What is Speech Therapy and How Do I Use At-Home Speech Therapy?
Today, we’re continuing our introductory series to speech therapy. Our third post in the series addresses at-home speech therapy techniques. As a parent, it’s hard to watch your child struggle with anything. But you can accelerate his progress and (ideally) lessen the amount of time that he’ll need speech therapy by using at-home speech therapy techniques. These techniques will likely consist of games and activities that are tailored to your child’s specific needs. It’s also important to model correct patterns of speech for your child (kids are great imitators). Talk to your child’s speech therapist about the best at-home speech therapy techniques for your child’s speech and language issues, and head over to Speech Buddies University for more at-home exercises.
Keep Your Youngster Engaged
Attracting and maintaining your youngster’s interest in at-home speech therapy is the first step. After all, it doesn’t really matter how many flashcards you go through with him if he isn’t putting in the effort to learn the information on them. The key to keeping your child engaged is to make speech therapy fun and exciting. As an example, take a look at the recent infographic bombardment on the Internet. You can hardly click on a link without seeing an infographic somewhere (and we’re guilty of that too) – with good reason. Infographics are a fun, colorful way of presenting information to readers that gets them interested in the subject matter. So start thinking like a salesman. How can you sell speech therapy to your child?
One way to get your youngster hooked on speech therapy is to incorporate his interests. Jonas might be crazy about Thomas the Train, for example. Set up a toy train track and play with Jonas. Use the opportunity to work on certain sounds like “ch” (in “choo, choo train”), “f” (in “Go faster!”), and of course, the “r” sound in “train.”
As well, remember to vary your activities frequently. Most kids tend to have shorter attention spans, so switch around the games and toys often.
In some cases, encouraging vocalization can be as simple as giving your child more time to respond. Many children, such as those with receptive language disorders, take more time to process information. (Check out ASHA’s resources on the many facets of language.) Before responding, they need to organize their thoughts and figure out what to say. Try counting to six after speaking to your child. If he still struggles to find the right words, encourage vocalization with a nonverbal prompt. For example, if you’ve asked, “Jonas, what would you like to eat for breakfast today?” you could point to a box of cereal.
Mommy Speech Therapy recommends creating situations in which your child is prompted to request something. For example, limit your child’s access to the toys and games he often enjoys. He’ll have to request them. Just remember that for a nonverbal child or one with extremely limited speech, this can be frustrating. Reward attempts to communicate. If your child points at a cookie and tries to say the word, don’t withhold the cookie. As he becomes more accustomed to expressing his wishes in order to get results, you can encourage him to speak more.
Encourage Proper Articulation
In addition to regular practice (more on that in a minute), modeling correct patterns of speech is a great at-home speech therapy technique to encourage proper articulation. This is not the same as correcting your child, which can lead to frustration if it’s overdone. Instead, repeat back what your child says with proper pronunciation and other corrections. For example, Lindsey might say, “Want batatoes.” You can say, “Yes, I want some potatoes too. These are delicious potatoes, aren’t they?” You can further encourage your child by prompting her to describe the taste, texture, etc. of the potatoes.
Regular practice is also essential for encouraging proper articulation. Talk to your child’s speech-language pathologist (SLP) about the sounds that they are currently working on. Sign up for a free account at Speech Buddies University and encourage the SLP to do the same (she can send your child customized homework and exercises with an account). Just 10 minutes of practice, three times per week can greatly accelerate your child’s articulation progress. And if you have any questions about the use of Speech Buddies, take advantage of the online chat system.