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.