10 speech therapy ideas to do at home

I wanted to give you 10 speech therapy ideas to do at home because you, as the parent, are your child’s best teacher.   I am a play therapist, so I work with many speech-delayed children birth-age 3 and these activities work great with them.

10 speech therapy ideas to do at home

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.
How to make them:  I use a large flat magnet paper.   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 (I love these touch & feel flash cards!)   Say the name of the object & have them repeat it.   Labeling is HUGE for a child with a speech delay.
ps- You might want to get a flash card app for babies or toddlers- they are free).

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 (I use these 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 about Play Therapy.
ps- I have also posted about the different nutrition supplements that have been recommended for speech delays.   Ask your doctor before starting them, but they helped our son.


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  1. says

    These are great ideas! I would love to invite you to link up at our Share It Saturday linky party. We have lots of creative ideas submitted each week and you would fit right in! http://www.sugaraunts.com/2013/02/share-it-saturday-7-and-our-week-in.html

    We also are inviting all contributors to join us on our Share It Saturday Group Pinterest page as a collaborator. It is a great way to have your posts seen by new viewers! The link for the Pinterest page is on our post. Hope to see you there!

    Colleen at Sugar Aunts

  2. says

    Wonderful ideas! As mama to a 25 weeker that had huge speech delays for various reasons, one of which having a trach for 3.5 years and unable to utter a sound, we focused heavily on sign language. This was a HUGE asset when the trach finally came out. She is now 9 and still relies on sign language, along with voicing. But that was one of the best decsions we ever made!

  3. Mia says

    I recommend contacting your local early intervention agency. The evaluation is FREE and all states have the program. Most pediatricians don’t use screening tools and often take the “let’s wait and see” approach. In the meantime, there are plenty of books out there that are parent-friendly, including The Cow Says Moo Ten Tips to Teach Toddlers to Talk (McErlean), Let’s Talk Together (Poland), and My Toddler Talks (Scanloon) are a few. Try Amazon.com; they have everything.

    • Jeannine says

      Any ideas on how to get them to actually respond or do anything to help? We’re a one income family and after having my eldest evaluated when he was 18 months and still not using a sign word (not even Mommy or Daddy) but signing perfectly I was told it was my fault for teaching him ASL and that it was not actually a delay so they had nothing to do with helping me. Now at a month shy of 3yrs he has a 50 word vocabulary and still struggles and cries because he cannot get his point across to adults or other kids. He’s extremely bright, can figure out basic math problems, count, and has had his hearing checked at two different testing centers but out Child Development Services still claim it is not their problem to get him any sort of help. Since we’re on state medical insurance they are our only option for assitance and so far have told us if he still is having a problem by school age they might see fit to help by then.

      • says

        I would keep working with him and actually move his mouth yourself when you are telling him to say words. Does he babble (make sounds?)
        I would wait to start speech therapy until 20 months & then call Child Dev. Serv. again. They often will not refer a child for play therapy or speech therapy until 20 months. (I start to see most of my clients between 20 months & 24 months, I’d say … and then I work with them until they are three and they are transferred to the school system.)

  4. Sarah says

    I am a PhD speech-language pathologist with 10 years of clinical and research experience. I strongly encourage families who have children with communication delays to pursue an evaluation by a licensed speech-language pathologist. Early intervention is incredibly important and an actual communication professional can recommend targeted strategies for your unique child. Communication is the foundation of literacy and academic skills, and speech-language pathologists can get your child on the right track!

  5. Rebecca says

    Hi there! I came across this site while looking up information on my son’s speech delay (due to hypotonia). I bought the Balanced Essentials liquid multivitamin and was curious as to how much your neurologist recommended giving him? He’s 30 months.

    Thanks in advance!

  6. Amy says

    Wonderful page and ideas!

    A little of our story. My son is 10 years old today. But he was born premie, and had Global Delays from the start. I started ASL with him around 1 year old and it was a life saver! We only did basics, and added things as needed or that he was interested in as time passed. But at one point, when he was 2 1/2-3, he said the words, “water” and “doggy” the same way; he said “goggy” for both of these. So if he didn’t sign “water” to me, I would have had a heck of a time knowing he wanted a DRINK, and wasn’t telling me about a doggy!

    Today, at 10, most of his development is that of a 2 year old. He has plenty of vocabulary; enough to get his needs met, thankfully. But we are currently working with a program that will be able to get us a communication assistive device. It may take some time, but it will be covered by insurance, so it will be well worth it!

  7. Ashley says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for these suggestions! My 20 month old son has a moderate expressive speech delay and we cannot currently afford treatment… it is so difficult to find things online that I can do to help him while we wait for the public service! These all sound great!

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