Speech in Action (with a giveaway!)

(this post was provided by the author, Lois Brady)

Congratulations to Caitlin Spalding who won our giveaway! (updated August 24, 2012)

Children, particularly those on the autism spectrum, are able to acquire communication skills much more easily when their learning incorporates movement. Even very simple actions such as tapping and hand clapping can have a noticeable impact on their speech and language development.

Speech in Action is an innovative approach to learning that combines simple techniques from speech and language pathology with physical exercises that have been carefully designed to meet the individual child’s particular needs and abilities. This practical workbook describes the approach, and how it works, and contains 90 fully-photocopiable lesson plans packed with fun and creative ideas for getting both mouth and body moving. Suitable for use either at school or at home, the activities can be dipped into in any order, and are organized by level of ability, with something for everyone. The final chapter contains the success stories of children the authors have used the activities with, demonstrating how the approach can be used in practice.

Video of Speech in Action

We have a giveaway!  To enter let us know your favorite action (keep it clean please!) in “comments” below.  You have until Thursday, August 23, 2012 midnight EST to enter.  The winner will be chosen at random and receives a free copy of Speech in Action.  Must have a US address.  Winner to be announced Friday, August 24, 2012.


This Post Has 42 Comments

  1. Cindy

    Walking- for myself. I also like to use walking in the hallways with my speech students while working on communication skills.

  2. Debra

    I had a student who was great at hula hooping, so we worked on artic drills while she was hula hooping. She made much quicker progress once this was incorporated.

  3. Terri Porter

    This may sound crazy, but I use a Magna-Doodle and tap on the surface with the magnet shapes or the pen as I model the sound. The student then imitates the sound as he taps on the board. They forget that I’m trying to elicit a sound because they’re so involved making marks on the board. It was an “accidental moment” the first time I tried it but it has been very successful with my preschoolers who are on the spectrum.

  4. Mary

    snuggling with my dog

  5. Nicole Slough

    I had a student who liked to swing, so we incorporated swinging along with tactile cues for productions being given when I “pushed” him. We used this to name items in a category. Plus it gave him the ability to get up from the therapy table and go outside which he loved.

  6. Sandra Archibald

    Many of my students like to dance, so we have done the Hokey Pokey for learning body parts and left/right. We also take walks around the building following left/right directions.

  7. Carrie Ormsby

    During my summer practicum as a grad student, I had a child who had autism who wouldn’t talk all summer. He would not look at me, but lean against me like a beanbag. I wanted so badly to get into his world but could not figure out how to gain entrance. The last day of summer school, I heard shrieking in the hall and ran out to investigate. There was my student on a scooter (the squat square with 4 wheels that allows the child to sit just a few inches above the floor), holding onto a jumprope while his aides pulled him up and down the hall. He loved the running and speed. When the aides stopped, he would verbalize ‘more’, one-two-three’, ‘again’, and ‘GO!’. I was astounded. Had I known about his need for movement, I would have been running up and down the halls all summer. It was a great lesson to learn.

  8. M. Parker

    In my kindergarten phonemic awareness/ELL classes we hop the parts of words using pics.

  9. Kellie

    I like to use wagon wides, hopscotch and the swing in our sensory room.

  10. Barb

    Already using an idea from your utube presentation with my preschoolers. Show the word as you perform the action. Luv it! We oftern use gross motor tasks, but I have not incoorperated the written piece with it. Thanks

  11. Rhonda

    My ECSE kiddos in summer school loved clapping to a beat and throwing anything and everything into whatever was available–the space of a hula hoop, baskets, bags, and of course hands and arms.

  12. Lori

    With the increase in “reading minutes” for many of my students, they are tired and burned out with sitting in small group instruction by the time they get to me. I try to incorporate lots of activities that are up and away from the table so when they finish with my group they are ready to sit in another academic small group. I don’t know if other schools are doing this, but many of my students have a minimum of 125 minutes a day of reading instruction on top of math, writing, spelling. Not very developmentally appropriate for early elementary, but the test scores are all that matter right now.

  13. Donna

    My kiddos will do almost anything if they can throw a bean bag. We practice artic words 3 times then throw the bean bag at the picture card.

  14. Samantha

    I love combining movement with any tx techniques, especially with those kids that crave sensory input. My favorite though, is combining CAS tx and movement – everything from simple gestures to full body movements. We learn from so many avenues, I think applying movement to learning is vital and very overlooked! It gives you more than one auditory opportunity to gain information.

    Also I took a course in undergrad called Creative Movement for Children – I recommend all therapists and educators take a course along the same lines. Really gets you thinking outside the box!!!

  15. [email protected]

    Dancing is my favorite movement. My students are way more engaged when we encorporate some music!

  16. Carol

    Recently my favorite action has been looking. I have been working with a student on an eye gaze system. They have been learning locations of words within their system as well as becoming more proficient with their use of the eye gaze. Lots of work but rewarding to all!

  17. Laura

    I like singing and dancing with the preschoolers I work with.

  18. Kim Hovey

    Crossing the midline! Whether it’s imitating an action for a speech sound, or writing the letter in the air. I love to use sweeping arm movements with my preschoolers.

