Core Vocabulary Therapy

Core Vocabulary Therapy and Inconsistent Speech Disorder

The Core Vocabulary Approach (Crosbie, Holm & Dodd, 2005; Crosbie, Pine, Holm & Dodd, 2006) is intended for children with Inconsistent Speech Disorder (Broomfield & Dodd, 2004a; Dodd, 2005).

Hypothetically, the underlying deficit of inconsistent speech disorder is a phonological planning deficit, not a cognitive-linguistic deficit, and most affected children probably fall in the severe Speech Sound Disorder range.

The rationale for the approach is that different parts of the speech processing chain respond differently to therapy targeting different processing skills, and that treatment that targets the speech-processing deficit underlying the child’s speech disorder will result in system wide change.

Following Independent and Relational Analysis, an Inconsistency Assessment (Dodd, Hua, Crosbie, Holm & Ozanne, 2003) is administered.

Inconsistency Assessment

Twenty-five pictures are named on three separate occasions in one session, ensuring that the same lexical items are elicited within an identical context. The productions are compared in order to calculate an inconsistency score. Children are deemed to have Inconsistent Speech Disorder if 40% or more of the words are produced variably; and Consistent Speech Disorder if they exhibit two or more atypical patterns and an inconsistency score below 40%.

Intervention Procedure

The Core Vocabulary Therapy procedure begins with the child, parents and teacher selecting, with the therapist’s help if required, 50 words that are functionally ‘powerful’ for the child, and ‘mean something’ to him or her, such as, names: family, friends, teacher, pets; places: school, library, a park, swimming, McDonalds; functional words: please, thank you, toilet; favourite things: sport, superheroes, games and characters. Timothy's words below serve as an example.

Ten words are selected from the list and best production is drilled in twice-weekly sessions. At the end of the week the child produces the 10 words three times. Words produced consistently are removed from the list of 50 words. Words that are inconsistently produced remain on the list from which the next week’s 10 words are randomly chosen.


Crosbie, Holm and Dodd (2005) reported that children with Inconsistent Speech Disorder benefit most from core vocabulary therapy in terms of increased consistency and PCC; while children with consistent speech disorder make the most change in PCC when error patterns are targeted.These results for children aged 4;8 to 6;5 provide support for the hypothesis that the underlying deficit of inconsistent speech disorder is phonological planning and not a cognitive-linguistic deficit. By improving the child’s ability to form or access phonological plans, the phonological system was self-corrected and operated successfully.

Timothy’s Core Vocabulary

fishing, dinosaur, ANZAC Parade, soccer, school, animals, Timothy, Blackheath, hungry, drink, knife, Angelo, thank you, biscuit, swimming, broke, fork, listen, uncles, toilet, please, heavy, computer, book, Delia, Jayden, finished, school, lunch box, help, friends, Anthony, cars, hand towel, Foster, stop, Auntie Sarah, pirate, Milo, Mrs Tonelli, hot chocolate, Mrs Joseph, reader, guitar, Sydney, Blackheath Station, Granny, jetty, Barack Obama (‘yes we can!’) Click here 10-page pdf


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Crosbie, S., Holm, A. & Dodd, B.  (2005). Intervention for children with severe speech disorder: A comparison of two approaches. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 40, 467 - 491. Click here 25-page pdf

Dodd, B., Holm, A., Crosbie, S., & McIntosh, B. (2006). A core vocabulary approach for management of inconsistent speech disorder. Advances in Speech-Language Pathology, 8(3), 220 - 230. Click here 11-page pdf

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