Answers to very common questions I get as a Feeding Therapist
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Answers to very common questions I get as a Feeding Therapist

What are hunger cues in newborn babies? How do we recognise when our baby is hungry? How often should we feed our baby?

These are very common questions I get as a Feeding Therapist. And so I thought I would write a blog on it.

A mother holding her baby on one arm in her lap while holding a cup
Image by Freepik

First-time parents’ journey

First-time parents often imagine that feeding, particularly breastfeeding, will be an easy and natural process without too many problems. It can be a rude awakening to find that feeding our newborn is not at all easy and can be fraught with complications. It is fair to say that in most cases by the time our baby is about eight weeks old most mums have got the hang of feeding, either by breast and/or bottle, and things are falling into place.

But until that time it can be a difficult journey:

  • getting to know one’s baby,
  • getting to know their feeding rhythm,
  • falling in with it,
  • TRUSTING that baby knows what they need and knows when they have had enough,
  • TRUSTING and not going crazy with going down an on-line rabbit hole of information and guidance mostly unnecessary and often quite simply FALSE!

Many mums I have met set out with the best intentions to breastfeed for as long as possible. However, they arrive in my clinic anxious and often have given up with the breast; now we are on bottle feeds and things are still very tricky for several reasons. There are too many reasons for this blog to cover but I thought I would start with the basics and ‘reading hunger cues’ is one of those early basics.

Reading hunger cues

So let’s dive in:

Newborns communicate hunger through a variety of cues. Here are some early signs to look for:

  • Early hunger cues: These are the best times to respond to baby’s hunger for a more peaceful feeding. Look for things like:
    • Becoming more alert and active
    • Turning head from side to side in the cot
    • Rooting (turning their head towards your breast or a bottle, especially when stroked on the cheek)
    • Putting hands/fists to mouth
    • Sucking on fists or lips
    • Opening and closing mouth, smacking sounds
TOP TIP: THIS IS WHERE YOU SHOULD GET READY TO FEED. Breast or bottle. Either way get ready. We do not want our baby to get into later hunger cues, which are below:
  • Later hunger cues: If we miss the early cues, babies will progress to more insistent hunger cues. These include:
    • Fussiness or whimpering
    • Rapid sucking motions
    • Increased squirming
    • Head bobbing

Generally, remember that we do not want our baby to cry for their food. Because once they are riled and cry they are not relaxed enough to latch, especially when latching is hard!

Feeding on demand vs. scheduled feeds

We now know and have researched how babies are fed best and safest, how weight gain is ensured best, both for breastfed and bottle-fed babies.

It’s generally recommended to feed on demand—unless your baby is tube-fed or has some other pressing health concerns or is failing to thrive.

What are the benefits of on demand feeding?

  • We need to respond to baby’s individual needs and hunger cues because every person is unique!
  • Babies need to learn and regulate their own hunger and satiation cycles
  • Promotes better weight gain and growth
  • Leads to more peaceful feeding experiences

Scheduling can come later

A loose schedule might emerge naturally when your baby is around 2–3 months old, but it’s best to follow your baby’s lead.

Tips:

  • Some newborns may feed every 2–3 hours, while others go longer stretches. Pay attention to your baby’s cues and feeding habits.
  • Crying is a late hunger cue, and frequent crying can make feeding more difficult. Responding to earlier cues is best.
  • If you have concerns about your baby’s feeding patterns or weight gain, consult with a Speech and Language Therapist/Dysphagia Therapist and/or Lactation Consultant.

Check out these useful resources on  the topic of Demand Feeding:

Do get in touch if you would like some in-person or on-line 1:1 support with this. It can be overwhelming to figure it all out alone.


Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.

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Ten games to support communication in primary school aged children
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Ten games to support communication in primary school aged children

When parents visit me with their child, their stress is palpable. Often parents don’t relish or even expect to be asked to practise strategies at home with their child between sessions. Let alone to practise whilst on holiday. I understand that you don’t necessarily want anything extra added to your daily ‘to do’ lists. This is why we try our best to incorporate all speech and language therapy practice into children’s daily activities.

For example:

  1. during bath time;
  2. mealtimes;
  3. getting ready for bedtime;
  4. story time
  5. yes, playtime!

