Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Facilitating Generalization: #1 Know Your Goals!

One aspect of a speech language pathologist's job that is imperative to successful communication is facilitating generalization as many of our students/clients struggle with showing their classroom teachers or parents all the skills they have mastered for us in the therapy room.  This series of posts will focus on tips, that have worked for me, which can help you facilitate generalization of learned skills to new environments.

Step #1:  Know Your Goals:
I know this sounds like an obvious one but you'd be surprised how times I've asked my students at the end of a session responded to me with a blank stare when I've asked them "So what did you work on in speech therapy today?".  I knew it was time to implement a change, and goal review was just the thing I needed.

With that in mind, my first tip is to make sure both you AND your students know the speech/language goals they are working on.  When I worked in the schools I would use a lesson plan and I wrote the students goals for each student so I could demonstrate how the activity/lesson would relate to goals.  It was a daily reminder to keep me on target and to be sure to keep data on those goals every session.

It is extremely important that your student know what he/she is working on in speech. Be clear.  Be short.  Use mnemonics, gestures, pictures or whatever it takes to make your students remember what they are supposed to be working on. Simply reviewing goals quickly at the beginning of sessions will also facilitate deficit awareness, deficit identification and even deficit correction (with less and less cuing over time) which most of our students lack initially and continue to struggle with during the therapy process. In addition, as has been my personal experience, a child who knows what he worked on in speech will go home and tell his parents what he did in speech therapy.  What better way to provide reminders of speech goals for parents than to have the child do the reminding!

Here is a great sheet Speech Language Pirates created for the purpose of sharing daily progress with staff and family members.  It's short, concise and you don't have to reinvent the wheel.  You could even have your older students fill out their own.

The surprising thing I noticed about myself, when I implemented goal review at the beginning of a therapy session is that it streamlined my data collection.  What I began to do was pick only one or two goals to work on during a session.  This way I could hit those goals hard during that session and work on other goals in subsequent sessions.

Note: Sometimes I will take qualitative data on the goals I am not currently targeting to determine if there is generalization from one session to the next for my own personal information.

So that's it for Step #1.

Come back next week and I'll share Step #2.
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