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Friday, June 9, 2017

Making the Most of Daily Opportunities: Encouraging Speech and Language Development by Erica Graham

This week I would like to feature Speech and Language Pathologist and author, Erica Graham.

Erica Graham graduated from Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville with her Master of Arts Degree in Speech Language Pathology. She also holds her Certificate of Clinical Competence with the American Speech-Language Hearing Association. 

Erica Graham, author and SLP

As a mother of two, Erica understands the difficulty parents have finding time to complete speech homework with their children.  In her pursuit to create a fun, easy way for therapists, children, and their parents to enhance speech development while promoting literacy, she has written a series of exciting children’s books.  Each book focuses on a core sound used in the English language. Outside of writing and working as a Speech Language Pathologist, Erica enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband and daughters, volunteering with the youth group at church, and a good cup of tea.

Here is her article, 

"Making the Most of Daily Opportunities:  Encouraging Speech and Language Development."

Observation is one of the first steps we take when learning a new skill. This is also the case for a child who is learning how to speak. While they listen to sounds of words and how sentences are formed, they develop a model for basic speech and language skills. Caregivers play an important role in these early stages of learning as they have the largest impact on a child’s early years of life. Here are some tips on how to recognize and make the most of opportunities to encourage speech and language development.

Anytime is a good time to work with speech.
Speech acquisition as part of a daily routine
Life as a parent is busy and finding time to work specifically on speech skills can be challenging. The good news is speech can be targeted at anytime; while playing, while feeding, even during diaper changes. If you and your child are attending to a task together, that is the perfect time to target speech.

Take advantage of every one-on-one moment with your child

Take advantage of the times your child is focused completely on you.
Children, and many adults for that matter, are easily distracted. If you find yourself in a situation that your child is completely focused on you and your face, take advantage. Decrease distractions such as the TV or radio and sit across from your child so he or she can see your face. Speak in short simple words or phrases to allow your child to process and even practice imitating sounds. Excellent times to work with a child include in a cart while shopping, during diaper changes, or playing with a toy together.

Conversations without distractions

Praise speaking attempts.
If you child tries to imitate a word or sound, praise them, even if it was not said perfectly. If a word is produced incorrectly, don’t demand that they continue trying until they say it right. Simply confirm what they said while emphasizing the correct articulation. For example:
Child: “Boad”
Parent: “Yes, that is a boat.”

Read together.
Books are an excellent way to promote early speech and language skills. Attempt to set aside time to read every day.

Read together--it helps develop language skills in your children

Not all sounds are created equal.
Some sounds are more difficult to make than others. Sounds that are visual are typically the easiest sounds for a child to produce. These are sounds that you make with your lips, the tip of your tongue, or sounds with little tension such as “p”, “b”, “d”, “m”, “n” and “h” as well as vowels. Sounds such as “r” and “th” are more difficult and will be mastered at a later age.

The "r" and "th" sounds are more difficult to learn

If you ever find yourself with questions or concerns about your child’s speech or language development, do not hesitate to consult your child’s physician or a speech-language pathologist. There are many situations that could lead to a delay and early intervention is essential. They can assess your child to determine if your concerns are age appropriate or if they would benefit from some skilled intervention.

The most important thing to remember when working with your child’s speech is to have fun. You may not take advantage of every opportunity, or even use strategies correctly every time, and that is okay. Just try your best and enjoy every moment with your child.

Erica Graham, MS, CCC-SLP

Next week we will feature some excerpts from Erica's Talking Tales book series!

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

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