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Who have Speech Right been supporting this week?

Week Four Spotlight

Name: Archie

Age: 3:2

Difficulties: Suspected Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Archie is currently going through diagnosis with his paediatrician.

Background: Archie and his parents completed an initial speech and language assessment. This identified that Archie was showing difficulties with his language, speech, play and imagination skills and his social communication. Archie struggles to use his language socially. For example, he:

  • Uses language for a limited range of functions. Archie will request things he wants but he will not ‘greet’, ‘comment’ ‘question.’
  • Struggles to shift his attention from one focus to the next. Does not respond when his name is called.
  • Does not appear to notice those around him and rarely allows his parents to join in his play.

Hearing: All assessments passed

Session: Therapy 2 with Mum, Dad, Archie and Emma.

Archie and his parents are taking part in the Hanen More Than Words Parent-Child Video Interaction Therapy. This therapy involves parents being given strategies to use to develop their interactions with Archie. The therapy is being carried out at the family’s home as this is the place where Archie is most relaxed and comfortable and, by using Archie’s toys, parents are more easily able to carry on the therapy after the session.

Today, parents were introduced to 2 of the 4 ‘I’s of Interaction.’ These 4 I’s are strategies to use which encourage Archie to notice his parents more and allow them to join in, in his play. When Archie is noticing his parents and allowing them to join in his play they will start to have fun together and when Archie is having fun, he is more likely to be able to learn and develop his language skills.

First I – Imitate

This involves parents copying what Archie does in specific play activities e.g. with his bricks.

Second I – Intrude

This involves parents insisting on joining in Archie’s play e.g. by being the ‘keeper of the pieces’: parents take control of the toy items (e.g. bricks) as Archie will be motivated to communicate that he wants them.

Parents were videoed playing with Archie for 5 minutes each as they tried to put the ‘intrude’ and ‘imitate’ strategies in place. We then watched the videos together and paused at points to highlight their excellent use of imitation/intrusion. We also stopped the video at points where we both felt parents could have done something slightly different.

The session ended with both parents being given specific targets to work on during their ‘Special Times’ with Archie (‘Special Time’ is a specific 5-10 minutes that parents identify daily when they play with Archie and focus on their strategies).

Emma will return to the family home in a fortnight to complete Therapy session 3. We opted for fortnightly therapy sessions to give parents enough opportunity to practice the strategies around their work commitments.

Speech and Language Therapists at SpeechRight are Hanen Trained. The Hanen Centre is a leading resource for specialist training and research into children with language delay, disorder and autistic spectrum disorder. Read their article for further information about the benefits of parents with children on the autistic spectrum taking part in the More Than Words Parent-Child Interaction Therapy:

http://www.hanen.org/Helpful-Info/Articles/The-Power-of-Parents-in-Autism-Intervention.aspx#.

What is Narrative Therapy

‘Narratives’ are something which we all use a lot every day. They are what we use to correctly tell a story or explain a sequence of events to a listener.

Think how many times we ask our children to tell narratives each day e.g. “What did you do at school today?” “What happened at playtime?” “What did you do at after-school club?” “What did you do at football/swimming/dance?” “What things did you do at the weekend?”

Your child has to use lots of different skills to produce the narrative:  they have to remember what actually happened, they have to put the events into the correct order, they have to work out what key pieces of information the listener needs, they have to select the correct words to use to describe the events, they then have to put these words into the right order in sentences and with the correct grammar. Phew – telling a narrative is actually a pretty tricky task!

Sometimes, children can struggle with telling narratives. They can:

  • Use general/non-specific vocabulary e.g. “I went in there and got it”
  • Use short sentences e.g. “Did painting”
  • Confuse the order of events e.g. “got my coat and came home and then went to assembly”
  • Not introduce the topic/people properly so the listener cannot work out the story e.g. “did it yesterday”
  • Only talk about things in the ‘here and now’ and not respond to questions about things they have done earlier e.g. ‘at school/at the weekend.’
  • Not understand the question words e.g. “who?” “where?” and give the wrong type of answer e.g. “Where did you go at the weekend?” “with mummy”
  • Not understand the ‘time’ words e.g. ‘day’ ‘night’ ‘yesterday’ ‘tomorrow’

Narrative Therapy can support children with all of these difficulties. Here is one group that was run last week:

Name: Narrative Therapy

Session: Number 9

Participants: 6 children aged 5 years old who all have difficulties accurately telling narratives.

