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Speech Therapy Activities For Toddlers

When your toddler has a speech delay, it may be tough to help build confidence with their communication skills. 

Keep a calm, patient, positive attitude. The more time you spend working with your child, the better their speech skills will develop over time!

Don’t let your anxiety make them feel pressured to speak clearly.

We’ve compiled a number of activities, games, toys, and tips for you to make progress today, all in the comfort of your own home. 

Our top picks: best toys for speech delayed toddler

Toys are a great way to get your toddler involved, excited, and entertained. Having a calm, positive attitude will make speech easier… for both you and your toddler!

Try these top toys for your speech delayed child:

  • Traditional, old-school toys: wood blocks, cars, legos, play dough
  • Doll houses, dolls, tea sets, stuffed animals

What’s important is these toys will help your child get the ball rolling with making noises, talking, and speaking. When you join in with them, you’ll encourage language development!

How can I help my toddler with speech therapy at home? Try our top 5 games

If you’re waiting to consult with your pediatrician or speech language pathologist about your child’s speech delay or pronunciation challenges, don’t be worried. 

There are a number of activities for you to participate in that may help your child’s speech now. Give these a try and see what works best for you and your child. Here’s our top 5 games for speech therapy at home:

    1. Goof off: Set the tone to relax and have fun. Get your child giggling with a goofy face, silly noise, or crazy expression. Emphasize a letter sound, maybe the /r/ sound with RAZZLE DAZZLE or /hip/ in HIPPOPOTAMUS! Use a goofy tone and get into it. Try something so crazy you can’t help but laugh! You’ll have them smiling, laughing, or happy and relaxed in no time. They’ll try to repeat you, and in turn, practice these sounds for their own speech. Use the same words over and over, and perhaps mix it up with different words using sounds your child may have difficulty pronouncing properly.
    2. Play the ping pong ball game: as they drink water or juice from a straw, your child’s mouth muscles will grow stronger. These are the very same muscles used for speech. Get a small ping pong ball and make it a race to see who can blow it through a goal post or down a hallway faster, using only a straw to propel the ball forward. This game can even be a competition between siblings!
    3. Read and repeat: find a book your child enjoys and read each page aloud to them. If they’re able, they should repeat each sentence or page after you’ve read it aloud. This repetition will be especially helpful to reinforce clear speech, including proper articulation and language comprehension over time. Before you know it, your child will be reading their favorite book to you. 
    4. Bubbles: Another fun game to try, blowing bubbles! Pick up a small bottle of bubbles and have your child blow away. They’ll “workout” their facial muscles used for speech, and have fun watching the bubbles fade away! You can even try this during bath time with a bottle of bubble bath. Repetition is the key to success!
    5. There’s an app for that: Type “speech therapy” into your App Store and you’ll find many options. Give Otsimo Speech Therapy a try. This app is designed with all kinds of games to entertain your toddler, keeping them engaged in speech activities. The product is ad-free and safe for kids, using a method known as augmentative and alternative communication.

What do speech therapists do for toddlers?

If you’ve never had a speech therapy session before, you may be wondering exactly what to expect.

How does it work? When it comes to sessions, we have a process to ensure a perfect fit for you, your toddler, and your speech language pathologist.

  • Your experience begins with an introductory call to determine if we’re a good fit for your needs
  • Next, you’ll be matched up with a trained speech pathologist to begin your customized therapy program, targeting your child’s specific speech and language developmental norms, or areas they may be delayed when compared with typically developing children
    • Techniques may include signing or typing, analyzing facial muscles to improve speech or articulation, altering tone, and other approaches to help your toddler improve communication skills
  • Our sessions take place over Zoom: therapists interact with clients and engage in practice skills, games, repetitions, and other activities to overcome speech challenges
  • Therapists will often provide homework for you and your toddler to practice together between sessions, truly integrating you into your child’s speech therapy
  • Each client’s program is unique to their specific needs and goals, but most consist of 12-week modules, with two 30-minute sessions each week
  • At the end of each module, our team will reach out to ensure you’re on track with your goals and progress

How do I find the right speech therapist for my toddler?

Since this person will be working with your toddler, it’s important to do your own research. Consider the following traits when selecting your child’s speech therapist.

  • Personality: is this someone my child will enjoy being around? Are they someone I trust? Do they seem patient, understanding, and kind? Do they love what they do?
  • Clarity: is the instructor clear? Do they explain their process? Do you and your child understand what they’re saying, what to expect from each session, and what kind of progress you’re making?
  • Experience: Speech language pathologists receive extensive training to work with a variety of people experiencing complex communication disorders — you’ll want to ensure whoever you choose to work with has experience and passion for working with children.
  • Schedule: is the therapist available on a schedule that works for you and your family?

When should a toddler start speech therapy?

It’s critical for your child to hit their 1 year old speech milestones. If you’re concerned about their progress, seek professional help.

