Speech impediments include difficulties and disruptions in normal speech, which are caused by either language or speech disorders. When a child fails to accomplish basic age-appropriate speech milestones, his language capabilities are affected. A speech pathologist and an audiologist typically evaluate the severity of the disorder by comparing the child’s speech and language capabilities to those that serve as a guideline for normal development. If the gap found is that of more than six months, then speech therapy is routinely recommended. It is also advised that this therapy is initiated without delay for effective results. Early intervention can provide the necessary supplements that your child might require to reach his milestones without further delay.
As always, the home and social environments largely influence the child’s development. Gadgets like mobile phones, televisions and iPads can hamper speech and language developments in your child. Spending too much time with these devices denies him the opportunity to receive essential stimuli, and interact and socialise in the right environment. Besides, there is no scope for parent-child bonding, which is a key influencing factor for developing language skills.
A child of any age can receive therapy for speech-related delays. For example, even a baby who is less than a year old can receive aid and assistance to hear if he has been diagnosed with a hearing defect. This will in turn help his speaking skills as he grows. Or, a toddler who is suspected to be autistic can start receiving the necessary remedies to help him communicate.
You can continue to support and encourage your child outside of his therapy sessions as well. Engage him in conversations and most importantly don’t discourage him from social interactions or speaking. Remember that you can help him practice speech anywhere, at any time and with minimal preparation or effort.
How would you know if your child needs speech therapy? Read this article to find out.
These simple exercises will reduce his apprehensions and augment his progress. Keep him focussed by including topics that he is interested in.
Here are a few activities you can engage him in:
1. Name the object
Pick a particular sound or alphabet like ‘buh’ or ‘b’. Now take turns naming animals or objects that begin with this sound or alphabet. This will enable him to practice and get familiar with the various speech sounds. The sound repetitions and imitations will help in coordination of speech muscles.
2. Sing along
Choose his favourite rhyme or song and teach him the actions that go with it. Sing along with the actions and encourage him to do so too. This will help him recognise and get accustomed to the rhythms and patterns of speech. It also improves coordination between the brain and the body.
3. Read aloud
Pick his favourite story book. Read to him slowly and clearly. At regular intervals, stop and ask questions about pictures, objects and characters in the story. He is encouraged to think and express his thoughts and ideas clearly.
4. Better involvement
Allow him to help with little tasks around the house. For example, let him help in the kitchen while you are preparing a meal. Involve him in naming the utensils and ingredients you are using or the vegetables you are cutting. Ask him to describe their colour, tastes and texture. This helps him increase his vocabulary and he learns to construct complete sentences.
5. Role play
Teach him how to conduct himself in a social setting. Pretend that you are a guest who is visiting him. Carry on a conversation encouraging him to ask you questions as well. This way he will get rid of any apprehensions about his manner of speaking and will not feel awkward in any setting outside the home.
Remember that these activities only complement the therapy and are not substitutes for them. Make sure you continue the therapy with the speech professional simultaneously. The key is to constantly encourage your child to speak. Never discourage or point out his disabilities or flaws. Simply provide him with ample opportunities for interaction and communication. After all, practice makes perfect!