Part of our study includes recording using ultrasound. This is when an ultrasound probe is placed under the chin to view the tongue. This is a great way of recording speech as we can see a lot of the tongue moving in real time. If you’re interested in ultrasound, or other instrumental recording tools, check out:

Introducing children to the process of recording with ultrasound can be a challenging process. Whilst most children are intrigued, and dare I say, excited to try it out, there are a few that can be quite unsure. Here are a few tips, based on my personal experience, on how to gently introduce the process, put any fears to rest and get the best results.

Fitting the headset:

Once the child enters the room their eyes are immediately drawn to the headset. Here’s a few things to try or keep in mind when working with some that may be a little apprehensive.

  • Be mindful of the language you use. I found that if I explained the headset would be “tight”, some children would say that it was too tight or painful before I had even adjusted the headset to fit. Try using gentler language, for example:

“The headset should be snug, but not uncomfortable, if it’s uncomfortable let me know.”

This would be effective in preparing the child for the sensation of wearing the headset without them becoming worried it might be painful.

  • If you have a particularly unsure child, try putting the headset on yourself first to demonstrate.
  • Some children may be concerned with the pressure from the probe under their chin. To help prepare them for this, you could ask them to place their thumb under their chin and push slightly.

The gel:

  • You may find that when you explain the use of the gel, some may look worried at the thought of it on their chin. Offer for them to try it out on their hand first. Touching it first usually prepares them for how it will feel, and they are better prepared to try it out on the probe.

Getting the best image:

  • It can take time to get the probe in the perfect position. Ideally, we should see both the shadows of the hyoid and the mandible. Take your time, whilst you are trying to set the probe, you can explain to the child what they are seeing on the screen. I ask them to say /t/ and /k/, “wigglewaggle”, and their name. This not only keeps the child entertained, but helps you ensure you get the best probe position for recording.

Staying still:

  • Some children struggle to keep still which is essential for recoding. For those extra fidgety children, it helps to sit far back in the seat and put their feet up on a stool or another chair. This helps eliminate the potential for swinging legs.