ABC’s of Speech

A Multi Color Alphabet Letters on a White Background

We have compiled and highlighted a list of suggestions that reflect Speech & Language development through the ABC’s. We hope you find it useful in your everyday interactions with your kids! Our hope is that this list will give you ideas and suggestions to help facilitate communication with your child. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions!

All about articulation! Developmental milestones indicate that kids should be babbling by 6-8 months and using 1-2 words by 12 months. Early sounds produced include (but are not limited to) m, b, p, d etc. All sounds are not learned or developed until around age 8. Therefore, certain errors and difficult sounds are expected and can be worked out on their own. Remember that you teach children how to communicate in that if you give them something for free when they are learning to talk they will ultimately learn that they do not have to talk to get what they want – they will just point/grunt/push/pull to get what they want and then later when you want them to be using their words that becomes confusing and ultimately frustrating to them leading to tantrums. Teach them that an action causes a reaction. Kids need to do/say something to get something. It doesn’t come for free. Model sounds/syllables/words for them to imitate if they cannot do it on their own.

Be present. Take the the time to make the most of every day situations and speech goals. Make it part of your day naturally. Behavior: Also recognize that a child’s behavior has to be in line in order to address language. At the same time, realize that you are addressing behavior while you are working on communication. A child doesn’t know how to communicate effectively when they have a speech delay – so they tantrum or fuss to express themselves. Once you give them a better system (PECS, a few signs or teach a few sounds to promote verbalizations to ‘get’ something) they will be more successful and ready to learn and verbally express their wants and needs. Signing does encourage communication – it does not hinder it.

Your commitment to working on goals and incorporating your child’s goals from therapy into your everyday activities. Narrate what you are doing throughout your day to help your child learn and develop language. Apply a goal while you are doing something fun so they learn that talking and learning is not all about structured practice. Making learning fun is key so that they will ‘want’ to engage with you and will not resist it since they won’t truly know they are working on their goals because you are making learning fun and interesting to them. Also, know your limits so that you do not push them into a tantrum due to frustration. Know when to step back and when to push through a tough situation. Do not give up because something is hard. That is truly when you must follow through so they learn they cannot cry to avoid talking or working. Set your criteria – when you know they need a break say “Let’s do 3 more, then you can be all done.”

Developmental Delay: If you feel that your child isn’t functioning similarly to other children in their play group or you instinctively feel that something just isn’t ‘right’ it can’t hurt to get your child tested. Early intervention is key to getting back on track. If its simply a developmental delay, speech therapy can help your child learn the skills they need in order to build their vocabulary, learn more sounds and express themselves. Sometimes a child will have a great understanding of what they hear but have a weak expressive understanding in that they can’t use the words they instinctively understand.

Everyday teachable moments. Every day has opportunities to teach lessons and incorporate vocabulary – whether at the grocery store, bath time or eating. You can teach the concept of “more” at various times not just with food since you want the concept to be generalized. Helping your child by telling them what to say isn’t cheating. If your child is delayed they just don’t know what to say so they need help. Eventually they will carryover what they learn through modeling and cueing to opportunities and situations on their own. Slowly pull back your cues to see how they do on their own.

Use friends and family in therapy. Siblings can be a big help in therapy. They need to learn that they cannot speak for or do things for their brother or sister. Once they learn how they can help and how they can help by working with them and not doing things for them you have successfully added another member to your team to help your child. The more people that can be on board to help your child and be on the same page the better. Consistency is key!!

Gems! Find out what your child’s currency is and use it to your benefit. If its for behavior or motivation or reward – incorporate it. They may love high-fives, m&ms, stickers or just time spent with you. Teach them that once they do what they need to they will earn their reward. Initially you may need to have a 1-1 ratio of work to reward and then slowly pull that back. They either earn it or they don’t. Whatever criteria you set you need to stick with it.

High-fives: Rewarding the baby steps, promoting the positives, applauding the successes even if they are approximations and not 100% ‘there’ yet is key. Many times we are shaping the behavior so even if its not perfect its still a GOOD job based on the attempt.

Imitation. Don’t accept the wrong production of a word as the final way they produce it- offer the corrected version so that they hear/are aware of how you are supposed to say words.

Joking – use humor! Don’t let your child get ‘down’ due to ‘not’ being able to do something. Learning to speak is frustrating for a child on many levels. Be silly and work on correcting them with a positive tone.

