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PROMPT Speech Therapy: Helping Your Child Say Sounds Correctly

Last week Annique Lynch and Ildi Bruz attended a three day PROMPT speech therapy course, and returned to the clinic filled with enthusiasm for the methodology. Here they share their insights into PROMPT.

The PROMPT method supports children and adults from 6 months of age who find it hard to say sounds correctly. It stands for Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets and can in a way be thought of as “physio for the mouth”.

Not only does PROMPT focus on the physical movements of talking, but it also takes into consideration the language behind speech, and the social-emotional aspects of communication to create a holistic understanding of a child’s communication abilities.

This means that your child is not looked at like a machine that has a broken part to be fixed, but as an individual who may have multiple contributing factors impacting their speech, and these should all be considered in order to achieve the best possible outcome.

How do speech therapists use PROMPT?

Our PROMPT trained therapists look at a wide range of influences that may impact a child’s intelligibility such as posture, breath control and jaw stability. The training helps the therapist to look beyond the sound that is being produced and think, “What could be causing this error? What muscles need to be working that aren’t? What can I do to help stimulate those areas to move the right way? Is there another reason why talking is difficult?”

Using the PROMPT method, the therapist looks at how the lips, tongue and jaw work together to understand what types of movements are difficult. Those areas that are not moving the way they should are stimulated through tactile input (touch). This may involve broad general movements such as opening and closing of the jaw, or rounding and retracting of the lips. Other stimulation requires more precision such as stimulation of the tongue at different points through applied pressure under the chin.

This tactile input supports children and adults to use correct motor movements by “mapping” where their lips tongue and jaw should be for particular sounds and then consolidating the new motor pathways through repeated practice.

For example, PROMPT is commonly used to treat children with a lisp where the tongue pokes between the teeth when saying the ‘s’ sound. This can happen because the tongue is flat and “floppy” rather than “tight”. By pressing at the right spot, the tongue can be tightened, and moved into position to correct a lisp.

PROMPT therapy often goes hand-in-hand with other aspects of communication such as language and social interaction. This means multiple areas can be targeted at once as with one of our 2-year-old late talkers at the clinic. Through play-based activities, we have been building up her vocabulary of functional words, but she will often not say the whole word. With PROMPT, we are able to help her finish off the word by moving her mouth into the position of the final sound. With practice, she should remember that position and be able to do it on her own. This method ensures all areas of speech and language are being strengthened together, not just those that are the most obvious.

If you have concerns about your child's speech and would like to have a confidential chat with one of our therapists, don't hesitate to get in touch by emailing or calling (08) 9433 4595.


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