Activity One: Attention and Listening Rules

At the start of each session, the children remind themselves of the ‘groups listening rules.’ This helps them all to use ‘good looking, sitting, listening and thinking’ so they can take part in the activities and learn.

Activity Two: When concept?

‘when?’ is introduced to the children. A colour-coded visual symbol is used with the ‘when’ Makaton sign. The visual clues and spoken word support all the children to understand and remember the concept.

Each child was then asked different ‘when?’ questions. They got to collect ‘clock’ stickers every time they answered questions like: “When do we eat chocolate eggs?,” “when do we brush our teeth?” “when do we eat cereals?”

Activity Three: Day and Night Stations

A feely bag of toy objects was passed around the group and each child took out and labelled the object e.g. ‘pyjamas’ ‘sun’ ‘lunchbox’ ‘moon.’ They then had to work out if that object would be seen at ‘daytime’ or ‘night time’ and take their object to either the ‘day’ station or the ‘night’ station.

Activity Four: Birthday Spiders!

A big spider diagram was drawn with a birthday cake in the middle. The children then had to think of different things that would be seen or done when it is a birthday and these were drawn at the end of the spider’s legs e.g. birthday card, birthday presents, birthday party. If the struggled and needed some help, there was a box full of birthday objects to help them. The children came up with lots of brilliant ideas – it’s just a shame the therapist’s drawing skills were not quite as brilliant!

Activity Five: ‘Five Minutes Peace’

A lovely story reinforcing the ‘night time’ concept was read to the children. It tells the difficulties of Mr.Bear trying to find 5 minutes peace at night time!

Activity 6: Stickers

This is when the children get to decide which sticker they want: do they want the ‘ears’ for ‘good listening’? ‘the pair of eyes’ for ‘good looking’ or the ‘brain’ for ‘good thinking’?

Narrative Therapy can be completed in a group or individually. Narrative groups run by SpeechRight are especially popular in school settings. Work completed in the groups can be carried over into the classroom supporting the childrens’ understanding of topic stories, their vocabulary, their spoken narratives and their written narratives too. If your school is interested in finding out more about the support SpeechRight offers, see the School Support leaflet.

Mr Potato Head

This is the toy potato that comes with a suitcase of body parts and accessories ie. ears, nose, mouth, moustache, glasses, hat. Children (and adults!) love to build their Mr.Potato Heads and, as they are building, they can be developing lots of their speech and language skills:

Attention and Listening:

Sometimes children struggle to remain focused on an activity for any amount of time. Mr.Potato Head can be used to slowly increase the length of time that they attend.  If an adult keeps hold of the suitcase of parts, they can control how long it takes the child to build their Mr. Potato Head. Each time the game is played, the adult can gradually build up the amount of time the child is taking to complete the task. The child will be enjoying the activity so will not realise their attention is being developed and before they know it, they have been focused on the game for 15 minutes!

Understanding:

Body Part Words

Body parts are one of the earliest categories of words that children develop understanding of. By labelling the items and talking about what your child is doing as they build Mr.Potato Head, they will start to develop knowledge and understanding of the words e.g. “Pushing the eyes in. Oh a big nose. Oops the glasses fell off!”

You can then lay out a selection of body parts and ask your child for one to see if they can understand the body part vocabulary e.g. “Give me the mouth.’

Following Instructions

As well as understanding individual words, children need to be able to understand the words within sentences. Mr.Potato Head provides lots of fun instructions to do this e.g. “put the nose on the mouth” “put the legs on the head”. Your child really has to understand what is said to them as the instructions are not always standard/expected.