These are activities that all parents will engage with anyway, so it seems to make sense to incorporate both. This is to avoid adding extra pressure on parents’ already stressful and time-poor daily lives. I am hoping my blog will come in handy, especially for the summer holidays.

On holiday you are unlikely to have your usual games and toys with you – so here is a nice little list of things you can use instead of traditional games and toys:

If you can think of any other alternatives on holiday and would like to tell me about them, I would love to see your comments below. We can never have too many holiday games!!

If you are at home over the summer and you do have some games in the cupboard you might want to dust these ones down or buy one or two new ones (if you want to).

Most games have multiple uses, and it’s always best to adapt a game to match your child’s interests and what motivates them.

So let’s start…

  1. Pop up pirate: pop a sword into the barrel and watch the pirate pop up randomly. Practise social skills, speech sounds, expressive language (e.g., put a sword on a picture, say the word/sentence then pick up the sword and push it into the barrel).
  2. Word games such as ‘ISpy’, ‘I went to the shop and I bought…’, ‘describe a person and guess who they are’: perfect for when you’re on the move, whether travelling or walking. You can play this anywhere and still support speech, language and communication. You could play ISpy using your child’s special sound, or ‘I went to the shop and bought all things beginning with [insert special sound here]’.
  3. Shopping list: Orchard game is a game to practise categorising. We explain the analogy of the brain being like a filing cabinet. If information is all in the correct place, it’s easier to find, retrieve and use. You can also practise specific speech sounds in this activity. You could also put the words in a sentence to add more of an expressive language element.
  4. Wiggly worms: this Orchard game is all about phonological (awareness of sounds) awareness. Matching a letter with the word. You can also practise the sounds in the words (e.g, g-o-l-d = gold; m-a-ke = make). Talk about the elements, e.g., ‘g-o-l-d’ has 4 sounds, 1 syllable; ‘m-a-ke has 3 sounds, one syllable. You can talk about what words rhyme with the different words and what makes a rhyming word (i.e., the middle and end sounds remain the same).
  5. Sound detectives: this Orchard game allows children to identify sounds. It also has an app (if your child prefers a tech-way of learning). Children identify the sound then they can add the picture card to their path and become closer to being a successful detective. This game can also support memory skills.
  6. Conversation cubes: throw the dice and start building a story. You can also create and use ‘colourful semantics’ sentence strips to support expressive (spoken) language as support to build the narrative.
  7. Think words: ‘name it, press it, pass it’. A great game to expand word knowledge. You can talk about the words at the end of each round exploring semantic (meanings) and phonemic (sounds) links. Your child can also develop social skills (such as attention, listening and turn-taking).
  8. Poo bingo: this is perfectly disgusting but equally fun for kids of about 3.5 years plus – if your child’s target is to practise /p/ sound this is the one for you. You can also learn all about the different animal’s poo, which I am sure you have always wanted to do!! The more we know about a word, the easier it is to store, retrieve and use. Yes, even talking about poo can help!! Also, it’s great for our visual learners.
  9. Simon says: a game that can be played indoors or outdoors. Parents can take turns being “Simon” and give various commands that your child must follow. This means that your child can practise their receptive (understanding of) language as well as their expressive language, speech sounds and social skills (such as turn-taking and initiating).
  10. Ker-plunk: this is perfect for practising your child’s special sound. Repetition is very important, but also can be monotonous, so finding a game that they enjoy is vital. Take turns to pull out a stick. Next, your child can either say their special sound or word (depending on what stage they are at) or hear a good model from other players.

Do you still have questions? Contact Sonja for support.


Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.

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Some ideas to encourage communication
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Some ideas to encourage communication

Coming up with ideas for supporting your child’s speech, language and communication can be difficult especially during the holidays. All these activities are easy to implement and can be adapted to your child’s age and stage of development.

Some activities to support your family through the summer:

1. Create a story book / photo book of what you’ve been up to over the holidays

Collect photos of everyday activities and stick them into a file. You can print them out or you could just look at them on your phone or tablet. Create good little sentences or words / phrases for each picture: yummy ice cream / eating pizza / digging the sand / a sandcastle with mum.

This enables your child to develop

  • their attention and listening
  • sequencing of events
  • expressive language (talking)
  • and conversational skills.

