When thinking about your child’s development, have any of the following questions ever entered your mind?
- Why Isn’t My Child Speaking Yet?
- Should my Child Be Able to Use More Words?
- How Can I Help my Child Speak Better?
- Why Can’t I Understand My Child Well?
- Does my Child Need Speech Therapy?
While it is normal for parents to be concerned about their child’s speech and language development, if you are consistently wondering about the answers to the above questions it may be a good idea to seek out the support and expertise of an experienced speech and language pathologist. A speech or language delay can refer to delays in proper pronunciation, as well as delays relating to general speaking and communication skills.
Generally speaking, a child is considered to be delayed in speech development if they use fewer than 10 words by the age of 18 months or less than 80 words at 2 years of age. It is important to remember, however, that every child develops differently and there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to speech and language delays.
While some children with speech and language skills that are delayed will grow out of it, other children will require therapy with a speech and language pathologist to aid in the development of these skills. There is no exact way to determine which path your child will take, but there are many things that you can do to help your child in their speech and language development, whether they have been diagnosed with a delay or some kind or not.
If your child has been diagnosed with a speech or language delay, or you are simply concerned about their development, don’t wait to seek help. Early intervention offers the best outcome when it comes to supporting a child’s communication skills. Get started with speech therapy by scheduling your free introductory call today!
What Activities Help with Speech Delay?
Reading to your Child – Reading is one of the most beneficial and effective activities when it comes to helping a child with a speech delay. Children learn to produce sounds and speech through interaction and imitation, so reading age-appropriate books with your child every day will go a long way toward supporting their development.
Singing – Did you know that many children are able to sing an entire song before they can properly produce a full sentence? Singing can be a great way to encourage a child who is challenged by a speech delay because singing can actually help enhance and expand a child’s vocabulary. In fact, research has shown that casual or informal musical experiences in the child’s home can promote the development of grammar and language.
Use a Drinking Straw – Drinking from a straw or blowing air out of it can help to develop and strengthen the child’s muscles within the mouth. This can assist in the development of speech and language skills, as muscle control and strength is essential to speech production. You can also make a game of it by using the straw to blow a ping pong ball back and forth.
While these activities can help to develop a child’s speech and language skills, seeking the help of an experienced speech and language pathologist is an important step. Don’t wait for your child to fall further behind, contact us to schedule your free introductory call today!
Tips for Parents
Below are some of our best tips for supporting your child’s speech and language development, and helping them overcome a speech and/or language delay. It is recommended to try one strategy at a time, and be mindful about the time of day you choose to work on these, choosing a time when your child is most likely to be attentive and participate.
Self-Talk – Self-talk refers to narrating or talking to your child about what you are doing, describing objects, what you see, how you feel, and what you hear, smell, or taste. Talking to your child about all of these things, and using short, age-appropriate sentences will help your child develop their speech and language skills. Don’t be afraid to repeat certain words or word combinations, as children learn and retain information through repetition.
Use Sign Language – When using this strategy, continue to practice the self-talk technique described above, while pairing your speech with simple sign language. Studies have shown that sign language can serve as a valuable tool to encourage children to talk, especially those who are delayed. Once a child is empowered and understands the power of communicating through sign language, they will be more likely to begin talking as it is a more efficient method of communication.
Parallel Talk – This strategy is similar to self-talk, but instead of speaking about what you are experiencing, you are speaking about what your child is doing. You can begin by simply naming objects that your child is interacting with, what they are doing with them, what they may see or hear etc. Be sure to use sentences that are in line with where they are at in their development, matching the length of sentences that they are producing, even if it is only one or two words in length.
Expansions – This technique involves building upon your child’s existing speech and communication skills. Repeat whatever your child says back to them but add an additional word. For example, if your child says ‘dog’ you can say ‘big dog’ or ‘pet dog.’ If your child is not yet speaking at all, try using words and gestures simultaneously. If they gesture by pointing to an object, for example, match the gesture and name the object.
The Importance of Speech Therapy
While the above exercises and strategies can go a long way towards encouraging your child’s speech and language development, speech therapy is an essential resource for any child who may be behind in their communication skills. The sooner you seek the support of a speech and language pathologist, the better the outcome for your child. Don’t wait to start speech therapy, get started by scheduling your free introductory call today!