I am a play therapist, so I work with many speech-delayed children birth-age 3. I work with children daily and helping a toddler with a speech delay is one of the many things that we do, as play therapists. Today I wanted to share some of my favorite activities that you can do, today, at home, to help your little one to overcome a speech delay.
1. Try not to have the TV on if you aren’t watching it. The background noise can actually cause more of a delay.
2. Teach him sign language (it has been proven to help them speak faster) . I focus on the biggies: more, mine, help, Mommy, Daddy, please, thank you (please & thank you are added in there just to teach your little one good manners!)
3. Make magnets for your refrigerator that has his favorite things (juice, cereal…) and when he wants something, he can bring that to you. (make sure he can’t choke on them- I use a large flat magnet – one of the free ones that comes to the house with real estate info. on it. I glue a white sheet of card-stock on it and cut into squares. I then draw pictures onto them with the things that your child might need: cup, food, bed, favorite toy, etc… We are trying to ELIMINATE frustration because kids with a speech delay often become frustrated easily. (wouldn’t you?)
4. Spend 40 minutes just “playing“ with him several times a day. Use simple words “Car fast!” or “Red ball”. To see all of the benefits of playing, check out this post on how & why we need to play with our kids.
5. Work with simple picture flash cards (or get a flash card app for babies or toddlers- they are free). Say the name of the object & have them repeat it. Labeling is HUGE for a child with a speech delay.
6. Get a cotton ball & straw. Put the cotton ball down on the table or on the floor. Now, take a straw & let him blow through it to make a cotton ball move (have the cotton ball on the table). This will help with the oral muscles needed for speech.
7. Drink with a straw, but not just liquids. Change it up a bit and use the straw to drink many different textures (water, milk, applesauce, pureed fruits, milkshakes)…
8. Use silly straws for drinking (the curly/wavy straws). These are great because they take a little more muscular strength and work than the average straw.
9. Put some things out of reach that you know your child will want (favorite book, favorite toy) and they will have to ask you for help when getting it. Teach them to come and get you and take you (by the hand) to what he/she wants OR by getting you the magnet off of the fridge (did you read that tip above?) Show your child the sign for help and say “Help” when they are asking you. You are modeling this behavior for him/her.
10. PRAISE THEIR EFFORTS! These are just some things that I practice with my speech delayed clients & that I have done with our own children.
FOR MORE INFORMATION or to contact your local early intervention office, this post might be helpful to you: What Is Play Therapy? I will point you to the right contacts and help you to get started with your child’s therapy services.
ps- I have also posted about the different nutrition supplements that have been recommended for speech delays.
If your child is over 16 months, they might be ready for potty training… here is how I potty trained our kids in 3 days.