Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Facilitating Generalization: #4 Be Specific!

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 #4: Be Specific:

Praise and accolades can be as good as empty promises if we do not express the exact behaviors or skills we are positively reinforcing.  Sometimes we may need to rely on teacher or parent report to support various behaviors.  We are part of a team to support this child as a whole.  It doesn't matter if we are reinforcing a speech or language skill or another important life skill, our students must learn.  It's just important that we make our students feel supported, proud of their own actions and able to attempt to continue exhibiting them.

Remember to be very specific when giving feedback during therapy or when providing positive reinforcement.  The following are all statements I have actually used for students in the past (to honor confidentiality, names used are fictitious).  Sometimes you will have some great speech and language skills to support and sometimes, you just need to take what you can get.  See the silver lining and make your students' see it too!

For the student who is working on social skills:
"Johnny, I really like how you looked toward me and answered my question before you introduced a new topic!"

For the classic articulation case:
"Susan, I love to hear that /k/ sound at the ends of your words!  I can really understand what you are saying.  Thank you for helping me understand you."

For the student who needs some help controlling his own behavior:
"Mark, I know how hard it is for you to stay in math class.  But today, you made it through the whole class with only one break to the water fountain.  Boy your brain must have been working overtime!  I love your desire to learn!"

Remember always be supportive and be specific!  What confidence and pride we can give our students with a few simple words!

Click here is you missed Step #1, Step #2, Step #3.  Next week, I'll share my 5th and final tip!
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