By Hannah Heslam - Speech and Language Therapist
As a speech and language therapist and a Mum it can be handy to have all this knowledge about speech and language development. It’s been useful to be able to see where my children are in relation to the developmental milestones I have used so much in my role as a therapist. I felt absolute fascination when each of my little ones finally started talking which was a delight and a worry, as for any Mum.
When I was 32 weeks pregnant with my second child I became concerned that my baby was not moving. I was encouraged by my other Mummy friends to seek advice, and by the evening I was in the hospital having an emergency C-section. It was a scary time and I was presented with some challenging prospects for my baby, a beautiful boy.
Having had a relatively easy pregnancy with my first little boy I wasn't prepared for or expecting to have my second child born early. It was a difficult time being swept into the delivery room and told by doctors it was going to be a hard journey ahead. He was born weighing 3lbs 4oz and spent just under 4 weeks in intensive and special care. However, he has just turned 5 years old and is surprising us all the time with how well he is doing, achieving in line with or above expected levels at school and with his happy, cheeky personality. I’m sure he couldn’t have done so well without all the support of our family and friends.
At around 2 ½ years old, despite being able to put words together, his speech was at times difficult to understand. Wanting the best for my son and for him to be able to communicate as effectively as possible with other children, I started to carry out some speech activities through play. This really improved his intelligibility. At about 3 ½ years old he did still make some sounds by releasing air through his nose instead of his mouth and he received some excellent therapy from a specialist speech and language therapist which resolved this issue.
"Being a speech and language therapist and a mum, I'm extremely passionate about how early intervention really does work. I've seen the results in children I work with and in my own little one of course"
Some words of advice about speech and language
I feel that my speech and language knowledge has supported me with my own children and I know that not everyone will have this wealth of knowledge. With Magic Words our goal is to support children with speech, language and communication needs. Below are a few key pieces of advice for you:
Repeat and Expand:
To help with your little one's language development, repeat and expand what they say. This helps to show them how they can build their sentences and to value what they are interested in communicating about e.g. Child: ‘I have car’. Parent: ‘Yes, you have a blue car’.
Commenting is great:
As parents we naturally want to ask our child lots of questions to check how they are getting on. A great way to develop language is to reduce the pressure of questions and to model language to our children by asking 1 question to 4 comments. Think of a hand, 1 question (your thumb) to every 4 comments (your fingers).
If your child has unclear speech, when they say a word that isn't clear, instead of correcting them, model it back to them so that they can hear a good model of how it should be said. For example, Child: ‘I have a dat’. Parent: ‘Yes, you do have a cat’. This allows your little one to hear how to say the tricky word but takes away the pressure of having to say it themselves.
If you would like to get in touch for any support with your child’s speech, language & communication development then please contact us.