And That’s a Wrap

It is bittersweet to be writing what will probably be the final entry for this blog.  Benjamin is getting ready to start Kindergarten at the local school district and we have had a busy summer that has been filled with soccer camp, baseball camp, a community theatre camp and production, a couple of family vacations and all of the things that go along with summertime and kids.

In May, we were officially released from all therapy services.  We are finally done.  Benjamin finished up with about 2 years at the Carruth Center and a total of 3 years of therapy from various professionals.  As he was approaching his 6th birthday, we found ourselves working towards speech goals that would have been for a 7- or 8-year-old.  When I look back at the amount of work that Benjamin has put into his therapy and the incredible professionals that have helped us, I am overwhelmed with a variety of emotions.

One interesting situation that has occurred from this journey is that I was selected to be part of an 8-member board for our insurance company.  This was due to the attention that I got from being so persistent in getting Benjamin’s speech therapy covered.  As a member of this board, I have influence on coverage, rates, and appeals.  It has definitely been eye-opening to see the other side of this process.  A couple of weeks ago, when reviewing an appeal for speech therapy, I was able to voice my thoughts on covering these services for children with development delays and to talk about the value of early intervention and therapy.  The board has agreed to review the exclusions and consider removing them.  It was an incredible moment for me to think that all of the work that we put in just might help make the road a bit easier for another family.

Benjamin still has a few minor speech struggles from time to time.  We still work through some jumbled sentence structure and often have to repeat something for him to fully process what we are saying, but those are minor considering where we started.  Although he is reading quite well, we have decided to repeat Kindergarten this year because of his June birthday and he could probably use another year for maturity.   So, with that, this will be our final video clip to show off Benjamin’s progress and will pretty much be a “wrap” for this blog.

The response that I have received to this blog has been incredible.  From the families that have contacted me for information (as far as India) to the clinics that have retweeted my posts, I have been honored to share Benjamin’s story with each and every one of you.  Now that the summer has drawn to an end, we are looking forward to fill the time that we spent on speech therapy with soccer, baseball, video games, reading, building Legos, and everything else that this awesome kid loves to do.

 

On Our Way to Apple

DSC_0001About 6 months have passed since my last update on Benjamin and to say that “we’ve been busy” would be a complete understatement.  Same would apply to saying “we’ve made some progress” as well.  We are trying our best to enjoy these hot summer days before he begins his Apple (Kindergarten) and final year at Presbyterian Pre-School.

As we completed the school year back in May, Benjamin has officially graduated from occupational therapy, both at the Carruth Center with Mrs. Jennifer and with El Campo ISD with Mrs. Andrea.  We have worked with, and depended on, Mrs. Andrea for so long now that she is going to pop in to check up on Benjamin a few times this year, just to make sure there isn’t anything else that we need to be working on.

IMG_3860In regards to speech therapy, we are still making our 90-minute drive (each way) to the Carruth Center twice a week to work with Miss Taylor, who Benjamin is smitten with.  When summer break is over, we will continue to see Mrs. Strickland at El Campo ISD, but reducing our time to once per week.  By the school district’s standards, Benjamin no longer qualifies for speech therapy because they feel like there is nothing standing in his way from thriving in a standard learning environment.  Based on my request to continue to work on language development, we have agreed to continue therapy at El Campo ISD, but to cut the frequency in half.

Benjamin is working on some minor speech and language issues at both locations, most that wouldn’t be considered a delay, unless he were 6 or 7 years old.  Overall, he has little to work on regarding articulation, but we are working to trying to keep all of that from flying out the window when we get excited or upset.  He often misplaces the word “is” in questions saying “What that is?” rather than saying “What is that?”  He also gets confused with some of his pronouns, exchanging “he” for “she,” “she’s” for “hers,” etc.  He typically corrects himself if we simple say “What was that?” or “Try that sentence again buddy.”

