Child Speech Therapy: Focused Stimulation

 The next strategy in the Receptive Language Strategy Series is focused stimulation.  Focused stimulation is a child speech therapy approach to repeat a word or phrase multiple times in a conversation to facilitate comprehension and possible language production. The caregiver chooses a target word and tries to incorporate the word in normal conversation. It should encourage the comprehension of the word more than the production of the word.

Child Speech Therapy Strategies at Home

The best opportunity to use focused stimulation appropriately is when the child is leading. If the child is initiating the play, you can choose a target word during that activity. For example, if the child is playing with cars, the target words might include: driving, fast, slow, stop and go.  If the child hears the word multiple times in play, they will hopefully imitate the word. If the child is playing with Mr. Potato head, appropriate target words would be “on” and “off”. For instance, “I put on the nose. I took off the ears.” It would also be great to continue to repeat the terms on and off for each feature of the face.
Books and music are other great resources to incorporate in focused stimulation. Unlike during playtime, books and music can be strategically selected for specific target words. Many children’s books have simple texts with multiple repetitions of certain words or phrases.  Here are some great books to use for focused stimulation:
-       Brown Bearby Eric Carle. This book repeats “What do you see” and “I see ____” on each page. After reading the book, continue using the phrases during a game of I SPY!
-       I can say that and I can do that by Susan Hendler Lederer. This book is great for teaching foundational vocabulary to children. Incorporate toys and sign language while reading the book. Susan includes the sign language for nouns in the story, such as the word “cow”. You can use a toy cow while reading the story to engage your child with the words “moo” and “cow”.
-       Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd. A great book for the target word “goodnight”. Reading it before bed can encourage imitation by saying goodnight to everything in the child’s room.
-       Are You My Mother? By P.D. Eastman. If a child is struggling with using the correct possessive pronoun, this book is excellent to work on target words: my, him, her.
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At first it might seem difficult to continue to use the same word multiple times in a conversation, but after practice it will start to become a habit. The more a child hears the word in different contexts, the sooner they will start to understand the meaning and incorporate the word in their own vocabulary.  
Past articles on strategies for receptive language include labeling, imitation, and OWL.
References:
Paul. "Three F's: False Assertions, Following the Child's Lead, and Focused Stimulations." The Language Fix. N.p., 30 June 2014. Web. 03 Aug. 2015.
Swigert, Nancy B. "Chapter 8: Intervention for Receptive Language." Early Intervention Kit. East Moline, IL: LinguiSystems, 2004. 85. Print.
"Using Focused Stimulation to Help Speech and Language Development in Young Child." Speech-Language-Development.com. Speech-Language-Development.com, n.d. Web. 03 Aug. 2015.