2. Explore the outside world (e.g., water the flowers, dig in the soil)

Depending on your child’s language level keep it very simple: single words or short phrases. Or you could practise concepts such as ‘pronouns’: he is eating an ice cream / we are splashing in the pool / she is riding a bike.

3. Splashing in a paddling pool

This is a great activity to build attention. You can call “splash, splash, splash”, “ready steady go splish splash splosh”, ”pour pour pour”, “stir stir you’re stirring”.

Offer different sized containers. This is often so powerful and keeps your child occupied for a nice long time. No need to buy anything special: just bring out your kitchen utensils and some Tupperware containers.

4. Blow bubbles

Bubbles are a fantastic way to engage children. You can play ‘stop and go’ games, take turns and practise key concepts such as ‘under – blow bubbles under my hand’. Your child can practise their expressive language, creating sentences such as ‘blowing bubbles in the pool’.

5. Draw with chalk on pavement slabs to encourage speech sound production or just general nice communication

Use chalk outside to draw a ladder. Your child can practise their speech sound production without even realising it! You can go first to model the sound if needed. Drawing anything onto the pathway with coloured chalk can be really fun.

Afterwards you can wash the pathway and again there is lots of vocabulary you could use there to help your little one practise speech sounds. For example, if your child is practising the word “YELLOW” (as many of my children do) you can draw lots of little yellow things and then name them together:

  • yellow banana
  • yellow flower
  • yellow submarine
  • yellow balloon

You get the idea!

6. Walk in nature. Comment on what you see, smell, hear and feel

Make the most of where you live. Go for a walk. You can sing songs along your walk or comment about what you see, smell, hear and feel. For example: I hear the birds, they are singing; I smell the sea and can hear the waves crashing against the rocks. Make sure your comments are appropriate for the age and stage of your child.

7. Sing songs

This is a lovely way to get your child hearing language, rhyme and rhythm. You can take turns, and fill in the missing words such as “heads, shoulders, knees and ______”.

8. Word games (such as ISpy)

The beauty of this game is that it can be played anywhere and everywhere! The importance is that these word games develop phonological awareness (the ability to hear and manipulate sounds in words).

Contact me for speech, language and communication support.


Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.

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Four reasons to continue Speech and Language Therapy during the summer
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Four reasons to continue Speech and Language Therapy during the summer

The summer holidays can be tricky for parents as there is so much to do: organising childcare, the actual holiday, and trying to have some all-important ‘me time’. Speech therapy for your little one might be the last thing on your mind. But …. If we can prioritise only a small amount of time every day then we are maximising time and finances spent thus far and can continue your child’s Speech and Language Therapy sessions throughout the summer, no problem. Have a look at this blog. We’ll take you through good reasons why you shouldn’t ignore Speech and Language Therapy sessions this summer.

1. Building communication skills takes time

You’ve worked so hard throughout the year to support your child’s speech, language and communication. Now is the time to continue, not to stop! You will watch your child’s communication and confidence grow and flourish over the next couple of months. All the different experiences your child will have on holiday or just even pootling about in your local park with you, or granny/nanny will help expand their capacity for learning and using language and words to communicate with you. If you have time during the summer, you can embed the skills your child has learnt into everyday life which is vital . If in doubt ask how you can use the strategies you have learned in any new environment. Together we can workshop all eventualities and make them fun and doable. There is no end of fun and opportunities with a bucket, spade and a bit of sand!

2. Getting to know your child’s Speech and Language Therapist is vital

Here’s a plug for regular therapy sessions: building a rapport with your child’s Speech and Language Therapist is key. If our sessions together are consistent and regular, then it will be so easy for us to develop a good rapport with your little one. Trust is key. So if sessions are infrequent and irregular it is hard for your child to build up trust with their therapist and it is hard for the therapist also to get you know your child and tailor the sessions so that they really work very well. We need to know what your child loves and what activities or toys work well; so, if sessions are missed and irregular then the process just takes longer.

3. Goals are set and measured

Sometimes a break is needed and that’s fine. We measure goals within a certain time frame and whilst a few weeks holiday are great for everyone, we don’t want to lose any progress your child has made. If a child does not attend sessions, progress will often diminish as consistency in therapy is key!

