Sparking Speech

Janine Shapiro, CCC-SLP, BCBA

As a novice speech-language pathologist, I used to think there was really nothing I could do to spark speech in a non-verbal child.  I was wrong.  Research shows that alternative augmentative communication, such as sign language, promotes VOCAL language.   In addition, a procedure known as stimulus-stimulus pairing may also prompt talking.

Stimulus-Stimulus Pairing

Stimulus-stimulus pairing is essentially the association of two different stimuli.  For our purposes, one stimulus is always speech.  It may be just a sound, like “ahhh,” or it could be a word, such as “apple.”  The other stimulus is an item or activity that is highly preferred by the child.  An example may be Thomas the Train or jumping on a trampoline.  The goal in this procedure is to associate the two stimuli so that in the context of a child’s favorite item or activity, the child produces the sound or word you’re deliberately associating with it.

An Effective Procedure for All Children

This is why it’s important to envelop all young children with spoken language and narrate your actions and their actions throughout the day.  Even for typically developing children, it’s an effective procedure to aid in the development of speech and language that most parents do instinctively.  In late talkers and nonverbal children with developmental disabilities, the science behind the procedure can be harnessed in a more focused, tactical manner to jump start spoken language.  

Watch the video below for more information about stimulus-stimulus pairing and how the procedure is implemented at Access Behavior Analysis to trigger the production of vocal language.

New Access Clinic Opening in Noblesville

A couple years ago, Ashley, Alysia and I realized that many children who attend the Fishers clinic travel from Noblesville.  Not long afterwards, the Fishers clinic approached full capacity, and the three of us commenced an intensive search for a Noblesville building to create more space in Fishers and reduce commute durations for our Noblesville … more »

Access Joins the Lighthouse Family

Alysia, Ashley and I started Access in 2013 to create therapy programs that fuse the best practices of speech-language pathology and behavior analysis. We envisioned thoughtfully curated spaces that would inspire communication and laughter. We wanted every learner who walked through our doors to feel understood and supported as they worked to realize their potential. … more »

The Power of Gestures

My most used tool in my practitioner’s toolbox is one that at first glance often seems foreign to both speech-language pathologists AND Board Certified Behavior Analysts.  Many of my therapy sessions feature a variety of hand gestures that either supplement or replace my verbal speech prompts with learners.  The gestures aren’t American Sign Language or … more »

Access Behavior Analysis offers the most comprehensive, fully tailored treatment plan to families.

Get Started Today