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  • Writer's pictureMagdalena Jedowska

5 Top Speech Therapy Techniques You Can Practice at Home.


Every child develops speech and communication skills at their own pace. To help in the development, as a parent, it is entirely appropriate to start engaging in speech exercises at home with your little ones while indulging in different play activities. Below are a few speech pathology techniques you can try at home to develop and improve your child’s speech skills.


Why speech therapy?

Speech therapy helps in improving an individual’s communication skills. It helps reduce stammering and improves voice, articulation, language and communication.

Speech therapy also helps to

  • Develop socialisation skills.

  • Improve oral motor and feeding skills.

  • Enhance self-esteem and independence.


The remarkable work and unwavering dedication of our speech and language pathologists and therapists continually inspire me. Their passion for helping children find their voices and communicate effectively is remarkable.


My great inspiration is Rebecca Reinking from Australia. https://adventuresinspeechpathology.com/

She goes above and beyond daily to create engaging and tailored resources to support speech development during sessions and at home. Her creativity knows no bounds, as she designs fun and interactive activities that make learning a joy for the children. She offers freebies on her website and plenty of valuable resources you can buy.

Her genuine compassion and commitment to each child's unique journey set her apart. She doesn't just teach; she empowers. Her impact extends far beyond the therapy room. She is a source of inspiration for other professionals, children and their families, reminding us that every small step forward is a giant leap in the world of communication. She is, without a doubt, a shining star in the field, and I am honoured to witness her incredible journey on



Ruth Jones is a name in the UK for speech and language therapy that inspires me and stands out as a true beacon of inspiration. Her Instagram presence is a treasure trove of knowledge, compassion, and unwavering dedication to the field of speech and language.

Ruth's Instagram videos and reels are nothing short of magical. With each post, she transforms complex concepts into bite-sized, easily digestible pieces of wisdom. Her ability to break down the nuances of speech and language therapy and make them accessible to all is truly remarkable.

So, here's to Ruth Jones, a speech and language therapy trailblazer and an inspiration to me. Her Instagram account is not just a platform; it's a source of hope and empowerment for countless individuals on their speech and language journeys.



What are the top 5 techniques used by speech therapists?


Below are the 5 most popular techniques used by speech therapists for improving speech and language skills in children:


Expansion

In this technique, you add one detail to your child’s existing vocabulary to make it a grammatically correct short sentence or a phrase. For example, if your child says “chocolate”, you can say, ” I want chocolate”. Go one at a time, encouraging your child but never forcing them to repeat.


Extension

In extension, you add one extra detail to what your child is presently saying and extend it further with a piece of additional connected information. For example, if your child is saying “car “, you can say “big car”, “beautiful car”, or “red car” so that additional information is added to the child’s utterance.


Parallel talk

In parallel talk, you describe what your child is doing in a way that you expect them to say. This activity helps them to relate their actions to the words they hear. Go slow and use phrases or sentences depending on your child’s age and speech skills.

If your child is eating an apple, you may say,

“Oh, Leo is eating an apple. It is a red apple, it is very yummy.

Or

If your child is pointing at the chocolate, you may say

“Oh, Leo wants a chocolate? You want me to open this for you?’


Self-talk

In self-talk, describe your actions in a simple language your child can follow. Narrate what you are touching, seeing, smelling, etc. Remember to use short sentences.

For example, if you are colouring a picture, you can say,

“Here’s a flower picture. Here are the crayons. I take the red colour crayon. I am colouring it. I am colouring and colouring and colouring. All done!”

Use this technique for short spans and observe if your child is interested and is following. You can start by describing the activities your child loves the most. It can help enrich your child’s vocabulary and comprehension skills.


Modelling

In this technique, you model the expressive language you want your child to develop – sound, word, phrase or sentence structure. For example, in modelling articulation, if your child is saying ‘pan’ for ‘fan’, bring your child’s attention to your face and ask them to watch how you say it.

In all the above techniques, the idea is not to force the child to repeat after you but to ensure they listen and take it all in.


Can we do speech therapy ourselves?

If you are concerned about your child’s speech skills and have access to speech therapy near you, there is no reason to do it alone at home. Seek the advice of a qualified speech and language pathologist/therapist who can guide you on speech techniques most suitable for your child. They have the training, knowledge, experience and tools necessary for correct diagnosis.


