(SMiLE) is a multi-sensory program that teaches speech, reading, and writing in a cohesive way to individuals with the most severe language-learning and literacy disabilities.

Download: Structured Methods in Language Education (SMiLE)

Background: Picture of SMiLE LogoCopyrighted in 2011 by Enid Wolf-Schein, Ed.D, CCC-SLP, ASHA Fellow, the Structured Methods in Language Education (SMiLE) is a “multi-sensory program that teaches speech, reading, and writing in an integrated way to individuals with the most severe language-learning and literacy problems” (Wolf-Schein, 2011).

Population: SMiLE was created for children ages three and older with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), hearing impairment, brain injury, and Intellectual Disability.

Description: SMiLE is composed of five modules that progress from the sound level to the story level. The first module aims to establish attention and targets basic phonemic skills (letter-sound correspondence). Upon learning his/her first sound, the child will create a “My Sounds Book” with the clinician, which serves as an evolving portfolio of the child’s work. The child will also complete “drop drills,” during which he/she reads consonant-vowel sequences aloud, left to right and top to bottom. The aim of this drill is to promote strategies related to literacy, such as how to approach text systematically. The second module targets decoding skills by utilizing 50-60 simple nouns and deepening conceptual knowledge through the pairing of the word with a related image. During the second module, the child will participate in a “syllable cross drill,” which promotes fluency for consonant-vowel combinations and ultimately leads into reading words. The third module teaches verbs, numbers, colors, and plurals by pairing the written word with its corresponding image. The fourth module aims to develop the capacity to say, read, write, and understand short sentences and questions that incorporate appropriate grammar and syntax (pronouns, prepositions, have/has, present progressive, and past tense). Finally, the fifth module brings the skills previously learned to the descriptive story level, encouraging the child to write short stories about the world around them.

The implementation schedule of this therapy is quite flexible, and can be worked into the general curriculum. It is advised that the main lesson should be done at the beginning of the day in either a group or individual session.  Sessions begin with 5-10 minutes and over time, grow to a maximum of 30 minutes daily. Extra individual sessions can be arranged based on your clinical judgment, providing the student with the support that he or she needs with regards to guided writing and precision of sound production. Sessions can be done in both English and Spanish.

Cost: A therapist has the option to “self-teach” and purchase the relevant materials for $224. Additionally, there are workshops that are presented, upon request, by Dr. Wolf-Schein: Two-Day Total Immersion and Three-day Workshop Series including Follow-up Monitoring and Trainer-of-Trainer session. Workshops cost $400 per person, and have been offered for university credit, as well as ASHA CEUs.  For a larger group of students, Dr. Wolf-Schein can arrange trainings for organizations.  You can find her contact information listed on her website (www.smileassociationmethod.com).


  • Initial focus on nonverbal activities in order to develop attending skills
  • Employs a structured, consistent, predictable routine (helpful for clients and for planning)
  • Small steps of program lead to early success, which is motivating for clients
  • Addresses various aspects of literacy
  • Adaptable/Easily incorporated into other teaching activities
  • Teaches phonics as well as phonetic awareness


  • Due to recent implementation, research substantiating effectiveness conducted mainly by program creator with further research conducted by DOE, but both are unpublished as of yet
  • Requires fairly strict adherence to structured program
  • Requires multiple sessions of clinician training
  • Necessity of program specific materials
  • Limited functionality of targeted vocabulary

Empirical Evidence: As of yet, there are no publications detailing the efficacy of this program although the creator of this program has written a detailed paper with the intent to publish.  Additionally, there are several school districts participating in collecting data including District 75/Citywide in New York City and Broward County in Florida.


Structured Methods in Language Education website: http://www.smileassociationmethod.com

Find other Contemporary Approaches to Intervention here!

Special thanks to Caroline Tobias, Ali Fieber, Danielle Eskridge

Information on SMiLE method for graduate student? [E-mail to E. Wolf-Schein]. (2015, March 29).

SMiLE method [E-mail to E. Seid]. (2015, March 29).

Wolf-Schein, E. G. (2011). Smile Association Method. Retrieved from http://www.smileassociationmethod.com/