Cycles Approach

The Cycles Approach is an evidence-based way to treat phonological disorders in children. Developed by Barbara Hodson, it treats phonological processes by systematically targeting each process and rotating through them.

Who It's For:

This approach is appropriate for children who have severe to profound speech sound disorders with highly unintelligible speech. They must have 3 or more phonological errors. It can be used successfully with children who have mild to moderate speech sound disorder as well as with children with additional etiologies: otitis media, repaired cleft palate, cochlear implants, and cognitive delays.

How It's Practiced:

You will have a strict routine for each session:

1. Auditory Bombardment

The child will wear headphones while you say 20 target words.

2. Multiple Production Activities

Introduce 3-5 targets and teach the child the words and their meanings. Elicit productions of target words, providing the child with appropriate supports.

3. Stimulability Probes

Check stimulability for next weeks targets and at the end of each cycle.

4. Phonological Awareness Activity

You can focus on rhyming, blending, segmentation, etc.

5. Home Practice

You will provide target words for the parents/caregivers and children to practice for at least 2 minutes per day.

You will cycle through the child’s phonological patterns.

Order of patterns to target:

  • Syllableness
  • Singleton consonants (CV, VC, VCV)
  • /s/ clusters
  • Velars (final /k/ then initial /k/ and initial /g/)
  • Alvelolars/labial
  • Liquids (word initial /l/, word initial /r/)

Download Cycles Approach handout here


  • You will spend 1 to 3 sessions (for a total of 60 minutes per week) on each target and target at least two phonemes per pattern.
  • Each cycle lasts for 5-16 weeks dependent on the amount of phonological pattern errors and the number of stimulable patterns.
  • Non-stimulable patterns are assessed during each session and are not target until they are stimulable. Aim to complete 3-4 cycles for maximum benefit.
  • Recycle the patterns until they emerge in conversation.


Hodson, B. W. (2011). Enhancing Phonological Patterns of Young Children With Highly Unintelligible Speech. The ASHA Leader, 16(4), 16–19.

Prezas, R. F., Magnus, L. C., &; Hodson, B. W. (2021). The Cycles Approach. In Interventions for Speech Sound Disorders in Children (2nd ed., pp. 251–278). essay, Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.