Speech therapy programs are also available online. In an online program, parents are trained on different speech therapy techniques to practise with their children.

When planning speech therapy at home, remember your child’s temperament, age and ability to focus, and choose activities in consultation with your child’s speech therapist.




How can we do speech therapy at home?


Here are a few simple strategies you could follow while doing speech therapy at home:


Reduce screen time

Research (van den Heuvel et al., 2019) has found a significant association between mobile device use and parent-reported expressive speech delay in 18-month-old children. Another study by Al Hosani S., Darwish E., et al., published in 2023 by Middle East Current Psychiatry, states that 90.3% of those with speech and language development delays use electronic devices.

Try to trade screen time with playtime. Screen time delays your child’s language development and can cause negative impacts on their communication skills. The best way to teach and develop your child’s speech is by modelling it directly.


Simplify

Try to use words that are simple and easy to follow. Use short phrases and sentences.


Positioning

Getting down to your child’s eye level is a fantastic opportunity to ensure your child’s attention. Make sure your child can see your mouth and how you produce the sound/word, which will encourage your child to imitate.


Be attentive & Be patient

Pay attention, be patient and wait for your child to speak while practising. Stay calm. You can use phrases like, “I’m listening, take your time”. And listen naturally when your child responds. Do not make your child insecure by focusing too much. When you push your child, it can trigger anxiety and can make things worse.


Positive Reinforcement

Appreciate your child’s efforts every time they attempt to learn. Positive reinforcement for every successful attempt through clapping, tokens, stickers, and verbal praise increases the possibility of repeating the success.


Sound Modulation

Intonations add music to our expressions. The rise and fall in your pitch will attract and make your child more attentive to what you are saying. Avoid monotonous speech when you are with your child. It can make the whole activity uninteresting.


Be a child with your child

Become a child when you are with your child. A child’s happiness knows no bounds when you become one like them. Their involvement in the activity will be multifold, making the play and learning more interesting for your child.



Speech therapy activities you can do at home


Play games


Playing games with your child can make the learning activity more enjoyable. Play games that involve identifying objects, describing items or asking questions.

You can also encourage pretend play to develop and expand your child’s language skills. For example, you can suggest using your child’s toy phone to call daddy or joining your child to feed her favourite doll using a spoon. Children tend to imitate adult language during pretend play, making it a great tool to develop communication skills.


Shared Reading

Reading to your child helps to improve their language skills. Start reading to your child as early as you can. Research suggests that the earlier the exposure, the more positive the impact as your child grows. Infants enjoy your voice modulations and facial expressions.

If your child is too young or can't read, encourage them to point, name the object in the picture or allow them to describe what they see in the images. Elaborating on their words and expressions improves your child’s language skills and vocabulary and develops interest in reading. It also helps in developing auditory attention. If your child can read, encourage them to read back to you.


Flashcards

They can help your child focus on the words or sounds they are learning. Creating play activities with flashcards can make learning more entertaining.

For example, you can put the flashcards in a box and ask your child to pick one. You can also bury a flashcard in the sandbox and ask your child to find it. As your child picks Flashcards, say the word or sound in the flashcard and make your child repeat. You can create your short rhyme and action to go with the sound or word. Reward your child when they complete the activity successfully. If your child loves moving around, you can create a scavenger hunt using flashcards.


Mirror talk


Ask your child to stand in front of the mirror and observe how their mouth moves when they utter a specific sound. Demonstrate the differences and say every sound slowly and correctly for them to follow. Mirror talk may help if your child has a problem understanding the movement of the mouth for the formation of clear sounds.


Repetition

Children love repetition. Repetition helps in learning and practising new skills. When your child learns a new word, use it multiple times during play and everyday activities. This facilitates practice and helps grasp the meaning, comparing with similar words and learning. While learning, if your child repeats with an error, you can model the word correctly for the child to repeat.



Speech Therapy at home can be fun and exciting, further tying bonds with your child. But remember, a delay in a child’s speech may be short-term, or sometimes, it may be the first sign of developmental concerns. If you are concerned about your child’s

speech skills, never hesitate or delay to seek advice from a qualified speech therapist. They can help ease the tension off your shoulders.


 

Please note that this post was written to the best of my knowledge as an Autism Specialist and SEN Educator with over 25 years of experience teaching autistic children.

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