What to Do at Home?
Does your child have delayed speech? Yes?
Take a deep breath. It will be OK! You are here which is a great start.
Before we get to delayed speech and what you can do at home, let's do a quick review of speech development.
Speech Vs Language
People tend to use speech and language interchangeably but they are quite different!
- Speech refers to the sounds a child can say in a language. For example, can a child say the /s/ sound correctly or does it sound like a "th?"
- Language refers to what a child understands (receptive language) and what a child is able to say (vocabulary/grammar).
This is a very SIMPLE explanation for a complicated topic; however, it is important to know whether your child has difficulty with speech or language. For more information, you can check out our speech and language development overview.
On this page, we are going to discuss speech.
Should I be concerned about my child's delayed speech?
If you are asking yourself this question, the best advice I can give is to seek out an speech evaluation. Why not? There is no harm and it is ALWAYS better to know than not to know!
Below are some options for finding a speech-language pathologist in your area:
- Ask your child's pediatrician for a referral for speech therapy. Contact a speech therapist who is in-network according to your insurance plan.
- Contact Early Intervention (state-run program) if your child is under 3 years old
- Contact your Early Childhood Program (through your public school district) if your child is between ages 3-5
- Get in touch with your child's teacher and request a screening/evaluation from the school speech therapist if your child is 5 years or older
- Contact us if you live in the western suburbs of Chicago
An evaluation is critical because if your child does have delayed speech, the speech therapist must know the root cause and gather data in order methodically choose which sounds to work on first, which therapy techniques to use, and to create a functional/meaningful home program.
Please read more about evaluations of speech disorders here.
If you are still unsure IF your child even needs speech therapy, then head over to our free speech and language screening tool. You will find the answers you need there.
My child is in therapy. What can I do at home now?
If your child is already in therapy for delayed speech, then it is your job to practice his/her target sounds at home daily!!!! This may sound like a lot but it can be simple. These are my favorite tips that I give all parents:
- Practice speech sounds 3 times a day for 5 minutes at a time
- Schedule practices around a daily activity so you don't forget. My favorites are breakfast, lunch, dinner, car rides, walks, bath time, etc...
- Make practice fun and encourage all speech attempts
- Check in regularly with your speech therapist for what sounds to work on, current word lists, and how to practice a sound
How To Practice At Home
Again, check with your speech therapist for tips! Usually, speech practices follow this order:
- Drill practice: Repeating words over and over in order to teach new muscle patterns
- Naming pictures/words: No direct verbal model (no repeating)
- Using the word in a sentence
- Using the word in a game or conversation
For most of my students (over the age of 5), I suggest lots of drill practice at first. This is necessary to learn how to say a sound. For younger children, I suggest a more naturalistic approach.
Next, I have parents jump down to practicing target sounds which their child has already mastered in therapy during games and/or conversation.
It is proven that a child needs to practice their new sounds across different environments before it will become automatic...aka no more speech therapy!
If you would like more information on specific articulation therapy techniques, please click here.
Home Practice Materials
To accommodate all my reader's needs, I have 3 levels of materials,
- Free resources
- Articulation guides for purchase
- Membership program
We have free resources which include:
- Word lists
- Printable smashmats
- Game ideas
- Cueing techniques
Simply click here and then explore the sounds listed on the page. Enjoy!
This amazing resource is for both parents and professionals. It contains 400 in-depth pages needed for teaching and home practice.
This eBook includes:
- Articulation screening tool
- Templates in Google Drive for easy data tracking and graphing
- Homework sheets/parent handouts on articulation therapy
- General flashcard games
- 36 flashcards for each sound: B, D, F, G, J, K, L, M, N, P, R, S, T, V, Z, SH, TH, CH
- 8-10 functional games for each sound
- Language-based worksheets to spice things up!
- Picture description tasks
- Short story stimuli
Here at Speech Therapy Talk, we have a membership program that is designed specifically for children who have delayed speech. It reviews how to say each sound, how to teach your child each sound, and then walks you through each practice stage.
The MAJOR benefits to the membership program include:
- Cost - For a minimal price, you will have access to hundreds of pages of materials
- Online - You can log in from any device to grab your next practice idea
- Updated Materials - I am always updating the site with new materials and fixing old ones. You will always have the current materials.
For more information, click Speech Therapy Talk Membership!