Talking

Once a child understands the body part words, they then need to be able to use the words in their talking; putting the words in the right order and moving their mouth into the right positions to articulate the words. If the adult keeps hold of the suitcase, the child can practice asking for the different items “Give me the nose” “I need the mouth”

Sounds

Mr.Potato Head is a fabulous reward game to keep a child motivated to practice the different target sounds they are working on. Every time the child has a go at saying their target sound/word, they get a piece of Mr.Potato Head. With at least 15 different accessories, the child is guaranteed at to make the sound 15 times and, because they are having fun, they probably will not realise they are practising their speech.

Turn-Taking

Lots of children find it difficult to wait their turn. Playing Mr.Potato Head with a friend, gives the child lots of opportunities to practice waiting to have their turn. As they are excited to build their Mr. Potato Head, not only are they motivated to wait their turn but they also want to carry on playing the game until it is completed.

Grammar

If you use a Mr.Potato Head and a Mrs.Potato Head, there are lots of chances to reinforce to your child the possesive pronouns ‘his’ and ‘hers’ and your child has lots of reasons to use these pronouns correctly e.g. “Give Mr.Potato Head his eyes.”

Overall, Mr.Potato Head is a fun, easy-to-use resource that can be used with a variety of age groups. It has lots of speech and language development uses and, at the end of the day, who does not like building a potato with eyes in his head, a nose coming out of his mouth and a hat where his ears would be!

Meet 33 year old Jack

Each week we will put a spotlight on one of the people the SpeechRight speech and language therapists have been working with. This will give an insight into the types of difficulties we support and what goes on in a speech therapy session.

Name: Jack

Age: 33

Difficulties: Jack has a stammer. His stammer first appeared when he was 4 years old. Jack’s stammer involves repetition of the initial sounds of words, blocks (where his mouth is in position to say a word but no noise comes out) and prolongations (where a sound is made longer). Jack has never received any speech and language therapy support until he came for a detailed initial assessment 2 weeks ago with SpeechRight. This identified that Jack would benefit from therapy which:

  • gives him some direct speech strategies he can use to support his fluency
  • focuses on his general communication skills e.g. volume, eye-contact, talking speed, posture, facial expression
  • considers his thoughts and feelings around his stammer and its impact on his daily life

Hearing: No concerns

Session: Therapy Session Two with Emma

We started the session with a re-cap of how things had gone during the week. Jack reported that he had been able to try some of the activities we had suggested at the last session and he was pleased with how this had gone. Jack said he felt that his stammer had increased this week in his spontaneous conversations but when we discussed this in more detail, we realised that potentially the stammer had not increased but Jack’s awareness of it had. This is important because if Jack is to have strategies to use to support his fluency, he needs to be aware of what his talking and stammer are like now.

We had three key areas we were targeting today:

Abdominal Breathing: Breathing is important to consider when looking at our fluency. The breath coming out of the lungs ‘powers’ our voices. Therefore, if we do not complete regular, relaxed breaths we are going to be unable to maintain a steady, calm flow of talking. Together, Jack and I practised this breathing and began to use it as we slowly increased the length of our utterances from single sounds to short words, longer words, phrases and sentences.

Tallying: Tallying was used to help Jack accurately identify when he stammered. He needs to know this in order to use the direct strategies he will be taught. Jack and I held a conversation about our favourite holiday destinations. As we were talking, every time Jack felt he stammered he held his finger up. In the same way, every time I thought I saw or heard a stammer, I held my finger up. The idea is for Jack to ‘catch’ as many stammers as he could. Following practice last week, Jack achieved a near 100% record in this session. When Jack ‘caught’ his stammer, he was also able to learn more about what happens when he does stammer; he realised that in a stammering moment when he is repeating the initial sound of a word, there is a lot of tension in the top part of his throat.

