With the weather changing for the better, and the school year nearing an end, now is the ideal time to get kids outdoors more often. It’s always a good idea to get kids to spend more time outside, but for kids undergoing Speech & Language Therapy, it can be particularly beneficial. There are lots of different animals, sights, and sounds in nature, making it the perfect way to get your kids excited about learning new words and verbalising their experiences. To help make this more effective, we have put together a list of some of the best outdoor activities to help develop speech and language skills.
Whether its speaking face-to-face or sending emojis over text, people love communicating. The ability to talk to other people is one of the most fundamental skills to both individuals and society at large. Because it plays such a key role in our daily lives, it is normal for parents to worry about a child who seems to have difficulty communicating, so in this blog, we’re going to look at how speech impacts our social and emotional development.
It can be hard for parents to accurately judge the development of their child’s speech for a number of reasons. Firstly, different children develop at different rates, and comparing them to their friends or siblings is not always an effective measure. Additionally, we know that young children have to learn how to speak, and so hearing them make mistakes or struggle with certain sounds is expected up to a point. It is difficult to know when this is typical behaviour, and when you should consider raising the red flag, so we have outlined some key points to help parents identify the warning signs of a speech disorder.
Speech sound disorders are those where the person finds it physically difficult to speak. Apraxia, where the signals from the brain to not work to create the necessary movement in the mouth, or dysarthria, where weak muscles limit a person’s ability to make the necessary movements, are examples of speech sound disorders.
By age 2, most children should be able to properly vocalise the b, h, m, p, and w sounds in words, and by age 3, this extends to d, f, g, k, and t. Also by age 3, most people who know the child well should understand the majority of what they are saying. While it is not unusual for strangers to struggle to understand a child they don’t know, people who see the child regularly should.
It may be tempting to correct your child as they speak, but this is not an effective way of teaching, and will likely only hurt their confidence. Instead, lead by example and make sure you enunciate the problem sounds when you speak.
A language disorder is one that is not related to a physical problem, but to their comprehension of language and how it is used. The warning signs for a language disorder tend to be a little clearer than those of a speech sound disorder, and include:
- Not smiling or interacting with other people from birth
- Not making babbling sounds at around 6 months
- Making few sounds or gestures overall between 7 & 12 months
- Not understanding or understood by others by age 2
- Not making basic sentences or interacting with other children by age 3
Parents who are concerned that their child may have a language disorder should take them to see a speech therapist if they display multiple symptoms of those listed above. When at home, you can encourage their language development by interacting with them frequently, having others interact with them, and narrating what you do. You may be tempted to repeat the same words, or focus on one language even if you live in a multilingual home, but studies show that a richer diversity of language is better for their development.
The main signs of a child developing a stutter are repeating or stretching out the starts of words, but taking frequent pauses between words can also be a warning sign. If this is the case, you should take your child to see a speech therapist, but remember not to interrupt them or finish their words/sentences for them. You may think you’re being helpful, but it will only lower their confidence.
It is perfectly normal for parents to worry about their children, and that includes worrying if they’re worrying too much. It is important to remember that all children develop at different rates, but if you have read the signs listed above and still have concerns, taking your child to see a speech therapist is the best way to alleviate your anxiety, or get the most effective treatment for your child if necessary.
While many people might visualise speech therapy as sitting down and trying to verbalise certain words, there are many forms that therapy can take. In recent years, art therapy has grown in popularity in a number of different areas, and is now used to treat conditions such as addiction and PTSD. In this blog, we’re going to examine how art therapy can be used as a component of speech therapy.
What is Art Therapy?
Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that encourages self-expression through art, be it painting, drawing, sculpting, or any other form of art. According to the Art Therapy Association of America, the purpose of art therapy is as follows:
“Art Therapy is used to improve cognitive and sensory-motor functions, foster self-esteem and self-awareness, cultivate emotional resilience, promote insight, enhance social skills, reduce and resolve conflicts and distress, and advance societal and ecological change”.
There are many reasons a person may be in need of speech therapy, such as cognitive issues like autism, or physical issues like cerebral palsy. Self-esteem and social skills are often negatively affected by speech impediments, making art therapy a particularly effective way of dealing with multiple issues with varying causes.
