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Possible words therapy

By this approach to therapy, the goal is not to teach the child to say particular words, whether real or not, but to guide the child towards ways of saying any possible word.

Children can be led to discover for themselves how the principles interact with one another, as beautifully explained by Lada Isosifovna Aidarova in her 1982 book. She argues that the consciousmess of such things helps the development of reading and writing skills, and backs this up with evidence.

As emphasised by Aidarova’s former student, Galina Zuckerman, in private correspondence, the key point by Aidarova’s approach is one of guidance.

In the speech of normally developing children, in little and middle as LIKU and MIGU, even though there may be no overt tongue tip gesture, there is nothing in the child’s experience of English to suggest that there could be a word ending with the vowel in full or pull. The presence of the L is signalled in forms like fully and pulling in which it is at the beginning of a second syllable. And the child’s system retraces the history of the final U sound back to its origin as L, and increases the contrast by moving the tongue articulation back to K or G, with a dissimilatory effect in other words.

There is a similar dissimilatory effect in the speech of children of seven or eight, who mispronounce monopoly as MONOKOLI. Here the environment is very narrowly defined with a lip action M before a tongue tip N, a lip action P after a stressed vowel with lip-rounding, and an L in the final syllable, capable of becoming a rounded vowel in other circumstances. Here the replacement of P by K has the same dissimilatory effect as small children’s LIKU.

I describe this in detail in my 2002 disssertation, more briefly in a 2006 article in Speech and Language Therapy in Practice, and with more of a focus on the rationale, here in Impairments