IMG_3792Miss Taylor is also working with him on “being the teacher.”  He has made such progress and is grasping language needed when is asked a question, so we are shifting the focus on letting him ask the questions.  We will usually do this at night with story time by reading him a book and then asking him to be the teacher, prompting him to ask a variety of who, what, where, when, and how, questions about various pages within the book.  He also works on advanced social language such has negotiating his wants or needs when playing or sharing with others and we sometimes push the envelope on this, causing him to get a bit upset.  This is just to make sure that he continues to communicate effectively under some pressure.  He is also doing fantastic at being able to identify an object that does not belong in a group of similar objects, but we are learning to explain why it doesn’t belong.

IMG_3947Like I eluded to earlier, we have had a busy summer.  I think our biggest event of the summer was Benjamin being cast as the baby elephant in our community theater’s production of Disney’s The Jungle Book KIDS.  For anyone that has had a child that has struggled with speech and language, you know the fear that comes over you as a parent when they face their very first public speaking event.  You also know the overwhelming pride that swells within you when they NAIL IT!  I am afraid we have a natural-born performer on our hands.  And we are so blessed that Benjamin’s therapists are so dedicated to his progress that they drive 100 miles to see his performance.  We have also managed to squeeze in a 5th birthday party, some private baseball lessons, soccer camp, swim lessons, a few Vacation Bible School programs.  We’ve also made sure there has been some down-time and plenty of fun.

I’ve included a 5-Year Progress Report video with this post, which is one of the main reason that I started this blog 2 years ago.  I have to admit that I went back last night and watched our first video when Benjamin was a little over 3 years old and I cried through the entire 4 minutes of it.  Seeing him struggle and understand that he was struggling to say his own name was heartbreaking.  I felt over 2 years of anxiety and worry instantly come over me.  It’s been a strange feeling to start letting go of some of the therapies that we worked so hard to get for Benjamin, but I have to remind myself that this is where we wanted to be.  He is an amazing child that has accomplished so much and I couldn’t be more proud of him.  I tell him regularly.

A New Year and a New Outlook

2015-10-01 at 17-21-29It has been a while since my last blog post, but we have had our head down and working hard with our speech and occupational therapy up until the Christmas holiday.  I always look forward to our Christmas and summer breaks because it seems that when we take a break from all of the therapy, we actually see some of the greatest strides from Benjamin.

We’ve kicked off 2016 and the therapy is in full swing with our continued schedule of speech therapy four times a week and occupational therapy twice a week.  Some of that is happening within the local school district and we are still making two trips a week into Houston to be with our friends at the Carruth Center.

JCH_5848-RecoveredToday’s visit to the Carruth Center was an exceptional one.  We were fortunate enough to get the opportunity to work with Nancy Kaufman.  She is “the guru” on Childhood Apraxia of Speech and we were actually at her clinic in Michigan in March 2015.  While she was in town, we were able to line up a follow up appointment with her and Ms. Taylor together.
Because Nancy sees so many children, day in and day out, I wasn’t sure if she would remember Benjamin, but she immediately recognized him from our visit back in March.  A half an hour later, Nancy came around the corner with her jaw wide open.  She could not believe the progress in Benjamin’s speech and language.  It was such incredible moment and Nancy, Taylor, and I all got a little misty-eyed over this kid.

IMG_1438Nancy said that she just doesn’t see this very often and could not get over how far Benjamin has come.  Over the last 9 – 10 months, Benjamin has met all of the goals that Nancy had set for him back in March.  The same goals that take some kids years to accomplish.  She was so astounded by the progress that she had Taylor pull his original report to make sure this was the same child.  There are still a few little articulation issues, but like Nancy said, “Who cares about that!”

She attributes his success to the fact that we took the focus off of the apraxia and attacked the language processing and after we did that, the speech just started to flow.  We really have seen a totally different kid in the last 6 – 9 months.  He is so much more outgoing, loves school, is trying so hard to start reading, and getting ready to start playing t-ball.

