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SLP Corner: Comprehension Lessons in Speech Therapy

by Sherry Artemenko, M.A., CCC-SLP
It’s fun to be on a school team again twice a month when I meet with the public school special education team working with my kindergarten client. My little friend is on the higher end of the autism spectrum and working on listening and comprehension. He has difficulty staying focused during story time and even individually in therapy.
One of the advantages of team work is learning new ideas to incorporate into my therapy. This little boy had an outstanding teacher who advanced kids’ language skills at every opportunity. She would constantly ask, “Why do you say that?” requesting an explanation for a math move or a comment on a story. At the end of the year she would give kids a descriptive sentence without the visual cue and they would have to draw it.
I’ve been using that activity for a few weeks with my little friend to build up his comprehension. I usually read a book and then give a summary sentence for one of the illustrations and see if he can remember to draw all the facts I have given him.  Yesterday we read a cute book,  Leon and Albertine, and I gave my friend and his buddy the sentence, “Albertine’s feet were sticking out of the birdhouse that had hearts on the side of it.” Sometimes he needs prompts to think if he has remembered all the details I gave him. When they had finished drawing, we compared their pictures (both accurate but different) and checked for the information, and then compared their drawings to the one in the book.  I have reversed this activity and had him tell me a sentence from the story that I have to draw. I purposely leave out some important feature and he has to catch what it is and tell me.  Kids love this activity and it helps them focus on listening and retaining information.
Featured Contributor: Sherry Y. Artemenko M.A., CCC_SLP
For more than 30 years, Sherry Artemenko has worked with children to improve their speech and language, serving as a speech language pathologist in both the public and private school systems and private practice.
Sherry founded the PAL Award (Play Advances Language) to recognize outstanding children’s toys, games and books that can build language. Her PAL Award reviews give parents, educators, manufacturers and retailers specific ways to use award winning products to enhance language. Visit Sherry’s website to view her winners.
Thanks to Sherry and Play on Words for sharing her article with us.

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