  19. M P

    I had some difficult kiddos that would not cooperate during traditional therapy techniques. I teamed up with the social worker and we cooked with our students. I could target all of their speech and language goals. They ended up loving coming to speech, and made lots of progress!

  20. Valerie

    We work on following directions by doing various body actions (turn around, jump, sit down, walk to the door, etc.).

  21. Shane

    I love the children’s song that includes the words “head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes” and has actions to go with it (cannot remember the exact title). I had a child years ago in therapy who was pretty much nonverbal. He would not imitate any kind of sounds, whether environmental, animal sounds, speech sounds, etc. The child’s name happened to be Tony but of course he never said it and we were not even sure if he really knew his name was Tony. It was so amazing and wonderful for the teachers and even more so for his parents, that when we started singing the song during group time, he suddenly seemed to make the connection that his name was Tony when got to the part where we sang and pointed to “toes and knees”! It did not take long before he began to imitate the actions and then eventually the words to the song. He made tremendous progress in both speech and language and it all began with a song that included movement! I am a firm believer in motor activity enhancing learning.

  22. Gail Forsyth

    I have school age kids working on articulation skills pick a card from a pile with a written instruction they have to follow. Some of them are very active, such as “run up and down the stairs while saying your word three times” and “get on a chair and touch the ceiling while saying your sound” and “do jumping jacks while saying your word three times”. I have the kids think up and write their own outlandish instructions and I tell them I am going to challenge the next group of kids with their commands. They always remember to ask the next week how the other group did. I like this activity because it gets them moving, and also because it allows them to learn how to multi-task small speech movements and larger body movements. Plus, it’s just fun. They love to make up silly ones for me to perform, and I try to oblige them (within reason!)

  23. latrice

    My favorite action in therapy lately is to sing! I have been on a kick of singing with my preschoolers lately.

  24. Jill

    I love to run for me time, but enjoy getting my students engaged in heavy work as much as possible. If the equipment is available they love to climb for stimulus items hidden in bins on the rope ladder or create obstacle courses with swings, ball pit, and scooters.

  25. Susan

    I have used bouncing with a patient on the spectrum. As I provide therapy within the home environment, I had access to the patient’s sensory toys. The patient loved to bounce on a bouncing horse. His spontaneous language and eye contact increased significantly while bouncing on the horse.

  26. Lauren

    My favorite action is Zumba-ing. I don’t care if that isn’t a real word; it’s so addicting!

  27. Katrina

    Running 🙂

  28. Frances

    My favourite action is to pair up sign language with the verbal. It has made a huge difference for my son and for the children I work with as well.

  29. Sue

    I like playing card games..almost any kind will do. Rats, Too Many Monkeys, Swap and many, many others are great with kids from 4 y/o up. These games can be adapted to almost any goal. Bridge, euchre and pinochle are great for times with friends.

  30. Meredith Harold

    My favorite action is STRETCHING! Boy, does it feel good.

    Love the looks of this book!

  31. Chris Gerber

    A variety of students work well with hopping from circle to circle on the floor and completing the task posted next to the circle. This earns points which can be used for rewards.

  32. Rebecca

    Crazy dancing with a faux microphone!!

  33. JHS

    Basketball! When a group of kids are in therapy, I take data on whatever their targets are for speech, then near the end of their session, they get to shoot free throws depending on their percentage of accuracy at their skill level…90% = 9 shots, 73% = 7 shots, etc. They LOVE the competition and are very focused on accuracy to earn a higher number of free throw shots.

  34. Connie

    Scootering is my favorite!

  35. Rose Ann

    I love your karate idea—I recently discovered that practicing “kee-ah” (while adding a quick front punch) with one of my pre-k kiddos helped elicit a great /k/ sound. I think the power put into the physical action was just what he needed to get the sound going! My favorite action to use in speech therapy (and at home) would be COOKING!! I use simple cooking tasks and play foods at school and more elaborate followup recipe ideas for parents to try at home. I can’t think of a better way to teach sequencing, direction following, turntaking, conversation buiding, cause/effect, before/after and overall vocab buiding as well as reinforce good articulation and carryover—all while trying to promote healthy eating habits (especially with so many picky eaters out there!!)

  36. Natalie

    Fist pumping! As in, here is a fist pump for that awesome speech sound you just made! 🙂

  37. Tara


  38. Kendra

    One of my favorites for both myself and kids is YOGA! Great for following directions to learn the poses. I have “Learn-With-Yoga ABC Yoga cards for Kids” by Cristine Ristuccia, MS, CCC-SLP. It has great instructions for targeting Kid’s speech-language needs…and it is FUN! 🙂

  39. Ashley

    Running: For a social skills activity I played red rover with my children to practice team work and communication with their peers….The kids not only had a blast, I did too!

  40. Lisa Doyle

    Throwing a ball

  41. Kim

    Twister, Hopscotch and Garbage Can Basketball are always winners, whether naming opposites, colors, body parts, etc., or as a way to elicit artic. responses. Enjoyed by all ages!

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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.