How to jumpstart your child’s speech development through play
Paul, a five-year-old with a severe language delay, and I sit in a tiny school janitor’s closet that was recently converted into a therapy room, with his speech pathologist, Mrs Z. I’ve been hired by his parents to observe his speech therapy at school with hopes of providing useful insight into why he still uses only two-word combinations.
As the three of us sit at the adult-sized table Mrs Z begins by taking out vocabulary flashcards and asking him, “What’s this?” Paul responds with using one to two words at a time, officially meeting his language “goal” of labeling items with 95% accuracy. Mrs Z beams a smile at him and our 20 minutes are up. She briskly ushers us out the door and we head out for recess.
On the playground, I coordinate a game of four-square with modified rules. I’m curious if Paul’s language will increase if we are playful rather than serious. Excitedly, I set up the rules. Before every “serve” the child in square one must share two of his favorites with the players. Two turns later after his peers shared things such as, “My favorite animal is my black lab,” and “I really love macaroni and cheese for lunch,” Paul landed in square one.
Paul looks at everyone, inhales and states, “ My favorite toy Spiderman,” and “Love eat peanut butter sandwich.”
Success! Using natural kid motivators like peers, play and movement, Paul’s language advances in a fun and casual way.
Paul’s mom was thrilled with this “break through,” and signed up for in-home speech therapy where she learned to be the expert in inspiring speech development in her son.
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