Sunday, March 10, 2013

PICTO-CUES: Take A Detour to Better Speech

Years ago I met a child who called Barney, "Bah-bee."

As much as I modeled, "Barney," she could not say it correctly.

Bah-bee was an ingrained error word, that had been practiced so many times.

An idea came to me.  

Instead of letting those neurological impulses travel over the same route and cause the same error result, I tried to cause them to take a detour.

I drew a dowel shape and told her it was a BAR.

I drew a picture of a leg and foot, and drew an arrow pointing to the KNEE.

Then I took my finger and pointed to the BAR and then to the KNEE, as she labeled the pictures accurately.

I pointed from one to the other and she said, BAR--KNEE (Barney).  

That was the beginning of what I call PICTO-CUES. 
PICTO-CUES help the child to see a sound, syllable or word from a different perspective; in order to get away from the practiced, automatic, error production.  

I use letter names, numeral names and drawings. 

Sometimes I even use letter sounds or words, depending on the literacy skills the child has.

Years ago I arrived at a home for a one-time consultation.  The mother told me that her child did not speak words.  He only said letter names.  He had characteristics of Autism.

An Idea came to me and I told her that I believed that he would speak words before I left that day.

After playing with him for a little while, I saw that what she had said was absolutely correct.  He was only labeling letter names that he saw in books or on toys.  

I took a pen and I wrote on a piece of paper:

I    C    U    

I showed it to him & he said, ""

This simple thing showed his mother some options for therapy, and opened up a new world of verbal expression for this child. 

(I did not treat this little boy; he lived far from me, and I was only there to consult and give ideas).
You could also get a child who only labels letters to answer a question by showing him his name written down (or made by arranging plastic letters in the correct order).  

Ask him, 

"How do you spell your name?"  


"How do you spell 'Johnny'?"

Both of the questions can be answered:
"J-O-H-N-N-Y "

This is an example of taking a child's strength and building higher level language skills, rather than just asking a low-level question like, "What letter is this?" or "What letter is that?" over and over again.
Let's take a look at these examples of PICTO-CUES using letter names and numeral names:

I    C     U                         I see you.

I    C     U     2                  I see you, too.

I    M     :-)                        I am happy.

R   U     :-)    2                  Are you happy, too?

These can be placed on index cards and used to cue social verbal exchanges (pragmatics / social language / social skills).

Here are some examples using simple drawings:

[Pic of a foot with arrow pointing to the toe] + [Pic of a bee

= toe + bee = Toby (Thomas' train buddy)

[Pic of a cat] + [Pic of a snake = /s/]

= cat + /s/ = cats

[Pic of a snake = /s/] +  [Pic of a cat] + [Pic of a snake = /s/]

= /s/ + cat + /s/ = scats
Can you think of ways to portray the following word?


Think of:



[Pic of arrow pointing "in" a cup] + D + [Pic of a pen] 
+ [Pic of a dent on a car]
What about this word?  Any ideas?



[Pic of a hand with index finger pointing up = /sh/] + [Pic of someone blowing = air]

/sh/ + air = share  

What else could signify AIR?  
What if you're thinking, "I CAN'T DRAW!"
**My video will teach you how to do it easily!**

Drawing For Speech With Noelle Michaels:  

I draw simple pictures all the time during therapy.  Things come up that I didn't plan, and I want to give support using a PICTO-CUE.

There was a time when I thought I couldn't draw, but I kept trying, and now people comment to me all the time that I seem to draw so easily.  You can learn to draw simple items, easily, too!

The trick is to perceive of the item in terms of the shapes that make it up.  For example:

A HOUSE is a triangle sitting on top of a square.

Add 2 square windows and a rectangle door (with a circle door knob) and it is doneYou can add a rectangular sign on the house with a numeral on it, and a street sign, to give it an address.

Name vocabulary words aloud as you draw: roof, window, door, door knob, house, residence, street, house number and address.

Remember to check back and look on my Youtube Channel: for even more videos on drawing that I will be adding over time, to add to your PICTO-CUES repertoire.

If you would rather use PECS or pre-made pictures from the internet or other sources, that would be fine.

Drawing is most helpful when the child suggests things and you don't have those pictures handy. 

I  M  :-)  2  C  U  !

R  U  :-)  2  C  me  2  ? 

Think of pictures to cue the answer: absolutely!

AB    -    SO [SEW]    -    LUTE    -    LY[LEE]  

*hint - you could draw a face & name it "Lee"


I use Picto-Cues often, to help children speak more words (with increased intelligibility).

The kids enjoy watching me draw the cues, and also enjoy "reading" the cues. It's like decoding a secret message!

I hope you find the PICTO-CUES technique helpful.  

I'm Noelle Michaels, speech and learning specialist, speech and learning specialist, and I truly love my job! .
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Check for my 15-minute radio shows on my Verbal Apraxia treatments: SPEECH STORIES and DOUGH SHOW (also PICTO-CUES). 

Contact me if your parent or professional group wants any training on Verbal Apraxia, or if you would like to purchase a copy of my Verbal Apraxia book ($8 at a class; $10 by mail - see instructions below).

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And...if you need help or advice, please contact me!   

Noelle Michaels, MA, CCC-SLP, LDT-C
Bilingual Speech Language Pathologist
Special Educator & Learning Specialist
Text: 201-919-4805




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