33% of my students with speech IEPs are working on very basic 1-3 word utterances (verbally or non-verbally). One of the many ways that I work on their speech goals is to engage them with play-based speech therapy.
What is play-based therapy?
I use my own approach to therapy, loosely based on Floor Time. A box of toys is chosen by myself or the child and we engage in basic or complex play filled with my sneaky approaches to improve communication and social skills.
- I consistently and repetitively repeat labels, actions, and descriptors.
- I withhold items and actions until the child requests, comments, or repeats.
- I add anticipatory pauses to encourage the child to respond.
- I am excited about the play and any communication attempts that the child performs.
Is play-based speech therapy fun? YES! Is it exhausting? YES! Does it require organization? YES!
How do you get organized by play-based therapy?
My space is set up well with many bookshelves. I have stated using these to my advantage by organizing themed toys into bins on the shelves! I choose the bin that we will be using that day based on the season, letter of the week, or interest of the child.
Originally, I had been excited about using clear boxes so I could easily find the items. I quickly discovered, however, that the kids were a little too excited about the toys as well and were too easily distracted if they could see all of the options. I put large labels in the sides of the boxes to help with this issue.
I have also been working for the last year on adding picture communication boards to each of the bins. When these are complete, ever bin will have a file folder with “I want” picture cards velcroed on the front of a file folder. Within the file folder will be pictures of all the images in the bin. With low level students I can take out 1-3 choices. For more advanced students, I can present the entire array of items.
Do you do play-based speech therapy? How do you organize your toys and visuals?