What Techniques Do Speech Pathologists Use?

Speech pathologists (SLPs) assess, diagnose and treat various communication disorders. They may work in schools, private practice or a hospital setting.

SLPs help people of all ages with speech, language, cognitive communication and oral/feeding/swallowing disorders. These disorders impact daily life and can be challenging to deal with.


A speech pathologist can use Self-Talk techniques to help children improve their language skills. These techniques include parallel talk and narrated stories.

A child’s self-talk begins with interactions with primary caregivers. They’re taught to use words and phrases like “I see a dog” or “I like this book.”

It is essential because it allows children to connect words and actions. It’s also an excellent way for them to expand their vocabulary. Check Sunshine Coast Speech Pathology to learn more about this.

Auditory Cues

Auditory Cues are a set of techniques that speech pathologists use to help patients with hearing loss develop their oral language skills. These cues can be auditory or visual.

The speech pathologist should sparingly use this type of cue and fade it when the child no longer requires it. The cue should be faded by switching from combined sensory cues to single sensory cues and transitioning to less salient cues (e.g., miming or direct imitation).

As mentioned earlier, auditory cues can be a critical tool for deaf children with auditory processing issues to understand and learn speech. In particular, these cues help in the perception of the flavour and physical characteristics of food and drinks, including crispness and freshness.

Visual Cues

For speech-language learners who struggle with visual processing, therapists can use various types of visual cues. They can include pictures, symbols, and words.

Using visual cues is an effective way to teach students how to find information independently. They can also help students to focus on a specific task or goal.

A therapist can use visual cues to remind students how to produce the correct sound. For example, if a child has trouble saying the sound /k/, a therapist may draw a koala or snake to remind them to tongue back and pronounce the /k/.

The therapist can then use other visual cues to reinforce the correct production of the sound, such as tapping the picture or asking them to say it aloud. These cues are more effective for aphasia than verbal prompts, which might be a distraction.

Physical Cues

Speech pathologists use tactile cues to improve or repair the movement of articulators required for speech (vocal folds, jaw, lips and tongue). These articulators need the plan/coordination they need to produce words accurately and intelligibly.

A physical cue is a distinctive motion or touch that a person with dual sensory impairments can identify and discriminate. It is essential when a child is unable to perceive spoken words.

Speech therapists use eye-tracking to determine the effects of physical cues on children’s pain empathy evaluation during a pain evaluation task. 

The outcome shows that valid physical cues would increase children’s assessment of the intensity of others’ pain, while invalid physical cues would decrease it. In addition, the effect of physical cues on fixation count and total fixation duration was positively correlated to the evaluation of actual pain intensity.

Vocal Cues

Speech pathologists may use vocal cues during speech therapy to help clients complete tasks or improve their communication skills. Vocal cues can include auditory, visual and tactile messages that prompt a person to say or do something.

In articulation, for example, the speech pathologist may use a tactile cue such as a tongue depressor to teach the child to place their tongue on the right side of the mouth when saying the sound /s/. It is a helpful cue because it helps the child form the correct plan and coordination for the sound, which can be challenging to do without support.

Another cue used by speech pathologists is imitation. It is a helpful cue for children working on a sound, such as /b/, who need a little help remembering how to say it.

Vocal cues communicate various things, including emotional meaning, attitude and impact. Some vocal cues include voice tone, pacing, pausing, volume, inflection and pitch.

Augmentative Communication

Augmentative Communication techniques can help children communicate their thoughts and ideas more effectively. Speech pathologists use these methods to add to or support a child’s language skills and to replace verbal speech when natural speech is not functioning well enough for a child to express their needs and wants.

The form of AAC used depends on the child’s strengths and needs. For example, a child who has poor speech and limited communication abilities may use sign language and gestures, while another child with a more severe disability may be able to communicate by pointing to pictures or clicking on buttons that provide voice output.

A speech-language pathologist can assist a child in selecting the best system for their communication needs. The selection process is based on several factors, including the child’s current communication development and family abilities.

Using high-tech speech-generating devices under the instruction of a skilled Speech Language Pathologist can improve a child’s communication and reduce anxiety. These devices allow children to express their physical, medical, emotional and social needs simply and effectively when verbal speech is impossible.


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