2015-11-14 at 09-38-42I wiped tears the entire way home.  It was such good news.  I remember the feeling when we walked out of the Kaufman Center 10 months ago.  It felt like we had hit a brick wall and were starting over.  There are times that I really need to get to work rather than starting the day with speech, or there are times that I just dread another trip into Houston.  And I would always rather just let him play than work on speech exercises before bed.  Today’s visit made all of that hard work and time away completely worth it.  It felt great.

We are incredibly blessed to have such great people that support Benjamin everyday.  His teachers, his speech therapists, his occupational therapists, our mothers that help us make the drive into Houston twice a week.  And we are incredibly blessed to have this sweetheart of a little boy that never gives up and always want to try a little bit harder.

Here is to a great beginning for the new year!

The Year of the Orange

2015-08-04 at 10-47-47For those of you that thought that I had abandoned this blog, I haven’t.  It has been a busy summer filled with birthday parties, swim lessons, Super Hero School, a couple of little vacations and of course speech therapy.  School has started, which means that our schedules have been completely turned upside-down.  With a few weeks behind us, we are starting to get back into the groove of things.
2015-09-17 at 23-33-39
Benjamin has started back at his pre-school and has moved up from the banana class into the orange class.  He has been studying the letters A and B along with the color red.  We are excited about the upcoming field trips scheduled for the year and how well he is doing there.  He is also going to daycare at MiMi’s two days a week and brought home a pretty awesome “Pete the Cat” today.  He is happy each morning to go to either place.

We are still driving an hour each way to get him to the Carruth Center in Houston twice a week.  He works with Ms. Taylor twice a week for speech and once a week with Ms. Jennifer for Occupational Therapy.  He is also getting two sessions of speech therapy and one session of OT weekly from our local school district.  We do have a new SLP through the school and it is always a bit nerve wracking to start working with a new therapist, but she is collaborating via phone with his therapist at the Carruth Center to make sure that therapies and goals are consistent.  It is great to see such teamwork happening for him.

2015-09-02 at 06-46-08As far as speech goes, Benjamin is working on answering “wh” questions (who, what, where, when, and why) about stories or pictures.  He is trying his hardest to get his “L” sounds down.  Retelling and sequencing short stories are things that we try to work in at home and throughout the day.   He is struggling a bit with following two or more directions that are given auditorily.  He can master them with a visual cue, but the language processing is keeping him from mastering it by only hearing the directions.  This is information that I have shared with his teachers to make sure that he gets the visual cue, when needed, in his learning environment.

Benjamin’s occupational therapy is focusing on proper gripping of a pencil, dressing himself, hand strength and just some tweaking on his day to day tasks.

2015-08-09 at 08-39-26My wife and I feel like we have seen another leap in improvement over the summer.  Benjamin and his sister, Brooklynn, have really begun to play well together.  It is so much fun to hear little conversations between the two of them.  He has become very social and wants to engage other children his age for conversation and play.  I know that I am biased, but I honestly think he is just the sweetest child.  He wears his heart on his sleeve, does not like to see others upset or hurting, and encourages his soccer teammates with “Come On!” and “You Can Do It!” without any prompting.  I could not be more proud of him and his incredible progress.

I have personally had some other exciting news that involves Benjamin and our “Search for Speech.”  First, I was invited to write an article for the ASHA Leader.  This is the monthly journal that goes out to the 182,000+ members of the American Speech and Hearing Association.  I was asked to write an article to tell the story of how we were able to get Benjamin’s speech therapy covered by insurance and to help encourage other therapists and families to keep fighting for resources for their children.

2015-08-22 at 09-48-46Second, I have been invited to interview for an open board position with our own insurance company, where I would help shape plans, coverage, and be involved in appeal processes.  Again, the entire reason I started this blog was to tell our story and try to help others that are walking in the same shoes that we are.  It seems to be working and that makes me very happy.

Posts may not come as often as they used to, but we are stilling working hard and loving this crazy (and very busy) life that we have.

