3 Ways to Improve Speech Therapy Goals

In today’s podcast episode, I delve into the ins and outs of crafting individualized speech therapy goals for children with speech delays. Drawing from my extensive background as a behavior analyst and nurse, I share why relying solely on generic goals often leads to ineffective outcomes.

I will share my experience watching my son Lucas go through speech therapy when he was just two and the surprising things I learned in those sessions. We will also get into how to set speech therapy goals to get more babbling, and words before creating goals to increase the length of utterance. And lastly, we will touch on the importance of involving parents and other professionals into the speech sessions, and when selecting speech therapy goals.

So come join me through the journey of knowing if your speech therapy goals are as effective as they could be. 

YOU’LL LEARN

  • 3 ways to improve speech therapy goals
  • My speech therapy journey with Lucas
  • Why you shouldn’t use speech therapy goal banks
  • How to increase words and babbling
  • How individualize speech therapy goals
  • How parents can be involved in speech therapy

The Importance of Choosing the Right Speech Therapy Goals

Selecting appropriate and tailored speech therapy goals is critical for each child’s unique developmental needs.  This personalized approach ensures that the therapy aligns with the child’s specific strengths and challenges, significantly enhancing the effectiveness of the interventions.

A common mistake I see is professionals picking generic speech therapy goals that are not based on assessment. Assessing the whole child using the Barbera Early Childhood Assessment™ is helpful when looking at what to target. When it comes to speech therapy goals, we want emphasis on the language sections, along with the feeding sections.

When goals are individually crafted, they can have a transformative impact on the child’s progress in speech therapy.

child working on speech therapy goals. Picking speech therapy goals
Picking the right speech therapy goals can create a more engaging and positive speech session.

Speech Therapy Goal Bank Pros & Cons

As I said, part of picking the right goals is individualizing the goals based on the child’s current strengths and abilities. You can find many speech therapy goal banks online but there are pros and cons to using these types of banks. 

Pros: Goal banks can be a valuable resource, providing a broad array of potential goals that can serve as a starting point for therapists.

They can save time in the initial stages of therapy planning and offer a framework from which customized goals can be developed. 

Cons: However, the reliance on a goal bank can lead to a generic approach that might not cater to the individual needs of each child.

For instance, in Lucas’s case, some of the generalized goals pulled from these banks were not appropriate for his specific challenges and strengths, leading to ineffective sessions filled with activities that were far too hard. This illustrates the risk of applying a one-size-fits-all method, which can impede a child’s progress.

Ensure if you are using a goal bank that it is just to gather ideas if necessary.

2-year-old Speech Therapy Goals

At age 2, toddlers are rapidly developing their language skills, making it a crucial time for speech therapy. Proper goal setting is essential to support their speech and language milestones. Here are some key considerations when crafting effective speech therapy goals for 2-year-olds.

Picking Goals for a 2-Year-Old

When setting speech therapy goals for toddlers, or really any aged child, it’s crucial to consider their developmental stage and specific abilities. Goals should be realistic and achievable, fostering confidence and a sense of accomplishment as they progress. These goals must align with age-appropriate milestones to ensure that the therapy supports the child’s natural developmental trajectory.

One goal I often see selected for a speech therapy goal is to increase the length of utterance. 

This means to go from saying “ball” to “I want a ball please”. While this may sound like a good goal, it can often backfire by confusing the child and promoting articulation errors. 

Instead, focusing on one to two syllable words and increasing by syllable length based on the child’s clarity can be helpful. 

Case Study: Lucas’s Struggles and Successes

In the case of my son Lucas, his early speech therapy journey illustrates the importance of well-considered goals.

Initially, some of the goals set for him were not suited to his stage of development, which led to frustration and limited progress. So while what they were working on may have been typical for a 2 year old to know, Lucas was so far behind that these goals did not fit his needs. 

Some speech therapy goals that were targetted even though he couldn’t ask for his basic needs were;

  • yes/no: “Is this an apple?” and he was expected to answer yes/no
  • Prepositions: “Put the child beside the cup” 
  • Pronouns: “My turn, Your Turn” 

Having these goals in his session caused frustration and lack of progress because the speech therapy goals were not individualized. 

However, once we shifted to goals that were better tailored to his needs—such as integrating activities he was naturally motivated by like bubbles or simple cause-and-effect toys—Lucas began to show improvement in requesting the things he wanted.

During the section of the session they worked on these goals, he was much more engaged and happy to be there. 

The Role of Parent Education in Speech Therapy

parents involved in speech therapy goals and sessions.
Involving parents in speech therapy sessions is common practice and should be incorporated for best outcomes.

Involving parents in the therapy process is essential for ensuring that the child’s learning and development are continuous and consistent, extending beyond the clinical setting. I remember that I could watch Lucas’ sessions from behind a 2 way mirror or even be in the room. This was very important to learning how I could support him at home. 

Educating parents about the speech therapy goals and methods empowers them to become active participants in their child’s development.

For example, by understanding the specific strategies used during sessions, parents can better facilitate similar activities at home, reinforcing the learning. Speech therapy goals will be reached much faster if parents can incorporate the goals throughout their day vs. the child only being exposed to the goals once or twice a week in session.

Sharing effective communication and reinforcement techniques enables parents to support their child’s speech and language development effectively. This collaborative approach not only enhances the child’s learning experience but also fosters a supportive environment that is crucial for the child’s overall growth.

Key Takeaways for Effective Speech Therapy Goals

In summary, the top 3 ways to improve speech therapy goals today are; 

  •  Work on the right speech goals in the right order. Base speech therapy goals on a child’s assessment or their unique strengths and needs. 
  •  Set goals for getting more babbling, sounds and spontaneous 1-2 syllable words before setting goals to Increase the length of utterances.
  • Whenever possible, include parents and other professionals in speech therapy goal selection and allow parents to be an integral part of therapy sessions.

I hope this episode helped you to evaluate your speech therapy sessions and determine if you have selected the right goals or if they could be improved. 

RESOURCES