4. You’ll be able to embed skills over the summer at home

Did you know you can access Speech and Language Therapy wherever you are with our remote service? Teletherapy allows flexibility which means your child’s sessions can be wherever you are. Whilst this isn’t for everyone, it does allow regular sessions to continue. If that does not work for you then let’s talk about how we can help you transfer all the therapy goals into your holiday. You will be surprised how easy it is: lots of goals can be worked into snack times for example or bath times. You will have those wherever you are so this won’t take away your holiday fun, promise!

Find out more about teletherapy.


Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.

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Explore the world of speech sound therapy for young children
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Explore the world of speech sound therapy for young children

Many parents who come to the clinic voice with the concerns about their child’s “speech”. On assessment we discover that actually besides the words not being clear what we most often don’t see is “language” (putting words together to request something for example). And we don’t see “social communication” (waving bye with a smile for example). So what is perceived as “speech” is much more than just not saying the speech sounds correctly. It might be that we need to increase the child’s vocabulary and language so that we can target specific speech sound patterns.

We’ll guide you through some of the most frequently asked questions.

What is the difference between speech and language?

Language is how we put words together (e.g., the cat ran up a tree). For non-verbal children this might be how gestures and symbols are put together. Both will put these into a meaningful context. Language needs to use either speech and/or gestures or signs or pointing to symbols in order to come into being. It needs words, either spoken or written, put into grammatical order so that thoughts can be expressed adequately: about the here and now, about what he had for breakfast this morning or what we are going to do this coming weekend. We put words together to express our feelings and thoughts. Speech is one aspect of this very complex process.

Speech is the specific sounds that make up a word (e.g., the sounds in fish are /f-i-sh/).

Some children are delayed in their speech but will catch up with their peers’ development with time. Others may be using disordered speech sound patterns. If you’re unsure, contact your Speech and Language Therapist as early intervention is vital. It might be that you’re given activities to carry out at home. Or a direct therapeutic intervention may be required, along with regular practice at home. The approach depends on your child and how they learn best.

When might your Speech and Language Therapist recommend direct Speech and Language Therapy?

There are several reasons why your child may need intervention to support their communication. Some of these include:

  • When they produce vowels incorrectly
  • When a child has significantly fewer consonants than they should have by their age
  • Error patterns that are not following a typical process
  • Fewer word approximations
  • When a child is ready for speech therapy. That is to say, when we can target speech production through interactive play but most often speech is targeted through repeated activities which focus on a few sounds or words at a time. For this to work ideally a child does need to be able to sit at a table and take part in the activities and games.

How can I work on speech and language targets at the same time?

You’ll want your child to be engaged in activities. It’ll need to be in short bursts to keep their attention. Let’s say you’re focusing on the /p/ sound. You may get a bag with objects and items with /p/ in them. Speak to your child’s Speech and Language Therapist about what position in the word they are targeting now.

Sing the ‘what’s in the bag’ song. Pull out each item in turn and emphasise the sound that you are working on such as “it’s a fox, ffffox”. You can then comment on what the fox is doing, or what they look like (e.g., look at this fffurry fffox. It’s very fffriendly. Oh, the fffox is running).

This activity gives you the opportunity not only to build vocabulary but also to expose your little one to a good model of speech sounds.

“I’m concerned my child won’t sit through the assessment”

This is a common concern. Don’t worry. If your child is not able to sit through an assessment then we usually offer play-based assessment. This means it is activity focused and can be wherever your child feels most comfortable; this is usually on the floor. It is often best to see children in their own homes or even nursery places where they can roam more freely and where they feel most comfortable. On reading the filled-out parent questionnaire we can decide whether a home visit/nursery visit or a clinic visit might work best for your child.

You will be guided all the way through from assessment to intervention and beyond. So, you’ll leave feeling empowered and confident to get started!

Contact Sonja for support with your child’s speech.


Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.

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Living life with a lisp
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Living life with a lisp

You may be questioning ‘will my child grow out of having a lisp?’ There are so many myths out there that it’s sometimes difficult to find your way out of a complex maze of information.

The good news: lisps can be successfully treated by a Speech and Language Therapist and the earlier it’s resolved, the better. We know from the evidence base that some children’s lisps will resolve and, as always, it is completely age appropriate to have this speech pattern up until aged 4 ½.

