Many SLPs provide practice opportunities for children with articulation disorders, and some provide home practice activities for children working on social and general language skills. Interestingly, most SLPs report that they do not create carryover activities for children who stutter, mostly because they do not always know what to do and how to help children move their speaking skills into real-life communication situations.
Because we believe that effective real-world communication is an overarching goal for stuttering therapy, we also believe that it is our role to design and implement systematic and progressive generalization plans for our students.
Here are 3 practical thoughts that can help provide successful plans:
Help students (and others) understand hierarchies
Every skill to be generalized is presented in a “step-by-step” manner from easiest to most challenging (hierarchies). When students, parents, and others understand that each skill is mastered at various levels before it can be expanded to real-life communication, then expectations of how quickly skills are generalized can be managed. This gives children who stutter the time they need to develop and generalize their skills over the longer-term.
Create (and have students create their own) homework activities that can be blended into their schedules
Many families already feel “over-homeworked” and "over-scheduled"! In order to plan for success, students must be able to weave speech therapy activities into their day-to-day lives. I like to start by helping students understand why they are doing what they are doing (“Why is Miss Nina suggesting this homework? What’s in it for you?”), and then allowing them to make choices about what goals make sense to them (“What do you think would be most valuable to you for homework this week, ____ or ____?”).
Next, we brainstorm together the best times of their day/week that their speech homework can be completed. All of these pre-planning concepts help students feel more educated and empowered when it comes to taking therapy concepts “on the road!”
Be certain that homework includes all aspects of therapy, not just speech handling strategies
While it is easiest to provide homework for so-called “speech strategies,” we need to make certain that generalization activities include learning more about speaking and about stuttering, teaching others about stuttering and what they are learning in therapy, managing fear and anxiety in various levels of difficult speaking situations, and so on. No matter what we are targeting in therapy, we can use our clinical knowledge to help students expand each concept into their real-life communication situations and experiences.
In our clinical resource School Age Stuttering Therapy: A Practical Guide, we write extensively on the topic of how to work with students, teachers, and parents to expand the concepts presented in therapy into the child’s everyday communication environments. This clinical manual includes sample practice handouts and expands on how to provide homework that works.