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My six-year-old son needs speech therapy.

The diagnosis is firstly a myofunctional disorder with a lack of lip closure, impaired orofacial sensitivity and coordination, non-physiological tongue rest position and hypotonicity of the orofacial and tongue muscles. Secondly, an articulation disorder with partial dyslalia.

Exercises are comprised of various tongue movements, loud tongue clicks, use of straws.

He has been attending therapy once a week for 2 years, but has not practised with us at home for many months (the therapist says, this is crucial for progress). Progress has stalled. I have tried to introduce playful elements, I have offered a reward for regular practice - nothing works more than once or twice. He completely boycotts our exercises at home, either he is completely passive, he makes nonsense or he is accusatory ("I don't want any more speech therapy. You can't control me.") Our son will start school this year. He is quite smart and interested. I am very worried about his articulation problems in the school context.

How can I help my son and practice successfully with him at home?

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  • If your can gamify the experience, especially with rewards, it may help. Mar 20 at 6:41
  • Totally not an answer, but a tangential recommendation based on personal experience (no affiliation) and as you seem to be in the DACH area: Check out the games by Adlung Spiele. They are frequently used by educators and therapists, covering areas like ADHS, dyslexia dyscalculia and similar, yet are first and foremost games, so just funny and enjoyable. And as they make only card games, they are very affordable and easy to store & carry along.
    – Stephie
    Mar 20 at 18:14
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Some psychologists would say that your initial question already is futile - that you can’t win via extrinsic motivation because it doesn’t work.

Maybe that’s a bit extreme, but there’s definitely a grain of truth there. So when you want your son to practice, don’t call it “practice” and don’t encourage/send/nag/... him to do his exercises. Instead, think creatively about the exercises and find seemingly unrelated activities that require the repeated use of whatever the “homework” asks for. There are so many games that use a straw (and a bit competition is incredibly motivating) and you could also do some experiments that need a directed stream of air or sucking.

Tongue movements are trickier (no spontaneous ideas yet), clicks could for example be used like a signal - if he navigates a blindfolded you with slower or faster clicks through a room (think of the parking sensors in a car that go faster the closer you are to a wall).

You should get involved (e.g. take turns or compete against each other), so that these games / experiments / competitions / (exercises) are perceived as quality time spent with you, not a chore.

Hint: The same approach can help later with school, especially if you need to overcome an obstacle or demotivated phase.

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