Talking Speed: Jack uses a fast talking speed and this puts lots of pressure on his language system to: quickly workout what he wants to say, to formulate the utterance he needs to produce and to quickly move his mouth and tongue into all the correct places to make the speech sounds. This can encourage him to stammer. A fast talking speed also puts lots of pressure on the listener to keep up with and follow what Jack is saying. If Jack does stammer, combined with his fast talking rate this can have a negative impact on Jack’s ability to clearly communicate his ideas. We encouraged Jack to use a ‘good talking speed’ by using more pauses in his speech (rather than saying each word more slowly). By pausing, it also gave Jack chance to use his ‘relaxed breathing.’ Jack practised reading aloud a range of different reading passages with a special ‘syllable ball’ that gave him the pace he needed to follow.

Jack was given a number of different activities to practice linked to the exercises we had done today. Jack has a lot of work on at the minute with his business so he felt that he needed a longer time before the next session in order to complete enough practice. Jack felt a session in 3 weeks would be best.

In the Spotlight next week will be a group of six 5 years olds who are completing a Narrative Group at school. Narrative works on developing a child’s attention and listening, understanding, talking and social communication skills.

Meet Emilia, our week two spotlight

Each week we will put a spotlight on one of the people the SpeechRight Speech and Language Therapists have been working with. This will give an insight into the types of difficulties we support and what goes on in a speech therapy session.

Week Two Spotlight

Name: Emilia

Age: 3:2

Difficulties: Language Delay. Emilia communicates using some single, spoken words e.g. “juice” and lots of non-verbal communication e.g. pointing, reaching, looking.

Background: Emilia had an initial assessment. She showed that she understood everything that was said to her but was delayed in her development of spoken words. ‘Delayed’ meant Emilia was showing the ‘typical’ path of spoken language development but it was happening at a much later age for her.

Examples:

  • To request a drink, Emilia will say “juice”
  • If she sees a noisy fire-engine on the road, Emilia will look at her mum and then point to the fire-engine.
  • To request a biscuit, Emilia will gesture ‘eating.’

Hearing: All assessments passed

Session: Therapy 3 with Mum, Dad, Emilia and Emma.

Emilia and her parents are taking part in Parent-Child Video Interaction Therapy. This therapy involves parents being given strategies to use within their interactions with Emilia to support her spoken language development. Parents know they have not caused Emilia’s language difficulties but there are specific strategies they can now use with her to encourage her speaking skills.

Parents both reported how they had got on with the strategies they had been practising in their ‘Special Time’ last week with Emilia. ‘Special Time’ is a specific 5-10 minutes parents identify daily when they play with Emilia and focus on their strategies. Dad said he really liked the way ‘Special Time’ gave him the justification to take time out from work/jobs and simply ‘play’ with Emilia.

We separately video-ed mum and dad playing with Emilia for 5 minutes each. Together we then watched the video back and identified all the positive things Mum and Dad were doing to support Emilia’s language (there were lots!) and looked at how each of them had used their targets.

Video is used, as research shows, this is the most effective tool in helping bring about change in peoples’ behaviours; rather than being told they have/have not done something, the video allows them to actually see it for themselves.

After watching the video, Mum felt that she had not used her strategy enough with Emilia during her interaction. In fact, the video showed her that there were lots of lovely examples where she had used the strategy and, within the video, Emilia actually used one new spoken word which she had not said before. Dad felt that he had used his strategy a lot with Emilia but he changed his mind after watching the video as he realised that there were lots of missed opportunities for the strategy’s use.

We then agreed parents’ new targets for the week ahead before we all finished with a game of ‘animal lotto.’

This lotto gave lots of opportunities for us all to practice the language development strategies together during play. I also demonstrated the key animal Makaton signs to parents so they could now sign, make the symbolic noise and label the animal. All of this will help to support Emilia’s language development; the animal noise will grab her attention so she can listen to the animal label and, if everyone else is using signs, this will encourage Emilia to use signs/gestures herself. Research, and my own experience, shows that using signs helps to support and develop children’s talking skills.

The family left happily with their strategies to practice in Special Time and the animal lotto game to play.  I was left slightly disappointed to have lost yet another game of Lotto this week!

In the Spotlight next week will be Jack. Jack is 33 years old and has referred himself for support with his stammer.

