My daughter Kadie was struggling to talk. Here’s the story of our journey, some speech and language tips, and how I helped my daughter find her voice:
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My three-year-old daughter had less than 40 words, with the majority of those words being names such as ‘dada’, ‘baba’, ‘nana’ and people who she loved and adored.
We struggled to determine what the best course of action was, and also how to help her at home. Now that we are several months into our speech and language journey, I want to share the tips we’ve learnt along the way.
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Pushing for Speech and Language Assessment
Prior to Kadie’s assessment, I had spent a year querying her speech with my Public Health Nurse and GP, while also sharing my worries about my daughter’s speech to family and friends. It fell on deaf ears until her preschool got involved. After a month of ECCE, they had only ever heard her say three words – dada, yes and no.
I also self-referred my daughter for a speech and language assessment and after some hounding, we finally managed to get her assessed.
It’s been five months since that assessment, and we’ve gone from 36 words to 200-plus. My daughter has finally found her voice. With the help of her preschool teacher, immediate family and a one-hour session with a speech and language therapist, she is absolutely thriving!
She amazes me every day as new words roll off her tongue; words I didn’t expect to hear for a year at least. Words such as robot, mermaid and aeroplane.
We do plan private speech and language therapy in the very near future, but our main aim was to get her talking, to find her voice so that we could then work on pronunciation and putting sentences together once she could verbally communicate her needs and wants. For months we had been using sign language or made up gestures.
Getting her to talk wasn’t easy, it took us a couple of months to figure out what was working and what wasn’t.
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Speech and Language Tips if Your Child is Struggling to Talk
If you are struggling to get your child to talk, here are some tips that really helped us on our little journey:
#1. Don’t correct them
Rather than saying ‘no it’s a spoon’, repeat the correct word back to them. If you are constantly saying ‘NO’ they will give up trying and that’s the last thing you will want.
#2. Talk slowly and clearly
My daughter tends to drop beginning and/or the end of her words so we were recommended to use an end sound helper. Draw one, print one off o r maximise how you say consonants to help make words clearer for them.
#3. Exercise the mouth
Practice repeating letters such as A E I O U and F. Use every opportunity to imitate sounds throughout the day such as ‘cars go brum’, ‘Santa says ho-ho-ho’ and ‘a bee says buzz’.
Bubbles are great for exercising the mouth, plus you can add in phrases like ‘one, two, three, blow’ or ‘ready, steady, pop’.
#4. Praise their achievements
Reward your child for little achievements with a small treat of some kind, whether it is a sweet, some TV time, story time with you, or even a trip to the park or library.
#5. Repetition is key
My little girl loves colours, but a short few months back she couldn’t name one. Now she is naming colours her older brother doesn’t even know, such as peach and lilac!
I incorporate colours into our day in every possible way. For example, I will say ‘grey putty’, ‘blue slime’, ‘white milk’ and ‘black car’, and so on.
#6. Use every opportunity
Don’t waste any time. Count as you walk up the stairs together and name the different vehicles as you do the school run. It all counts, and will really help.
#7. Sing songs
Nursery rhymes are a great way to develop a rhythm. Even if it is a song you despise, such as Baby Shark, put it on repeat and sing it from the top of your lungs.
Don’t be disheartened if they don’t sing back, keep at it because one day they will. It’s our latest milestone, this week my daughter who never sang a nursery rhyme in her little life is now humming along and places words into certain songs – and it has only been five short months of at-home therapy.
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#8. Have patience
Give your child time to answer regardless of how busy you are or what’s going on in the background.
#9. Get everyone involved
Find a good support network at home especially between friends, family and also your child’s creche/Montessori. Let everyone know what’s happening and get them on board. Even older siblings, who themselves are quite young. Their input will all help in different ways.
#10. Go to the library together or invest in some big and bright picture books
These books will be your bible. Look, point, name and encourage your child to take the lead by telling you what they see.
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#11. Technology is not the devil
iPads are limited here and on most days I sit with my children and engage with them as they play games or even look up random YouTube Videos.
Download free phonics apps available on iTunes or the Google Play Store, watch phonics videos on YouTube together, and repeat the words together.
#12. Invest in some picture cards
Games can be as simple as looking at the pictures and naming what you see or what they show you. Picture Lotto and jigsaws are also great games to play with your child.
You can follow Kellie’s journey teaching her daughter Kadie to talk over on her Instagram page.
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