5 Creative Ways to Use Toys For Speech and Language Enrichment

Posted June 19th, 2014 by deborah.ross with Comments Off on 5 Creative Ways to Use Toys For Speech and Language Enrichment

School’s out!  For Summah!  Little Sweet-Pea might need a bit of support over the break.  Here are 5 creative ways to use toys for speech and language enrichment for the youngest kiddos.

1.  PLAY! with toys.  Turn off the electronics.  The battery-powered.  The one-way interaction “toys”.  Get down on the floor with your little one and PLAY!  Kids’ imaginations are boundless.  Let them remind you how to PLAY!  See it through their eyes.  Everything is an adventure and nothing is pre-planned.

2.  Role-play is a generational favorite at nearly any age.  Have hard-hats and tools with blocks, markers, and boxes handy.  Have an apron, 4 simple “cooking” utensils and 3 “cooking” ingredients handy.  Before you know it, you might have a fantastic mud-pie or jello treat AND a table or platter to serve it all on. While playing, hold specific items next to your mouth as you say the name or the key sound you wish to highlight. The best way to have a child say something is to MODEL it, rather than REQUEST that he/she say it. So “spoon” while holding the spoon next to your mouth during the act of cooking is more likely to get the child’s response than “say spoon”.

3.  When you PLAY!, FOLLOW your child’s lead.  NARRATE what is happening and EXPAND on what he/she says.  “You are moving the chair next to the box.  When she says “table” and points to it, you say “we made a table!” and “sit down”.  She might repeat some or all of what you said.  Great!  When he stirs the pudding mix and reaches for the liquid you say “First we add the mixture, then we add the milk.”   He might repeat some or all of that.  Fantastic!  It’s not helpful to say “no, not like that”. or  “let me do it”.  We are not expecting little adults here.  The point is speech and language enrichment, not perfect pudding and upright furniture.

4.  Take TURNS.  This teaches a child that communication is a time for both LISTENING and SPEAKING.  Many many children struggle with this very basic skill.  Do your part in helping them see “it’s your sister’s turn”, or “when you are quiet, then I know it’s my turn”.  On the flip side, some kids don’t know that when YOU are quiet it signals their turn to speak.  Prompt them or MODEL what they could say.  Then PAUSE and see if they do!

5.  REPEAT.  Kids just soak up the repetition.  They love the same games, toys, songs, routines, role-play scenarios OVER and OVER.  Be patient.  Be open.  They are little sponges learning all they can and loving every minute of your quality attention and time. For some kids, repeating the same thing is the ONLY thing they want. Some kids need a little help branching out to enjoy other activities. If you have concerns about this or any other aspect of your child’s speech, language, social or play development be sure to speak with your pediatrician and ask for a Speech Evaluation. If he/she says “oh, let him/her grow out of it”, keep on asking until you get an evaluation. The evaluation is the ONLY way to fully address your concerns and with kids, time IS of the essence.

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Tips for Parents and Teachers

Posted May 12th, 2011 by deborah.ross with No Comments

Previously, we talked about the role of parents and teachers in speech language therapy. Here is a great starter list of practical tips for you to jump in and get started.

Understand your child’s speech/language goals.
Get to know developmental norms so you know what comes first, then next, then last in the hierarchy of speech/language development.
Getting on your child’s eye level when communicating (get on the floor!).
Holding objects of interest by your mouth to provide visual and vocal highlighting as you speak.  Emphasize the key component, word, or sound.
Become comfortable with the techniques of modeling, repetition, recasting, expansion, methods and levels of cuing.
If your child is (pre-verbal) pre-linguistic: learn to augment speech with signing, gestures, motherese.
Learn how to read to your child based upon his/her age and speech/language “age” (there are developmentally-appropriate ways to “read” together).
Ask a lot of questions of your child’s professional.  Ask till the answers make sense to you.
Limit questions with your child.  Instead, label, describe and narrate.  If you do use questions, be prepared to answer it yourself; then help your child to repeat the answer rather than having an open set.

Closed set:  only a finite answer is possible (e.g. What is this? A book.)
Limited set:  only a few answers are possible (eg. Which book do you want to read? Dr. Seuss, Sesame Street, or Eric Carle.)
Open set:  any number of answers are possible (e.g. What happened to you?  The adult has no idea yet, so the possible answers are many.)

Analyze the error* and determine what your child knows as well as doesn’t yet know and you help fill in the gap.  We can help help you learn this critical and valuable skill.
Reduce the task or alter it and then always try again.  End on a positive note, never on a “give-up”.
Make it interesting and positive in tone and affect, never punitive or critical. Never abrupt.  Laughter together helps lighten the mood, then the stress dissipates which improves communication for all.
Provide playful practice, silly contrasting sounds- words- sentences- and rhymes.

*For multiple errors, analyze them all and then prioritize what to address (have your SLP help you decide):

Ways to contrast/highlight:

Repetition is a key tool!
Repeat entire phrase.
Repeat phrase or sentence in smaller segments.
Repeat the phrase, exaggerating error or missing parts (vocal highlighting).
Repeat the missing word or words.
Repeat the word the way the child said it, and then the way it should be-always in a positive manner.  Let the child decide which is correct (with your guidance and praise of course).
Repeat the missing or incorrect sound or syllable.
Write the omitted sound, word or words (visual highlighting).
Show pictures representing the missing word or words.
Use pacing board technique (the professional can teach you this method).
Expand by one element.

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Parent and Teacher Roles in SLP

Posted May 7th, 2011 by deborah.ross with Comments Off on Parent and Teacher Roles in SLP

What is the Parent and Teachers Roles in Speech/Language Development?

The most frequent question we hear is

“What can I do to help my child develop better speech and/or language?”

We would like to commend you for taking interest in helping a child develop to his/her best potential.  Being a child’s champion or advocate is the first and most important step.  By asking questions such as this, and by seeking answers from many sources, you have already begun to help.  Your understanding of what is going well in your child’s development and what is not developing on its own is key.  You are your child’s most important speech/language role model by virtue of the bond you share and the amount of time and daily experiences you have together.  You are the prime source of learning for your little one.

Professionals are experts in their studied field.  Parents are a child’s expert.  Professionals and parents need each other in order to provide the most comprehensive care for a child.  Professionals learn from parents a child’s routines, familiar vs. new experiences, dislikes, likes and special ways of responding.  Parents access information and a specific care plan from professionals.  Parents often expect to have their own behavior to be modified via feedback from the professional.

By asking many questions and observing a child in action with their parents, professionals are able to provide information and suggestions which allow parents to carry-on with targeted activities and help with delivery of a program designed to meet your child’s unique needs.  With increased parent confidence and knowledge, important activities can continue well beyond the end of a therapy session.

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Next: 12 Tips for Parents and Teachers

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