Who Have We Been Supporting This Week?

Each week we will put a spotlight on one of the people the SpeechRight Speech and Language Therapists have been working with. This will give an insight into the types of difficulties we support and what goes on in a therapy session.

Week One Spotlight

Name: Tom

Age: 4:0

Difficulties: Speech Sounds. Tom has lots to say but his speech is unclear so listeners cannot understand his spoken sentences.

Background: Tom had an initial assessment. He showed that his speech sound development was disordered. This meant that the speech errors that he was making were not ‘typical’ errors that lots of children make as the speech sound system develops.

Examples:

  • ‘book’ became “ut”

He deleted the first sound ‘b’ from the word and changed the ‘k’ to a ‘t’ sound.

  • ‘pea’ became “pay”

He changed the vowel ‘ee’ to ‘ay’

  • ‘tap’ became “da”

He changed the ‘quiet’ ‘t’ sound to a ‘loud’ ‘d’ sound and deleted the final sound from the word

Hearing: All assessments passed

Session: Therapy 1 with Mum, Tom and Emma.

This first session was all about getting to know Tom and checking that he had stored the correct information about sounds and words in his head.

We built a paper ‘spider’ together and at the end of each of the spider’s legs I found something out about Tom (who his best friend was, where he liked to go and what his favourite food was). This gave lots of opportunity to hear Tom’s speech sounds in his talking. It also gave Tom chance to make a spider with 8 eyes!!

Next we checked out if Tom could hear the difference between some of the sounds he was confusing. We had ‘t’ skittles and ‘k’ skittles. I would say a ‘t’ or ‘k’ sound and Tom had to roll the ball to the correct set of skittles. Tom needs to realise that the ‘t’ and ‘k’ sounds are separate sounds and have stored this correctly in the language system in his head. If he does not realise that they are separate sounds, then it is no wonder he will confuse ‘t’ and ‘k’ in his talking.

After skittles, Tom became the ‘teacher.’  We looked at a picture book together and I picked out different words for my friend ‘Sam the Puppet’ to say. Sometimes, Sam would say the words the ‘right’ way but sometimes he would say them a ‘silly’ way. Tom, using a ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’ action had to let Sam know how he was doing. It was important for Tom to be the teacher because Tom needs to understand the correct way to say a word so he can send the right instructions to his mouth to produce the word.

Finally, we finished by making some ‘silly faces’ in the mirror using some chocolate and strawberry sauces. We all (mum included!) put sauces in different places on our faces (tip of our nose, side of our lips, on our chin) and then we each had to try and lick the sauces off with our tongues. This let us look at how quickly and easily we could move our tongue. When we say words and sentences, we need to move our tongue quickly into lots of positions in our mouths to make the speech sounds. We then ended with a game of table football. It was Tom against Mum and I and we each had a straw which we had to use to blow a small chocolate ball into our goal. When we speak, we use the airflow coming from our lungs. Using straws shows how strong our airflow is and if we can control it. Sadly, Tom won the football match 5-3!

Tom and Mum then left with a pack of activities/resources to continue these games at home. Tom’s next session is in a week but he will be having daily therapy from mum as they play one of the games together.

In the Spotlight next week will be Emilia. Emilia is 3 years old and has been referred because she is only using 15 single, spoken words.

Helping to Grow Your Child’s Vocabulary

 

‘Oral vocabulary’ refers to the range of words which your child can understand when they hear them and can use when they are talking.

In this industry and as Speech Therapists in Nottingham we’ve seen that research shows that your child’s vocabulary is very important. It is directly linked to their later school success, impacting on their reading, maths and behaviour skills. Furthermore, without understanding and using a range of different words, your child’s thinking skills and knowledge about the world are restricted.

 

So what can you do to help Develop Your Child’s Vocabulary?

You need to think both about what you are saying to your child and how you are saying it.

 

WHAT to Say

Research shows that in typical development:

  • Children aged 12-24 months need exposure to lots of words ie. they need quantity.
  • Children aged 24-36 months need to hear a variety of ‘sophisticated’ words ie. they now know lots of common words so want to learn more difficult words e.g. “exhausted” instead of ‘tired’, “sprinting” instead of ‘running.
  • Children aged 36-48 months need to hear about past and future events and explanations ie. “Oh we can’t put them in the bus because the bus is full of bricks” “Oh yes, we had popcorn at the cinema. Do you remember?”

 

HOW to Say It

With our multitude of experience from being speech therapists in Nottingham, we have found that there are a range of different strategies to show you how to introduce new words to your child and develop their vocabulary skills at home:

 

Talk about Things in the Here and Now 

Your child is more likely to engage with you and learn if they are interested. So provide commentary about what you and your child are doing e.g. “We’re drinking hot chocolate” “I’m eating pasta and sauce” “We’re walking to the shops”.

 

Think about changing the words and phrases you use depending on your child’s age/level of development e.g.

“We’re sipping hot chocolate” “We’re strolling to the supermarket”.

“We need to have a hot chocolate because it’s cold outside” “Do you remember when we went to the supermarket and saw Tom?”

 

Link new words with words that your child already knows e.g. “There’s a jet. A jet is a very fast aeroplane.”

 

Be face-to-face with your child when talking to them, this is something that seach therapists have found extremely useful, as this will help them to look at you and focus on what you are saying.

Spend time playing ‘pretend play’ with your child e.g. pretend that you are going on a picnic, pretend you are at the doctors, pretend that you are at school. Take on the role of your character (e.g. doctor) and say phrases and words that a doctor would use ie. “How hot do you feel? Let me take your temperature”. “Open your mouth wide…say ‘ahhh’” “Let me put a bandage on your poorly leg” this is also something that search therapists will do along other assessments.

 

Be visual when talking to your child ie.

  • Hold or point to the object you are talking about e.g. “Look at all the dark clouds (point) in the sky”
  • Gesture the action you are saying e.g. “We have got to drive to the shops”.

This will help to grab your child’s attention so that they are concentrating on what you are saying and it will help them to understand the new words.

 

Repeat, repeat, repeat. Give your child lots of opportunities to hear the new words. Children need to hear a word said a number of times before they start to use it correctly in their own speech.

 

If you have any concerns about your child’s vocabulary skills or need advice on speech therapy in Nottingham, please feel free to contact the speech therapists at Speech Right’s Nottingham base on 0115 882 0117 or info@speechright.co.uk

Children talking at a table

The Importance of ‘babbling’ in Language Development

‘Babbling’ is when your child is playing around making different speech sounds e.g. “baba”. The utterances are not yet recognisable words and your child is not intentionally trying to send you a message but, instead, they are having fun producing different sequences of sounds.

Some recent research completed by McGillion et al (2017) highlights the importance of babbling in predicting when a child will produce their first words.

In the study, 46 English-speaking children, were chosen. Their babble and pointing skills were assessed whilst they were 9-18 months old. They were regularly recorded during free-play at their homes and parents/carers also kept a diary recording any new communicative behaviours that their children displayed.

The results showed:

  • Children typically started babbling 3 months before they started pointing.
  • Most of the children typically started babbling at 10 months of age.  By 15 months of age, all the children were babbling and, by 18 months of age, all the children were pointing.
  • The start of babbling did predict when a child would use first words
  • The start of pointing predicted the range of words which the child would understand at 18 months.

How does Babbling Encourage a Child’s First Words?

It’s suggested that, because parents/carers respond to their child’s babble, this:

  • Makes it obvious to the child what communication is about: it is a two-way process with one person speaking, the other person listening and then responding.
  • Encourages the child to continue to practice making sounds
  • Helps the child to realise the role of first words

How does Pointing Predicts a Child’s Understanding of Words?

  • Pointing requires a child to have developed ‘joint attention’ (the ability to share attention with somebody else). ‘Joint attention’ is a key skill for successful communication so pointing gives a child lots of practice with this skill.
  • Carers respond to their child’s pointing by commenting and labelling what they are pointing to. This helps to build their child’s understanding levels.

