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Consonant Clusters is intended for use by Speech and Language Therapists/Speech-Language Pathologists (SLTs/SLPs), Consonant Clusters: Alliterative Stories and Activities for Phonological Intervention by Caroline Bowen comprises information about, and resources for applying a complexity principle to intervention for children who have turned four, and who have moderate or severe phonological difficulties and poorly intelligible speech. It begins with a clear explanation of the reasoning and research underpinning the pack, followed by information for therapists and families, a Cluster Screener in the form of a Monosyllabic-Word Imitation Task, and 90 pages of carefully thought out Activity Sheets illustrated by Helen Rippon.
When choosing which sounds to work on with this population, the SLT/SLP aims to make the period of intervention as brief as possible, minimising the number of intervention sessions the child requires. The idea behind complexity approaches (or systemic approaches) and their ‘complexity principles’ is that if a child with a moderate or severe phonological disorder has the opportunity to work on complex targets, the other targets will be learned without direct intervention, or with less intervention than would otherwise have been necessary, through a process of generalisation. Work on some sounds triggers progress with sounds that have not been worked on. One of the complexity principles is to prioritise ‘marked’ consonants (Baker, 2009; Baker & Williams, 2010).
As explained in Consonant Clusters: Alliterative Stories and Activities for Phonological Intervention, all consonant clusters are marked, but some are more marked, or ‘more complex’ than others. The eighteen more marked clusters are preferable as therapy targets. They are: the 3-element clusters, /spr/, /str/, /skr/, /spl/ and /skw/, and the 2-element clusters, /sm/, /sn/, /fl/, /fr/, /θr/, /sl/, /ʃr/, /bl/, /br/, /dr/, /ɡl/, /ɡr/ and /sw/. For the 18 more complex clusters the pack contains five activity sheets, with one page each devoted to:
- An engaging alliterative story or verse with ‘many repeats’ of the cluster.
- A set of captioned pictures with the cluster word-initially.
- A ‘talk about’ picture to facilitate focused auditory input.
- Listening lists with the cluster word-initially and in near minimal pairs.
- Pictured word-pairs with captions.
This pack was developed in consultation with SLT/SLP colleagues in Australia, South Africa, the UK and the US as a unique, evidence-based resource for intervention with children aged 4;0 and above with phonological disorder. The stories and other activities may also be applied in a range of SLT/SLP settings, including schools, in working with school-aged children with articulation disorders and/or childhood apraxia of speech, children with speech and phonemic awareness difficulties, and with children with phonological awareness difficulties in general.
Note: The five 3-element clusters, /spr/ /str/ /skr/ /spl/ and /skw/ should only be targeted if the child already has the relevant stop (/p/, /t/ or /k/) andthe relevant liquid (/l/) or glide (/w/) present in his or her phonemic inventory. For example, if targeting /skw/ the child should have ‘productive knowledge of’ (be able to say) /k/ and /w/, but does not need to have productive knowledge of /s/. The 2-element clusters, /sm/, /sn/, /fl/, /fr/, /θr/, /sl/, /ʃr/, /bl/, /br/, /dr/, /ɡl/, /ɡr/ and /sw/ may be targeted whether or not the child can produce the elements. For example, in targeting /sl/ the child may have productive knowledge of (be able to say) /s/ and /l/, or just /s/, or just /l/, or neither /s/ nor /l/ (Gierut, 2007).
Baker, E. (2009). The why and how of prioritising complex targets for intervention. In C. Bowen, Children’s speech sound disorders. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 72-77.
Baker, E., & Williams, A.L. (2010). Complexity approaches to intervention. In A. L. Williams, S. McLeod, & R. J. McCauley (Eds.). Interventions for speech sound disorders in children (pp. 95-116). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing.
Gierut, J. (2007). Phonological complexity and language learnability. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 16(1), 6-17.
Format: PDF file 122 pages, available as a download 39.3MB or on CD.