11 Successful Strategies for Speech Sound Therapy

Two children demonstrating the proper articulation techniques to say the speech sounds.

Speech sound therapy for articulation disorders is an important part of the job for a school-based speech language pathologist. When providing therapy for students, it is important to have a clear guide and progression for therapy in mind.

As a speech-language pathologist, there are several strategies and techniques that can be used to help improve articulation errors in a child’s speech. Here are some general steps that can be followed:

  1. Evaluation: Begin by conducting a thorough assessment of the child’s speech sounds to identify the specific articulation errors. This may involve standardized tests, informal assessments, and analyzing speech samples.
  2. Target selection: Determine which specific sounds or sound patterns need to be targeted for intervention. Focus on the sounds that are developmentally appropriate and have the greatest impact on the child’s overall intelligibility.
  3. Stimulability: Assess the child’s ability to produce the target sounds correctly in isolation or with minimal support. Target sounds that the child demonstrates some stimulability for, as it indicates that they may be more likely to acquire those sounds with intervention.
  4. Establishing a baseline: Measure the child’s current level of accuracy with the target sounds to establish a baseline for progress tracking.
  5. Create a treatment plan: Develop an individualized treatment plan that outlines the goals, objectives, and strategies for each target sound. Consider the child’s age, motivation, and learning style when designing the plan.
  6. Provide auditory and visual cues: Help the child discriminate between correct and incorrect productions by providing auditory and visual cues. For example, demonstrate the correct production, use mirrors for visual feedback, or provide minimal pairs (words that differ by one sound) to highlight the difference.
  7. Articulation drills: Engage the child in specific articulation drills to practice the target sounds. These exercises can include sound imitation, repetition, and gradual progression to more complex sound combinations and words.
  8. Contextual practice: Encourage the child to practice the target sounds in meaningful contexts, such as structured conversations, storytelling, or play activities. This helps generalize the correct production to everyday speech.
  9. Feedback and reinforcement: Provide immediate and constructive feedback to the child during practice sessions. Praise their efforts and achievements, and use positive reinforcement techniques to motivate them to continue working on their articulation skills.
  10. Home practice: Assign homework exercises that the child can practice with their family members or caregivers outside of therapy sessions. Provide resources, such as worksheets or online tools, to support consistent practice at home.
  11. Progress monitoring: Continually assess and monitor the child’s progress to determine if the treatment plan is effective. Adjust the plan as needed to address any challenges or modify goals.

Speech Sound therapy progression

Speech sound therapy typically follows a gradual progression from saying the sound in isolation to conversational speech. This is a typical treatment plan for therapy.

  1. Sound Isolation: Therapy begins by focusing on producing the target sound in isolation. The individual practices saying the sound by itself without any surrounding sounds or words. The SLP provides guidance and feedback to ensure correct production.
  2. Sound in Syllables: Once the individual can consistently produce the sound in isolation, they move on to saying the sound in different syllables. This involves combining the target sound with different vowel sounds (e.g., /ba/, /ma/, /pa/ for the sound /p/). By practicing in syllables, the individual gains proficiency in producing the sound in different contexts.
  3. Sound in Words: Next, the therapy progresses to practicing the target sound in various words. The individual learns to incorporate the sound correctly at the beginning, middle, or end of words, depending on the specific sound error. The SLP provides modeling, cues, and reinforcement to facilitate accurate production.
  4. Sound in Phrases and Sentences: Building upon word-level practice, the individual advances to producing the target sound in phrases and sentences. This stage emphasizes natural-sounding speech, as the person learns to integrate the sound into longer utterances. The SLP may introduce structured activities or games to make the practice engaging and functional.
  5. Sound in Conversation: The final stage aims to generalize the target sound to conversational speech. The individual practices using the correct sound during spontaneous, unstructured conversations. The SLP may provide feedback and corrective cues as needed, fostering carryover of the target sound into real-life communication.

Recognizing individual differences in speech sound therapy

Throughout the therapy process, the SLP employs a variety of techniques, such as auditory and visual cues, tactile feedback, and articulatory drills, to facilitate accurate sound production. The progression from isolated sound production to conversational speech allows for a systematic and comprehensive approach to address articulation disorders and promote functional communication skills.

It’s important to note that therapy progress may vary depending on the individual’s specific needs, severity of the articulation disorder, and other factors. A skilled speech-language pathologist tailors the therapy plan to suit each person’s unique challenges and goals. Remember that every child is unique, and the specific approach may vary depending on their needs. It’s important to tailor the therapy to the individual child and provide a supportive and engaging environment throughout the treatment process. Regular collaboration with parents and caregivers is crucial for consistent practice and carryover of skills into daily life.

Speech sound therapy resources

Check out these Articulation 5 In a Row games from my store on Teachers Pay Teachers for fun and meaningful games to practice the speech sounds.


For more information on speech sound disorders, check out the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association


To read about one of my favorite resources for articulation therapy, check out this blog post.