Happy 4th Benjamin and America: A 4-Year Progress Report

Benjamin recently had his 4th birthday and life has been so crazy that it has taken me about a month to post this progress report. I am always amazed to go back and watch the previous progress reports as a comparison, so I invite you to check out them out yourself if you really want to see how far we have come.

I simply cannot say enough about the amount of progress that we have made. This little guy works hard and is proud to show it off. We continue speech therapy twice a week at the Carruth Center during the summer, giving us a little break from our previous 5-times-a-week therapy we were doing back in May. Historically, we have been surprised to see the amount of progress we make when we take a little break during the summer and holiday months.

 

We recently had Benjamin complete the Battelle (BDI) with his neurologist so that we can continue to monitor scores and progress on this standardized test. This year the test administrator commented that Benjamin was a totally different child than she had seen in the past. He was completing tasks before she prompted him, laughing, and interacting with her. She stated that the children she tests are not able to interact with her that much and that Benjamin was going to give her a “success story” that she would be able to share with discourage parents in the future.

 

IMG_5886After the results were in, we were so impressed with the level of improvement that the test had indicated. This was so refreshing because so many times in the past, we felt like we would see great progress at home and test scores weren’t indicating the same. I am happy to report that Benjamin falls within all “normal” ranges for all areas of the Battelle including speech and language! He is at the very bottom of the normal range for speech and language, but we are getting there. We were even seeing some advanced levels in motor skills.

 

We aren’t out of the woods though. It is pretty common for me to be able to understand what Benjamin is saying, but people that do not interact with him regularly still struggle to understand him. A few weeks ago, Benjamin was at the front of the church during the children’s sermon. The pastor was talking to the kids about Jesus calming the stormy seas and Benjamin raised his hand and started talking about Noah’s Ark. The pastor had no clue what Benjamin was talking about, but I was so impressed that he was taking all of the references about storms, seas, boats, and started talking about the story of Noah.

 

IMG_5986I honestly think that we can attribute Benjamin’s progress to focusing our therapies away from articulation and speech clarity and moving to build a better understanding of language – processing the language around us and how to use it properly. We do have occasional set backs, but he is blossoming into such a sweet little boy that getting more confident in his abilities each and every day.

 

And on that note, enjoy the video progress report, and God Bless America!

 

The Battle for Insurance Coverage – We Won!

IMG_5556Let me just start by saying that this blog post is not to bash our insurance company. In fact, you will rarely hear me speak in a negative way about our insurance company because of the incredible coverage that we have and the benefits that our company provides.

I have learned that most families that have their children in regular speech therapy run into some trouble with getting insurance to cover these necessary therapy sessions. In fact, when we started the process of getting Benjamin to see Nancy Kaufman, we found an entire page on her website that contains tips for getting speech therapy covered by insurance. See Nancy’s tips for insurance coverage here.

IMG_5487The response that we were getting from our insurance provider was that speech therapy is not covered for “developmental delays.” I tried to explain to the insurance company that Childhood Apraxia of Speech is not a developmental delay. It is a neurologic and organic condition and that speech therapy almost takes on the feel of physical therapy as we work with Benjamin trying to train the muscles that control mouth to produce intelligible vocabulary. The thing that really did not make sense to me was that if I stepped out onto the street and was hit by a car and lost the ability to speak, my speech therapy would be covered – but my son who was struggling to begin to speak would not be covered.

The best piece of advice that I can give you is to make friends with all of your providers. They are incredible resources, wanting to see your children succeed and will help you in everyway that they can – including insurance topics. In all of my online searches, I also stumbled on a contact at the American Speech and Hearing Association that is an advocate for patients. I reached out to her and she shared an incredible packet of information that contained articles, tips, and sample letters for appealing denied insurance claims. Download the Pediatric Verbal Apraxia Info Packet here.

