BENEFITS OF TACKLING SPEECH AND LANGUAGE DELAYS EARLY ON

shutterstock_50844475NO AGE IS “TOO EARLY”

Is your child a late talker? Does your child have difficulty following directions or answering questions? Does your child have difficulty pronouncing certain speech sounds? Do you wonder whether your child might have delayed speech or language skills compared to other children his age? If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions it is best to contact a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) for an assessment of your child’s speech and language skills. No age is too early to meet with an SLP for an assessment to decide if an intervention plan is needed.

THE “WAIT AND SEE” APPROACH

Many parents who have children that are developing normally in every other way (social skills, play skills, fine/gross motor skills), have been told by family, friends or their family doctor “not to worry”. Often, parents are told to just “wait and see” if their child will outgrow their speech or language delay and hope for the best. While children develop at their own pace, SLP’s know certain milestones which should be reached by a specific age. When these milestones are not reached, this can be a cause for concern and, without the benefit of early intervention, can cause challenges down the road.

WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH SAY

Research has suggested that 70-80% of late talking toddlers will outgrow a language delay if it is an expressive delay only, which  means that a significant proportion (20-30%) will not catch up to their peers (1).  Research shows that when children don’t catch up in their language skills, they may have persistent language difficulties, as well as difficulty with reading and writing when they get to school (2).  It is difficult to know which late talkers will catch up and which fall into the group that does not catch up (3). Elaine Weitzman, speech-language pathologist and Executive Director of The Hanen Centre, has suggested that a “wait and see approach” is not advisable when it comes to language development. Delaying intervention delays important treatment that can make a big difference to a child in so many ways.

REASONS TO INTERVENE EARLY

Early intervention does not just involve “treatment” for the child, but also it provides education, support and guidance for parents. Early intervention can have a significant impact on your child’s development. It can help to improve their ability to communicate, interact with others, and improve their social skills and emotional development. There are many reasons to intervene early. Five reasons are summarized below:

1.      BRAIN DEVELOPMENT

Young children develop the majority of their speech and language skills in the first three years of life. During this time, this learning influences how the brain develops. Early intervention is critically important because infants, toddlers and preschools have developing brains that are designed to learn communication skills. If there is problem with that development, therapy should be started as soon as possible to take advantage of this period of normal brain development.

2.      ELIMINTATION

A child may be able to develop normal speech or language, although this is difficult to predict for most young children. We often don’t know the cause of “late talking” and can’t predict the course of development, however with early intervention many children will develop language and catch up to their peers prior to starting school. With regards to an articulation delay, an SLP can assess and provide treatment for these speech sound disorders which can be quickly eliminated with early intervention.

 

3.      REMEDIATION

This involves improving communication skills during play and daily routines with your child. It is the most common outcome expected from speech and language intervention for young children with communication delays. Becoming a more effective communicator helps a child to communicate with adults and peers and can also decrease frustration and negative behaviours.

4.      COMPENSATORY STRATEGIES.

These are strategies used to develop a functional means of communication for a child who is not using any verbal language. Compensatory strategies can be taught to help reduce a child’s frustration with communication difficulties. For example, teaching a child to use “pictures” or “basic signs” to help them communicate things such as, what they want to eat or what toy they would like to play with. These strategies can help to give the child an immediate way to communicate while also working on more long-term strategies to develop other speech and language skills.

5.      PARENTS PLAY A CRUCIAL ROLE

During early intervention parents are provided with the tools that they need to facilitate speech and language development. Parents and/or caregivers are at the centre of early intervention because they provide the necessary language models on a daily basis that children need to develop language and communicate more effectively. Through early intervention, parents can be taught valuable early language strategies so that they can help facilitate their child’s speech and language development during play, reading books and during daily routines such as mealtime and bath time. They can also be taught specific cueing and/or feedback strategies for specific speech sounds.

