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Top 3 Proven Speech Therapy Tips When Your Child’s Speech Is Unclear
Having trouble understanding what your child is saying?
Does she say “yion” instead of “lion” or make mistakes with other sounds?
Is your child left out at school or at the playground because other children cannot understand him?
It’s frustrating for both you and your child when you can’t understand her, and have to ask multiple questions just to clarify. Here are the main reasons we often explain to our speech therapy clients why your child has slurred speech:
Various muscles are involved when producing speech, and sometimes the inability to move those muscles can cause speech to be slurred. For example, your child may not be able to lift the tip of his tongue to produce the ‘the’ sound
Control and Coordination.
The problem may not be muscle weakness, but rather your child has difficulty coordinating the movements. This is similar to people who can’t dance. There is nothing actually wrong with their legs, but they dance ‘with two left feet’. So, your child may be able to tell ‘the’ in ‘lion’ but unable to say ‘the’ in “caterpillar”. Or she could say ‘lion’ one minute and ‘that’ the next, and ‘win’ the next one.
This is more about having a cognitive concept of sounds, as opposed to the physical aspect of speech production. For example, if your child grew up speaking or hearing Mandarin Chinese, he can say ‘oh-‘ instead of ‘house’ or ‘cat-‘ instead of ‘catch’.
It is not that he is unable to produce the ‘-if’ or the ‘-ch’ sound; it’s simply because there are no such final sounds in Mandarin and thus makes it difficult for him to grasp the concept that there are final sounds in English.
Why Talk Therapy is Important
A speech therapist is a professional who is specifically trained to diagnose and treat speech problems in children (and adults). Logotherapy is important because it:
1. Makes your life easier
2. Eliminates the vicious cycle: slurred speech causes less interaction and therefore less speech input and poorer speech and language.
When your child has slurred speech, this can result in less interaction with other children, which would result in even worse speech and language due to the lack of practice. Even adults attend speech therapy classes just for that reason.
3. Affects how your child learns to read.
Instead of learning that the letter ‘s’ has the sound in ‘sock’, for example, if he says ‘tock’ instead, he may end up thinking that the letter ‘s’ has a ‘t’ sound
The 4 Guiding Principles for Logotherapy
Teaching a child with slurred speech may be different than how you teach other children in your family. You may need to repeat more often and emphasize the sounds more. Here are some things we use regularly in speech therapy when dealing with your child’s slurred speech:
Be aware that clear speech sounds come from the speech motor movements of the tongue or lips or other speech muscles. (It’s not “All about that bass” it’s “All about the place”!) The placement of the tongue, that is.
We produce different speech sounds in tongue twisters (“She sells seashells on the beach.”) and in everyday speech because we are able to move our tongue to different positions inside the mouth, as well as producing sounds in different ways. Some sounds are ‘quiet blowing sounds’ like e.g ‘f’, ‘s’, ‘sh’; some other sounds are ‘noise sounds’ like e.g ‘z’ or ‘r’.
Be aware that some sounds develop earlier, some sounds develop later.
The general developmental order of speech is “from the outside in”. This means that it is easier for your child to use their lips and jaw than their tongue. Therefore, it is important to note that some sounds do not come as easily as others.
Be aware that not all words that start with the same letter or sound will be equally easy or difficult.
A child who has difficulty speaking “k” sounds will find it easier to say the sound in a word like “kite” where the mouth is more open and there is more space for the tongue at the back of the mouth compared to saying it right in “key” where the mouth is. more closed
Be aware that getting from where he is now to the target sound may take a few intermediate steps.
For example, if your child cannot say “la” and says “ge” instead, she may need to learn to progress from ‘g’ to ‘d’ and then ‘th’. Anything that moves her in the right direction is progress.
Now that we’ve examined the “why,” it’s time for the “how”:
Here are the top 3 tips for talking therapy:
1. Slow down, emphasize the sound and do everything you can to show your child the necessary tongue and lip movements.
If your child says ‘tote’ instead of “chocolate”, instead of just telling your child ‘No, say chocolate’, at your usual conversational speed, try to slow down and emphasize the sound: ‘ch-okolato‘. Exaggerate what you do with your mouth. Look in a mirror with your child as you teach so he can see what you are both doing.
If your child cannot say the whole word, at least try to correct a small part of the word, for example, only being able to say the sound on his own. “ch-ch-ch” or even only the sound is partially correct, like only being able to blow out the air, or simply round the lips.
2. Help your child hear what it is not and what it is.
Help your child avoid mistakes and say sounds correctly by showing them what it is no and what it is. For example, “I don’t have coyour pencils, these are all colour pencils What would you like?” Your child is more likely to say “crayon” correctly.
It is also important for you to give them very clear feedback. This includes imitating what your child is doing or describing the sound in a language your child can understand. For example, you could say, “If you say ‘-op’ your friend may not understand you. It is a quiet sound ‘h-oop’.”
3. One Game Changer Tip: Teach it out loud, then say it silently, then say it again out loud.
One great speech therapy tip I’ve found with my experience is to focus on the movement of the mouth. Ask your child to say the word, for example, “strawberry” with you. On the second try, just mouth the word without saying it out loud.
Encourage your child to move his mouth in the same way. This allows your child to focus more on the movements of the mouth. Using a mirror can help your child see exactly how they are moving their mouth.
Please understand that correcting slurred speech with speech therapy exercises is a process. Being able to do it slowly is better than not being able to do it at all. Logotherapy to learn the necessary lip and tongue movements it’s more like learning to dance or how to play the piano rather than learning a new language.
Only knowing the word is not the same as being able to move the tongue fast enough to say the word It takes practice and the more you practice, the better you get. So you want to try to get your child to say the word more than once. One time is NOT practice.
Remember: your child is where he is now because of how he is learning so far. If your child learns speech in a different way, he needs to be taught in a different way. Seek help from a professional and consult a speech therapist.
Working together with a speech therapist will save you and your child a lot of time and frustration. More often than not, your child will enjoy the speech therapy sessions too!
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