If you believe your toddler has a speech delay, express your concerns with your pediatrician. They’ll recommend an assessment with a speech language pathologist, an expert when it comes to speech communication.

We encourage you to schedule your introductory call today for a no-pressure consultation on personalized virtual speech therapy for your toddler.

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An adult and baby playing speech games at home

When Toys Take Center Stage

7 Ways to Actively Promote Language Development in Children

We live in a fast-paced world where new products are outdated once they hit the shelves. But a recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics suggests that “electronic toys and e-books can make parents less likely to have the most meaningful kinds of verbal exchanges with their children.” Recently, I worked with a two year old who did not know how to turn the pages of a book. All he wanted to do is swipe. While swiping is an important skill to master in today’s iGadget generation, research indicates that reading to your child, turning pages, pointing to pictures and asking questions plays a crucial role in cognitive and language development.

As a licensed speech therapist, my goal is to promote communication. Here are some other tried and true activities which promote language development in babies:

  1. Talk, chat and keep the monologue running. Narrate everything you are doing. It may feel funny at first but eventually it will seem natural and prove beneficial.
  2. Sing a song! Some people prefer to make up silly songs instead of narrating. It’s a personal choice!
  3. Incorporate gestures and facial expressions in your communication to increase engagement.
  4. Be repetitive! Repetition reinforces language development.
  5. Avoid empty words like here and there. Give specific directions, “Bring the ball to the basket instead of bring the ball here.” Never miss the opportunity to introduce new vocabulary.
  6. Maintain eye contact, laugh and be animated. By varying your facial expressions, your child learns proper responses.
  7. Take center stage! A toy is no substitute for a real live conversation. According to the study, a toy should be 10 percent toy and 90 percent child. With many electronic toys, the toy takes over 90 percent and the child just fills in the blanks.

And filling in the blanks is no substitute for real life conversations.

What Gr8 language – based activities have you found helpful?

 

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How to Tell If Your Child Has an Articulation Disorder

Nearly 1 in 12 American children have a disorder which relates to their voice, speech, or language. A large proportion of these children sit in more than one of these categories.

How can you tell if your child has an articulation disorder?

It can be hard to reach a conclusion yourself. Children’s language develops over time, and you shouldn’t expect a very young child to understand complex diction.

But as they grow older, the signs of their difficulty will become more apparent. There are also many reasons why a child might have an articulation disorder and struggle with their speech or language.

In this post, we’ll explain some of the common signs that your child has one of these disorders. We’ll also tell you what you can do to help.

Development Isn’t As Expected

First, we should emphasize that every child is different. Some are recognizing words or even speaking a few words by the time they’re nine months old.

Others won’t reach this stage until they’re closer to a year old. This doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with your child. It doesn’t mean they’re a slow learner either.

Being a baby is a challenge, and listening and speaking are just one pair of skills out of hundreds. However, if by one year of age your child is barely speaking, they may be struggling to articulate themselves. They may need more practice to bring them up to speed, and encouraging them to talk can be helpful.

When children are very small, they “talk” by what’s known as babble. There are no recognizable words, but it’s a stage above the coo-ing sounds a baby makes.

One key sign of speech problems at this stage of development is a lack of consonant sounds in their babble. If everything they say is a string of vowels, this can be an early sign of an articulation disorder.

They Say the Wrong Sounds for Letters

It’s common for young children to say things like “wabbit” instead of “rabbit.” If you stop to think about it, you’ll notice the similarities in the “w” and “r” sounds yourself. So you can see why your child has become confused and developed a problem.

Most children can be taught the right way to say these words over time. However, if by around the age of three your child is still saying words that aren’t quite right, they may have an articulation disorder.

It’s absolutely possible to correct this problem while your child is still young. This will give them the best chance to be understood at school by their peers and successfully take part in group activities.

They Have a Lisp

Childhood lisps are a relatively common problem, and again they are not a reason to worry.

Lisps are defined by a person’s inability to properly say “s” or “z” sounds. Most commonly, people with a lisp substitute this with a “th” (as in the word “this”) sound instead.

A lisp is sometimes caused by a cleft palate. This is where lips and mouths do not form properly during pregnancy and requires surgery to correct. Cerebral palsy can also be a cause.

Speech therapy can help to teach your child the right way to pronounce words and correct their articulation disorders.

Older Children Are Very Quiet or Hard to Understand

Older children with articulation disorders might have realized there’s something “off” about their speech. Sadly, this might come because other children have teased them about it.

They may also have noticed that they can’t make the right sounds compared to other people. This inability means people struggle to understand them and often get the wrong idea about what they mean. This can be very frustrating for your child.

Either of these situations can really hurt their confidence and discourage them from speaking.

By the age of 5 or 6, you may find that you’re asking your child to repeat themselves because you don’t get the message the first time. Maybe other adults are finding it hard to have a simple conversation with them too.

