How to choose word targets for the minimal pairs approach

There is no right or wrong way to choose word targets when using the minimal pairs approach. Instead, you have some choices, which is a great thing!

The following are options that I consider when choosing my target sounds and words with minimal pairs:

  1. Targeting one sound representative of the pattern (e.g., “sw-w” minimal pairs if the child has ‘s’ cluster reduction)
  2. Targeting a specific position (e.g., the child might be more stimulable for a sound in the final position, so your word set would contain final position pairs only).
  3. Selecting targets in mixed positions (e.g., if targeting voicing, you might choose in initial and final position).
  4. Choosing multiple sounds representative of the pattern (e.g., if the child presents with stopping of ALL fricatives and affricates, you might select 2 pairs for each sound in your treatment set).
Choosing minimal pair words


This really is an individual choice, and I would suggest basing your decision based on the child in front of you. Some things that I consider are:

  1. Stimulability. If the child is not stimulable for any fricatives of affricates, I would likely NOT target multiple sounds because they could get very frustrated!
  2. Personality and temperament. For resilient children who don’t give up when it is hard, I do consider mixed positions and sounds because it will likely generalize quickly across the pattern. If a child is reluctant to participate or gives up easily, I am more inclined to select one sound or position. I always keep in mind that I can expand my treatment set once we get into therapy.


Minimal Pair questions

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