Thursday, January 25, 2018

Therapy Tip: The Easy Way To Grow Language

It is Thursday! That can mean one thing here on the blog. It is time for a tip based on my experiences as a mother of a child with special needs and a pediatric speech-language pathologist. Today, you will most likely have this material in your home to make this tip happen.

Books: The Easy Way to Grow Language

I cannot stress enough the importance of books for all children. This is especially true for young toddlers and children with language delays. If your child has a diagnosed language delay, daily book sharing is a great activity for you to do with your child. I know it seems simple, but book sharing achieves many language and development skills.

Here’s the thing, there are many toddler with delays that won’t sit for a book. I get it. I have had some of these kids in my therapy practice. They can be challenging but I try to attempt a book at least once in my session in order to build their tolerance to book. Why? Because I know how great they are. Here is what is happening during book time:

1. Vocabulary building: This is the obvious thing books target. When you read your child a story or simply look at pictures in a book, you are teaching them words. They are hearing the names of things. They may hear concept words like on or off or they may hear animal sounds. The words you are saying are helping them. If you get through one page, then yay! Maybe tomorrow it will be two pages. Start where they are at and talk and read to build vocabulary.

2. Attention span & listening: Your baby and toddler needs to be able to sit and attend to a short book. This is a skill I try to develop in therapy. If the child hates sitting still for a book and prefers to be up and moving with toys all the time, then they need to learn to sit briefly for a book. This is an important skill to develop in life in general but also to start building their attention span and listening skills. Kids who tend to like lots of input from movies or tablets may not appreciate the simplicity of a book, but we need to get them there. We need them to listen, focus, and attend to the pictures. Some kids I see in therapy will do books for more than five minutes. Other toddlers struggle to attend for thirty seconds. See where your child is and build from there.

3. Identification/pointing: Pointing is an early gesture that is so important. A child points to say look at that or I want that. Pointing then leads into identifying, which is an important language skill tested early on. We ask the child, “Where is the ball?” The child will hopefully respond by pointing to the right picture. Then we move to harder tasks like pointing to actions in pictures or specific colors in books. Identification tells us what a child understands. It also requires them to listen and look at the book with us as opposed to them quickly turning pages.

Almost every home I have done therapy in has had at least one book in it. Books are so important for children for a variety of reasons including the ones I listed today. Don't underestimate the usefulness and power of book time with your child with language delays. Now go grab a book, and get to it!

Therapy Tip: Selecting Books for Toddlers

Therapy Tip: Using Books to Build Language

Therapy Thursday is for educational purposes only and not intended as therapeutic advice.

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