Min, Mod, Max Cue Who?
Parents often hear the word cue multiple times throughout their child’s speech and language services in initial reports, progress reports, and even during therapy itself. But what does that really mean in terms of their child’s performance? A cue is assistance presented to the child in order to assist them in their success. This idea sounds easy enough, but there is more to cueing that meets the eye. In fact, a cue can be quite complex in nature, and is strategically delivered to ultimately work towards a child’s independent mastery of their goals!
Cueing is quite flexible in nature, in that it can be delivered in a variety of modalities based on your child’s needs and personality. For example, a tactile cue may help a child with apraxia of speech reinforce the correct motor productions to the brain in order to accurately produce a speech sound. A different form of cueing may come in the form of a phonemic cue, or providing a specific sound (such as the sound /k/ for /cow/) to activate the child’s previous knowledge on new vocabulary that may not yet be consistent. A cue can even be as simple as a visual, such as looking in a mirror when practicing speech sounds. Now that we know the different kinds of cues, you may ask, how do we use them?
While cueing is important in the acquisition and maintenance of goals, one must recognize that a cue is to provide support to foster independence, not create dependence! This means that while a wonderful support system, cues must be faded out once a child shows adequate gains. Meaning, the type, frequency, or duration of a cue can be changed as the child’s abilities change and improve over time. Eventually, the ultimate goal is to achieve as much independence as possible, so the skills are present beyond the therapy room. One may see the terms independent, minimal, moderate, maximal incorporated into their child’s speech and language goals. These descriptors serve as a guide for how much, and what type of support is recommended for the child. These cues are determined by the therapist, and serve to be a functional tool in the child’s progress throughout therapy.
That being said, a cue does not, (and is not) solely need to be present in the therapy room. Parents play a valuable role in the process of carryover activities into the home environment, which includes cueing! Whether it be tactile, verbal or visual, a wonderful question to ask your therapist is how to appropriately support your child at home with cues. Appropriate cueing and participation in the home environment can benefit the child by reinforcing learned skills, as well as establishing the expectation for communication!