Gesture Phonemes- A fancy word for....

Gesture Phonemes

'Gestures' meaning using your hands and 'phonemes" meaning sounds of the alphabet vs sounds of cars and cats. 'Phonemes" like in 'phonics'. I like to pair gesture-phonemes with Melodic Intonation aka 'sing song' in my world. I've made a video exampling this. Head on over to the 'videos & presentations' page......more

How do I use Gesture-Phonemes?

First the person needs to understand the concept of imitation. If you need to further encourage them to 'try' and be sure and set up a type of behavior modification ritual where you state that you will 'wait until you try'. The goal is use the hand movements along with saying the word and saying it in a melodic, calm pace and for the person to use them as they try and say the word. Eventually you want to be able to just show the gesture to cue the person to correct how person organized the word and not use a direct 'say what I said' ritual. You do not have to use my gestures; any consistent visual sign will work.

I divide the "communication intent" into 2 parts:
1. decide from the choices given in picture form and place the picture/icon
2. now that the decision part is done, now all they have to focus on is trying to say the icon choice (with varying amounts of assistance ie imitation, gesture-phoneme, and/or melodic intonation (discussed on the gesture-phoneme page)

Why do I use this with toddlers? Well, you are probably being dragged around the house to the place the child wants to communicate his needs/wants. The picture request system/notebook allows the discussion to be made at the couch; the way you did when you asked your mother for a glass of juice or something to eat. You didn't drag you mother to the refrigerator and stand with the refrigerator door open forever and hearing "What do you want?" and when you picked out something (nonverbally) and heard "No, you can't have that" and then tantrummed with the refrigerator door still we do all the negotiating 'on the couch'. I do not recommend leaving icons on the refrigerator door and in other rooms. Then the kid has to go out to the kitchen and bring it into the parent and that is too much work. This way, the entire notebook can go 'anywhere' ie grandma's house, daycare, restaurant.

I have a video of how to make the picture request system and how to use the picture request system. here

How do I know what gestures to use for a word? I try and limit the gestures to 1 or 2. Example: for the "Grandma", I would gesture the /r/ and the /m/.
Click here for a pdf of the gesture-phonemes

S---trace the letter 's' (like a snake) with your pointer finger in the air
M--bring three fingers up to physically close your mouth to assist in producing the sound
N --ring two fingers up to lip area
R--show arm muscles and big smile showing teeth
F--press index finger against lower lip to assist in producing the sound
V--press index finger against lower lip to assist in producing the sound
O--place index finger to lips to pucker around lips
E--stretch lip corner to smile-like position
P--tap index finger at the corner of the lips
B--tap whole hand against cheek
T--tap index finger on teeth
D--tap index finger on teeth
K--tap index finger near ear
G--tap index finger near ear
L--sweep hand in the air like tongue would be inside your mouth
TH--place thumb between index & middle finger like the tongue between the teeth
SH--place index finger in front of lips as you would to indicate 'shhhh, be quiet'
CH--same as 'sh' except bounce your finger off your lips
J--same as 'ch' except use fist instead of index finger
Ny--touch your knee (as in 'bunny' )

All Done--use 'sing song-like' stating while moving forearms back and forth
More--use 'm' gesture and then go into 'more' sign language

When do I use gesture-phonemes? Whenever you want a person to restate a word bigger, better, brighter. If you want to emphasize the articulation or the movement from one sound/phoneme to another. Here's a video: here
Use gesture-phoneme along with picture request system Go here to learn how to make a picture request system.
What's the difference between apraxia and ariticulation and phonological disorders?

People with apraxia:

  • if they do have a strength it is that they can imitate the sounds of the alphabet and have a sound for one word but not have that same sound in other word
  • usually omit the beginning consonant sound.
  • may have vowel fidelity challenges and only have the "schwa" sound that sounds like /uh/ and maybe one or two other correct sounding vowels.
  • usually can repeat a word or a phrase that we say like it is one word, but can't say it without hearing it first.
  • will have one word utterances and expect the listener to fill in the
          blanks and then graduate to a limited number of automatic phrases.

    Phonological disorders can look like an apraxic disorder or even be in concurrence, but:
    Phonological disorders have a certain number of similar errors. Some of which are called: final consonant deletion, cluster reduction, fronting.....
             Example: uses /t/ and /d/ instead of /k/ and /g/, omits all
            /s/ sounds, or consistently substitutes one sound for another (but
             that sounds is consistently the one used where as in apraxia it is inconsistent).

    Articulation disorders can look like an apraxic disorder and a person can have both, but:
    Articulation disorders have a certain distortion (like with /r/) or lisp (with /s/)

  • Is there a lot of apraxia out there? YES! I see it all the time in 'youngsters'. And if grade school speech therapists saw these kids when they were 0-3 years old, they'd appreciate that they started with not being able to find their lips with both hands before coming to school. There are school therapists that think apraxia doesn't exist and sorry to say.......they don't know what they are talking about. Here's a pdf file listing all the symptoms a person can have in regards to apraxic-like symptoms. The diagnosis is that a person needs to have a significant number of characeristics. Click here.
    What would we do? We'd show you how to use gesture-phoneme, melodic intonation, and picture request to set up situations for you to present "I'll wait until you try" to say whatever it was that they chose in picture form along with giving them support strategies of the gesture-phonemes and melodic intonation. See some videos I have done showing some of the techniques. Click here.


    Other websites that address verbal apraxia:
    Please remember that verbal apraxia varies from mild, moderate, and severe and one can never be too sure when reading information from parents and therapists on websites what degree of challenges they are referencing. Take a look at my other web pages ie here and there

    Here are links to other Speech Issues website pages: