Toys and games... they're how we speech language pathologists keep our kids motivated and engaged during therapy, which helps us get the maximum amount of target productions and keep those kids engaged. My practice specializes in speech sound disorders... which means that my clients can range from 10-year-olds who are working on single sound articulation errors to 3-year-olds with Childhood Apraxia of Speech. Here are some our favorite toys and games that have proven to hold kids' interest, especially for those younger ones who are minimally verbal.
Barrel of Monkeys...
For just a few dollars this little compact game is always a hit. It's quick, easily adaptable, and especially great for kids working on getting that lip closure for the /m/ sound. We dump those little guys out on the floor or table and practice our target syllable shapes as we pick them up.... "more!"... "monkey, monkey. monkey!"... "my turn!". But, this is also a great little game to reinforce counting ("let's count all the monkeys"), using adjectives ("three monkeys", "orange monkeys", "little monkeys", "silly monkeys"), and answering "wh-" questions ("what do you have?", "how many monkeys?").
Pop Up Pirate...
Another quick game that my kids just love... their little faces are priceless as the suspense builds each time they poke those swords into the barrel until that pirate pops right out. I love to use Pop Up Pirate for working on /p/ and /b/ sounds increasing in complexity... "up!", "boo!", "pop!", "pop up!", "put it in"... a great way to get the maximum amount of productions in a small amount of time. And of course, a great way to continue to enforce turn taking, descriptive language ("I have a red sword", " I have 4 green swords"), and following directions ("put a blue sword in").
Honey Bee Tree...
I bet you can guess what target sounds and syllable shapes this game is great for!... my favorites are /b/, /m/, and pairing those bilabial sounds with varying vowels, etc. ("bee", "my bee", "go bee!"). And of course, those opportunities for language are abundant... we count the leaves as we put them in the tree with each production of our target words and reinforce basic concepts ("put the leaf in", "leaves go on top", "put the bees inside", "pull the leaf out", "the bee fell down").
Mesh Squishy Ball...
I saved the best for last. This little $3 piece of gold has been a game changer for those kids who are just not interested in participating in speech therapy. We've all worked with those little ones who just want to bury their heads in mommy's lap and have no interest in interacting with us. Until I pull this little beauty out! The shyest of kids can't resist coming over and squeezing those "bubbles" back into the ball. We also get lots of opportunities for practicing target consonants ("pop", "bubble", "ball", "go in") and requesting ("more!", "again?", "do again!").
There you have it... just some of my favorite games and toys for keeping those minimally verbal kids engaged and on task so we can get the most out of speech therapy. What are some of your favorites?
Here's the 3rd installment for Better Hearing and Speech Month!
Speech-language pathologists can diagnose and treat a variety of speech and language disorders among children and adults (e.g., stuttering, voice disorders, articulation, language delays, etc.). My practice happens to specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric speech sound disorders, including articulation, phonological disorders, childhood apraxia of speech, and other motor speech deficits. But, there are 3 lesser known areas in addition to speech and language that many SLPs assess and treat...
1. Feeding and Swallowing... yup! We assess and treat all phases of swallowing. In fact, when I was working in the acute rehab setting, patients with dysphagia (swallowing disorders) were about 80% of my caseload. There are also SLPs who specialize in the treatment of atypical eating among infants and children (e.g., food selectivity/refusal, negative physiologic response, etc.).
2. Cognition... SLPs frequently address attention, memory, problem-solving, and executive functioning in many different settings, such as hospitals, skilled nursing care facilities, private practices, schools, and even in patients' homes,
3. Literacy... reading, writing, and spelling are a vital part of language, and are areas in which many SLPs choose to specialize. We often think of "language" in terms of primarily spoken language, but written language is a logical and crucial extension of language development.
Click here for more information about the SLP's Scope of Practice.
Happy Better Hearing and Speech Month! #BHSM17
In this 2nd post celebrating Better Hearing and Speech Month, I'm answering 2 common question I receive from parents about their child's language skills.
1. Is there a difference between speech and language?
Yes! Speech and language refer to two completely different aspects of communication. "Speech" refers to the actual movements required for producing speech sounds, including the movement of the jaw, tongue, lips, and vocalizations using the larynx (voice box). So, children with articulation delays, phonological disorders, and even those who stutter and exhibit voice disorders have deficits of speech and not necessarily language.
"Language" refers to socially shared rules that govern vocabulary, sentence structure (syntax), manipulating word meanings (morphology), and contextual usage of language (pragmatics). Children with deficits in the area of language may have a more limited vocabulary, difficulty using correct grammar, problems following directions, or understanding and using social language, to only name a few. There are many aspects of language that speech language pathologists assess and treat... click here for a more exhaustive list.
2. My 2 year old isn't really talking much, but he's a boy... don't boys tend to talk later?
It's true, there is a wide range of "normal" and every child develops at their own pace in their own way.... and girls do tend to develop speech and language faster than boys. But, there are still some important milestones every child should reach by a particular age.
These are only a few milestones… for more speech and language expectations, click here.
If your child isn't reaching these significant milestones, he may have a deficit in speech or language and I would encourage you to seek advice from a Speech Language Pathologist. Don't let the “my-son-didn’t-talk-till-he-was-3-and-now-he’s-fine!” stories keep you from missing critical red flags. A parent once told me, “I wish I had started speech therapy from the jump and found out she didn’t need it, than waste nearly half a year waiting to see if she would catch up."
Missing these critical milestones could mean your child may have a deficit in speech or language and I would encourage you to seek advice from a Speech Language Pathologist. Don't let the “my-son-didn’t-talk-till-he-was-3-and-now-he’s-fine!” stories keep from missing critical red flags. A parent once told me, “I wish I had started speech therapy from the jump and found out she didn’t need it, than waste nearly half a year waiting to see if she would catch up."