As with any speech and language targets your child will need to be motivated to practise their newly acquired techniques, at home and in other settings. They will eventually be able to generalise this skill, but it takes lots of practice. So, think carefully about if your child is ready and motivated before commencing Speech and Language Therapy.

There are essentially two ways in which your child has acquired a lisp. It’s key here to mention that parents have no blame in this.

  1. They’ve mis-learned it and now incorrect production has become a habit
  2. Children have difficulties organising the sounds to make a clear production

You may be surprised to realise that there are different types of lisps. But all the techniques will be the same.

  1. Interdental lisp

When your child pushes their tongue too far forward, they will make a /th/ sound instead of /s/ and /z/

  1. Dental lisp

This is where your child’s tongue pushes against their teeth

  1. Lateral lisp

Air comes over the top of the tongue and down the sides

  1. Palatal lisp

Your palate is the roof of your child’s mouth. Sometimes they will touch their palate when making certain sounds (e.g., /s/ and /z/)

It’s useful for you to know what type of lisp your child has because you can then support them to make the correct production. You’ll be able to talk about where in the mouth their tongue is and where it needs to be to produce a clear sound. Your Speech and Language Therapist will be able to help you with this.

Top therapy tips for lisps

  1. Awareness is key. Does your child know where their tongue and teeth are (i.e., are they behind their teeth)? Do they notice the air escaping? Use a mirror so that your child can see not only themselves but also you in the mirror.
  2. Repetition! As with most therapeutic intervention, practice makes perfect. So little and often is key!
  3. Make sessions fun, perhaps around your child’s interests or allow them to drink from a straw
  4. Comment on how the sound is produced (e.g., /z/ is like a bee, /s/ is like a snake)
  5. Use tactile cues. Your child’s vocal folds vibrate when they produce a sound like /z/ but not with /s/. You could use the words ‘loud’ and ‘quiet’ to describe this.
  6. Start with a /t/ sound and gradually elongate the sound to an /s/

Having a lisp may not be problematic for some, but for other children, it can have a significant impact on their emotional wellbeing. Intervening at an early age can prevent this from happening. We always advocate for early intervention!

Contact Sonja for support on resolving your child’s lisp.


Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.

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Speech sounds: Expectations vs reality
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Speech sounds: Expectations vs reality

Sometimes our kids find it hard to listen to sounds in words and hearing the difference between sounds. This is an important skill which we call “sound awareness”. A lack of it can really impact on clear speech sounds production.

Your child might be confusing similar sounding words. Or they might not notice that a TAT is not a CAT for a DOD is not a DOG. Often children with speech sound disorders or difficulties don’t tune into individual sounds or even syllables. Grow your knowledge to support your child.

Read our latest blog on hearing the difference between sounds to develop speech sound production.

Practice makes perfect

There is a lot more to speech sound production than first meets the eye. Did you know that producing the correct speech sound at sentence level is the last piece to the communication puzzle? There’s a lot of practice before your child develops this last stage of speaking clearly. Your Speech and Language Therapist will start by determining if your child can hear the difference between the sound they are producing and the correct sound. So if your child says LIT instead of LICK we might contrast those two words by perhaps using a candle and a lollypop. Each time he/she says LICK they get to have a lick (or 3) on the lolly. But if they say LIT then we light up and blow out a candle. This way your child can see that there is a difference between those words and that the sounds we make actually matter. Fancy that!!

We call this auditory awareness, which is essentially hearing the sounds in words. Don’t be surprised if you hear your child’s therapist model the sound a lot. This is to develop their awareness. The more your child hears a sound, the easier they will find production. Furthermore, your Speech and Language Therapist will work on phonemic awareness (sound structures) such as the difference between a sound (e.g. sh, is one sound) vs a syllable (e.g., shell has one syllable) vs total number of sounds in a word (shell has three sounds sh-e-ll ), like you can see in my little video clip.

Once a child is able to produce a sound on its own and they can hear and identify how a short word is said correctly we can go and repeat lots of similar words with the sound at the beginning or end until it becomes automatic and new neuro pathways are laid in the child’s brain. From there we branch out into short phrases and then eventually sentences.

