Guidelines for Home Practice

Activity Ideas

Guidelines for Home Practice

For children with CAS to make optimal progress, home practice is essential. Attending speech therapy is important, but is not the full picture. Overall, home practice should be positive and successful. Here are some guidelines for practicing at home with your child:

Acknowledge, Repeat, Model

It's always a good idea to acknowledge your child's communication throughout the day. Their communication might be speech (even if the words are not clear) or AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) such as signs, gestures, or a device. A great way to acknowledge your child's communication is to say what they communicated, using a correct model. This achieves multiple goals at the same time. Your child knows they were heard and understood, plus they hear a correct model of what they are communicating. For example, if your child communicates that they want to eat (by pointing, signing, using pictures or a device), you can say "Yes, you want to eat" or "It's time to eat." The point here is to acknowledge and provide a correct model - not for your child to repeat or try again. If they do repeat, that's a bonus!

Carefully correct

You may select a few times per day to correct your child's speech. This should be done sparingly and only for carefully selected words. The words should be ones that your child has been working on successfully in therapy. A new word that they are not yet able to say successfully is not a good choice to correct. Rather, select a word that your child has been working on in therapy with lots of success and only needs a small amount of help to correct. Hopefully you are able to observe your child's therapy sessions so that you know what words are good choices for correction at home. Talk with your speech-language pathologist (SLP) about what words are ready for home practice and correction. Once your child says the word correctly, if possible, ask them to say it 3-5 times. Correct repetition of a word is an important part of learning new speech movements for children with CAS.

Pick a dedicated time to practice

In addition to the above two guidelines, you might consider setting aside a dedicated time to practice speech with your child. Talk with your SLP about what words or goals you can practice at home and make sure you know any strategies needed to help your child practice successfully. Negative practice is when a child is practicing a word incorrectly and should be avoided as it can make it harder for a child to learn the word correctly later. Try to pick a time when your child tends to be well-rested and in a good mood and you and your child will not be distracted.

Keep practice positive

Whether you are practicing a few times throughout the day and/or setting aside a dedicated time, keep it positive. Select words or goals that your child can do successfully with the help you can provide. Talk with your SLP if you need ideas about this! Remember to avoid negative practice. Not only is this discouraging for you and your child (since they are saying a word wrong), but it is also harmful for motor learning. If your child isn't able to say the word correctly after 2-3 times, even with your help, acknowledge their effort ("Good try!") and move on. You can always acknowledge, repeat and model rather than asking your child to try a word that they can't say correctly. Always try to end on a positive note!

Avoid power struggles

You can't force your child to talk, so don't get caught in a power struggle because you will lose! Focus on keeping things positive. Don't try to practice speech when your child is already tired, upset or not cooperative. Keep it fun! (See ideas for activities in the next section below.) End the practice - whether it is a couple of repetitions or minutes of dedicated practice - on a positive note. If your child is practicing willingly, congratulate them on their hard work before they get tired of it and are ready to move on.

Quality over quantity

Repetition is very important for children with CAS to learn new movements for speech. Success and avoiding negative practice are equally important, so go for quality over quantity. It's better to have three successful repetitions of a word than incorrect productions of the word! So if your child is successful but then ready to move on or loses focus, that's okay.

Activity Ideas

If you decide to do dedicated home practice with your child, consider selecting a few special toys or activities that are only for this time when your child practices speech. Here are some guidelines for picking activities for practicing speech at home:

Make it something that your child enjoys

This may seem obvious, but it isn't always. Many children with CAS are working on skills other than speech, such as fine motor. So if your child is working on puzzles for fine motor or cognitive skills, this might not be a great activity for speech practice - it's too much work! Think about the activities that your child picks when they have time to just play. Don't pick something that is hard for them or requires too much effort.

Make it repetitive

If you're playing a game or reading a book, select something that is repetitive so that there are lots of opportunities to practice the same words over and over. Of course you also want the word(s) that you're practicing to be word(s) that your child can do successfully with some help. For young children, some good examples are books like Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See? For older children, books that focus on specific sounds (often phonics-based readers) can be helpful.

Short turns and limited speech

If you play a game for speech practice, try to select one that requires limited speech or is the appropriate speech level for your child. For example, if your child is working on single words, "Go Fish" (in which they have to ask questions) might not be the best fit. Also think about short turns. Short turns keep the game moving and also allow for more turns, which means more chances to practice speech. If a sibling is playing with you, be sure that they doing the same speech as your child with CAS. For example, if your child is saying "my turn" every time it is their turn at the game, the sibling should be doing this as well if they are able.

Change the rules

Don't be afraid to modify or change the rules of the game. If you are having trouble finding a game that meets the above guidelines, modify! If your child is familiar with the regular rules of the game, explain that you have special rules for speech time. Sometimes a good reward for speech practice is that after you play the game with "speech rules," you play the game again and your child gets to make up the rules.

Build practice into fun movement activities

Movement activities such as swinging, jumping, running, and playing chase can be great opportunities to include speech practice. For example, saying “go!” or “up!” to be pushed on a swing, or practicing a target each time you go up or down a step on a short staircase, like for a slide.

Decreasing Frustration and Behaviors

Learn More

Building Your Child’s Language

Learn More

How To Help Your Child

Learn More