Home Using Speech Cue Cards for Speech Language Therapist How to Use Speech Cue Cards in Speech-Language Therapy
How to Use Speech Cue Cards in Speech-Language Therapy PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Rachel Betzen   

How to Use Speech Cue Cards in Speech-Language Therapy

Hand cues for speech sounds are not a new concept, and there are different versions of these cues that Speech-Language Pathologists use in therapy. Our version of speech sound hand cues can also be used traditionally in this sense during therapy. Speech cues and the hand cue cards may be an especially good match for clients who have more severe speech difficulties, or children who need more of a multi-sensory approach to meet their speech objectives.


To use the hand cues, first teach the child that the specific cue is directly related to their target sound. This is easier for children to learn once they are able to produce the sound in isolation, and are working towards using the sound in words and sentences. The hand cues can act a visual cue when the therapist uses them to help the child correct their own speech. As the child uses these cues many of the movements are similar to what they must do with their lips tongue and teeth to make the sounds correctly.


For example, the hand cue for the sound /s/ is done with one finger, indicating that it is voiceless, and with the hand moving to indicate continuous sound. The /z/ hand cue by contrast has the same continuous movement but uses the entire hand to indicate that it is a voiced sound. Most of the speech cues have some of this kind of rationale behind them. Plosive sounds have hand cues that are popping on specific places near the mouth. Hand cues for vowels approximate the mouth shape made for different vowel sounds.


I have had good success using hand speech cues with toddlers in therapy for an overall speech delay, as well as with pre-school and young school age children who have severe apraxia or phonological disorders. This multi-sensory method for teaching speech sounds improves sound/phonological awareness, the sensory perception of mouth movements needed for sounds, and can be used as a system of cues to help children recognize and correct speech errors in increasingly difficult speech contexts.


Speech-Language Pathologists are free to download and use the hand speech cues in therapy, and may send a copy of the cards home with each client for further practice. Young children who have speech and language delays and disorders are at increased risk for learning difficulties in grade school and beyond. As professionals, please advise parents to be aware of this and seek assistance if needed as their children begin reading and writing. Improving phonological awareness through speech cue cards may be the the right match for helping these children further their literacy skills, if they do later have problems learning to read.


As professionals we all experience difficulties with clients at times, and may not understand why the kid just “doesn't get it”. Above all, when you become frustrated with the challenges presented by a client, remember why you became a speech-language pathologist to begin with. You are in the process of creating your own new knowledge as you find different approaches to that child's breakthrough, and that takes practice and sometimes new ways of thinking about problems. Allow gentleness with that process. Remember that you also have tremendous potential to be uncovered, just as the child who sits before you. Remember the immense importance of your work. Remember that all children should be seen, and listened to, and heard.

And if you still feel stuck, send me your Questions and I'll try to post my Answers.





Dallas Reading and Language Services

Rachel Betzen MA, CCC/SLP


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(214) 274-7455



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