Highly Unintelligible Students

I’ve got a few students that sound pretty good in single words, but listen to them in conversation and you’re left scratching your head. Ugh.  Sooooo much time and effort (on both of our parts) and teachers who wonder what exactly it is we’re doing.   Why can’t you please use your sounds in conversation?

I started reading The Informed SLP last summer and I was intrigued by an article on REST (Rapid Syllable Transition Treatment). I was definitely willing to give it a go.

The general idea is to have kiddos repeat multisyllabic nonsense words perfectly—sound, rate and prosody.  I chose my targets, picked a couple kiddos I thought could benefit and gave it my very best shot.  It was worth it.  Not in a, “WOW! That’s incredible!” way, but in a “that’s starting to sound better” after a long period of not a lot of progress.  I even had a teacher comment on the improvement.

Here’s the downside. It’s really hard in a school setting to comply with the time requirements (1:1) for an hour 4x/week for 6 weeks. I was able to do 2-3 sessions a week (which is an option, though improvement post-treatment tends to be less) and while I didn’t do full 60 min sessions, with a fast pace I was able to hit the number of trials recommended (100).

It wasn’t easy. The kiddos were growing a bit bored by the end of the cycle and initially they thought it was really hard.  I had a couple days where I wasn’t performing at optimal performance and looked at the nonsense words myself like, “huh?”

The toughest part was that you aren’t allowed to give feedback on all of their responses and often when you do you can only say “not quite” (or something to that effect) without giving info on how to make it better.

That said, both of my students started in the 50% accuracy range and were over 80% for two sessions before the end. One of them actually moved on to cloze sentences and was nearing 80% criteria for that as well.

I implemented this before the long winter break and I’m thinking about giving it another shot when we return from spring break to see if we get another bump before we dismiss for the summer.

Anyone else try this program in the past?

Traditionally, I’ve focused on multisyllabic words in sentences with these students. Subscribers, don’t forget there is a “Multisyllabic Smoothie” cut and paste activity in the free resource area and this Saturday (3/17), I’ll be sending 3 and 4 syllable Articulation Puppets  directly to your mailbox. It’s a sample based on the puppets above.

If you’re looking for more multisyllabic word fun (especially in sentences), check out Dice Game Boards for Multisyllabic Words.


This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Michaela Cooper

    I’m going to hear one of the lead researchers, Tricia McCabe, present on REST tomorrow night! I’m quite intrigued by the approach & was interested to hear about your experience.

  2. Katerina

    Hello. i am following your posts and loving them! Althought i am a Greek slp and have to do adjustments to all the materials i love the ideas you are giving to keep me “unstuck” 🙂 So i wanted your opinion on trying to adjust the REST in Greek speaking CAS population. since you have tried it do you think i could use it?
    Thank you for the inspiration!

    1. admin

      Thank you for reading! I’m sorry my reply is so late! I do think it would be worth trying especially since it uses nonsense words. You can just be intentional about your consonant/vowel choices in regards to your population. Good luck!

  3. Tricia McCabe

    I’m glad your kids are making progress with ReST and thanks for encouraging other SLPs to give it a go.
    I thought I’d let you all know two things.
    1.I’m hoping to upgrade some of the resources on the site in the next few weeks and 2.I’m happy to chat by email with SLPs thinking of using the program or having problems along the way including in languages other than English.
    best wishes


    1. admin

      That’s wonderful! I’ll be contacting you for some clarification/recommendations next week 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend, Kim

Comments are closed.


The views expressed in this blog are my own and are intended to inspire other speech-language pathologists in their own practice. If you are a parent, teacher or other educator, these ideas are not intended to take the place of treatment by a certified clinician. Read full disclaimer here.