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(#28)  Solidification: Blowing the Whistle on Carryover!

I’ve frequently shared this in my seminars, but very rarely in print. In the “R” part 3 Therapy Matters, I promised to share more on Solidification and how to nail-down oral movement patterns. This is it.

Greetings, My SLP Friend!

“He can say the sound, why can’t I get carryover?” Carryover is a challenge; it always has been.
There’s a myriad of generalization practice-tasks. But unless the child has fullyestablished two things prior to the carryover phase,carryover is a moot point.
Many of us take a similar therapeutic path. We aim for a good sound in isolation, move into single-syllable words, etc., work on all positions in words, then phrases, sentences, and carryover in conversation.
Sometimes along the way, we stall. Sometimes a simple /s/ isn’t simple; it takes 2 to 3 years or more. Or, we have the kid that had a bunch of errors in kindergarten, remediated many along the way, and is now in 5th grade but can’t clean up his last one or two sounds.
It’s frustrating.
Sometimes we deal with the following, but sometimes, we don’t. Ultimately, here’s what we’re asking of the child. We want him or her to apply the new oral placement and movement within all surrounding arresting and releasing consonants and vowels, no matter:
  the complexity of the consonants or vowels,
  the number of syllables,
  the word length,
  the sentence length,
  the number of target-sounds within the sentence or sentences, and
  during conversation.
That’s asking a lot, motorically.
I have a solution; I call itSolidification. It’s not a magic-bullet, but it sure does help.  I’ve used it successfully with hundreds of kids. It’s the proprioceptive glue between “saying the sound correctly” and “using it consistently.”
Here are the two things I mentioned above that must be established prior to carryover:
1. The child must be capable of producing a stabilized-mobilized speech sound and be proprioceptively familiar with the new placement (where it is, how it feels, and how to replicate it) and,
2.Be able to move to and from the new placement with ease, agility and controlled precision.  The child’s new motor pattern mustsolidify—be produced correctly, consistently, and comfortably.
The production of the new speech sound
must not be any tougher to say
than all the other speech sounds the child makes correctly.
That. Takes. Practice. The right kind of practice; practice that generates motor memory.  There are three phases.

The Three Phases of Solidification

1. Acquire a correctly-produced, isolated target sound
Listen to the child’s “correct” target production and check the child’s physical production of the sound, as well. Make sure the child’s target sound production is “clean” and has appropriatestabilization andmobilization.
Speech is movement. Appropriate stabilization enables refined small movements for connected speech. It also enables the ability to move to and from surrounding speech sounds.
What may sound “fine” in isolation may not be motorically conducive in context and use. Check for stabilization.
You must have stabilizationnear the moving part.
Forfront-tongue vertical sounds (t, d, n, s, z, sh, zh, ch, j, l) the sides of the tongue anchor to the top, side teeth while the front-tongue moves. The mid-tongue contracts (slightly, in most cases) and that enables the front-tongue to move into place; during fricatives, it enable the front-tongue to maintain its spatial placement while air moves.
Forback-tongue vertical sounds (k, g, ng, r), the back-tongue “corners” anchor on the retromotor pads (the area behind the top, back teeth), while the mid-tongue moves or holds (depending on the sound). For /r/, be sure to add lingual tension.
To introduce and “feel” the movement piece, place the tongue in its good resting position on top. In this position, the tongue-sides touch the insides of the top, side teeth. From the resting position, move into the target sound placement, say it, and then back to the resting position. For front-tongue sounds the tongue maintains most of its lateral dental contact. This helps the tongue to “keep its place.”
Once the target sound can be produced correctly and consistently in isolation, with correct stabilization and mobilization (at least 9/10 times in a row), do an in-depth analysis.
2. Do The Phonetic Context Probe (PCP)
DoThe Phonetic Context Probe analysis to determine their best productions in minimal-contexts. The results indicate the combinations you can legitimately ask them to practice.Click Here to access The Phonetic Context Probe.
Download it, save it, and print for your speech-kids. Instructions are included, but here’s additional info:
  • Write the target sound between the slashes on all four columns. (Have your older kids write it in for you; have them say a good isolated target for each one they write!)
  • Administer each combination in all four columns; get a baseline. Start with the left column and work your way across the page. Normally, each column takes around 20 to 30 seconds to administer.
  • Say something like, “I’ll say a short funny word, and you repeat. Just do your best and do what you do.”
  • Look at the child (and encourage him to look at you) and say each combination loud enough for the child to hear the target and vowel differences. If on the first round he doesn’t distinguish the difference between some of the vowels, that’s okay; move on. That tells you a little something about the child’s discrimination capabilities.
  • It’s okay to repeat a combination or two, nothing is invalidated.
  • Avoid stimming and training the combinations; take what you get, and move straight through as much as possible.
  • Attach the page to a clipboard and hold so the child cannot see you write your numbers and comments.
3. Solidify Their Minimal-Context Productions
Solidification is the process of establishing proprioceptive movement memory, i.e., movement patterns. It’s accomplished through repetitive drill-and-instill of the minimal combinations determined onThe Phonetic Context Probe.
Here’s the key—practice the minimal combinations they are correctly able to do, WITH A METRONOME.
Although there are many metronome apps, I use an app called MetroTimer (black with blue numbers; it’s free). There’s also a free online metronome atMetronomeOnline.com.  Start with a relatively slow pace (60 bpm) and gradually increase (up to 120 bpm) according to the child’s capability, over time. Kids love to see how fast they can say the combinations and compete with their friends. Make sure their productions are accurate. If they’re inaccurate, slow down.
Here’s another major benefit. Normal speech requires small movements to successfully fit into coarticulation. Therefore, when the metronome beat is faster, the child’s oral movements have to become smaller. It is difficult, if not impossible, to move the tongue rapidly while doing big movements.
  • Choose 3 to 5 minimal combinations (from the PCP) that the child can say correctly, i.e., the production sounds good and looks good. He has appropriate stabilization, mobilization, and no overflow simultaneous oral or facial movements. (For example, the jaw doesn’t retract while he’s making his /r/.)
  • At first, ask the child to say his minimal combination several times. Later, ask him to say the combination and simultaneously count his productions on his fingers, up to 10. As he is able, move him into saying his sounds with the beat of the metronome.
  • Practice each combinationat least 10 times in a row. Or, ask the child to say the combination for a length of time (5 seconds, 10 seconds, or 30 seconds). Increase the pace of the metronome if he is able to maintain clarity. Try it out, see what he or she thinks.
  • Incorporate the child’s minimal combinations into therapy games. Put the combinations on cards, or lists, or have access to each child’sPCP so you can tell the kids which ones to practice.
  • After you’ve worked on the combinations in therapy, and the child has become quite capable, assign the metronome-practice for speech homework. Do so, when you know the child will practice correctly.
  • Most kids stay in this motoric practice phase for a month or two.
  • For most kids, it is not necessary to practical all of the combinations before advancing to meaningful words and phrases. Do so, when the child’s productions are correct, consistent, and effortless.
You’ll be surprised how quickly your kids will advance into words, phrases, and sentences, as well as conversation. Carryover and generalization will occur much easier and more quickly for your kids after they’ve established the foundational movement pattern.
Let me know how it goes! 
See you next week!

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