We have all had the experience where our intervention is less productive because of difficult behaviors in speech therapy.  Here is a behavior system that I have found to be successful in group settings.  If you laminate the chart at the bottom, you can use it across multiple sessions with dry erase markers.  This is how it works:
Behavior in Speech Therapy

At the beginning of each session

The students quickly review the rules listed/pictured in the middle (e.g., “I need to listen with my eyes and ears/Necesito escuchar con mis ojos y oídos”).

Throughout the session

The students receive feedback on whether they follow the rules by simply writing a check or “X” in the boxes on the appropriate side of the rule.  For example, if they are not touching/tapping their hands or getting out of their seats/lifting the front legs of their chair off the ground, every so often I write a check in the boxes on the right side of “Quiet hands/Manos quietas” to indicate good behavior for this rule.  Or if they are speaking off topic to the point of inappropriate disruption, I immediately write an “X” in the boxes on the left of “Stay on target/Hablar en el tema” to indicate undesired behavior for this rule.

At the end of the session

The students receive stickers if the chart shows they demonstrated good behavior.  If they receive three “X” marks on any one rule they do not get a sticker.  The stickers they receive go on their own small piece of card stock with their name on it, and that I keep.  Once they receive ten stickers on their piece of cardstock, they are allowed an incentive that we have already established (e.g., playing a certain preferred game, doing therapy outside, pencils/small “prize box” items, etc.).

Behavior in Speech Therapy

This system is beneficial because:

  1. I’m able to give the students feedback on both desired behaviors and undesired behaviors, and I don’t have to stop what we are doing if I have to redirect undesired behaviors.
  2. It becomes a game for the students because the visual of how they are doing is always present–they remain motivated to get their sticker.
  3. The sticker cards keep the students motivated across multiple sessions (not just during one session) since their main incentive is only rewarded after ten stickers/sessions of good behavior.
  4. The students build a team dynamic since they have to work together to earn their daily stickers.  I’ve even noticed them take ownership of the system by quietly redirecting their peers before I have the opportunity to write an “X”.

All Management of Behavior in Speech Therapy is a Work in Progress

There are some levels of behavior that this chart does not address.  For example, if one child is consistently difficult and the rest of the group behaves well, I usually have to talk one-on-one with that student to promote his/her positive behavior.  Generally though, group therapy sessions are significantly more productive with a system like this chart in place because it not only facilitates behavior in a fun way, but also prevents me from having to take time out of an already short session to reward/redirect behavior.

Download the chart for free here:  Behavior in Speech Therapy

If you want more information on behavior in speech therapy, check out our course:

Overcoming Behavioral Roadblocks in Speech Therapy

Maria Mitidieri, M. S., CCC-SLP

Special thanks to Cristie Martinez, M.S., CCC-SLP, for her initial collaboration on this behavior chart.

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