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To Call or Not To Call

To Call or Not To Call? That is the Question!

Sometimes I think children should be born with playbook. Not that the experience of having older children does not count in child rearing. It’s just that each child is different and as a result our response to each one needs to be carefully tailored to match individual personalities.

As a trained speech and language pathologist, I am often approached by parents who are baffled by a child’s speech pattern. After all, their older child was vigorously verbalizing at the age of 12 months and their second is still grunting!

My first question is always, “Does your child need to speak?” After all, in our endless eagerness to express our love, we often take away a child’s need to speak. Older siblings and doting grandparents are often part of the cycle. If a child points to an object and everyone jumps to retrieve it, your child may be learning that language is optional and pointing is the key to communication. Before you pick up the phone and make an appointment with the speech therapist, here are a few routines to implement to encourage verbalization:

  1. Create a need. By giving a child the wrong item or asking questions and waiting for an answer, you are promoting opportunities for speech and conversation.
  2. Verbalize everything around you and use specific words. Avoid using this, that, here or there and there.
  3. Praise EVERY attempt to speak.
  4. Keep track of progress by creating a log. Take a piece of paper write the date and list ALL the words that your child uses. You can count consistent sounds they use for specific items as ‘words’. Keep the log in easy reach so you can add words each week.

If the list does not grow, it may be time to schedule a speech screening. Other indicators include a lack of connection to the environment, inability to follow simple directions like, “Come here please, “and frustration communicating. If all things are in order, then enjoy the silence….chattering cannot be far behind!

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