FUNctional Challenges for Speech-Language Therapy Clients

FUNctional Challenges for Speech-Language Therapy Clients

I've recently started doing functional challenges with my students. 

I know, right?! One more thing to add to the plate of an already overwhelmed SLP. But hear me out.

When I started these challenges, I clarified with teachers and parents that I wouldn't be taking time from our speech therapy sessions to teach these skills. I already have such limited time with my students to work on IEP goals that I can't spend multiple sessions solely teaching these additional life skills. 

Instead, when introducing the challenges to students, I told them their job is to learn the skill and prove to me they can do it. For example, I can start them out (i.e. tell them their birthday, write down their guardian's phone number for them, print off their name in cursive), but it is their responsibility to learn the information and show me in a future session.

Some students already know this information and that's awesome! They get their reward immediately. Some students work on these challenges with their SpEd teacher, who already has time to work on life skills with them. Some students practice at home with their caregivers, some with OT (i.e. signature challenge), and some practice all on their own!

I keep all challenges up for one month. I usually start the year with easier challenges and they get harder as the year goes on. At the end of the year, students have a chance to "make up" any challenge they didn't pass earlier in the year.

Students have about 3-5 minutes at the beginning of the session to show me they've completed the challenge. I ask them if they're ready. If they say no, I let them now they can try again next time. If they say yes, I let them complete the challenge as we are setting up for our session.

As far as rewards go, I keep a box of large stickers for my students to pick from (such as these). I usually allow students to pick 2 stickers per challenge that they pass.

Here are some ideas for challenges. These can be modified based on your students and their needs. I work with upper elementary and middle school students, and these challenges have been functional for them.

  • Birthday Challenge
  • Guardian Name(s) Challenge
  • Address Challenge
  • Guardian's Phone Number Challenge
  • Signature (Cursive Name) Challenge
  • Coin Identification Challenge
  • Analog Clock Challenge
  • Shoe Tying Challenge
  • Reading a Recipe Challenge
  • Recognizing Community/Safety Signs Challenge

Do you have an idea for a functional challenge? Tell me in the comments!

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