Regardless of the diagnosis–apraxia, dysarthria, autism– there are some children that need to start at the vowel level. To either develop a variety of vowels they don’t currently have or “cleaning up” the ones they do.
Treatment philosophies such as PROMPT suggest working on planes of movement–horizontal or vertical. In my experience, addressing the horizontal plane seems to come up more frequently. I’ll have little people that can successfully “ah” and even grade appropriately for “eh” and “i” but struggle with the larger retraction/protrusion movements of “eee” and “ooo.”
It always gets me singing “I Told the Witch Doctor“….., but maybe that’s just me.
Anyway, the speed and complexity of that song doesn’t work, so I bring out my beloved race car set. This little gem originally belonged to my daughter, then my son and now has permanent residence in my speech closet. It makes an exciting race car noise that is ultra-sensitive. If you don’t set it down perfectly flat in your closet (or store sideways), the vibration of footsteps going by might activate it! (As a side note, my exact speedway is now rather pricey, but there are a few character versions available. Check it out themed for Cars, Cars2, Toy Story and Batman. One reviewer said she was looking forward to the day the battery dies. Good luck with that! I’d recommend grabbing a screwdriver when the kids are asleep.)
The speedway is fun because it races two cars at a time. Two racers are even better than one! I “name” one “eee” or, much more complex, “whee,” the other, of course is “ooo” or “o” or “whoa.” With this simple toy and limited vocabulary I can get nearly endless practice and I have opportunities to model/shape additional words. We can move to approximations of “go!” even “1-2-3!” (“Uh-ooo-eee!”). Or, if you’re working on diphthongs, consider “my” car, an approximation of “now!” on release, “tied” or “same.”
***Even though this speedway is designed for young kiddos, lots of older ones get a kick out of it too. For a simple artic drill, we might line cards up at the end of the track and say the ones the cars run over.***
Who else is a witch doctor? Any other good ooo–eee activities out there? Please share below!