Being a parent can be rewarding but exhausting especially when you have concerns about your child’s speech development. When my first son was young he had a few sound substitutions (replacing one sound with another like wun/run) but he refused to work with me. As a parent I got it but as a speech language pathologist (SLP) I was annoyed. When I had his first kindergarten conference the SLP joined us and I had to laugh- yes I know he has some usual sound errors – he called his best friend Chelly and her name was Kelly. The wonderful SLP created a home program and then my son would work with me and his speech was remediated quickly. My second son was very quite and we just assumed his speech was fine… it was. My third son didn’t talk in the time frame I expected. Come on I’m an SLP and my own kid was not talking! He understood everything but just did not use words. His first word was “more” and he signed it. He learned more signs but soon his verbal words took over and he stopped signing… verbal communication was much faster and easier. Now they are grown men and I am dealing with a whole different mode of communication or lack of it!
As a parent you watch and wonder if you are doing the best for your child. You wonder if there is more you should be doing. Ok just stop… look through their eyes and see the wonder that they see and enjoy their uniqueness. If you want to help encourage speech skills there are a few simple things to do.
- Read to your child
- Read to your child and point out words and pictures
- Read to your child and make noises for animals or machines or vehicles
- Read to your child and practice saying words together
- Read to your child and join them in a world of imagination
- Read to your child and have a sound hunt in the book- look for words with /S/ and practice saying them
- Mirror play- both look in a mirror and say words and sounds
- Most important- talk to your child – you are their window to the world
Sounds simple? Well is kinda is- most children will learn sounds correctly as part of their development. We are along for the ride and to provide models.
If you have concerns about sounds they are not saying correctly model the words. And yes I know how cute some of the words they say sound so write those in their baby books but don’t encourage them to keep saying it wrong. Just listen to their communication intent and when they are excited to see a “wabbit” acknowledge it and say something like “I see the rabbit too.”
If you still have concerns about your child’s speech and others have difficulty understanding them then call a speech language pathologist and see if testing is warranted. Please don’t stop what you are doing because being a parent is the toughest management job you will ever have but you can do this!
Cindy L Meester, MS;CCC/SLP
Speech Language Pathologist