  1. Ellis EM, Thal DJ. (2008) Early language delay and risk for language impairment. Perspect Lang Learn Ed., 15(3): 93-100.
  2. Sharma M., Purdy, S.C. & Kelly, A.S. (2009). Comorbidity of auditory processing, language, and reading disorders. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 52(3),706-22.
  3. Dale, P., Price, T., Bishop, D., & Plomin, R. (2003). Outcomes of early language delay: I. Predicting persistent and transient language difficulties at 3 and 4 years. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 46, 544-560

CarrieWebCarrie Rosler is a registered Speech-Language Pathologist who has been practicing pediatric speech pathology for over 13 years. Carrie is committed to providing individualized family-centered therapy in a fun and supportive environment. Carrie has a special interest in Motor Speech Disorders and Auditory Verbal Therapy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valentine’s Day Speech Practice!

Does your child have trouble with those tricky blended words? Maybe they say “top” instead of “stop” or “song” instead of “strong”. Well, with Valentine’s Day around the corner, here are a few great activities you can use to target these ‘s’ consonant blend target words with your child and incorporate the holiday theme.

STORYBOOKS

Here are a few books that can be used for a Valentine’s Day theme:

photo 2

  1.  The Backyardigans: A Royal Valentine: For ages 3-4, this book contains short sentences, repetition and allows children to participate in the story.  Target words include: stop, snow, strong, starts, special.

 

 

photo 1

Love Splat by Rob Scotton: For ages 4-6, this book contains longer sentences, more challenging vocabulary, prediction and reasoning skills.  Target words throughout the book include: stared, straightened, special, snowy, smelly, smile, school, swapped, Spike, smugly.

“BEE” MINE CRAFT

(thanks to one of our clients for letting us share his creation)

Bee Craft

To make this Valentine’s Day bee, you will need the following materials:

  • 4-6 colours of construction paper
  • A black marker
  • Pipe cleaner (2-3” long)

Cut the construction paper into hearts, four will need to be significantly smaller for the mouth and antennae.

Glue the hearts, five for the body and two for the wings, on to a different piece of paper.  Add the pipe cleaners to the top of the head and have your child draw eyes and a mouth.

The following ‘s-blend’ words can be targeted within this activity: stick, sprinkle, sparkle, snip

PARTY POPCORN SNACK

Here’s an easy and fun way to dress up your popcorn for Valentine’s Day.  All you need is: popcorn, melted white candy melts, and sprinkles.  It is also a great one for kids parties as it is nut-free.

First, pop the popcorn, melt the white candy melts and gently mix together.  Spread the popcorn on a baking sheet once mixed and then have your child sprinkle with his/her favourite sprinkle colours before it hardens.

What happens to the sprinkles when shaken on the popcorn and melted chocolate? (they stick)

Bring Out the Bubbles! How to Boost your Child’s Speech & Language Using Bubbles

Auditory Verbal Therapy

The snow is upon us, leaving some of us stuck inside, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find some creative ways to have fun! Bubbles are fun indoor or outdoor activity and children of all ages love blowing bubbles. Bubbles are also an excellent tool to promote speech and language development. Children love to blow the bubbles, watch the bubbles float up and down, pop the bubbles and step on the bubbles over and over again. The effect bubbles can have on a child is amazing!  By blowing bubbles, you can quickly gain and hold a child’s attention or calm or engage a fussy child.  You can work on early words and concepts, practice eye contact and turn taking, work on speech sounds and lip rounding – all while having fun!  Bubbles are inexpensive, portable and can be used in any setting. Below is a list of ways that you can use bubbles to target various speech and language goals with your child while having a blast at the same time! 

Teaching Turn Taking

Bubbles are a fun way to teach “my turn” and “your turn”. You can take turns blowing and popping the bubbles.  Basic turn taking routines teach children the skills for conversational turn taking.

Promoting Eye Contact & Joint Attention

Place the bubbles where your child can see the bubbles and begin to engage your child in a fun bubble blowing activity. Begin blowing the bubbles and then wait and watch for the anticipation of more bubbles. Wait for eye contact before you blow more bubbles. Once they give you eye contact, start blowing the bubbles again.

