If you have a child who is struggling with a speech disorder, there are many things you can do as a parent to make sure that your child is learning at a normal rate as compared to his or her peers. We cannot overstress the importance of early intervention during the critical period of development, during which the brain is still malleable and impressionable.
Consult with Your Child’s Speech Therapist
For the successful treatment of any medical condition, consistency is key. For example, one cannot simply take any number of medicines at the same time simultaneously without first consulting his or her physician – the end result could be disastrous or even fatal. Similarly, if your child is learning two divergent methods that are confusing when paired together, you could be doing more harm than good.
In addition to enrolling your child in a therapy program as soon as possible, there are some helpful activities you can do at home with your child to engage his or her senses and encourage the effectiveness of the program. Of course, it is strongly advisable for parents seeking to learn about speech therapy activities and games to consult with their child’s speech-language pathologist first. The speech therapist may choose to suggest a complementary home program that builds on the materials taught and discussed during the therapy sessions.
Ideas for Speech Therapy Activities for Parents
Here are a few useful examples of general activities to begin at home to encourage normal speech development:
The Choosing Game: Place two toys in front of your child and tell him or her to choose one. You could then ask “which one do you want? The blocks or the duck?” Usually a child with a speech disorder would just point and refrain from making the choice verbally. In this case, you would gently hold back the toy in a playful way, until your child verbally indicates which toy he or she prefers.
Don’t push it – if after a couple of attempts, your child is still only pointing and refusing to speak, stop the game and focus on something else. If it’s successful, you may choose to pick a different set of toys so that s/he is exposed to a diverse sounds and scenarios.
Visual Aids: The importance of using visual aids cannot be overstated. Depending on what your child is most interested in and receptive to – whether it be pictures, flash cards, toys, or art – engage your child in speaking and communicating by utilizing his/her favorite item(s).
For example, if your toddler is having trouble with a certain letter, such as “d”, you can introduce toys or pictures that only begin with the letter “d”, so s/he can become familiarized with the letter in the context of something s/he already enjoys to do.
Reading: Obviously, this activity is most suitable for school-aged children who are already expected to start reading. Encourage reading out loud, and spend time on each phonetic pronunciation that is a trouble spot for your child. Make sure you give plenty of positive reinforcement when a mini-goal or milestone is achieved, and remain upbeat and encouraging throughout.
You may also wish to put together a ‘reading party’ with young siblings or classmates, so that dialogue and reading are interconnected, making it less threatening for your child to speak up and learn.
Speech Therapy Activities at Chicago Speech Therapy
At Chicago Speech Therapy, we are excited about collaborating with parents to come up with a home study plan that is well coordinated with the therapy sessions. We want to ensure a smooth transition between focused time with the therapist to fluid and productive interactions with the parents. Karen George (M.S. in Speech Language Therapy) and her colleagues have extensive experience in speech therapy and are licensed by the ASHA and the ISHA to practice in Illinois. When you call to schedule a consultation, we would be happy to point you to the right resources as well as suggest additional beneficial activities for speech therapy in the home for your child.