Clinical Focus  |   May 2009
When “Simon Says” Doesn’t Work: Alternatives to Imitation for Facilitating Early Speech Development
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Laura S. DeThorne
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Cynthia J. Johnson
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Louise Walder
    Private Practice, Mahomet, IL
  • Jamie Mahurin-Smith
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Contact author: Laura S. DeThorne, University of Illinois–Speech & Hearing Science, 901 South Sixth Street, Champaign, IL 61820. E-mail: lauras@illinois.edu.
Speech, Voice & Prosody / Clinical Focus
Clinical Focus   |   May 2009
When “Simon Says” Doesn’t Work: Alternatives to Imitation for Facilitating Early Speech Development
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology May 2009, Vol.18, 133-145. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2008/07-0090)
History: Accepted 19 Sep 2008 , Received 11 Dec 2007 , Revised 28 May 2008
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology May 2009, Vol.18, 133-145. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2008/07-0090)
History: Accepted 19 Sep 2008 , Received 11 Dec 2007 , Revised 28 May 2008

Purpose: To provide clinicians with evidence-based strategies to facilitate early speech development in young children who are not readily imitating sounds. Relevant populations may include, but are not limited to, children with autism spectrum disorders, childhood apraxia of speech, and late-talking toddlers.

Method: Through multifaceted search procedures, we found experimental support for 6 treatment strategies that have been used to facilitate speech development in young children with developmental disabilities. Each strategy is highlighted within this article through a summary of the underlying rationale(s), empirical support, and specific examples of how it could be applied within intervention.

Conclusions: Given the relatively sparse experimental data focused on facilitating speech in children who do not readily imitate, theoretical support emerges as particularly key and underscores the need for clinicians to consider why they are doing what they are doing. In addition, this review emphasizes the need for the research community to bridge the gap between pressing clinical needs and the limited evidence base that is currently available.

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