Speech Therapy Flashcards
What is Speech Therapy?
Speech therapy is an intervention designed to assist a range of communication problems. These problems may relate to speech sounds – how well we say sounds and put them together to form words, language – how well we understand what we hear and how well we use words to communicate with others, literacy – how well we read and write, social communication – how well we engage with others, voice – how our voices sound, fluency – our ability to speak with ease and finally, communication-cognition – how well our minds work including our memory, attention span, ability to problem solve and to organise ourselves.
The role of a Speech-Language Pathologist (show +)
In the United States, a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), or Speech Therapist, holds a Masters Degree in Speech-Language Pathology and uses speech therapy after having assessed and diagnosed a communication problem. SLPs work in many difference research, education and health care settings with varying roles and client populations including children with a speech delay, people with autism and individuals post a traumatic brain injury (such as a stroke).
Tools for Speech Therapy
The type of communication problem determines the tools an SLP will use. For example, augmentative and alternative communication systems, or AAC systems, such as communication books and boards and speech generating devices (SGDs), are used with people who have an impaired ability to comprehend and/or use words such as those with cerebral palsy, an intellectual impairment or autism.
A communication book is a visual representation of language. It typically consists of common words (eg yes/no) and phrases (eg I want) as well as actions (eg to drink) and common items (eg juice). People use the book by pointing, gesturing or gazing at the relevant images. For example, to request a glass of juice, a person would point to the image for ‘I want’ followed by ‘to drink’ and then ‘juice’.
Speech generating devices
Speech generating devices are electronic devices that play pre-recorded words or phrases when the user flips a switch or presses a button or key. Some devices ‘speak’ words as they are typed on a keyboard. The range and complexity of the vocabulary on an SGD is determined by the users needs. Some SGDs have multiple pages of symbols to accommodate a large number of expressions. When this is the case only a portion of these symbols are visible at any one time, with the communicator navigating the various pages.
Flashcards for Speech Therapy
Just as communication books and boards and speech generating devices are great resources for people with a language impairment, so too are flashcards. A flashcard or flash card, are cards that contain information on one or both sides.
Their history and use today (show +)
One of the first known sets of flashcards was developed in the 19th century for the purpose of teaching phonics. Today, flashcards are both physical and virtual (part of a software program) and are used in a variety of ways. In fact, flashcards can be used for almost any concept with a question and answer format.
Articulation (show +)
Flashcards may be used by SLPs to assist clients who are struggling to articulate sounds. Articulation is the ability to form clear and distinct sounds that come together to form words. Young children with a speech delay are one group who may struggle with articulation. For example, if a child finds it difficult to pronounce the ‘s’ sound, a series of flashcards with images beginning with the letter s (such as soup, salt and seal) provide the child with the opportunity to practise this sound and also for the SLP to guide the student regarding how to make the sound ‘s’.
Vocabulary (show +)
Flashcards may also prove helpful to SLPs when seeking to build a person’s vocabulary, which is a set of familiar words within a person’s language. For example, a person from a Non-English speaking background with a limited vocabulary in English might benefit from using flashcards that depict items in everyday use, such as modes of transport on which they travel (eg bus, train, car) and food they commonly eat (eg banana, bread and milk). To effectively teach these words the SLP might show a flashcard (eg of a hat) and simultaneously say it’s name (eg ‘hat’) and then prompt the student to repeat the word ‘hat’.
Likewise, an SLP may use flashcards to assist a person with syntax difficulties. Syntax is the arrangement of words or phrases to create well formed sentences. People with autism may require assistance with syntax, so too may individuals with aphasia, which is an impaired ability to understand or produce speech, as a result of brain damage (such as a stroke). An SLP may use flashcards as a visual cue, prompting their student to form a sentence. For example, the image of a yellow truck may be used to prompt a sentence such as ‘The truck is yellow’ or ‘The yellow truck”.
Literacy, which is the ability to read and write, is another domain of Speech Therapy where the use of flashcards is often helpful. According to the National Centre for Education and Statistics, it is estimated in the United States 21% of adults have low literacy skills. That’s 43 million people aged 16 years or over that have significant difficulty comparing and contrasting information, paraphrasing and/or making low level inferences from text. Flashcards can assist with improving a person’s literacy in a variety of ways. For example, they may be used to support the teaching of sight words. These are high frequency words that do not have a concrete image associated with them such as ‘there’, ‘with’, ‘at’ and ‘all’.
An SLP might place a number of sight word flashcards on a table and ask their student to touch the relevant one upon request (eg “Touch ‘there’). Once learned in this way they might then present the flashcards to the student in a random order and ask them to read them aloud.
Social communication is the use of language in social contexts and is often an area of focus for SLPs. It includes the ability to use language for different purposes (eg to greet, request and inform people about things). Social communication is an area of challenge for people with autism and may also prove difficult for people with conditions such as dementia and an intellectual disability. Flashcards can assist with teaching social communication in a variety of ways. For example, a series of flashcards showing people with a range of feelings may be used to enhance a student’s emotional literacy and from there, advice can be given regarding how to engage with others when feeling a particular emotion.
The scope of teaching with flashcards
Although flashcards are typically simple in design, they can be used for increasingly complex speech therapy concepts. For example, the image of salt may be used to teach articulation (eg the sound ‘s’), vocabulary (eg the word ‘salt’), syntax (eg the sentence ‘The salt is white’) and literacy (eg the letters s-a-l-t make the word ‘salt’).
Granted their immense teaching potential, they are suitable for a wide audience. They are ideal for working with children as well as adults, and for people with a range of conditions requiring speech therapy. Whilst their possibilities for teaching are extensive, the success lies in using flashcards specific to the learning needs of an individual.