Updated: Feb 13, 2019

With holidays approaching parents often ask me what toys will help their child to improve speech skills. I love this question and figured I'd share some of my thoughts. The truth is children learn through play so pretty much any toy works as long as your child is engaged and actively playing! Try to avoid toys that talk (let the child do the talking!) and apps that limit hands on experience and interaction with others. I am sharing some of my favorites for really building engagement and why I like them.

BLOCKS! There are so many varieties! Basic wooden blocks are a classic toy that I use with children everyday. Starting with toddlers filling and dumping, banging together and knocking down. So much engagement, so much discovery. Toddlers often seem to love filling buckets and dumping them out. They are learning about objects and spatial concepts when they do this. There are sound effects to model and so many words! boom!, all gone!, dump! and pour are fun words to say during this activity and can lead to shared experience, joint referencing and so much more! dump away!

As your toddler grows and develops lining blocks up, stacking, building towers and choo choo trains invite creative thinking, joint reference, problem solving, and again many, many sounds and words! These same blocks can lead into pretend play building roads for cars to ride, walls to jump over and buildings for little people. There are so many block choices. Wooden, alphabet blocks, soft plastic, large and small, Bristle blocks, Mega Lego and Lego. Lego blocks offer unique challenges and can grow with your child well through his or her school years offering language expansion ideas all the way. Blocks give tactile opportunities to learn about shapes, sizes, spatial concepts and number sense all while having fun. When a building falls down a child learns to deal with consequences and to ask for help, or to try new ideas. These concepts lay a foundation for social skill development.

PRETEND PLAY SETS! Kitchen sets, doll houses, gas stations, dress up clothes and barns. These play items are limitless and give great opportunity for a child to imitate actions and words they see in the world. They can be gender neutral, most children boy or girl like to play with them. These types of toys lend themselves to cooperative play. I like to use these toys in therapy to target use of words, following simple directions, concepts and expansion of language. "Put the cake in the oven", "the horse is eating hay", " people go to sleep, wake up!" ,"look!" , "The car is fast!"

Children truly develop social skills and functional communication when engaged in interactive pretend play. As a parent you can engage the child in play by following his or her lead, and responding to his or her actions and ideas. Avoid asking too many questions. Have fun!


Simple turn taking games such as memory matching, children' charades, and classic board games offer opportunity to increase attention to structured activity, turn taking, question asking and answering. Just think about the child's developmental level and try to avoid games that cause frustration and are too demanding for the child. Don't be afraid to simplify rules or let your child have a "helper" when playing in a group. What matters most is that it is fun! Bottom line if your child is actively engaged and having fun, your child is learning!

I hope this gives you some ideas! Always feel free to ask your child's speech language pathologist for a suggestion, we're all about play!


Updated: Feb 13, 2019

Central Delaware Speech Language Pathology has given me an opportunity to follow my passion for working closely with families to help increase communication. As an SLP and a mother of four I just can not separate the growth of communication from family life. We communicate first and foremost with our families. Family after all know us best. At CDSLP I am truly humbled by the devotion of the families who bring their children in each week for speech and language therapy. Our CDSLP families are beautifully diverse and come to us each with their own their own questions and concerns and with their own stories. These questions and these stories are at the heart of our therapy practice.

It is my belief that speech therapy is best when it is naturally reinforcing and joyful. Discovery and practice are essential. In my blog post I would like to share a strategy or activity that can be used in therapy and carried over into family life. My hope is that the ideas are enriching and positive, never boring or tiresome.

The most important thing to remember is that communication begins with initiation and a shared experience. Communication is enriched when the experience is joyful and meaningful. Taking some time as part of a natural daily routine is often the best way to foster communication. The first step is engagement. We want our children to be engaged and interested in a fulfilling experience.

