I was once taking my morning break just outside my clinic when someone came up to me. He asked if I was the speech therapist. I said: Yes. He said that his son, Jason, then aged seven, had had some help for a speech problem, and been discharged. An assurance had been given: The remaining problems would sort themselves out in time. But as a father he was still worried.
I resolved to see Jason as soon as possible.
There were no problems with Jason’s school work, He could say all the sounds of English in various positions in words, with no obvious problem in casual conversation. But I was confident that his father’s concerns were justified. And when I asked Jason to say some longer words, I found that he could not say any words of more than three syllables, words like monopoly and calculator, or interesting animals like hippopotamus or rhinoceros. When he tried to say any such words, he sounded babyish.
But what caused which errors? I took a word Jason couldn’t say, and made it a bit simpler. We continued this process, gradually moving closer to the target, until he could say it correctly. Presumably with no rehearsal, a week later Jason again said it correctly. The implications for therapy were obvious. Starting from a variation of a given target word that he could manage, I would give him around 100 pretend words, making no corrections, just praising all of his efforts, but trying to ensure that every trial would be possible for him.
We continued like this until he could say all the long words I could think of, and Jason and his parents were not aware of any other problems with his speech.
I am very grateful to Jason’s father. He played a key role in helping me discover Possible Words Therapy.