BASIC STEPS CONTINUED: VOCALIZATION TARGETS

Precanonical Targets: Isolated vowels and diphthongs serve as initial targets for newly implanted children and those who produce few simple canonical syllables. The methods used in the Kuhl and Meltzoff (1996) study suggest that point vowels (i.e., "ee" “heat”, "o" “hot”, "u" “hoot”, and "a" “hat”) may be appropriate first targets. A full range of vowels and diphthongs can be introduced as the child begins to imitate and spontaneously produce point vowels.

Simple Canonical Syllable Targets: Once the child imitates a variety of isolated vowels and diphthongs, simple canonical syllables can be highlighted through repeated models of CV (consonant-vowel) syllables, disyllables (CVCV), and reduplicated and nonreduplicated syllable strings (e.g, /babababa/ and midimidi/). Highly visible consonants (e.g. /p/, /b/, /m/, /w/) may help children associate sounds with speech movements at first. Combining these consonants with previously modeled vowels provides an opportunity to build new phonetic skills from those that have been learned previously. New consonants (with different place, manner, and voicing features) can be modeled as the child begins to imitate or spontaneously produce syllables with visible consonants. These consonants should also be combined with a variety of vowels. Clinicians can insure a comprehensive stimulation program by planning a sequence of vocalizations that includes a full array of consonants and vowel/diphthong combinations.

Advanced Form Targets: Advanced forms can be introduced after the child readily imitates or produces a variety of well-formed simple canonical syllables with different vowels and consonants or begins to produce these more-advanced forms spontaneously. In particular, closed syllables (e.g., VC and CVC) and jargon may be important forms for the transition to meaningful speech because of their phonetic and prosodic similarity to real words, phrases, and sentences. Although implanted children may say several words within the first months of implant use, continued modeling of vocalizations from or slightly above the child’s developmental level is recommended until words are produced on a regular basis.

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