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First Words: Assessment and Speech Therapy Goals

presented by Susan H. Lederer PhD, MA, BS

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Disclosure Statement:

Financial: Susan Hendler Lederer receives compensation from MedBridge for this course. There is no financial interest beyond the production of this course.


 Non-Financial: Susan Hendler Lederer has no competing non-financial interests or relationships with regard to the content presented in this course.

Satisfactory completion requirements: All disciplines must complete learning assessments to be awarded credit, no minimum score required unless otherwise specified within the course.

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Children acquire approximately 50 single words before they produce word combinations. For young children with language delays exhibiting small single word/sign vocabularies, the role of the SLP is to assess and facilitate the acquisition of new target words/signs. For most of these children, a developmental approach guides this process. In this course, we will discuss assessment in terms of gathering, categorizing, and analyzing single word data observed in the natural environment and obtained from practical, parent-report tools. A case study will illustrate how this process leads to choosing specific single words/signs to target within and across semantic content categories. A sample intervention will conclude the course.

Meet Your Instructor

Susan H. Lederer PhD, MA, BS

Susan Hendler Lederer, Ph.D., CCC is a professor in the Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders at Adelphi University, Garden City, Long Island, NY. She is a NYS licensed and nationally certified Speech-Language Pathologist with over 35 years of clinical experience including 20 years of academic experience in the areas of early language and literacy…

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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1. Nature of Language: Development and Delays in the First Word Period

This chapter will cover milestones for the acquisition of first words and the composition of the first 50 word lexicon. This will be followed by guidelines for diagnosing a language delay (late talker/SLI vs. developmental delay).

2. Assessment: Gathering, Sorting and Analyzing First Word Data

While standardized tests are necessary for qualifying children for therapy, they do not provide sufficient data to plan therapy. In this chapter we will explore how to gather, categorize, and analyze single word utterances obtained from the natural language sample, parent-report tools, and elicitation tasks). Conducting a qualitative analysis of word types (i.e., semantic content categories such as nouns, verbs, prepositions) provides a clear path to choosing goals.

3. Intervention: Choosing goals/targets and Beginning Therapy

The analysis of single word data by semantic category leads to setting goals both by categories and specific words within those categories that are developmentally appropriate, motivating, among other criteria. Critical thinking about choosing “more” will be discussed. A recommended list of early targets will be provided. A sample intervention using a children’s picture book will conclude this course.

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