IMG_5434After getting the packet, a letter of medical necessity from Benjamin’s neurologist, and reports from all of Benjamin’s therapists, I submitted our appeal. I am excited to tell you that after several months of review, Benjamin’s speech therapy will now be covered by insurance and that will be retroactive to the claims that we paid out of pocket over the last year. They are not paying it at 100%, but we will take all of the help that we can get – and if we never got insurance to cover his therapy, that would not have stopped us from perusing all of the specialists that we have seen. I would dig ditches to make sure that he got everything that he needs for his speech success because I’m his dad – and that’s what dads do for their kids.

Heading Down a New Path

In August 2014, Benjamin was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech and the minute that we received that diagnosis we have been on a waiting list to get into the Kaufman Children’s Center in West Bloomfield, Michigan to work with Nancy Kaufman – the expert in Apraxia. For the last several months we have been playing a waiting game to find out exactly what type of therapies would be most beneficial and develop a customized apraxia treatment for Benjamin. After a few hours at the Kaufman Center, we learned that we would be traveling down a new path.

FullSizeRenderMy wife and I sat behind a plate glass window to watch the evaluation process begin. Nancy began to place story cards in front of Benjamin asking him to tell her what was going on in the pictures. After asking him in several different ways and presenting the cards in different ways, we quickly began to see that she had identified a weakness and watching him struggle through the process (and not be there to speak for him) began to create a very helpless feeling for the both of us.

Nancy brought us into the office and began to explain to us that Benjamin has a Language Processing Disorder, meaning that he has a hard time processing the language around him. The best analogy to describe what Benjamin is experiencing is if you were to travel to a foreign country where you did not know the language. You might pick up some common words and phrases to help you get by, but you struggle to understand those around you and to communicate with them as well.

This disorder affects the area of the brain that controls language processing. Language processing disorders are sometimes called auditory processing disorders.  They are characterized by difficulty understanding and processing what is being heard.  This does not necessarily mean that the child has a hearing loss; rather their brain does not process or interpret auditory information properly. The auditory nervous system is the pathway that carries sound from the inner ear to the brain for understanding.

FullSizeRender-2So what happened to the Apraxia? Nancy still thinks that Benjamin has some signs of Apraxia, but the severity of the Apraxia is either very mild or that we have made great strides in working with Benjamin at home. Nancy feels like clarity of speech will come and he will become completely intelligible, so the therapies working towards Apraxia can definitely take a “back seat” to the Language Processing Disorder.

Focusing on building language for Benjamin, specifically receptive language, expressive language, and social language, will also help Benjamin speak more clearly and converse at a more age-appropriate level. Right now Benjamin does display some very clear speech, but Nancy brought to our attention most of that speech is combined with “mumbo-jumbo” fillers and the speech that does come through isn’t appropriate to the conversation or situation. The “mumbo-jumbo” comes from Benjamin not understanding how to use words like he, she, the, for, on, with, etc. The clear speech is usually a script that he has learned from a movie or a favorite topic – Radiator Springs, Lightening McQueen, Disneyland, etc.

Trying to wrap my head around what is going on in Benjamin’s little head, I think about singing the song “La Bamba.” Living in south Texas, I have been exposed to Spanish my entire life and I know some key words and phrases. I remember singing the song and just kind of mumbling through the main portions of the song, clearly not speaking any real Spanish, but then getting loud and clear when it got to the actual “La Bamba” part – meanwhile never really knowing what it was that I was even singing about in the first place.

FullSizeRender-1This week has been extremely stressful for all of us. Benjamin has endured countless evaluations, speech therapy, language mapping, and occupational therapy. Kaydi and I have just been trying to wrap our brains around all of this and what we need to do for Benjamin. I told Kaydi that I feel like we have been cramming for a mid-term all week long and there just room for one more piece of information.   Our goal is to have Benjamin as well rounded as possible, provide him with every tool that we can for him to be successful in life, and to find every opportunity for him to find joy in life and be a joy to others. At the end of these long and stressful days we take our turns tucking Benjamin into bed and hearing those sweet little words “I love you too Daddy” gives me enough fuel to tackle the next day.