Perhaps they’re growing up to be a very quiet or introverted person. That’s not a problem. But perhaps they’re also struggling with an articulation disorder.

It’s often hard to tell, which is why an expert opinion can be really valuable.

A silent or very quiet child who doesn’t seem to be listening or talking may not have an articulation disorder. They may be deaf, and this can also be quite hard to tell if your child is still very young.

You should take them for regular checkups and ask your doctor for tests if you suspect this.

Speech Therapy For Your Child

If you think your child has an articulation disorder and would benefit from speech therapy, we’re more than happy to help.

Our convenient online speech therapy services means you don’t have to travel and commit to appointments in another town. Your child doesn’t have to sit in a stuffy office either! We hold teleconferences so that your child can take part in the therapy from the comfort of their own home.

We offer a free consultation to start you off. We do this so that we can talk to you and find out more about the problems your child is having. We’ll then discuss a detailed plan of action to solve the issues.

Please get in touch with us today. Our highly trained speech specialists can’t wait to meet your child and bring their speech up to speed.

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The Babble Battle: Why Do Babies Say Dada First

We carry them for nine months, birth them and often are the primary caregiver.

Then why do babies generally say dada before mama?

Fashion designer Rachel Zoe shared her frustration with PEOPLE “They always say, ‘Dada,’ first and I don’t know what that is,” Zoe said after her son finally said mama at 12 months.

Is dada easier to say?

Russian linguist Roman Jakobson claims “ the sound of “m” (for “mama”) is easier for babies to make because they tend to do so when their mouths are fastened to a bottle or breast.” But Breyne Moskowitz, PhD, states that nasal sounds such as “m” are actually more difficult and babies are more likely to utter the sound “dada” because it doesn’t require forcing air through the nose.

As babies babble, we reinforce the sounds that sound familiar by clapping, cheering and smothering them with kisses.

Are dads better reinforcers?

My personal experience with my own four children has been that mama came first; but my professional experience has been quite the opposite. Either way, babbling is a crucial milestone; reinforcing babbling, whether it is mama, dada or baba, is an important part of promoting communication and normal speech development. This type of vocal play is crucial practice for learning how to speak and form words.  Lack of babbling is an important sign to reach out to a speech therapist for an introductory call.

Now that my fourth child is six months old and starting to babble, I am excitedly anticipating which will be his first word. Will he follow in the path of his brothers or will he set a new brave a new frontier and give his dad the joy of being first?

Though I may be personally guilty of clapping more for mama…

Taking a poll: Did your baby say dada or mama first?

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Increase your Toddler’s Vocabulary In Five Easy Steps

Babies are born with almost no communication skills, except the ability to cry. But by two years of age, toddlers can generally connect words and string them into simple sentences. Here are five easy ways to reinforce communication and increase vocabulary.

Talk, talk, talk– In our busy world, it is often easy to turn on the TV and use it as background noise. As inconvenient as it may be, it is preferable for your voice to play that role. With young children, you can talk about the clothes they are wearing, the foods they are eating, or what they are doing. Be specific and avoid ’empty’ words like here or there. This type of chit chat is a natural way of engaging toddlers in what is transpiring in their environment. 

Read, read, read-Carve out a time every day to read to your toddler. My preference has always been to make reading part of their bedtime routine, but any time you can grab private time will work. Reading helps children develop the rhythm and structure of language as they learn new words.  Keep in mind that reading is not just a one-way process. It is a wonderful opportunity for you to ask questions and start a conversation that can continue after you have finished the book. Repetitive books like Brown Bear and the Eric Carle series are great for learning colors, shapes, days of the week and action words.

Play, play, play-Playing with your child does not have to be elaborate and it need not involve pricey games. It can be as simple as singing “This little piggy went to market” when you putting on shoes. Or make up songs as you go. As you fill the bathtub with toys, name body parts as you wash. Play blocks or Lego together and as your toddler selects the blue ones, verbalize what you are seeing, “I see you like red blocks. Can you find a blue one?” Play dress up, pretend to make dinner together or feed the animals in the zoo. There are also actual games you can purchase that teach taking turns like Trouble  Spot It, Headbanz and Perpetual Commotion which are also a great way to teach and reinforce pronouns.

Name, name, name– Name all the objects in your child’s environment in a meaningful way. Avoid using the words it or that and use specific vocabulary in conversation. As you take your toddler for a walk in the stroller, mention everything by name. Imitate the sound of an airplane flying overhead, the meow of the cat passing by or the motorcycle in the street. Use very expressive tone with lots of hand gestures and facial expressions. If you are more comfortable using picture flash cards, try touch and feel cards.  

Applaud, applaud, applaud– Positive reinforcement encourages speech, language acquisition and articulation. So clap, snap, hug or reward any babbling, chatting or appropriate use of words.

What books, games or activities that you have tried? Would love to hear your suggestions.

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