Six tips to practise auditory discrimination for speech sound production

  1. Sit opposite your child so they can see your mouth or or sit next to the child and place a mirror in front of you so they can see and hear your production.
  2. Make it fun! Once they’ve identified the sounds in the word, play part of a game (e.g., pop up pirate, Jenga, something which allows plenty of turns).
  3. Use car journeys or walking to school to practise (e.g., oh I see a sheep, sh-ee-p, sh-ee-p has three sounds. Can you spot something beginning with /sh/?)
  4. Remember that spellings can differ (e.g., ‘chef’ and ‘shed’ both have the same initial sound).
  5. Talk about what you’re doing with your mouth (e.g., my lips are rounded for /sh/). Your Speech and Language Therapist will be able to support you with this.
  6. Make silly sentences using your child’s special sound (e.g., Sheep show shepherds shearing).

At this stage you are not expecting your child to produce the sound. This is why it’s important that they continually hear an excellent model. If your child attempts speech sound production at any stage, this is to be encouraged as it’s a great opportunity to model the correct version.

Contact me to develop your child’s speech sounds.


Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.

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Discover nine ways to support literacy in autistic children
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Discover nine ways to support literacy in autistic children

We are all aware that Autism is on a spectrum. By the very nature of this, it means that every child will present differently, so an individualised approach is required. We need to remember to use a child’s strengths to support their needs. By using a person-centred approach, you’ll see your child’s literacy develop and thrive.

I hear many parents concerns about literacy as well as communication. Will they be able to read, write and spell? How will they manage their literacy independently? The questions are endless, so let’s look at how you can support your child’s literacy skills and how together we can provide a scaffold to them becoming independent learners.

  1. The one thing we know is that Autistic children are visual learners. They succeed by us sharing pictures and demonstrating how the narrative is shown.
  2. Start reading to your child at an early age. You can never start too early. This creates a love for books and supports vital pre-literacy skills (such as increasing vocabulary, following narratives, awareness of sounds in words, and letter recognition and awareness). By supporting pre-literacy skills, you’re starting the process to create confident young readers.
  3. There are many ways to use books. You can narrate the story using different voices and tones to increase interest. You can do this even if your child isn’t interested. They are still listening and learning vital skills. You may even ask and answer questions and voice the skills that they will need for internal monitoring.
  4. Use their interests to select appropriate reading material. In addition, you can then create questions on the book and provide a scaffold to support your child with the answer.
  5. Use technology to spark their interest in reading. Demonstrate how they can read online. This is often successful as it becomes an individual activity as opposed to needing social interaction.
  6. Provide them with a choice of texts (e.g., would you like ‘Perfectly Norman or when things get too loud’) rather than an open-ended question such as ‘What book would you like to read?’
  7. Write key pieces of information down on paper. Research suggests that Autistic learners understand written text better than speech.
  8. You could have a ‘word of the day’ from chosen reading material that you explore together.
  9. Reading aloud to your child can have many benefits which include understanding vocabulary to how the book is read, with appropriate intonation.

I highly recommend the boom decks as they are a great resource!

The ethos at London Speech and Feeding:

“If they can’t learn in the way we teach, then we teach the way they learn”

If you need speech, language or communication support or advice, I am always here to help.


Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.

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Five ways to increase confidence and reduce frustration in children with speech and language and communication difficulties
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Five ways to increase confidence and reduce frustration in children with speech and language and communication difficulties

An orange speech bubble with a testimonial

Your child’s speech, language and communication difficulties may impact their self-esteem. And they may show signs of increased frustration. You want them to be full of confidence, increasing their participation in school and fully engaging with their peers.

1. Practise active listening

Speech difficulties can mean that it’s more challenging to understand what your child says. It’s important to show that you’re paying attention, giving them time to express themselves. Focus on what your child says rather than how they are speaking. Remember to maintain eye contact, and actively listen. Active listening and giving time can be trickier than it sounds. I can provide strategies to support your active listening skills.

2. Give other means and forms of communication

Allowing children to express themselves in a variety of ways (e.g., gesture, signs, written, use descriptions to describe a word (e.g., sand – you find it out the beach, it can have pebbles on it, it’s not the sea), use of symbols or high-tech augmentative communication methods such as a computer). Using different ways is vital in reducing frustration and communicating their message. If you’re unsure of what other forms of communication you can use, please contact me for some top tips.

