One of the most tell-tale signs of a speech therapist familiar with PROMPT would have to be the absence of lengthy, beautifully manicured fingernails. In their place, clinicians eager to offer support in this method have fingernails that have been clipped quite short and carefully filed so as to be barely visible to the eye and smooth to the touch. The maintenance of such a distinct look is purely functional; these particular fingernails have a specific job and that is to not cause any distraction whatsoever, given the weight of what the fingers are prepared to do, namely to provide tactile prompts for placement or voicing cues, to build a full sound, to support the blending of two sounds, for generalization and to increase self-monitoring skills within little children! With stakes that high, keeping fingernails shockingly short seems like a small price to pay.
Deborah Hayden developed the PROMPT system across many decades and has created a fantastic tool for speech-language clinicians working with children living with childhood apraxia of speech, autism spectrum, developmental and phonological disorders. Prompting allows a little child the opportunity to literally feel what his articulators (i.e., his cheeks, lips, teeth, tongue, etc.) should be doing during the production of a specific sound. For example, when a clinician prompts for the /P/ sound, she typically places the back of her index and middle fingers just above and below the child’s lips, then holds the lips closed very a moment and then pulls her fingers away rapidly and lightly. In that brief exchange, that child feels what /P/ requires and rather than just hearing the sound or watching a model, he is able to experience all three simultaneously. One of the most encouraging moments a clinician anticipates is the first time a little child begins to “help” or prompt himself.
Please consider contacting Speech and Occupational Therapy of North Texas should you have questions regarding PROMPT; while we do not currently have PROMPT certified clinicians at this time, we do have staff members who are PROMPT trained and would be happy to answer any questions surrounding this wonderful method.