Kid-generated ideas. Sometimes a child will ‘think’ they are in charge and have decided on what we are doing in therapy – but little do they know as therapists, we have my own agenda; however, allowing the child to ‘choose’ helps keep their interest. For example, they may pick the game we play based on choices given to them – all of which will meet the goal of what I am working on with them. They are more inclined to participate and engage when they are interested, so why not let them think they are choosing the activities for the day?

e a good listener. Hear your child talk and praise them for trying yet still correct them. Don’t accept ‘wrong’ answers because you don’t want to correct it!! This goes back to imitation – don’t accept the wrong production of a word. They can only learn and repeat what they are taught and if you don’t correct something they say they won’t know its wrong.

Use a mirror – it helps to ‘see’ what you are doing. A mirror is a great tool to help a child see for themselves what they are doing and to learn to manipulate their own mouths to fix the error. Talk them through what they need to do so that they know. Its never too early to tell a child they need to put their articulators in a certain position while helping them do it in order to help produce a sound because eventually you won’t be manipulating their mouth for them, they will be learning to do it on their own.

Nursery rhymes, songs and repetitive books like Brown Bear help with learning to anticipate words and cue a child to speak. Additionally, this newsletter as well as others on the web are available for resources and added ideas.

Open door policy – ask questions. We are here to help.

Play time is critical for learning. Children model what they see. They will use a telephone or cook in the kitchen “just like their mom”. Be sure to provide good examples of how to interact, what language to use and role play! Make it fun. Have puppet shows, dance parties or make videos on your smart device. The possibilities are endless.

Quiz/Test – always look to see where your child is functioning. Aim high and expect good things and then assess whether you need to break a concept down and adjust as needed. Always ask questions. Kids learn through talking – they are inquisitive by nature.

Rhyming is a great skill to predict a word missing in a poem or figure out a missing word when used as a cueing technique. Help a child think of the answer “on their own” by offering a clue that it ‘rhymes with _’. That way, they are still figuring out the answer on their own but you are guiding them in the right direction.

Songs and singing! Songs are fun to use with young kids when learning to talk so they can fill in the blank to common songs and finger-plays. Be sure to pause the song to give them time to answer. Don’t rush it. Examples include: Wheels on the Bus, Itsy Bitsy Spider and Row Row Row Your Boat.

Turn-taking is important for kids to learn for obvious reasons. They need to learn that a conversation is two-sided and that you ask questions and wait for answers or provide information. There are many goals of communication that require interaction and if you interrupt and don’t pay attention to what the other person is saying then it becomes difficult to communicate and understand the other person. Make good eye contact and follow social cues.

Understand that your child has a hard time learning and that you are there to help. Giving help is not cheating or doing it for them as long as you encourage them to talk/repeat, follow your model etc. If your child doesn’t know ‘how’ to interact, you are simply giving them the tools to know how to do it so that when they are on their own they will know what to do because you have taught them.

Use video to reflect on where you are at now and how far you have come. Taking video is a great record keeper for you to see the progress that might not be obvious due to the everyday interactions. Sometimes it takes stepping back and realizing where they were when you started your joinery to realize where they are now and to relish in the progress. Look at the situation from a half-full perspective. There is always something to learn and as long as you are providing those opportunities your child will continue to mature and develop and effectively communicate with those around them.

Welcome new ideas to keep things fresh. Find blogs, create google searches, read articles, visit websites, and use social media. Don’t be afraid to pose a question on Facebook to see who else might have experienced the same thing or have the same inquiry in order to point you in the right direction.

Examine your strategies. Repetition is good but variety is also the spice of life. Be sure to repeat repeat repeat as bombardment and repetition are key to learning yet at the same time balance it with variety and approaching a goal from a new angle every once in awhile.

You can do it! Don’t give up – your child will improve quicker the more you incorporate goals and require things of them. Doing it for them is only setting you back and giving in is only going to make it harder each subsequent time you try to say ‘no’. Obviously the quickest way from point A to point B is if you do it for your child but your child isn’t benefiting from other people doing things for them. Slow down, take your time, involve your child and talk them through the difficult processes they encounter. The more time you take now, the less time you will need to help them in the future!!

Zoo and other field trips. Use different themes to help you and work in questions and ideas etc related to the topic/location etc. Pick a different theme each week or each month and work crafts, snacks, and other activities around those themes. Work together to find answers to questions you don’t know answers to. Take a nature walk and talk about what is around you labeling things. Make connections to objects and help your child see things around them as connected and intertwined rather than isolated parts.

Thanks again for following us through social media. We look forward to your comments and suggestions for future topics to cover!

Robyn – [email protected]    & Brook – [email protected]