Speech Therapy Cues

Speech therapy cues are one of the most important aspects of a successful speech therapy program. It is essential to understand the hierarchy of cueing and how to use cues appropriately and purposefully.

I will review how I cue for articulation therapy here. 

Speech Therapy Cues

How To Use Speech Therapy Cues

For articulation therapy, cueing is the most important part (besides having a good evaluation and goals). How speech pathologists cue will decide how successful a therapy program will be.

It is a delicate balance. The speech pathologist must have the child produce a target sound as much as possible in order to teach and solidify the new motor habit. However, the speech pathologist also wants the child to be independent with his/her productions (not depending on the therapist to say the sound).

To achieve this, the speech pathologist must fluidly move through the hierarchy of cues to find which cue provides opportunities where the child says a sound correctly and has the most independence possible. The speech pathologist may move up and down through the hierarchy within one activity. 

Let's review MY articulation cueing hierarchy from the most help to the least help. 

Tactile Cues

Speech-language pathologist use touch or devices (i.e, tongue depressor, spoon) to teach correct placement of articulators. 

These cues are helpful in teaching initial production; however, once a child can say a sound at the needed level (isolation, phrase, word, sentence), I fade this cue!


Child produces target sound/word/sentence at the same time (copies) as the parent or speech-language pathologist. Production may be exaggerated to allow for the child to learn correct production.

I give imitation its own place. It is a glorified version of copying. The child doesn't have to figure out on his/her own how to say the sound which is necessary at first but impedes the child from moving this new motor habit to procedural memory. 

Delayed Imitation

The speech-language pathologist gives a verbal model of the target and then says another phrase before expecting the child to repeat the target. For example, the speech-language pathologist says "ball, what do you want?" The child then says "ball."

The slight delay in repeating helps to move the child from copying to saying the target sound with more independence. 

Visual Prompt

The speech-language pathologist or parent provides a visual prompt such as pointing to lips to remind the child to close lips when producing /b/ or a visual card to help the child remember how to say the sound.

The child is now saying the word without a verbal model; however, he/she must look at the therapist or the card for this cue to work.

Verbal Prompt

The speech-language pathologist uses a verbal cue to remind the child how to say a target. For example, the speech-language pathologist might say "tongue back" to cue for a correct production of /k/. 

Verbal prompts are more or less a glorified reminder of correct production. However, the child doesn't need a visual on how to say the sound. 

Initial Reminder

The speech-language pathologist or parent will remind the child to use the target sound during the task at the beginning of the task only. 

This is the last step before total independence!

Free Speech Therapy Cues Parent Handout

If you would like a free parent handout on speech therapy cues and how they work, please fill out form below!

More Parent Handouts

If you need more handouts for speech and language disorders, please check out some paid and free resources.

  • Home
  • /
  • Speech Therapy Cues: What they are and how to use them