Lee Ann Setzer is a speech-language pathologist, children’s book author, and creator of fun lessons for SEEL. When Lee Ann was a clinical educator for Brigham Young University’s Department of Communication Disorders, she worked with student clinicians to devise SEEL-style lessons to help children with significant speech sound disorders.  

Lee Ann worked with children who simplify their speech by producing immature error patterns. Some children would leave off final consonants in words or substitute easier sounds (e.g., t, d, and n) for harder-to-produce sounds (e.g., k, g, and ng). Lee Ann created SEEL activities to ensure frequent opportunities for children to practice producing new sounds or patterns. She would use rhyming activities not only to teach rhyming but also to ensure that children would use and include final consonants on the ends of their words. For example, in the activity pictured below, Lee Ann focused on the production of final /m/ as she arranged for the child to climb up, ring a chime, yell “time, time for lime,” and sell lots of lime drink for a dime (Setzer, Culatta, & Horn, 2005).   

Since her early implementation of SEEL, Lee Ann has continued to work with Barbara Culatta to meet the needs of children with speech sound disorders. Together, they have also helped train student speech-language pathologists and have shared information about the approach’s effectiveness in professional journal articles.     

Lee Ann has joined the SEEL team to create lessons that facilitate phonological awareness and reading development in preschoolers and early elementary students. With minor adjustments, SEEL activities can also be used to help children with speech sound disorders. In fun and meaningful ways, clinicians can help their students realize that changes in sound productions can signal changes in meaning (e.g., the difference between “tip” and “sip”). Speech-language clinicians can also use SEEL activities to arrange for children to produce and recognize (or identify) sounds they do not produce (e.g., the final m sounds in the lime activity above). 

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Here are some "SEEL in Real Life" tips from Lee Ann on using SEEL principles to support your child’s speech development:

1. Have fun! Learning to communicate should be fun and motivating. If you and your preschooler come up with a funny speech-sound game together, she’s likely to want to repeat it another dozen times or more—giving her tons of speech-sound practice and joyful bonding time with you.

2. Do much more modeling than correcting. Imagine a life where you couldn’t say the k sound, and someone badgered you about it every single time you tried to say a word with "k" in it. Model and emphasize correct speech sounds for your child, but avoid pointing out every mistake your child makes. Respond (most of the time) to what your child is trying to say, not to how he says it. 

3. Exaggerate and point out target sounds. In the “lime” activity, especially when the child was first encountering final m sounds, we drew out the m sound for a full two seconds or more. At home, you can point out the sounds—“Hey, look! A kitty! K-k-k-kitty!” Encourage your child to exaggerate and repeat the sounds, always in a fun and playful way.

4. Play dumb. Let’s say your child has not yet mastered consonant blends. She tells you she wants to “wing.” You know she means “swing,” but you playfully pretend to flap her arms and make her fly. Then together you playfully practice saying “ssssswing.” Regardless of whether or not she manages to produce the word correctly, of course, you help her play on the swings!

5. Incorporate literacy skills. Reading time is an excellent time to point out the letters that represent the sounds your child is working on. “I see an s!” “Let’s find all the rs on this page.”

6. Point out sounds in everyday life, and have fun exploring them together. For example, perhaps the toy bin makes a “shhhhh” sound when pushed across the carpet, but a “k—" sound when pushed over the kitchen floor. The car could say “rrrr,” and the squeaky mailbox door could say “eee.” Perhaps you could even draw a picture together and write in the sounds you discovered!

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Culatta, B., Setzer, L. A., and Horn, D. (2005). Facilitating Speech and Language in a Child with Co-occurring Phonological and Language Disorders. Topics in Language Disorders, 25 (4): 405-419.
Culatta, B., and Hall-Kenyon, K. (2016). Phonological Contrast Approach: Drawing upon Meaning in Intervention for Phonological Disorders (Part 1). August, Medbridge.
Culatta, B. & Hall-Kenyon, K. (2016). Phonological Contrast Approach: Drawing upon Meaning in Intervention for Phonological Disorders (Part 2). October, Medbridge.