Watching your child’s confidence grow as their language develops is something you dream of. You feel helpless, you watch your child repeat language over and over and this concerns you. You know you should be supporting their communication development, but you feel stuck. You’ve reached the point where you don’t know where to turn to for support. Accessing the knowledge of a Speech and Language Therapist is a great place to start.
Here are four ways to support your child’s language:
1. Provide great communication models that include scripts or “gestalts”
Instead of commenting with single words like “apple” or two word phrases e.g., “want apple”, it is more beneficial to comment with small sentences or scripts such as “let’s eat an apple”, “I want an apple mummy”, “I want more apple please” or “I’m hungry daddy.”
These are phrases that include more intonation and rhythm (top tip: ensure you do use appropriate intonation and rhythm), and your child is likely to pick up those phrases and copy them much more easily than single words or two-word phrases.
2. Offer a robust Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) device
There are many examples of AAC devices such as ‘Lamp for Life’ or ‘Grid Smartbox’. It’s vital that you consult a Speech and Language Therapist with a specialism within this area of communication. You want your child to be able to communicate their wants and needs. Furthermore, their communication buttons need to be tailored to your child’s interests so they are motivated to use them (e.g. if your child likes Thomas the Tank Engine, you may wish to program in specific phrases such as “I want to watch Thomas the Tank Engine”. It is also important that the devices are suitable for your child’s physical and emotional stage of development.
3. Learn to be a word detective
Listen to your child’s echolalia (or repetitions) and try to understand what they mean. Their communication is often meaningful around a previous experience. For example, one of my students says, “bang my head” and that actually means “I want to play that tickling game again” (where I banged my head the other day).
4. Take turns with your child and copy their scripts
This shows you are listening actively and value their attempts at language. We all love it when someone is actively listening and trying to decode what we are saying.
Take heart and try not to worry. You’re doing the best you can. Your child is more than likely a Gestalt Processing Learner and so they are moving through very defined stages. Echolalia (repetition) is the first of many, so you have an exciting journey ahead watching your little one’s language grow and develop.
Reduce your child’s frustration and build their confidence today.
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.