Say What?! 5 Ways to promote language development.

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I’m certainly no speech expert, but I’d like to think I am an expert when it comes to my babes. While I can recognize that every child develops differently, I knew that Giada was behind when it came to speech. She has some words and can get her point across, but I could tell she was getting frustrated. I expressed my concerns with my ped and she told me that typically there isn’t a worry until age 2. Since Giada’s birthday fell at the end of the school year, though, she said it wouldn’t hurt to take her in to be evaluated early since services aren’t offered during the summer..

We met with our local school district and the women there were beyond friendly, helpful, and extremely patient with Giada. They tested Giada’s hearing, her comprehension, and then her ability to communicate. Giada fell in the 24 month range for her understanding but only 15 months for her speech. Because of the discrepancy between her understanding and her ability they recommended speech therapy for her! I was SO happy I listened to my “mom-intuition” and didn’t go any longer leaving her frustrated. Sometimes… what works for one child doesn’t work for the next and us parents need to make some modifications to what we are doing. Language seemed to come very easy to Ari, but Giada needs some changes to her environment.

The entire evaluation experience was so educational for me. I was an early elementary teacher and knew so many of these strategies, but when you get caught up in the day to day you sometimes forget. Before we left the evaluation they gave me some super easy strategies to implement immediately. Honesty I can’t believe the difference it has made in only a couple short weeks.

If you have a toddler on the verge of talking or one that is struggling to talk I highly suggest using some of these strategies!

Ditch the Sippy Cups/Pacifiers – They couldn’t stress enough the negative impact these two items had on language acquisition. I read this post before and “knew” they weren’t the best thing, but I never really cared that much until I was sitting in a speech evaluation and being told my daughter needed ME to toss them.  I was nervous about giving her an open cup at meals, but overall the transition hasn’t been terrible! I got cups with handles from Target for $.79!

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Strengthen the entire body – The body works together in complex ways. They suggested doing wheelbarrows with her and getting her to try to balance on one foot!

Stimulate the Mouth – Some children need extra stimulation in their mouths. It was suggested we get her an electric toothbrush instead of a regular one. Giada loves it!

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Give her the words – This one made perfect sense now looking back. Instead of asking her a yes or no question you offer a choice, use adjectives, and give her the word you want her to say. The last word out of your mouth should be what you want them to say.

Example: instead of saying “Giada do you want this hairbow?” All she can respond with is yes and it’s not expanding her vocabulary. You say “Giada, do you want this clip or this PINK HAIRBOW?”. It allows her to repeat the last thing you just said because you are giving her the word. I’ve been using this technique a TON and I am so surprised at how many new words she is trying to say just by me changing my behavior!

Use songs/body movements – Using a song or a beat allows children to easily chime in at words they know. Now we’ve been singing songs every night that involve hand movements like “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Baby Bumblebee”. Giada has been so engaged and tries to sing along with us!

I’m sure there’s going to come a day when I wish Giada wasn’t talking SO much. But, for now, I’m determined to do everything in my power to help her get where she needs to be! In just a few weeks of doing these things I have seen such an incredible difference in her communication. I can’t wait until our actual first lesson! I will be learning as much as Giada.

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