Early intervention is the best way to avoid long-term challenges for children experiencing speech and language challenges or delays. It is imperative that children who experience speech and language problems get professional help to overcome their challenges but it is equally important that parents and caregivers give the child plenty of practice with techniques taught at therapy.
Speech and language exercises at home is a necessary process that supports and improves the course and success of therapy. As any speech-language therapist would have recommended, it is of utmost importance that you practise the exercises at home, with the equal amount of dedication that you do in the therapy session. Not only does it ensure a balanced dynamic in the course of speech and language intervention but also has added benefits like the familiarity of exercises with which the child enters the next therapy session and also offers the opportunity for one-on-one parental or caregiver interaction that is indispensable. Our speech and language therapist Sharanya M at Tactopus has some tips and activities that can be incorporated into your daily routine.
Choose a time when you and your child have enough energy to spend and enthusiasm to build. Find a place that is free of distractions or has minimal ones. This will help immensely when it comes to sustaining the child’s attention.
Ask your speech and language therapist to guide you on appropriate activities for your child. You can focus on the skills that are already being learnt in the therapy session to ensure good progress. Make sure you use appropriate tools in the activity and speech and language stimulation process. This can be anything from store-bought flashcards to custom made tools with whatever resources you have that are appropriate. Even a trip to the park can be used as the right tool sometimes, for speech and language stimulation!
Keep an eye out for the general mood and attitude your child is exhibiting. If you sense frustration, propose a little break time and engage in a fun activity or let the child have some space where they can do an activity of their choice. After a few minutes, slowly try to get the child’s attention back by introducing something that is of their interest and of a lesser difficulty level than the previous activity.
You can use the opportunity to initiate simple casual conversations during play, during daily routine activities or on car drives.
Start by saying simple lines which don’t require the child to respond. For example – stating an observation or talking about an activity that is happening. You can then slowly try engaging the child and encourage responses. Request the child to repeat or complete the sentence, whenever required, rather than correcting them or criticizing them. When the child responds in a moderately appropriate manner, add more meaningful content to the child’s statement.
Mother – Oh, look there is a bird! Do you see it?
The child looks but is silent.
Mother – It is flying away, see?
Child – Bird flying
Mother – What did you say? The bird is flying? (Asking for clarification + plus simple correction)
Child – Yes, bird is flying
Mother – Yes, the bird is flying away! I think the bird is going home to see her baby birds. (Adding more imaginative content to the conversation)
Colourful flashcards are easily available, in different sets of fruits, vegetables, animals and many other categories. These flashcards can be used in many different ways. You can use it to create a simple labelling activity where the child is encouraged to name the object shown in the flashcard. If the child finds it difficult, use simple clues to help the child remember. These can also be used while you are teaching the child names of new animals or objects or fruits. To make the activity more interesting you can have little models of the items on the flashcards
Stand in front of a mirror with the child and slowly make different sounds playfully while moving your mouth and ask your child to do the same. This can help the child see how her mouth moves when each sound is made. As a next step, this activity can be followed with you showing the child the proper position the child needs to make to produce specific sounds.
One of the easiest methods to accomplish speech and language stimulation is by reading to your child whenever possible. When a parent reads to a child, they pay attention to how you speak the words. Not only does reading improve your child’s vocabulary but also teaches your child the correct usage of the word. Find picture books with little stories that will grab your child's interest. Make reading a part of their nap and bedtime routine.
Sing to your child. Simple nursery rhymes make a great start. Years of research indicates that singing to your child can improve their capacity to talk. Make sure to include a lot of actions, intonation changes and facial expressions to make it more interesting, especially with younger children.
Simple techniques like the ones mentioned above can help your child make tremendous progress with speech therapy. With the guidance of your child’s Speech & Language therapist, modify these techniques to suit your child’s requirements and support their progress. If you’d like to know more about Speech therapy, reach out to us at Tactopus.