No matter what goals you are working on with a student, there comes a time to move those newly developed skills outside your therapy setting. This is referred to as carry over. For some students we know it can be a real struggle. We all have experience with the student who does a perfect /s/ during therapy and then you see them in the hallway and they turn to you to ask “Is it my peech day?” All of that work does little good if it does not transfer to the real world. Therefore carryover skills are important to address. It is important to have this in mind from the very beginning.
There are things to keep in mind when planning tasks for carry over. It is important that the student is able to do the required task correctly in a controlled setting and hear the difference between his correct and incorrect productions before doing homework assignments on his own. If he doesn’t self correct errors he is likely to practice homework wrong which only reinforces errors. Homework should be given at the level where student is successful.
It is important to reinforce the correct behavior to get it established but after that don’t give immediate feedback every time. Instead, teach self monitoring by asking the student what they think about their production and then give feedback. This makes them responsible for their behavior and not as dependent on your approval. Children often work for approval and do not see the big picture. We want them to be self-disciplined and responsible for their actions. I often tell them they need to become their own therapist because they certainly don’t want me following them around all day correcting them.
As soon as students are at a spontaneous sentence level I encourage them to self monitor by using a hand counter or tally counter. They self monitor by making a click each time they observe themselves doing an assigned task correctly during therapy. This could be monitoring a correct speech sound, using correct grammatical structures, or using fluency techniques. All those things we tend to work on.
It is easiest to do this in an hierarchy. Train the student how to use the clicker when reading a word list or reading sentences that have the words they are working on. Then bring it up to the next level by working on more spontaneous productions. The Silly Sentences in the “Expressive” section are great for a reading task. It goes to the next level of spontaneous speech when student explain what is wrong with the sentence that was read. The Association cards in the “Vocabulary” section are also a way of getting more spontaneous output as the student explains how words are similar in meaning. I often have students working on vocabulary skills as well as sound production in the same group. With the clicker almost any task that requires a spontaneous response can work and meet a variety of needs.
There are a few bonuses for having the student use the tally counters. You can keep track with a second counter or paper and pencil, and compare accuracy of the self monitoring as well number of attempts with the student’s tally. The students finds it motivating to hit a target number of correct productions and you have data for your records.
The clicker can add natural controls at the level of conversational speech.
Often students get carried away with a conversation, and forget to monitor or allow others to talk. The flow is stopped if you need to remind them. The tally counter in their hand is a good reminder there is a goal in mind. When working with multiple students you can give an assigned number to tally before passing it to another student. The group can earn a chosen activity when they reach a certain number. For some reason the clicker by itself can be motivating to some students.
The “Social” section at the top has quite a few activities to encourage spontaneous speech in social situations. There are ideas for role playing in this section. Role playing is a good activity for practicing real life situations. Ideally you will be providing tasks that reflect real life speaking situations so students practice what they will actually be saying and then carry it over.
Here is a link to my “Home Work Rating Scale“. I have used it to get feedback from parents, teachers, and caregivers. The student becomes aware he is being listened to by others and parents know what can be expected from the student. I often use this sheet as an exit requirement. When parents have been part of the process, they are more likely to know and agree when it is time for a student to discontinue speech services.