We have had a tremendous amount of information presented to us this week that we need to process and a lot of new things to learn, which means that I will be on a blogging frenzy again. Stay tuned for more information and updates. In the meantime, we covet your thoughts, support, understanding, and prayers.

A Progress Report – 4 Months Later

Well it has been approximately four months since we received Benjamin’s diagnosis of Childhood Apraxia of Speech and we continue to see progress. Some days feel like we take giant steps and others feel like we slipped backwards a bit, but overall he is doing great.

We typically take a break from all therapy around Christmas to give us all time to just enjoy each other, but it is time to get started again and see what accomplishments 2015 will hold for us. Benjamin continues to attend preschool and daycare five days a week. He makes two trips a week to the elementary school for speech therapy and he also receives two visits from a private SLP, once at school and once at home, each week. We also work in one visit a week for occupational therapy.

As far as his speech goes, Benjamin is getting pretty strong in his individual words, but still very much struggles in putting words together which makes conversation difficult and frustrating at times. We have a few sounds such as “K” and “L” that rarely appear, but continue to work with him and making him aware of them so that he can prepare for those sounds as they are needed.

Sensory skills continue to develop and we have overcome so many daily activities that used to leave all of us in tears. However, haircuts still bring this child to a state of complete meltdown. I am not sure if or when he will ever get over that one.

We are scheduled to take Benjamin to the Kaufman Children’s Center in Michigan this March to work with Nancy Kaufman. We have even made arrangements for Benjamin’s private SLP to join us for a few days to work alongside Nancy and help bring her expertise home with us. I have been so anxious to get him to Nancy to so that she can develop a plan customized for Benjamin.

Benjamin’s personality continues to show through and my wife and I are left speechless with how sweet of a child he is. He wears his heart on his sleeve and gets his feelings hurt very quickly. We are also seeing how funny he can be trying to pull little pranks on us and making attempts at “knock-knock” jokes. It is frustrating to think about the pieces that we are missing because of the communication barrier we face daily.

We have a great group of professionals working with Benjamin, overall he is a happy little boy, we are getting him every tool to help him succeed and I can only hope for even greater strides in 2015.

Happy New Year.

 

 

There’s No Such Thing as a Magic Pill

fig-vayarinbottle.mediumI’m pretty sure everyone knows that there is no such thing as a magic pill, especially to correct a speech delay. A few months back, Benjamin’s neurologist suggested that we try a prescription supplement called Vayarin. He let us know that this was a prescription level Omega-3 supplement that has recently been approved by the FDA. Its primary use was to treat children with ADHD and essentially had no side effects. When we had the prescription filled, the pharmacist let us know that it was being used to treat some other conditions such as migraine headaches.

IMG_4409Because Vayarin is a supplement, it takes time to build up in the child’s system and you don’t see immediate results. Dr. Rotenberg suggested that we give it a try for at least 30 days. If we didn’t feel like we were seeing any results, he suggested that we take Benjamin off of the Vayarin to see if we noticed a regression. Since there weren’t any side effects, what could it hurt?

The biggest problem that we have with Vayarin is that Benjamin cannot swallow a capsule yet so we have to find things to “hide” it in. The taste of the supplement is awful – a fishy metallic flavor. We are able to get Benjamin to take down the Vayarin when it is hidden in a Yoplait Go-Gurt Yogurt.

IMG_4203The jury is still out on whether or not Vayarin is doing us any good or not. When we first started giving it to Benjamin, there were a lot of changes going on – new school, new speech therapists through the school district, new occupational therapist, etc. We did start seeing a significant overall improvement in Benjamin including speech, social skills, and sensory integration, but I am not sure it is the Vayarin, one of these other changes that occurred at the same time, or just a combination of all of them.

Personally, I don’t like to take medicine if I don’t have to. My wife and I talk about taking Benjamin off of the Vayarin to see if we notice a difference, but Benjamin is doing so well and making such great progress that we just don’t want to rock the boat at this point.

For more information on this supplement, check out the Vayarin website.

