special five cycles.
I like this activity because it reduces parents’ need to correct every mispronunciation they hear, which can be frustrating for both parents and child. The child gets to practice these words in multiple settings throughout the day. I usually start to introduce My Special Five once the child is very comfortable working at, at least, the sentence level.
My Special Five is not for every child. I don’t use it with those children who are very aware and anxious about their sounds. For these children, they may start avoiding using those words and, in extreme cases, may reduce the amount that they talk.
Let me know what you are your favourite activities for generalizing speech sounds.