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Cueing 101 in Speech Therapy

What are cues?

A cue is something that can be done in order to support a child’s likelihood of reaching success towards a targeted skill. Therapists want children to be successful when working on certain skills. Providing cues can help lead a child to that success. Cues are often more necessary when a targeted skill is new. The goal is to decrease the amount of cues provided over time, while continuing to see that success towards the targeted skill. This way, the child is being directed towards more independence while remaining successful.

What are the different types of cues?

Verbal cues: Verbal cues are when a person provides a hint/reminder verbally that can help a child reach success with the targeted skill.

Examples of speech therapy focused verbal cues include:
– Describing placement of parts of the mouth, such as “use a back sound” for K and G.
– Describing a characteristic of a sound, such as “use your snake sound” for S.
– Stating the first sound in a targeted word such as “mmm” and letting them finish if you’re wanting a child to state “more.”
– Beginning a phrase, such as saying “I want….” and waiting for the child to finish the phrase.

Visual cues: Visual cues are when a person provides a reminder/hint visually to help a child reach success.

Examples of speech therapy focused visual cues include:
– Pictures, such as a picture of a snake to help a child remember their S sound.
– Gestures, such as a person running their finger down their arm to help the child remember to use their S sound.

Tactile cues: Tactile cues are when a person uses some sort of physical touch to help a child reach success towards a targeted skill.

Examples of speech therapy focused tactile cues include:
– Gently touching a child’s throat area to cue a K or G sound.
– Gently tapping a child’s hand to cue a number of syllables in a word or number of words in a phrase.

Kinesthetic cues: Kinesthetic cues require the child to perform some sort of movement to help them reach success towards a skill.

Examples of speech therapy focused kinesthetic cues include:
– Having the child trace their finger down their arm while they produce the S sound.
– Having a child use tapping cues on a pacing board to help with number of syllables or number of words in a phrase.

What do max, mod, and min mean?

These abbreviations stand for “maximum,” “moderate,” and “minimum.” These are the varying levels of support the different types of cues can provide for a child. A child will often need more cues when first beginning a skill, and that’s okay! The therapist will work on trying to decrease the amount of cues provided in order to help a child get closer to independence. You may even notice a therapist decrease/fade cues within one session! Therapists are constantly observing and determining the level of cueing a child requires for a certain skill to help measure progress and plan for future sessions.

Can a parent use cues?

Absolutely! Your child’s therapist may share cues used when they explain what to practice at home. It’s important that you use the same/very similar cues at home when practicing and take note of when the therapist may be starting to decrease those cues. You can always ask for clarification from your child’s therapist!

– Madison Malone, MS, CCC-SLP