Opportunities to enrich communication happen all around us. For example, during a daily routine of bath time, Loghan squeals with delight as he pours water from a cup into the tub. He looks for the cup and quickly starts scooping water; filling and pouring again and again. Left alone he will do this without much effort to communicate or share the experience. This is a perfect opportunity to work on communication. Holding a cup up close to my face I can smile and produce a leading one…two… three………wooooshhhh!. As this game continues I can entice eye gaze, suspense, laughter at a shared experience, gesture of pointing and tons of facial expressions. There are many goals to target before saying “oh no!”, “wet", “water”, “wash” “cold!” ,"where?". The building of shared time and shared experience is the first step. It is also a time for bonding and having fun! Depending upon the child and the experience language can be reinforced and expanded to the level that is meaningful. There is no need to require a child to say a word, gradually building upon communication at his or her own rate and developmental level is the secret.

Suggestion of the month: (For a child learning functional communication)

Take some time to observe your child either during play or during a daily routine. What does he or she show interest in? What really makes him or her light up, laugh, vocalize use his or her best natural communication? Think about the circumstances, who is he or she with? What does he or she do to show interest, fun? Does he/she have a means of requesting this? (eye gaze, gesture, words etc) Does he/she have a way to show or share this experience? Does he/she have a way to include others in this experience? Answering these questions can lead to next steps, you can follow your instincts or it can provide ideas to discuss with your child’s SLP.



Updated: Feb 13, 2019

CDSLP is celebrating our 10th year in business. We have grown, across these last 10 years, from a single provider treating children in a small office room - to a 12+ provider, multi-specialty pediatric practice serving two counties. For our very first blog, I wanted to describe this amazing journey and what it means to me.

Our practice started as an idea born of need. Personal friends of my family had a young son with cerebral palsy and were traveling 45 minutes (one way!) multiple times per week for therapies in Wilmington. At the time, I was working for a private practice in New Jersey, but was looking to return home to be near my family. I recognized the need in Kent and Sussex County to have quality services for our local children. With support from my family, I took the plunge and, at 26 years old, filed for a business license and rented office space. I will never forget those early days - eager, waking up early, getting dressed, hitting the pavement all on my own to spread the word about my new business venture to doctors and schools. Most of all, I will never forget sitting in the empty office and the feeling I had the first time I answered the phone and accepted a patient.

Since those days, CDSLP has grown slowly and organically. We hired new therapists based on impeccable qualifications, feedback and reviews we received from families and other therapists, and based on our shared mission to provide excellent services. We hired skilled office staff we felt would help us succeed in our mission. We focused on patient care and supporting the families of the children we serve. We have worked hard to keep the children and their interests at the heart of our practice. Our pride has swelled with each of their accomplishments and our hearts have been heavy witnessing some of the struggle along the way - but each step has been a privilege to witness. Our families are truly our family here - our staff know each child, parent, and sibling by name. In fact, our front desk staff know each child's lollipop flavor preference. We lose sleep when a tough IEP is approaching, we ask about beach trips and family vacations, and our patients ask us about our sons/daughters/grandchildren and life events. We aren't perfect - sometimes the office makes mistakes, sometimes patients forget scheduled appointments. But we are in this together, and that's a good place to be.

Far from the days I spent waiting for the phone to ring, I now sometimes have to circle to find a parking spot :) As I look around, I see each and every person here for the right reason. Parents sacrificing - making time in busy schedules, toting siblings along, observing sessions, facilitating meetings with school teams; Therapists working hard - collaborating with other professionals, writing appeal letters for services, searching for the "key" that will reach a particular child. We are busy and expanding (new office space in Sussex, addition of Occupational Therapy services!). Each room now is filled with children learning and progressing - with needs being met. Our services are provided with compassion and respect for the work these children have to do, just to be able to communicate like all other children. I am filled with very humble gratitude that my therapists have let me share my vision with them, that our parents place their trust in us with what means most to them in life, that the office staff persevere because they know that each insurance battle equals care for a child in need, and most of all - I am filled with awe at the children - that they come, weeknights and weekends, often with smiles (sometimes not!!) and fight for what others take for granted - to have their say in the world.

With many thanks to all those whose shoulders I have stood upon and to those that have walked with me and, sometimes, carried me -

Thank you.