Tempting Them to Talk

Because bubbles are hard for young children to open the container and blow themselves, they are a perfect communication temptation and can stimulate your child to make a request. Again, you can begin blowing the bubbles, and then stop blowing the bubbles and screw the lid on tight, give them back to your child and wait to see what they do. If after trying to open the bubbles themselves unsuccessfully, they hand them back to you for help, they have just made a request. You can also catch the bubble on the wand and hold it up high, and WAIT….While you are waiting your child is most likely to communicate in some way that they want more bubbles. It may be through eye contact, a sound, a gesture or a word.

Building Vocabulary 

Bubbles can be wonderful for teaching new vocabulary words such as action words and descriptor words including early developing concepts. The words that you model can include the following words such as:  bubbles, more, again, want, pop, blow, dip, all done, up, down, in, out, on, off, me, round and round (when turning the lid), wet, sticky, big, small, and various  body parts such as toes, tummy, nose and hands as the bubbles land on them. They can also fill in the word “go” if you say the following words with excitement, “Ready, set, Go!” Then say it again and pause after the word “set” and wait to see if they will fill in “go” before you start blowing the bubbles again. Remember to keep your language level at your child’s level.

Answer Questions and Following Directions

You can work on answering yes/no questions such as “do you want more bubbles?”, choice questions (“do you want to stomp or pop the bubbles?”) and wh-questions (who, what, where) such as asking a questions such as “who wants more bubbles?”, or “where did the bubbles go?”.  You can focus on following directions such as “stomp on the bubbles”, “pop the bubble with your finger”, “give the bubbles to daddy”.

Teaching Sounds

Bilabial sounds (sounds that are made with our lips) such as “p”, “b” and “m” are early developing sounds and are usually easiest for young children to make. Bubbles offer many opportunities to practice these sounds such as “bubbles”, “blow”, “more”, “me”, “up”, “pop”, “bye-bye”. Remember to be face to face at your child’s level while you are blowing bubbles.

Some children have difficulty rounding their lips for the above speech sounds. When your child blows bubbles through a wand watch the shape of their lips to see if they have “round lips”. If they are retracted and not rounded, you can try gently squeezing their cheeks forward to get their lips in the right position, or give them a verbal cue “round lips” as well as have them look at your lips when you are blowing the bubbles so that they can see how you have round lips. You can also model words such as “wet”, “blow”, “more”, “open” to target lip rounding during your bubble blowing activity.

Singing Songs While Blowing Bubbles to Promote Language

Bubble Everywhere

Bubbles, bubbles everywhere
Gently flowing through the air
Bouncing around without a care
Bubbles, bubbles everywhere

Bubbles in the Air

Bubbles, bubbles up in the air,
Bubbles, bubbles you’re everywhere;
Bubbles, bubbles happy are you
Bubbles, bubbles we are happy too!

 The Bubble Song

One little, two little, three little bubbles
Four little, Five little, Six little bubbles
Seven little, Eight little, Nine little bubbles
Ten little bubbles go pop, pop, pop, pop, pop
Pop those, pop those, pop those bubbles
Pop those, pop those, pop those bubbles
Pop those, pop those, pop those bubbles
Ten little bubbles go pop, pop, pop, pop, pop

Bubbles All Around

(Sung to: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star)
Bubbles floating all around (pretend to catch bubbles)
Bubbles fat and bubbles round (make a circle with arms)
Bubbles on my toes and nose (point to toes and then to nose)
Blow a bubble, up it goes! (pretend to blow bubble and point up)
Bubbles floating all around. (pretend to catch bubbles)
B..u..b. .b..l..e..s f..a..l..l. .i..n..g to…the…ground. (sing slowly while sinking to ground)

Bubbles Recipe: Have fun making your own bubbles!

2 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup corn syrup

1/2 cup Dawn dishwashing liquid

Put water and corn syrup in a bowl and microwave for 3-4 minutes.  Stir to combine.  Gently mix in dishwashing liquid.