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PROMPT Speech Therapy

PROMPT is an acronym for Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets. This technique is a tactile-kinesthetic approach that uses touch cues to a patient’s articulators (jaw, tongue, lips) to manually guide him or her through a targeted word, phrase, or sentence. The technique develops motor control and the development of proper oral muscular movements, while eliminating unnecessary muscle movements, such as jaw sliding and inadequate lip rounding.
Therapists begin by helping patients produce certain phonemes. A phoneme is the smallest increment of sound in speech. For example, the “d” sound in the word dog is one phoneme, the “o” is another and the “g” is yet another. Each phoneme requires different muscle contractions/retractions and placement/movement of the jaw, lips, tongue, neck and chest to produce. All of these things have to happen with the proper timing and sequence to produce one phoneme correctly. The therapist attempts to “teach” the patient’s muscles to produce a phoneme correctly by stimulating all of these through touch. With the timing and movement of more than 100 muscles involved, you can see why the training is so intense.PROMPT speech therapy is appropriate for a wide range of patients with communication disorders. The most common patients have motor speech disorders, articulation problems or are non-verbal children. Many patients with aphasia, apraxia/dyspraxia, dysarthria, pervasive development disorders, cerebral palsy, acquired brain injuries, and autism spectrum disorders have benefitted from PROMPT speech therapy. An evaluation by a PROMPT-trained speech therapist is the only way to find out if a patient is appropriate for this therapy.

Treatment Expectations

If you feel one of your family members may benefit from PROMPT, the first thing you should do is find a PROMPT therapist using one of our interactive maps. Please keep in mind that the therapists listed are not employees of PROMPT. Any PROMPT therapy session should begin with an evaluation of the patient to find if they will benefit from the therapy. Evaluations usually take 1 -2 hours and do carry a charge for the clinician’s time to conduct the evaluation. Most clinicians will have a conversation to discuss the results of the evaluation and provide the family with a written statement of what they feel the patient is capable/incapable of doing. If a therapist feels a patient would benefit from the therapy, they are typically scheduled for a one-hour treatment, once per week. Treatment periods vary greatly depending on the patient, but generally range from 3 months to 3 years. Payment for PROMPT therapy services vary depending on your location, family and the patients themselves. Your therapist’s office can help guide you through payment options and the resources available in your area.


What should I expect for a treatment plan for a child?

PROMPT is concerned with all areas of the child’s development and how he/she uses all domains (Physical, Mental and Social) to interact verbally with significant others. In Assessment all sensory modalities e.g. auditory, visual and tactile-kinesthetic are considered as well as speech sub-system development. In treatment planning for children, all information is structured to enable the child to make the most of their physical and speech sub-system developmental levels. If appropriate the creation of a lexicon, (vocabulary), that will enable the child to functionally practice and use the new or rebalanced motor actions is created. This lexicon is developed with the family and school team members. Other questions that will be addressed during the consultation and assessment are: How the family/care givers, child and school environment interact and the expectations of each. How intact or limited are the child’s physical, mental, emotional and environmental resources, and how this information can be used to best enable functional communication and interaction to occur. What strategies should the Speech-Language Clinician or school staff use to help the child integrate the areas of attention, processing and concept formation with behavioral regulation, structure, routine, interaction. What types of auditory, visual or tactile-kinesthetic facilitation are needed to help the child form links between speech-motor systems and the development of language or literacy skills? Finally, what type of PROMPTing is needed to achieve the most functional verbal communication? After evaluating how the child functions overall, e.g. how they have developed and are currently using communication strategies and the speech-motor system; treatment suggestions will be developed. These suggestions will be primarily for the Speech-Language Clinician directly treating the child but will include carry-over activities for the family and caregivers.

What happens in the treatment sessions?

In the instance of a minimally verbal child or adult, PROMPT first structures sessions so that the patient is required to focus or give as much attention to the task of interaction as possible. It also requires the patient, at a minimum; begin to use a (vowel) sound in response to a request, interaction or question. For example, “Do you want the toy/book etc.?” As part of the structure the clinician may initially slow down their rate of speech and lengthen the response time (or production time), required from the patient and use an imitative model. The production of the patient’s utterance is supported through integrated auditory and tactile (with visual as a secondary source) feedback and gradually, as the patient is able, the basic structure of the movement(s) required for more accurate speech production, are required. Sessions also require, that the patient, through focus of attention, “be present” in the interactions. If the patient is having difficulty with attention, focus, eye contact, repetitive behaviors or uninhibited behaviors etc., the therapist will organize strategies that help the patient “be present” for learning. Once the patient is focused and begins to imitate or initiate a vowel-like production for appropriate communication interaction, PROMPT then begins to help shape that production by use of tactile-kinesthetic information directed to the jaw, face, lips or tongue. These PROMPTs, which are all provided externally, facilitate jaw/facial control and amount of movement required. The PROMPTing is dynamic and may be used to create and organize a single sound, word, phrase, or sentence. As some understanding and proficiency is mastered, different types of PROMPTing will be used. Usually within a session, the structure moves from focus and attention combined with motor-sound practice to learning/using interactive, functional routines or activities that incorporate turn-taking and use syllables or short phrases. All goals are developed with the parents, spouses or care-givers so that the immediate sounds, words or phrases facilitated are important, necessary, provide interaction for requesting, emotional support or help. If the patient has the capacity to expand these words or phrases, more complex motor speech and language is developed. However, the immediate goal is always functional interaction and use. Every patient is considered individually. Finally, PROMPT recognizes that depending on the underlying reason for the patient’s overall ability levels and communication disorder, he/she may be able to achieve more or less normalized vocal communication (with more or less precision). Ultimately, the goal is always interaction and communication, by all or any means (vocal, gestural, pictorial etc.).

What do the different levels of training mean?

The PROMPT Institute is the only organization that trains therapists in the PROMPT technique. The training is very intense and requires a series of workshops, plus a lengthy certification process for a therapist to become a Certified PROMPT therapist. The following provides a description of what you can expect from a therapist that has completed our different stages of training. A therapist that has completed the Introduction to PROMPT Technique Workshop has learned the basics of the PROMPT technique. These clinicians have been trained how to make the “touch cues” to the articulators to help patient’s produce a phoneme. They can also properly evaluate a patient (from a motor perspective) to identify if PROMPT therapy will be beneficial. Some clinicians at this stage are quite good at the technique and all will improve with practice. Clinicians who have completed the PROMPT Bridging Workshop have had various levels of practice, but they have now gained a much-greater understanding of how and when to use the technique. These clinicians can develop much greater holistic intervention plans that address not only speech-motor problems, but also cognitive-linguistic and social-emotional disorders that may affect speech. PROMPT Certified clinicians have completed all of the PROMPT training and have demonstrated their effectiveness in using all of the different facets of the PROMPT technique in practice. Clinicians seeking certification must complete several written examinations that demonstrate they have mastered the theory and knowledge behind the PROMPT technique, plus they must submit video demonstrations of actual technique, on a patient, that demonstrates their effective use of PROMPT. PROMPT Instructors are the best-trained PROMPT therapists in the world. Instructors not only teach the PROMPT workshops, they often help certify therapists as well. Instructors receive frequent updates regarding the PROMPT technique and become even better therapists through their networking with other top-notch PROMPT therapists.

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