What Can You Do to Develop Their Childrens’ Babbling and Pointing Skills

  • Give your child the opportunity to babble/point – pause and wait before you begin to speak to see if your child will babble or point. Sometimes, we can be so keen to talk to our child and give them lots of language models to hear that we do not give them time to communicate with us.
  • Imitate your child’s babble – copy the sounds that they are making. This will make your child feel powerful as they know you are attending to them and it may also encourage them to continue to babble. This will then set up a good two-way interaction with both you and your child taking turns.
  • Respond to your child’s pointing – if your child points to something (with or without vocalising), follow their point and comment/label it using one or 2 words e.g. “Car” “banana” “mummy’s shoes”

If you have any concerns about your child’s sound-making/babbling/pointing skills, please feel free to contact Speech Right to speak to one of our speech and language therapists here in Nottingham, who will be happy to provide advice.

 

Reference: McGillion, M., Herbert, J.S., Pine, J., Vihman, M., dePaolis, R., Keren-Portnoy, T., & Matthews, D. (2017). What Paves the Way to Conventional Language? The Predictive Value of Babble, Pointing, and Socioeconomic Status. Child Development, 88(1), 156-166.

Supporting Children with Difficulties Understanding What is Said to Them

Do you think that your child does not always understand what you are saying? Do they;

  • Respond slowly or not at all when you speak to them
  • Change the subject or go off tangent to the topic of conversation
  • Wait and follow what others do when they are spoken to
  • Have poor attention and spoken language skills.

Here at Speech Right, the speech therapists would recommend the following strategies as being useful to use:

Make Sure You Have Gained Your Child’s Attention Before Speaking To Them.

If your child is not concentrating on what you are saying, then they will not be able to listen to and understand what you mean. Wait for your child to look up from the activity they are doing and make eye-contact with you before you speak.

Reduce Your Language Level To That Of Your Child’s

If your child is using spoken phrases of 2 words, make the sentences you use with your child 2-3 words long. This might mean, rather than saying “Go and get your shoes and coat and put them on” using “Get your shoes” “Put your shoes on” “Get your coat” “Put your coat on” would be better.

Match The Words That You Use To The Words That Your Child Uses.

If you use language which is too complex, your child will not be able to workout what you are saying e.g. when a child is developing their understanding of ‘transports’, it wil

Introducing Makaton

As speech therapists in Nottingham, we are often introducing Makaton to families to support their children’s’ communication skills.

What is Makaton?

Makaton was devised by 3 speech and language therapists. It is a language programme that uses signs and symbols to help people communicate. The signs are based on signs from British Sign Language (the official sign language for people who are deaf or who have a hearing impairment) and the symbols are simple, black and white line drawings.

The CBBC ‘Something Special’ programme uses Makaton.

Who Uses It?

As a speech therapist, I have used Makaton with a range of different communication problems. By signing and symbolising the environment, adults are:

  • Encouraging children to attend to what they are saying (the child is hearing AND SEEING something)
  • Helping the children to understand by adding a visual clue to support their spoken words.
  • >Giving children confidence to support their own speech with gestures/signs as the children are surrounded by adults who are doing the same.

Speech Right has used Makaton successfully in therapy with:

  • Children who are delayed in using spoken language
  • Children who have difficulties understanding English
  • Children who are struggling to produce clear speech
  • Children with attention and listening problems
  • Children who have social communication difficulties
  • Children who have English as a second language

Can Makaton Be Used AT Home?

Yes, even if your child does not have any speech and language difficulties. Speech Right actively encourage families to use Makaton as research has shown that using signs and symbols actively encourages the development of speech and language skills (www.makaton.org.uk).

To start:

  • pick some key words which you use daily with your child and begin to sign the word everytime you say it.
  • Watch Justin and Mr.Tumble on ‘Something Special’ together with your child.

For further information about Makaton, please feel free to contact Speech Right and the speech therapists here in Nottingham will be happy to help.