As a parent and a speech pathologist, I've heard many thoughts regarding if a child is ahead or behind when it comes to development. This input can come from a variety of sources, each with its own weight (your pediatrician versus the "one upper" mom at playgroup). Not all input is consistent either, which can be confusing as a parent. While there are many differences and ranges in child development, there are milestones to aide families in answering the question of whether to "wait and see" or ask for help.
Parent WOW moment
At first, I ignored it, then I excused it for his age, and later I thought it had to be because he had an overly verbal older sister that carried the conversation. Finally, I reasoned that he would grow out of it and that it would eventually all work itself out. When that did not happen, I went to Holland Speech and Consulting.
Our son Tripp was evaluated by Holland and we learned that he had a speech disorder. At that moment, I did not fully understand what speech therapy entailed and was still hoping it might be a quick fix and that in 6 weeks he would be healed! Holland’s team made sure to carefully guide us through the process that we were about to undertake to provide Tripp with speech therapy in order to work through his speech disorder.
Now as I look back over the past 2 and half years, with the help of a Holland speech therapist, Tripp has taken considerable steps in overcoming his speech disorder. Each new season brings about a different type of what we like to call “language explosions.” Difficult words are pronounced, sentences are strung together and Tripp’s confidence continues to soar.
To think that if I had not paused during my hectic life, listened and sought out Holland’s help, I would have missed out on so much that my sweet boy is now able to tell me, like what he learned in Church that day, who he played with at school and what makes him happy.
Tripp is now a regular contributor at our dinner table conversations every night and it is with extreme appreciation and gratitude that we thank Holland Speech and Consulting for the work they have done and continue to do in shaping the life of our child.
motivating materials + strategic vocabulary targets = simple activities to build language
Here is an example of motivating materials and targeted vocabulary that coordinate.
-Sample two-word phrases: car go, uh-oh crash, car crash
-Sample three-word phrases: uh-oh car crash, car go on, car ride off
The best way to facilitate and model language for your child is during PLAY. While playing with your child's favorite toys that motivate them:
1. USE LANGUAGE RIGHT ABOVE YOUR THE LEVEL OF YOUR CHILD: For example, if your child uses single words on average, use a variety of two-word phrases.
2. REPETITION IS GOOD: Children learn from routine and repetition.
3. USE A VARIETY OF TYPES OF WORDS: This is where quality is better than quantity. Children develop verbs, specifically action verbs for example right alongside nouns. Verbs and early location terms are more productive than a bank of nouns when it comes to being an effective communicator. It is much more functional for a child to be able to request to "go up" in his highchair to eat, than to only be able to label animals or colors in a book.
4. EXPAND ON YOUR CHILD''S LANGUAGE: This can happen for any level. If your child produces a sound while looking at an object, say the name of the object (eye gaze to single word). If they say "car" when they want you to roll the car to them, say "roll car" (single word to two-word phrase).
5. HAVE FUN: Children learn through play and any level of back and forth communication with your child is connection--celebrate it!
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Jamie Cato is the founder of Holland Speech & Consulting and the mommy of two incredible kids, Sloan (5) and Jude (2), who unknowingly become the subject of many stories when it comes to the development of language, play, and emotional regulation.