Just like the severity rating chart, speech sampling is a non-negotiable component of Lidcombe Program therapy sessions. The beginning of each session involves listening to the child speaking in an everyday talking context. The sample can be elicited by the clinician, the parent or both. I tend to avoid providing toys and games at this time, as the child usually becomes engrossed in the toy so that the conversation can resemble pulling hen’s teeth…What I do like to do though, is have the child bring a few things in to “show and tell”. Often the child packs a little bag with goodies that are sometimes even a surprise to their parents. Much more fun… The child tends to be motivated to describe and chat freely about their chosen things.
School aged children (5-7 year old boys) often bring in Lego creations to show me and while I usually find construction toys to be conversation killers, Lego show and tell works well for this part of the session. I often video the sample and this can help in a couple of ways. Firstly, the video can be used to compare with samples from previous sessions to discuss differences in severity ratings. Secondly, the video can be ‘dissected’ with a parent to help teach and recognise different stutters, atypical stuttering and ambiguous dysfluencies.
At other times, I ask the parent to tally stutters or we set up a coded look or gesture to help tune into the child’s talking and be sure we are hearing and rating the same thing. Sometimes it’s necessary to tell the parent not to provide contingencies at this time as we are looking for a sample that reflects everyday talking and not what talking looks like with intervention.
Lastly, we assign a severity rating and chat about how representative the sample is in comparison to the at-home-ratings.
Please share any sampling strategies that work for you!