Carryover – the Hard Part

Learning to acquire a new skill requires good training, regular practice, a positive attitude and encouragement. Applying the new skill and using it in the real world under pressure is especially challenging. Whether it’s something that you use everyday or once in a lifetime, applying your skill outside the ‘classroom’ is often the most difficult step. For example, learning a new language and then using it to navigate in a foreign city, practicing parallel parking for the first time in a tight curbside spot or practicing a new piece of music and then, performing it in front of an audience from memory – using our skills when it counts is challenging.  Speech-language pathologists are especially skilled at diagnosing a myriad of communication problems and recommending appropriate treatment programs. Most are very competent at teaching new skills such as how to overcome a lisp or a stutter, how to take turns in conversation or how to regain the ability to swallow after a stroke. However, many speech-pathologists would concur that helping their patients and clients use their new skills outside of treatment rooms and therapy sessions is the hard part. Carryover of skills to the real world outside the guidance of an encouraging speech pathologist can take time and varies greatly from person to person.  Caregivers, parents, teachers and friends can be especially helpful at the carryover phase of therapy and in many cases, play a crucial role in helping promote use of newly acquired or re-learned communication skills to the real world. So if you are working to test out your new speech-language knowledge or skills or know someone who is, remember to keep practicing and keep trying – eventually your skills will become automatic!

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