The Power of Gestures

Janine Shapiro, Co-Clinical Director of Access Behavior Analysis

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 cued speech (a formal visual system of communication used with people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing).  Instead, the gestural cues at Access assume many forms and are tailored to learners’ individual needs. Hand gestures paired with speech sounds are phenomenally effective in facilitating the establishment of words in some nonverbal children and in increasing intelligibility in many vocal learners.  

The late Dr. Anthony DeFeo, a clinical supervisor at The University of Arizona, introduced me to gestural cueing in graduate school.  In essence, gestural cueing is the association of a sound with a unique hand gesture.  People often ask me to demonstrate to them the hand gestures I use for various sounds, and I do so with pleasure, however, I always communicate that there is no magic in the form of the gesture.  Any gesture can effectively cue any sound.  Pairing the two stimuli together in a scientific manner is the crucial step for success with this technique.

At Access, gestural cues are just one method involving the association of speech sounds with another stimulus form.  Using a non-verbal prompt or cue for speech represents the intersection of behavior analysis and speech pathology at its finest.  Below is a video discussing and demonstrating gestural cues. Check it out!

New Access Clinic Opening in Fishers

We are thrilled to announce that a new Access clinic will be opening at the beginning of May in downtown Fishers, conveniently located just a couple minutes drive west of I-69.  This new location will exclusively serve children between the ages of eighteen months and eight years.  We admittedly pondered long and hard whether to … more »

The Luxury of Pairing

Working in the ABA world as a speech-language pathologist, I realize I’m lucky.  I’ll go further:  I’m spoiled.  I used to rejoice when a third party payor authorized sixty half-hour sessions of speech-language therapy across a one year period.  Today, I’m accustomed to designing programs for clients that target speech and language for between twenty-five … more »

Quick Tip: Avoid Repeating a Child’s Errors

Most people would agree that it’s important to model the speech forms we want a child to produce and to expose a child to correct speech forms as much as possible.  That said, there’s a tendency when correcting a child’s speech error to repeat the error.  For example: Child: Look, mom, it’s a doddie. Parent: … more »

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

Get Started Today