Tip Tuesday! Articulation Tip: Using Hand Cues!

I NEVER provide articulation therapy without using hand cues for target sounds.  To me hand cues are as important as a mirror.  

What are hand cues?  Hand cues are a visual cuing system characterized by individual hand movements that represent various sounds.  The hand movements are made simultaneously with the production of target sound(s).  

Do I use a structured hand cue program?  No, however there are several programs out there (PROMPT is probably the most well known).  Over time I have created hand cues in response to what types of cues have worked successfully with numerous children with differing disabilities.  If there were specific hand cues used in the reading curriculum of the school I was working in at the time, I would incorporate those hand cues as to keep consistency and encourage carryover.  I recommend you find what works best for you and your students.

Why do I use hand cues?  I love to use hand cues because they provide a visual movement EVERY time the sound is produced.  Hand cues especially help non-readers as they can “see” where the target sound occurs in a word (initial, medial, final position) and also where in phrases and sentences the sound occurs.  

How do I introduce hand cues?  I first explain the hand cue and why it represents the sound we are targeting after I discuss placement of articulators.  From that moment on, I use hand cues and have my clients (and their parents) use hand cues (initially after my model and eventually, they begin to use the hand cues on their own).

But don’t children become dependent on the hand cues?  Not if you fade out the cuing just as you would fade out any other cuing system.

Process of fading hand cues:

1)  Start with introducing the hand cue and explaining rationale for using the hand cue.
2)  Model hand cues and encourage your client to imitate after you.
3)  As you move through progression of various word positions and various levels of complexity (word, phrase, sentence, conversation, etc.) use hand cues throughout until the client can independently produce target sound (or self-correct own misproductions).
4)  Once child can produce the target sound independently, you can stop using cues yourself.  Your client many continue to use hand cues but over time without your model or encouragement he/she will stop using them.  (Note: some children are SO good at using hand cues that they just continue to use them. For these children I simply ask them to try saying their sounds without using their hands).

Here are just a few resources online of hand cues others use for therapy:  (NOTE:  I am not endorsing the efficacy of any of the links below just provding information for you to further explore.)

In addition there are several apps for hand cues you can download onto your iPad.  Don’t have an iPad but want visuals? Check out several videos on Youtube.  There is a wealth of information out there on hand cues.  Do your own research and find what works best for you and your children!!!
Happy Talking!