How Does it Work?
To understand why art therapy is an effective form of speech therapy, we have to remember that in its simplest form, art is a way of expressing ourselves. Every individual in the world has different thoughts and opinions that they will want to express in different ways, and the freedom that art affords us allows everyone to express what’s on their mind in one way or another. This means that no matter where a person is starting from, art therapy can allow them to express themselves, and then build on that to express different or more complex ideas.
On a psychological level, art therapy is beneficial because it engages the areas of the brain that deal with language and expression. Even if a patient is not verbalising what they are thinking, they are exercising the same muscles and building up their ability to do so. Art is also not a hard science, meaning there are no right or wrong answers. This kind of activity is particularly helpful for people with self-esteem issues. Not only is it harder to ‘fail’ at art, when people are given the chance to produce what they like, they usually will. This results in a situation where the patient wants to talk about their art and explain what they were trying to accomplish, which helps to build not only their cognitive abilities, but also their social skills and self esteem.
Art Therapy at Home
Another great benefit of art therapy is that it can easily be done at home or on the go. Of course, if you are undertaking therapy of any kind, you should first consult with a qualified therapist. If you have done that, then the first step we suggest is to give your child the option of choosing what materials to work with. While some may like painting, others may like working with clay. Identifying the type of art they will be most excited about is the best way to make therapy as effective as possible.
When they have chosen their material, ask them to make you something. The odds are that even before the materials are bought, they will have something in their mind that they want to make. No matter what they decide to make, you can ask them what it is, how to describe it, why they chose it, and so on.
As time goes on, you can set them different challenges, such as making their favourite animal, making a present for a relative’s birthday, designing or Christmas cards. Exactly what you choose to do will depend on your child’s needs, which your therapist will help you identify. Regardless of what specific requirements your child may have, you can see how one piece of art can help them develop not only their core language skills, but also their confidence and social skills. These multifaceted benefits are a large part of why art therapy has become so popular, and why it is an approach you should definitely consider.
Advances in technology have opened up a lot of very effective and even fun ways to engage in speech therapy. Here, we look at some recent technology that will show you just how innovative the solutions can be.
Different games can help kids tackle a variety of speech issues in a fun, casual way, and can help bring speech therapy into their daily routine. In this blog, we will look at a few different games you can try out, and what they can do to help your child’s speech.
The first 8 years are the most important in forming our communication skills, so promoting good communication in your baby will lay the foundation for the rest of their lives. So whether or not your child is having difficulty communicating, below are five tips to help encourage your child to communicate.
In order to raise awareness about autism, April has been designated as Autism Awareness Month. Now in its ninth year, the campaign will kick off on Sunday the 2nd of April, the official Autism Awareness Day. Thanks to campaigns such as these, the general public are now much more informed about what autism is, but many still struggle to understand how to approach communicating with an autistic person. This blog will lay out some of the top tips for communicating with autistic children.
Cleft lips and cleft palates affect roughly 1 in 700 newborns in Ireland, or roughly 92 a year. Understandably, clefts can have an impact on a person’s ability to speak, so this blog will look at how speech therapy can help overcome these issues.
Complications with speech may not be the first thing that comes to mind when we think of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), but the reality is it can have a major effect. Fortunately, speech therapy can help children with ADHD overcome the challenges they face, improving their expression, comprehension, and social skills.
Apraxia is a speech disorder which makes it difficult for a person to speak in a manner which is formed correctly and consistent. This may be a developmental problem or caused by some damage to the part of the brain responsible for speech. This disorder ranges from mild to severe depending on the individual.
Mumbling may not be a serious medical condition, but it can still have serious effects. Fortunately, because it is not a serious problem, mumbling is something most people can address by using the tips outlined below.
Dyslexia is a learning disability that makes it difficult for people to read and write. While it has been known to run in families, the exact causes of dyslexia are not yet certain, and it is believed that environmental factors may also play a role.
Stuttering is when a person involuntarily repeats or struggles to make a particular sound when speaking. Although research into the causes of stutters is ongoing, scientists have identified several possible causes. It appears that stuttering could be related to speech-motor control, which also means that stutters often run in the family.