Early language stimulation is what Speech Pathologists call the strategies used and taught to parents and carers to help children who may be late talkers, who are becoming frustrated because they can’t talk to express their message, or children who are just beginning to use their first words.
As a Speech Pathologist our role is to teach parents how to interpret their child’s body language and communication attempts and respond appropriately. Speech Pathologists also provide strategies to help children develop on their word banks or expression or look at other communication strategies to express their wants and needs; such as pointing, gestures, using keyword sign and visual supports.
Just take a few moments to think how you would feel if you couldn’t tell someone by speaking, texting or emailing, what you needed or wanted. How would you feel… Frustrated? Irritated? Ignored? This is how our kids feel when they can’t communicate effectively.
Or imagine you are in another country, and you don’t know the language. If someone is talking to you and you don’t understand what someone is saying but they continue to slowly repeat the words, use gestures, and facial expression you will eventually begin to understand what they are trying to tell you. This is similar to how we help our children understand what we are saying and encourage them to respond with communication.
During your time with a speech pathologist your expectations and goals when you are in therapy will change, depending at what stage of development your child is at.
If your child is able to point to what it is they want to play with, then that would be what you praise and model the name of the toy they gesture to to elicit more communication. However, if your child is consistently using one or two words to request: “milk”, or “more bubbles” then our expectations and goals are going to slightly increase. So instead of the child requesting using “more bubbles”, you may model: “want more bubbles” expecting more words in their attempts of communication.
A Speech Pathologists top language stimulation strategies:
- Getting down to your child’s level – being face to face with your child will help them read your facial expressions easier.
- Modelling – model language that is at a level your child will understand. This may mean only saying one or two words (normally the name of something and an actions word e.g. “car drive”). Do this whilst playing with your child.
- Choice questions – don’t ask a yes/no question; ask a question that gives them a choice; e.g. “Do you want blocks or cars?”
- Expanding and adding on – add one or two words to what your child has said; if they say ‘car’, then add “Yes, car driving” or “Yes, that’s Daddy’s car”
- Reducing your sentences – simple, short sentences are the best. Instead of saying “We’re going to go for a drive in the car”; say “go in car”.
In your speech pathology sessions, your Speech Pathologist will provide more details and examples of how to use these strategies at home. If you are concerned with your child’s language development, please don’t hesitate to call, or email Early Start Speech Pathology to find out how we can help you and your child.