Speaking Sounds

ASD Speaking Sounds is a workbook program designed to teach the foundation underlying the production of meaningful speech in children with ASD and other developmental conditions that interfere with speech production. Central to the program is the issue of sequencing.

A basic fact of language life is that single words do not represent a meaningful language system. “Real” messages, even simple ones such as “want cookie, dog eats, no walk,” etc. require that sounds be chained together to form combinations of words. That, in turn, requires complex, intricate mouth movements that can be extremely challenging. The problems are akin to the fine motor difficulties that the children display in activities such as handwriting and pulling up zippers.

While the fine motor difficulties in those areas have been well recognized, the importance of comparable fine motor movements of the mouth, lips and tongue in the production of speech has often received insufficient attention. Nevertheless, the area is critical. It’s why the children’s ability and willingness to produce two sequenced sounds are such important indicators of their ability to benefi t from the program. In producing two sounds in succession, they are showing that they have achieved the necessary base for “interweaving” sounds and moving onto increasingly complex speech production. Using sounds that the children can produce (so the input is adapted to the abilities of the individual child), the program starts by requesting one sound at a time (e.g., say “bah”).

The lessons then expand to include increasing numbers of sounds—so that by the end of the program, the children are producing sequences of four speech sounds such as “mee, bah, koo, koo”. As indicated by the examples, the program focuses on speech sounds but not on actual words— although occasionally word-like sounds appear. The sounds are always ones that can be used in words but they themselves are rarely words. This technique serves to simplify the situation for the child.

With meaning “out of the way,” the child learns to focus on the production of the sounds themselves and on the movements in the mouth area needed to create the sounds. With the attainment of four sequenced speech sounds, the child can then transition to ASD Unlocking Language which teaches the skills of actual language including expressing ideas, answering questions, summarizing observations, etc. ASD Speaking Sounds may be implemented by a parent, teacher, therapist, or other adult.

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