As a parent, I love having access to handy speech, behavior or developmental resources. I know you do, too. So, just for you, I compiled a list of frequently asked speech and behavior questions that I get as a speech-language pathologist. Hopefully, I can answer a question you have wanted to know about or pass along to a friend who may be interested.
What constitutes speech? What about language?
When speech-language pathologists talk about “speech,” we are referring to the way a child produces speech sounds (articulation.) Language refers to the way a child understands and processes information (receptive language) and how a child can use and organize verbal/written information. Think things like grammar, vocabulary and conveying thoughts/ideas (expressive language.) Speech therapists also work with children who may stutter (called dysfluency), children who have difficulty with social skills, or feeding/swallowing challenges.
How do I know if my child’s speech-language skills are developing appropriately?
Every child is unique, and no two children meet milestones at the same time in their development. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have excellent norms available to the public, so you can have a general idea of how your child is developing.
If you are at all concerned about your child’s speech-language skills or overall development, contact your pediatrician or a local specialist in your area. Trust your parent “gut.” If you are at all worried, look into it. Early detection and intervention are essential. Start researching potential evaluation and treatment sites. Your local school district is often a great place to start.
My child was diagnosed with a language delay. What can I do at home to help?
In my opinion, the three best activities a parent can do is: increase their time of interactive play with their child (without distractions), read as often as possible, and talk talk talk. Label new words, talk through activities you are doing together, ask/answer lots of questions. The more words you expose your child to, the better.
How long will my child need speech-language services?
Honestly, I don’t know–and your therapist probably doesn’t either. It’s hard to predict the future. Each child progresses at a different pace. We may have an estimation, but nothing is for sure. What I can tell you is–intervention matters. The earlier, the better. And, I firmly believe that all children will take steps to reach their own communication goals. I have yet to see a child not move forward in any way.
What is the best thing I can do to work on speech sounds at home?
Practice. And, practice consistently. I recommend most days of the week for at least 5-10 minutes. I often compare speech therapy to piano lessons. You can go to your piano lesson every week, but if you are not practicing the skills you learn–most likely–you are not going to improve. The same with speech therapy. The therapist is there to instruct and teach the skill and then it is essential to practice. Speech is a motor activity and the more practice/repetition of those movements, the more likely that motor skill will transfer over to everyday life.
My child is having trouble with social skills. What can I do?
There are a couple of simple activities you can do. I think social skills can be easily taught through books, videos, and role-playing. Books and videos for various skills (like sharing or making a new friend) are pretty easy to find. Role-playing with your child is a great way to practice before they engage with peers. For example, if your child has trouble losing or failing, then play games together and set it up for your child to lose on occasion (as hard as that may be.) Then talk about it and problem solve strategies together. If your child is unsure how to join in or strike up a conversation with other kids, then practice natural conversation starters–and then practice again. Is there a negative behavior you want to curb? Set up a positive reward system when they demonstrate the correct actions. Reward and praise often and stay consistent with it!
What are examples you have of reward systems you’ve used? I know there are some good ones out there!
Our FAQ page has a few other questions on it, as well.