It is extremely important for parents to understand their role in speech delays and speech recovery. Obviously, speech delays can be caused by multiple factors and is a real diagnosis. However, parents have the ability to reinforce speech or punish speech behaviorally which in turn either helps acquire speech or can delay it further. Whenever your child has a speech delay, it is important to reinforce and promote speech by following the rules below:
1. Do not accept approximations of speech. For example, do not hand your child a drink because they simply pointed, grunted, tantrumed etc…
2. Constantly engage in activities that promote sound and word acquistion.
3. Remember that a lot of behavior problems are due to lack of communication. Therefore, start promoting speech through speech activities (saying alphabet and sounds, naming objects, working on difficult letters etc..) at a very young age. OR provide and train the child on a communication device such as the IPAD, Dynavox etc…
4. Increase your time with a private speech therapist to the maximum amount you can tolerate and afford. Do not solely rely on the school’s speech therapist.
5. Have speech therapist provide activities that you can do at home 2 and 3 times a day.
6. Always reinforce communication by SHAPING speech (ABA term). Speak with your ABA therapist on how to acquire speech through shaping.
7. Continually speak with your child and ask “What is it, What is this?” Always ask them how they feel etc… to promote expressive language and conversations? Except and wait for a response either verbally or with a communication device/system.
8. Set up a meeting with your school to insure that your child is receiving speech therapy and the therapist has provided activities to the teacher.
It is important to notice speech delays at a young age by consulted with your peditrician and immediately begin speech therapy and ABA.