As SLPs, we all use prompting in our speech therapy sessions. It helps us build upon what a child already knows by scaffolding the skills that we target. There are many forms of prompts and scaffolds. We’ve spent time talking about the importance of verbal prompts and visual prompts in the past.
Today, let’s chat about ways to use gestural prompting in speech therapy.
WHAT IS IT?
Gestural prompts are supports in the form of a gesture or action that the learner can observe the instructor doing. This could include pointing, nodding, reaching, etc.
Gestures give clues and information about the correct response in a non-verbal way. They are like a mix between physical prompts and visual prompts. For more information about prompts and cues in general, including when to use which type, check out this blog post.
TYPES OF GESTURAL PROMPTS
Here are a few of the most common types of gestures that you might use with your students.
Modeling involves the therapist demonstrating a gesture while saying a word or phrase, in order to encourage the client to imitate it. For example, an SLP might tell a student to clap their hands while modeling clapping hands.
This involves the therapist pointing in the direction of the correct response. For example, an SLP may point to an object or picture while saying the word for it, in order to help the child make the connection between the word and the object.
3. Hand gestures
Many use hand gestures as a slightly less direct cue than pointing. It involves moving your hand to indicate a specific object or area. For example, the SLP says, “Put the toy on the shelf.” while gesturing toward the shelf.
This involves looking or nodding in the direction of the correct response. You may use this to encourage a child to follow directions. For example, after giving a direction (“sit in the chair”), the SLP looks at the student and then looks at the chair.
This could also include looking at a child expectantly. I use this one all the time with my minimally verbal kids to give them a clue that I’m waiting for them to respond.
5. Iconic gestures
This reminds me of miming. It involves using gestures that resemble the action or object being described, such as holding an imaginary steering wheel to indicate “driving” or making a rocking motion to indicate “rocking.”
6. Phonemic supports
I use gestures for articulation and phonetic cuing all the time. You might do it too, like touching your nose for a nasal sound. I’m actually trained in Visual Phonics, which is a system of hand cues that represent the 46 phonemic sounds of spoken English. There are a few different systems for using hand gestures to cue articulation sounds out there. Visual Phonics is just one we use district-wide for both literacy and articulation, so my students are familiar with it.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN USING GESTURES
It is important to note that gestural prompts should be used in conjunction with verbal prompts, not as a replacement for verbal language. Additionally, gestural prompts should be tailored to the individual client’s needs and abilities.
When using gestural prompting in speech therapy, it is important to have a plan to fade the prompt. Even within gestures, you can give a more direct to less direct cue. For example, if you are giving a direct model, you might decrease to a small hand gesture, then to a look or head nod. You could also decrease the number of prompts given.
DOWNLOAD A FREE GUIDE!
You might be thinking that all the different kinds of prompts, cues, scaffolds, and when to use them are starting to get jumbled in your head. If you want a concise, easy-to-read reference for scaffolding, be sure to download this FREE Scaffolding Guide!
It includes all my best tips and checklists to give you a clear understanding of prompting! With this guide you’ll get:
- My favorite tips for using prompts
- Helpful strategies and examples for visual, verbal, and gestural prompt
- List of printable resources and my favorite scaffolding and prompting blog posts
- Lists of the types of supports and examples for how to use each one!
Head over HERE to feel better about scaffolding and get your guide sent straight to your inbox!
wonderful, bravo, love your free forms! this is so helpful for my families! slp, dee dee