2 Simple Things That Might be Impacting Your Child’s Communication (and it’s not Articulation)
Communication is complicated. How often do you find yourself asking your friend to “say that again?” or misspeak with a wrong word or a nonsense word by mistake? It happens to everyone. Despite well-developed communication skills, even adults can’t speak clearly at times. Why? Because successful communication requires the synchrony one of many skills. For some children, correcting an articulation error in speech therapy, that sound might only be one piece of the communication puzzle. In fact, that’s exactly why speech pathologists do an evaluation, to assess, using an arsenal of measures, many elements of communication. Fortunately for parents who might be concerned, there are two simple things that might be impacting a child’s communication that can be easily addressed.
Haveyouevermetsomeoewhotalksreallyreallyfastanddoesn’tevennotice? Just like that sentence is probably hard to read without any spaces, speech without pauses can be difficult to understand. People that speak at an abnormal rate sometimes have poor speech intelligibility. Speaking fast often causes words to run together creating unusual or distorted sounds for the listener.
For children that speak too quickly (most often the case), try teaching them pacing. Pacing is a technique that encourages a speaker to reduce their rate by tapping or touching a physical marker in conjunction with their spoken message. The speaker should touch the marker or tap with every spoken syllable. For example, “Who has the basketball?” would be “Who – has – the – bas- ket-ball?” using this method. The child must be able to respond to the cue to “slow down” and understand when a communication breakdown has occurred in order to successfully learn to improve speech. The pacing board itself should be considered only a teaching tool and faded away as soon as possible.
You’ve probably met a loud child once or twice in your life and had no trouble understanding them, but now think of a quiet child, perhaps a mumbler. Any difficulty there? The answer is likely yes. Volume, particularly low volume, can greatly influence someone’s ability to be understood; therefore we should encourage them to be louder. It makes sense that low volume can hurt communication; the sound signal isn’t as strong and it’s reasonable to assume in many cases the speaker isn’t always projecting their message forward, towards the listener.
For children to improve their volume they must first understand the concepts, “loud” and “quiet.” Children, especially with variable communication skills, will grasp these concepts with different levels of precision. While they might know a firetruck is loud, the concept becomes trickier when they are asked to modulate and self-monitor their own voice to make it louder.
Try using some bio-feedback applications on the iPad for an engaging learning task. Many of these games require the child to speak into the iPad provide visual feedback according to the different speech sounds they produce. Some like to use a volume meter like tool or red, yellow, green signal to teach volume levels.