Fluency Goals for a Preschooler
Now that the school year has begun, so have our IEP meetings. From time to time we receive Evaluation Reports on new students entering our preschool program. The reports are hot off the press and our job is to read them and design goals that are appropriate for that particular child. There are times when this is not an easy task, as information is often limited and we have not personally met or evaluated the child so we are dependent upon the information we are given.
Recently I received an evaluation for a child who is experiencing "dysfluencies" and "stuttering, including sound and word repetition when communicating." He is young, just turning 3 within a week from now. My challenge now is to write a goal that is appropriate and attainable, implementing strategies that are both pertinent and practical. Based upon the information I was provided as well as the child's age, awareness and cognitive level, my goal and strategies recommend the use of visual supports, such as a pacing board to help make fluent speech more tangible. My main focus during the early days of therapy will be to get to know the child and pay special attention to their speech patterns. How aware are they of their stutter? Are they embarrassed by their dysfluencies? How is or isn't it hindering their communication?
According to an article written by Craig Coleman, MA, CCC-SLP, Stuttering Center News, Volume 2, Issue 1, of February 2004:
"When writing an IEP for a child with a stuttering disorder, it is important to target all aspects of the child's disorder, not just the number of disfluencies he or she produces. It is important to address the "quality" of the fluency, not just the "quantity." This means goals could address secondary behaviors, physical tension, or avoidance. Also, the child may not have control over how fluent he is. He only has control over whether he uses techniques to help him speak more easily. Goals should focus on the child's effort in addition to the desired clinical outcome."
The article also reminds readers at the end that any objective "should be individualized to meet a child's specific needs. Writing IEPs in this way will help the child address the entire stuttering disorder."
Join me in a few weeks when I report back about how therapy is going!