Tools for Speech Success

This post is a little less personal, but is intended to offer some tools for parents that are looking for some tips to help promote speech development. When Benjamin was evaluated by an SLP at Texas Children’s Hospital, these were the tools that she shared with us and they were some of the first tools that we had to use. I think they are great tools that can be implemented with any child, with or without a speech delay.

  • 2013-10-23 at 17-23-38Hand/Toy Cues: Teach the child to listen to your voice by putting your hand or a toy in front of your mouth and then tell the child what you want him to repeat. Point to the child and say “your turn” and put your hand or the toy in front of their mouth.
  • The Power of Pause: Let the child attempt to respond and communicate with you before jumping in to assist. Pause. Silently count to ten before taking your turn in the conversation. This gives the child a chance to process what has been said and formulate a response.
  • Encourage Imitation of Gestures & Sounds: Put blocks in a container and shake it to make noise and then see if the child will imitate. Play simple, repetitive games like “peek-a-boo” or “pat-a-cake” and encourage imitation of sound and movement. Push a toy train and say “woo-woo” and a car and say “beep-beep”. Say “shhh” while putting toys to bed. While looking through a book containing pictures of animals, make associated sounds.
  • Interpret Nonverbal Communication: Interpret what the child is saying and attempt to substitute a word for nonverbal cues. If the child is requesting a ball by pointing, provide a label such as “Ball? You want the ball?” and see if they will imitate the word. Accept approximations when teaching new words and keep the labels on the child’s level.
  • Respond to All Spontaneous Verbalization: Give the child your full and immediate attention by giving positive feedback such as a hug or a smile. Children learn to imitate by being imitated, so imitate all verbalizations.
  • Narrate Life: Talk about what your child is doing, as he/she is doing it. (For example, “Benjamin is eating bananas. Uh-oh! The banana fell down. It’s dirty. Yucky!” It will help the child learn to listen when you talk about things they are interested in.
  • Expose Child to Various Experiences: Teach language that
    goes with the experience. Take photos and create an experience book to talk about “what is happening” in the pictures. Add in language concerning textures, colors, shapes, and smells.
  • 2013-07-28 at 08-35-03Choose Meaningful & Functional Words: Use all types of words: nouns for naming (Mama, Daddy, Baby, etc.), things (eyes, shoes, cookie, etc.), verbs for actions (open, wake up, eat, etc.), adjectives/adverbs (hot, dirty, more, etc.), and prepositions (on, off, in, etc.).
  • Use Daily Activities to Teach Listening & Speaking: Teach words like “shirt”, “pants”, “shoes” while helping during dress time. Use meals to talk about various food names and action words like “pour”, “apple”, “eat”. Take advantage of every opportunity you have.
  • Use Simple Intact Language: Start with 3-4 word phrases to help the child understand spoken language, but remember to keep your language intact. Do not leave out words like “is” or “the”. For example, instead of saying “baby eating” you should say, “the baby is eating”. Leaving the little words out now makes it harder to add them back in later on.
  • Sabotage Situations for Words: If the target word is “more” try to use daily activities to elicit the target. Serve the child only a small sip of juice or milk rather than filling the cup. This will encourage them to request “more”. If they do not produce the words after you try 2 or 3 times, pour only a small amount more and repeat the process.
  • 2014-01-25 at 17-13-57Sing: Songs are simply stories set to music. Children’s songs are great souce for early vocabulary development. Singing can also help develop pitch, rhythm, control of intonation, and breath flow.
  • Accept Approximations: Children will often use the same sound for several words. Accept approximations as real words and respond with what you think they are trying to say (e.g., “Oh, you want a cracker?”).
  • Don’t Over Articulate: If you must segment a word, always put it back to natural context. Be aware to model natural articulation patterns (e.g., “butter” usually pronounced “budder”).
  • Read Regularly: When children hear new ideas and new words, they expand their world and develop their thinking skills. Books are a great vehicle for developing vocabulary and storytelling skills. Encourage your child to point to and label pictures in the book after you have read it to them a few times.