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Crafting Communication: Strategies for Structuring Your Listening and Spoken Language Therapy Session

Crafting Communication: Strategies for Structuring Your Listening and Spoken Language Therapy Session

Ingrid Steyns
Tom HIbbert

As clinicians working with deaf/hard of hearing children and their families, one of our most vital tasks is to plan effective therapy sessions that not only address the needs of the child but also consider the goals of the family. Each session should be crafted to promote learning, development, and the overall well-being of the child; while simultaneously equipping parents and caregivers with the tools they need to support their child’s progress outside of therapy sessions.  

In this guide, we’ll delve into the essential elements of planning a Listening and Spoken Language (LSL) therapy session, focusing on goal setting, developmental milestones, skill-building for parents, and engaging activities for children.  

1 Define goals across different developmental domains 

Before diving into session planning, it is crucial to work with the family (and the child if appropriate) to establish clear goals. These goals may include listening, speech or language development, social skills, emotional regulation and more. Understanding the family’s aspirations for their child is equally important, as it helps tailor therapy sessions to meet their specific needs and expectations.  

2. Plan to Empower Parents and Caregivers 

Effective therapy extends beyond the confines of the clinic or therapy room. It involves empowering parents and caregivers with the necessary skills and strategies to support their child’s progress at home. Incorporating activities that directly involve parents not only builds their confidence but also fosters a collaborative approach to therapy. Providing handouts with practical tips and summaries of session activities as well as involving caregivers in decisions around how to carry over goals in their home context, are invaluable resources for families to reference between sessions.  

3. Select Appropriate Activities 

When planning therapy activities, it’s essential to consider their appropriateness for the child’s age, skill level and interests. Activities should not only target specific developmental goals but also be enjoyable and motivating for the child. Additionally, activities should be easily integrated into the home environment, allowing parents to continue practicing and reinforcing skills outside of therapy sessions.  

For example:  

  • For a preschool-age child working on language development, activities such as storytelling or engaging in pretend play can be both fun and effective in building communication skills.  
  • For parents, incorporating activities that encourage interaction and positive reinforcement with their child, such as shared book reading sessions, turn taking games or simple daily routines like mealtime discussions, can help strengthen the parent-child bond and reinforce therapeutic strategies.  

By carefully considering these different elements when planning therapy sessions, clinicians can create a holistic and impactful approach to intervention that not only supports the child’s development but also empowers families to play an active role in their child’s progress.  

Example of Planning a LSL session for a 6 month old:  

Domain: Listening 

Goal: For child to show a consistent head turn response to 7 sounds when presented without auditory cues from 1m in a quiet environment 

Activity: 7 sounds objects & soft blocks or rings to distract 

LSL Strategy: Listen first 


Domain: Listening 

Goal: For child to wear hearing devices for all waking hours 

Activity: Discussion with family around device retention & troubleshooting devices 

LSL Strategy: Optimal access to sound 

Domain: Language 

Goal: For child to use one or two early developing consonants (such as /m/) in vocalisations 

Activity: Cow toy “moo”, goat toy “maaa” and pretend food “mmmm, yummy” 

Singing L2L songs in play 

LSL Strategy: Auditory bombardment, Serve & return (turn taking) for language modelling 

Domain: Speech 

Goal: For child to begin to use reduplicated babble (CV syllables) in vocalisations 

Activity: Build tower, knock it down (up, up, up….down!) 

LSL Strategy: Modelling simple CV/VC syllables in play, Following child’s lead 

Domain: Literacy 

Goal: For child to engage with board book for a few minutes 

Activity: Read board book together e.g. “That’s not my monkey” 

LSL Strategy: Shared book reading for listening & language learning; reiterate vocabulary and speech sounds 

Strategies for parents: Listen first, Serve & Return 

Discussion: What is happening in the coming week, how can they follow up at home; What goals will they target at home? 

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