In episode 25 of the Speech and Language Kids Podcast, speech-language pathologist Carrie Clark discusses how to increase self-awareness and carry-over skills for children who do not pay attention to if they are saying things correctly or not.

What is Self-Awareness?

Self-awareness refers to a child’s ability to monitor himself to determine if he is doing something correctly.  In terms of speech and language skills, we look for self-awareness with the speech and language errors that the child is producing.  For example, if a child doesn’t say “s” correctly in conversational speech, we want to know if the child is aware that he is saying it incorrectly.  Most of the time with speech errors, the child is not at all aware that he is producing it incorrectly.  In contrast, children who have significant stutters are often painfully aware that they are stuttering and become very embarrassed by it.

What is Carry-Over?

Carry-over refers to a child’s ability to take a skill that she has learned in an isolated setting (like speech therapy) and begin to use it in other settings, such as in the classroom and at home.  Once we teach a child to do a skill on command, we must then teach her to carry-over that skill to the rest of her life.

How Does Self-Awareness Improve Carry-Over?

If a child is not aware that he is doing something incorrectly, it is very, very difficult for him to fix it.  Children must develop a level of self-awareness before they are able to monitor and change their behavior.  If you are working with a child who can do a skill (for example, say the target sound) brilliantly in speech therapy or practice sessions, but who struggles to remember to use it during every-day activities, he may be lacking self-awareness.

How to Improve Self-Awareness:

  • Record the child doing the skill as well as times whens she doesn’t do it.  Play the recordings back to the child and have her tell you whether it was correct or incorrect.
  • Have the child perform the skill for you at a level that he sometimes struggles with.  This may be when answering open-ended questions or retelling past events if he’s able to do the skill in simple sentences well.  After each time the child attempts the skill, put your thumb up or down behind a large object (or under the table) based on if it was correct or incorrect.  Have the child guess, based on his performance, if you rated it correct or incorrect.  Then, show the child your hand to see if he was correct.
  • Provide a positive reinforcement system for when the child remembers to use the skill on his own.  Provide intermittent reinforcement (don’t praise every good time, just some) and track the child’s progress so he can work toward a goal.  You can download my Speech Sound Carry-Over Challenge to use at home or send home with your families:
Click Here to Download the Speech Sound Carry-Over Challenge