The Importance of Props
I have realized recently how important props can be when conducting speech therapy in groups. Groups provide a natural setting to practice such things as turn taking, using positive speech, and solving disagreements in a positive fashion. The participants of the pragmatic groups generally have difficulty seeing another individuals perspective and do not even realize when they have given an insult. The challenge is to provide feedback to individuals in a timely fashion without singling individuals out. When pointing out mistakes in a group, an instructor runs the risk of provoking an argument and disrupting the session for the rest of the group. A few props and starting rules can make a lot of difference. It often helps to have the group formulate rules that can then be posted on the wall and numbered. Typical rules are allowing everyone a chance to talk without interruption, speaking positively, taking turns etc. They can be referred to by number as needed. When expectations are set ahead by the group the instructor becomes less of an enforcer and more of a coach. Other props I use are a plastic microphone from the dollar store and a spatula with a cardboard pancake taped to it. The microphone is used to stress turn taking. The child holding the microphone has the designated turn to talk. The spatula is handed to the student who made a cutting or discouraging remark to another student. They are instructed to make a positive remark in replacement thereby flipping the pancake.