I've talked a million times over the past couple of years about our struggles with the boys' speech delays. We've received so many hand outs, packets of information on tips we can use daily to encourage speech. I want to start sharing all this information with all of you because I know there are so many moms and dads out there going through what we went through- are they supposed to be talking yet? What should they be saying by now? Is it too early to seek help? Am I just being crazy? Well, I don't know if I can answer any of those questions for you but I'm going to pass on the information we've received and hope that some of it can help you, too.
This series will hopefully be a resource to not only those of you experiencing the struggles of speech delays with your children but also for all parents in general wanting to learn ways to help encourage expressive speech in your children.
1. Use repetition generously as they are learning the meaning of words. For example when you give the child a cup, say "Cup...Sarah's cup". While they are holding or drinking from the cup, you could then say, "Drinking from cup!". When they're finished, you can ask them to "Give me cup."
2. Keep your words, phrases, and sentences fairly simple to promote turn-taking during communication. Use the words the child would probably use in the situation at hand and add a little extra. For example, if they hand you an empty cup, you could say, "All gone...you finished drink.". Then give the child a chance to respond in any way, with a sound, gesture or expression.
3. Don't expect your child to say words correctly. Most children don't articulate correctly at this stage. If they mispronounce a word, repeat it back to them correctly in a short phrase. For example, if they say "ha" for "hot", you could say, "Yes, that water is hot.". Don't imitate the mispronunciation. They need to hear correct models of words in order to learn to say them correctly.
4. Say the word that they're trying to communicate when they gesture. For example, when they point to the car that's out of reach, say, "Car?" as you hold the care up near your face so they see your lips move at the same time they see the object. Pause for 5 or more seconds to give them a chance to respond with a sound or another gesture, then give them the car as you repeat the word in a short sentence, "You want car."
5. Avoid continually asking, "What's this?" and "What's that?", even when you've heard them say the word before. Your child needs los of experience and practice saying his/her sounds and words spontaneously before they can respond to questions with words. When you ask questions, pause for a moment and then answer your own question, e.g., "What's that?...A dog...furry dog." And then give your child time to respond or react with their sounds or actions.
6. As they being to say words or word approximations, they may use single words to convey a complete sentence, e.g., "Ball" may mean, "I want the ball." "Look at the ball." "I have a ball." or "Let's play ball." Try to interpret what the "sentence" is and repeat back to your child in a sentence, e.g., "Ball. You want ball."