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Speech Pathology Week 2020 | Top Tips for Therapy

The Speech Pathology team at Out Loud have spent the week celebrating Speech Pathology Week and the 2020 theme of Communicating with Confidence. We wore specially theme shirts for the week, there's a colouring competition running until next Friday and we've shared some fun profiles for each of the Speechies on our Facebook page.


Here's the full team of Speech Pathologists in their Speech Week shirts. Can you spot your Speech Pathologist?





On the blog today we are sharing top tips from the team for each of the areas we work across. Thank you to all our amazing clients. We love working with each & every family - helping you access the support and opportunities you need to help your children develop, learn, participate, thrive - and communicate with confidence!!!


Fluency

  • For younger children, stuttering is very common and research suggests “watchful waiting” for up to 6 months after stuttering commences before starting therapy to allow for natural recovery.

  • Therapy is about smooth talking; taking videos of your child talking can increase your child's awareness on their smooth or bumpy talking. 

  • Outside of therapy time, focus on what your child is saying, rather than how they say it, to reduce frustration and support therapy as a positive experience.

  • Try to give your full attention to your child when they are talking. This reduces some of the stress in trying to get your attention and get their message across.

Early Language

  • No one likes a test. Sometimes the more we try to make something happen the harder it becomes.  Encourage language through play - relax and have fun! Play is a child's "work".

  • Talk the way you would like your child to talk and model sentences as if you were their voice. 

  • Children are more likely to gain vocabulary for words in areas that interest them - so focus your attention here, even if it makes more sense to have other words first. They'll get them all eventually!


School Age Language

  • Say sentences that have incorrect grammar, sentence structure or speech sounds back to your child. We call this recasting and it's a powerful way to keep providing gentle therapy without criticizing or interrupting their language.

  • Encourage your child to ask questions about words they are unsure of, and teach them how to find out the answers... Google can be a great tool for a curious mind.

  • Explore different words with the same meaning - see if you can be creative about ways to say the same thing.

Social Skills

  • Social skills do not develop naturally for some children and need to be taught directly in real life situations. Show them the behaviours we'd like them to use in an explicit way. For example, you may use self talk when losing a game and say aloud - “that’s ok maybe I’ll win next time” or "congratulations for winning, it was a great game"

  • Some children will take your language very literally - exactly as you say it, even if you mean something else. This is most common when we use sarcasm or idioms (ie, "pull your socks up", "get off my back"). Don't be afraid to use language that your child doesn't understand, but make sure you follow it up with an explanation so they can build their knowledge of non-literal language.

Feeding

  • Children with a significantly reduced range of foods are rarely doing this to gain attention or be naughty. They are often overwhelmed by the texture, taste or other sensory part of eating, are unable to safely eat foods they avoid or have a lack of appetite or motivation for eating. If you are concerned about your child's eating, ask your therapist for a referral to our Feeding Team.

  • Swallowing food is the final step in a long list of steps required for eating. Exposure and playing with food are important in building up to swallowing a food. Touching, smelling, licking and smooshing are all great

  • Getting kids involved in food preparation has been proven to result in improved eating for many children.

  • Try to avoid your child becoming narrow in their food choices by only buying one brand/type of foods. If they have preferred foods (ie, chicken nuggets), offer these in different ways (McDonalds & Hungry Jacks, different frozen brands, cooked in the oven vs fried in a pan).

Literacy

  • It's all about the sounds! Focus on the sounds we can hear in words first rather than the letter names we can see

  • Activities to manipulate the sounds in words are so important because when your child approaches a new unknown word in their reading, if they have practised manipulating sounds in words e.g., clamp, removing the p sound = clam, they will be able to teach themselves the new word by moving the sounds around. 

  • Enjoy reading books with your child, even when they are old enough to read themselves. Get involved in discussions about the characters, plot and how the book ends.

  • Practicing writing or spelling doesn't have to involve a pen and paper. Sometimes kids are scared of these activities because they think they are boring and it reminds them of school. Instead, you could use playdough to shape the letters, draw in sand, use paint - anything that motivates your child to think about the sounds in words.

Alternative communication - low or high tech options

  • Learning to use an alternative communication device takes time to learn - exposure and practice are key to success.

  • A child with a communication device can only use their device to communicate if they have access to it. A communication device needs to be as accessible as a voice would be to another child.

  • Model model model! Have as many people as possible around the house talking to the child using their system (ie, communication board or device). 

  • Presume competence - never underestimate what a child can say when you give them a WAY to say it! 


Speech Sounds

  • Laziness is not normally a factor here! If a child can't say a sound it's usually because it's hard and they need help! 

  • Some children find visual feedback super helpful when completing their speech practice. Use a mirror or self mode on your phone so they can see what their mouth is doing. Encourage them to look at your mouth.

  • Practice does not always need to be sitting at a table playing a game. It may be easier to fit into your daily routine if it's part of other activities such as a car trip, dinner conversation, a trip to the park, dog walking, bath time or after teeth brushing

Home Practice

  • Repetition is key! Putting your goals on the fridge or the mirror, or on a post it note in the car can be a helpful reminder to practice daily. 

  • Always let your child know how they could get it right/ make it better (rather than just saying it's not right)

  • Be specific with your praise. Praising kids for exactly what they have done well is more powerful than a generic 'good girl/boy' or just 'good talking'. This applies to all areas of home practice and might sound like ... "that was a great s sound!" "well done you said she for the girl" "I like the way you said good morning and looked in my eyes" "your lips are staying together so well while you chew" "great smooth talking, I didn't hear any bumps"

  • Try to aim for 5 praise comments for every correction during daily activities. During therapy tasks, we are aiming for success, so you may need to "practice" things that are going well as well as things that are harder so you can continue with more praise than correction.




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