3. Praise efforts

Providing specific praise allows your child to understand what they’ve achieved. E.g., you could praise the way your child listens, or how they take turns, or their resilience (e.g., “I like the way you listened” or “good listening”). Think of different ways you could praise you child during different activities, so you are prepared with phrases that you can use.

4. Have clear start and end points in activities

Some children with speech, language and communication needs have difficulties with transitioning from one activity to another. They also have difficulties with changes in routine. This can add to their frustration and changes in behaviour. So, how do you show a clear start and end to an activity? You can have a visual timetable, or you could have ‘start’ and ‘finish’ boxes where you place all the materials in the box labelled ‘start’. And once the activity has finished, you put the items in the box labelled ’finished’. If you need support with transitions, please contact me.

5. Use visuals

Visuals can support your child to understand routine and spoken language. Visuals can range from symbols to online images, to photographs, or a combination. Explore which type of visuals work well for your children. Using visuals can be powerful if used correctly. Make the most of the opportunities that visuals can provide for your family.

Increase confidence and reduce frustration in children with speech and language and communication difficulties today. Please feel free to contact me if you need any support or tips on maximising these opportunities.


Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.

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Explore seven activities to encourage speech development in school-aged children
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Explore seven activities to encourage speech development in school-aged children

Explore seven activities to encourage speech and language development in school-aged children
Encourage speech and language development in school-aged children

We hear too often parents ask, “what do I need to buy so I can support speech skills at home?” The advice I give is to use what you have at home; you don’t need specific toys or equipment. I’ll give you some ideas so you can adapt them for your child or young person’s interests.

Ensure you know which level your child is working at (e.g., sound level, consonant + vowel, consonant vowel, word, sentence, or generalisation level). If you’re unsure ask your child’s Speech and Language Therapist. The more practice your child has, the better, so practise little and often.

1. Bubbles

Explain to your child that you will play a game. You’ll take it in turns to say their tricky sound and practise at whichever level they are working at/towards.

2. Pop up pirate or similar

Explain the rules of the game to your child (as above). You could stick a picture to each of the swords for variety or stick photos on different characters beginning with their tricky sound. This would be particularly helpful if they are struggling for motivation.

3. ISpy

This is a great game where you can involve the whole family and you can even play it to and from school. Choose their tricky sound and everyone takes it in turns to say “ISpy with my little eye something beginning with [insert tricky sound]”.

4. Hide and seek with words

Explain to your child that you will hide pictures around the room. They will cover their eyes and will be told when they can look. Then they become a word detector and search for the pictures. After they’ve found each one, they are to say the sound (at whichever level they are working at).

5. Name 10!

Your child will name 10 words beginning with their tricky sound. Your Speech and Language Therapist will be able to give you the words at the level they are working at.

6. Sound focused game – silly sentences!

Your child will make silly sentences beginning with their tricky sound. E.g., if your child’s tricky sound is /s/ a silly sentence might be ‘Simon sat on sizzling sausages this Saturday’. Take turns to create them. Allowing your child to hear the correct sound is important for their production skills.

7. Throwing a beanbag on the correct sound

Have their tricky sound and the sound they make placed on the floor. They can use a beanbag or a ball to throw or place on the sound which you produce. Explain what you expecte them to do. Use specific praise (e.g., you listened well).

You can adapt all the above activities to meet your child’s needs. Please feel free to contact me should you need any further advice. I’m here to provide support, reduce your overwhelm and empower you to support your child’s speech and improve their communication. This will in turn reduce their frustration.

Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.

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Explore speech delays and disorders and how you can support your child’s communication
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Explore speech delays and disorders and how you can support your child’s communication

Speech delay vs speech disorder
Speech Delay vs Speech Disorder

You often wonder if your child’s speech difficulties will resolve. This very much depends on whether they have a speech disorder or delay. You often wonder if there’s something you’ve done to cause your child’s speech difficulties. Rest assured this is not the case. Let’s explore some of the factors to put your mind at ease.

We know that males are more likely to have a speech, language, or communication difficulty than females. Additionally, if your child has an older sibling, they may not have the opportunities to speak. Their sibling may speak for them, especially if their speech difficulty causes them to be anxious or self-conscious. It’s important to note that bilingualism does not cause a speech delay or difficulty. Your child’s Speech and Language Therapist will ask about your child’s milestones. Research suggests that if your child did not babble then they may be at a higher risk of having communications difficulties.

