Saturday, January 7, 2012

Top Ten Tips For Late Talkers

Worried about your late-talker?  Here are my top ten tips for helping your little one grow.
  1. Get his hearing checked. Some parents assume that if their child passes the newborn hearing test in the hospital, they no longer have to worry about hearing. This isn't true-- your child can pass the newborn hearing test and still have a hearing loss.  If your child is a late-talker, talk to your pediatrician about having a formal audiological evaluation.
  2. Take a peek at his use of gestures, his play, his eye contact, and his understanding of language. Find out more about what he should be doing in each of these areas here and here. If you notice that he is lagging behind his peers in any of these areas, talk to your pediatrician about a referral to your early intervention program. Late-talkers are more likely to need intervention if they have delays in gestures, play, eye contact, and/or receptive language.
  3. Read repetitive books and sing repetitive songs with him.  Hearing the same pattern over and over will help him anticipate what is coming next. Soon, you'll find that he starts filling words into those books and songs when you pause just a bit before the important words.
  4. Help him learn the power of words by saying, "Ready, Set, Go!" before doing something fun. Do this over and over and watch as he starts to fill the word "go" into the phrase.
  5. Talk, talk, talk to him. Use parallel talk, description, and self talk to describe what he is doing and seeing in short phrases.
  6. Pair your words with actions. Children are more likely to imitate a word when the word goes along with a familiar, repeated action.
  7. Think about using Baby Signs as a bridge to verbal communication. Parents sometimes worry that children will become dependent on signs, but research suggests the opposite: using signs and gestures with children can increase their language skills.
  8. Use communication temptations--change your late-talker's environment to give him more opportunities to communicate. For example, put his favorite toys in a see-through box. