Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tips for helping with Speech Delay

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Many of you know we have been struggling to help Mr. M learn to talk. He is now 3 yrs old and only puts a few 2-3 word sentences together. Normally a child should start speaking 2-3 word sentances at age 2. Age 2-3 is a crictical window of opportunity for language development. Perhaps even earlier. Last summer he tested as low as 1% in some areas. Yeah, he was struggling.
Mr. K went through speach therapy which we later found was common with children with Aspergers Syndrome (of course we didn't know about his Aspergers until years later). After this I had some idea of tips and tricks. I started trying to remember some of our old tricks, trying to help Mr. M they way we had been taught.
Have you ever thought of that?
How to teach a child to talk, I mean?
I hadn't. How do you get him to say "ball"?
We have been on a strong learning curve for 1 1/2 yrs now. There are so many little things that you don't think about in learning to speak. I thought I would share some of the lessons we've learned. I plan to do a series of posts sharing some of the information we have learned and some of the handouts given to us. We are not there yet. I have often found myself very frustrated at the slow pace. We take 2 steps forward and 1 step back. Then, just when I thought we were making headway he has his 3rd birthday and no longer qualifies for therapy. Don't worry, we aren't giving up but at least we have a good start. We were fortunate to start early. We had a great doctor who didn't put it off saying "let's wait and see". We have had amazing therapists!
Sometimes kids are simply delayed and will start talking on their own but the window of opportunity is before age 3 and can be easily missed. Plus early intervention programs only cover up to age three.
Whether your child is on track and you want to be more active and knowledgeable or if your child is struggling hopefully you can find something to help you and yours!

Ideas for Communication Goals (from It Takes Two to Talk)
1. Motor imitation without toys ie. peek-a-boo or clapping
2. Motor imitation using toys and objects ie. pushing cars, building blocks, or brushing teeth
3. Transition from motor to sound imitation ie. m-m-m (good)- rubbing tummy or oops!- toy falling
4. Early single words ie. mom, dad, oh-oh, no, bye etc
5. Later- two word phrases ie. car go, dad play, go out

Did you realize all those "baby games" actually build pre-language skills? Yep, clapping, patty cake, peek-a-boo, giving five, even pulling faces all help to build the foundation for language development within the brain. I had never realized that eye contact and turn taking were language building blocks. It makes sense though. Communication ie. language is not just verbal. It is nonverbal and full of expression and actions.
First comes the imitation of actions, then the imitation of sounds, after that comes first words.
Line upon line.....
So your challenge for this week is to PLAY! Just park it next to your little one, either with or without toys and play. Pay attention to eye contact. Practice turn taking. Make silly faces. Repeat any sounds or words you child makes. Have fun. Remember
Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.
-O. Fred Donaldson
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