7 Ways to Start Your Speech Therapy Sessions

There are ALL kinds of ways to get your speech therapy started. It can really set the tone for the next 30 minutes. Here are some of my favorites!

1. Speech Expectations – This is my most common activity. I review it every. single. session. What’s great about this? My speech therapy expectations are clear from the beginning and it’s a great visual cue to keep students on track.  I also LOVE that after awhile most of my students can review the expectations with NO assistance.  I show them my file folder and let them lead the way.


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2. Social Stories – Many of us use social stories for all types of behaviors in many settings. You may want to to put your speech expectations  in a social story format if that is most motivating for a particular student or group. The most common social story I use in speech therapy is to address  game playing behavior. There are quite a few free social stories I use on Speakingofspeech.com and I have used this one from Teaching Trove.

3. Folders – I only do this with a few of my students as it can be somewhat difficult to manage for a caseload of 50+, but I love having materials ready to go  As soon as my students enter the room they find their designated folder. We open it up and choose to pull out practice materials from the ‘Let’s practice this again’ side or ‘New Materials’ side. It’s that simple! And…if I am having one of those days that I don’t get my new materials in folders – no problem – we’ll be sure and use the “Let’s practice this again’ side for that speech therapy session.

4. Movement breaks – Y’all. Breaks. We all need them. Your student(s) may have been sitting at their desks for awhile and they NEED to move.  My students will do a few quick exercises such as jumping jacks, running in place, or touching their toes.  I will have therapy on a carpet in my room and allow them to sit in a way that is most comfortable. There are also great websites out there like: Go Noodle or Cosmic Kids. Whatever you choose, it can be quick and effective.

5. Mini centers – These are quick activities that I have chosen to review as soon as students walk through the door.  It must be something that can be completed in less than 5 minutes and that the students can use or set up independently or with minimal assistance. Once it is completed, we review the activity quickly, and the mini center is presented again in following sessions as needed. I have created some mini centers here and here for the /R/, /L/, and /S/.

6. Schedules and Work Systems: Some students really benefit from a very clear, visual system that says, ‘This what we are going to do, this how long we are going to do it, and this is what happens when we are done!’.  The most common systems I like to use are the faithful ‘First/Then’ and the ‘5 Point’ pictured below.  A student chooses a picture of a reward and then ‘points’ are awarded as they work through a particular activity.  Use clinical expertise and students’ values (hello, evidenced based practice) to assess how those point are given.

Hume, K., & Odom, S. (2007). Effects of an individual work system on the independent functioning of students with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37,1166-1180.

7. Let them talk! –  Just because you have a communication delay/disorder doesn’t mean you don’t have a lot to say! As professionals we can get so much out of this activity. We can observe their conversational speech, clarify their language (i.e. When you said ___, did you mean____), give turn taking cues, and ask questions. It really is satisfying to sit back and take the time to listen, engage, and learn more about what is important in their life.

How do you start your therapy sessions?




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