When it comes to a speech delay or disorder, it’s vital to rule out any other co-occurring difficulties such as hearing loss. Your child’s Speech and Language Therapist will need to factor in the health of your child. They will ask if your child has had lots of colds or ear infections. This may have affected their hearing, so it’s also recommended that your child has a hearing test. Your Speech and Language Therapist will tell you how you can book an appointment.

It’s natural that children learn at different rates. The same is true for speech sounds. Some children are slower to pick up speech sounds, and this might be called a ‘speech delay’. A delay is when a child is behind with the development in a particular area or areas but is generally progressing along typical milestones. They will be progressing at a slower rate than expected. For example, a four-year-old understands two key word instructions and utterances are at a single word level, with some short phrases. But, some may show unusual speech sound error patterns, and this is typically where you may hear it called a ‘speech disorder’. A disorder is where the development we see is patchy and not following what is typically expected for your child’s chronological age. For example, a child understands three key word sentences, but speech is unintelligible and the utterances sound like jargon.

You recognise how important speech is in daily living and want to build your child’s confidence so they can maximise social and educational opportunities. Follow our top tips to support your child’s communication.

Top tips for supporting your child with their speech sounds:

  1. Allow your child to communicate in another way to convey their message if they get stuck (e.g., you could ask ‘show me’, ‘draw it for me’).
  2. Model the correct sound (e.g., child: It’s a thnake, adult: it’s a snake, a slithery snake).

    You can emphasise their tricky sound.

  3. Avoid telling your child to ‘say [insert sound here]’.
  4. Your child may speak quickly, especially if they are excited to tell you a story. If you slow down your rate of speech, they will too. This may make it easier for you to understand the message of their story.
  5. Allow your child to speak about how their communication difficulty makes them feel (if they are aware and want to speak about it).

If you are unsure of where to start, contact me to ease your confusion, and allow your child to communicate effectively.


Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.

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Six ways to prepare your child for the Christmas festivities

Six ways to prepare your child for the Christmas festivities

It feels like the Christmas festivities start earlier and earlier every year. This makes it harder for your child with communication difficulties to process what is happening. Whilst you can’t do anything about the events that happen around your child, you can start to put into practice strategies which may support them and allow them to regulate their emotions.

Speech Therpaist in London
Six ways to prepare your child for the Christmas festivities

Explore six ideas here:

1. Print off or buy a blank calendar to use at home

You can start to write in activities out of the usual routine and add a picture to allow your child to understand what it’s about. You can also use it as a countdown to Christmas Day to try to prevent ‘how long’ questions.

2. Make use of visual timetables

These are useful in everyday settings and activities but also when change occurs.

3. Be aware of any non-uniform days

Days like ‘Christmas Jumper Day’ can make your child feel uncomfortable and may affect their behaviour. By giving yourself time, you can have conversations with your child’s teacher to find a more suitable alternative. For example, they can wear a Christmas t-shirt that they find more comfortable.

4. Think about what will benefit your child

Do they like being surrounded by people or do they prefer a quiet space on a 1:1 basis? Christmas activities often involve lots of group work in school (e.g., rehearsing for carol concerts or plays). They might prefer to pre-record their part in the Christmas play or create pieces of art which can be used. At home, they may prefer one guest visiting at a time, rather than all at once.

5. Explore how your child is feeling

It’s important to find out how your young person is feeling and how these impact on the activities of that day. It might be that your child doesn’t like surprises and the intensity of opening gifts is too much for them. They may prefer gifts to be left unwrapped and given throughout the day, rather than all at once.

6. Consider sensory needs

Ensure your young person has everything they need to meet their sensory needs. This can be e.g. noise cancelling headphones, fidget toys, or comforting items. These will particularly be helpful with routines changing, often with little notice. If at home, you may wish to not put lights on the Christmas tree if visual stimuli become too much.

Remember clear communication between home, school and other family members is vital during this time. By having clear communication and expectations, your young person will feel more secure. And you can have a Christmas that is right for you and your family.


Find a speech and language therapist for your child in London. Are you concerned about your child’s speech, feeding or communication skills and don’t know where to turn? Please contact me and we can discuss how I can help you or visit my services page.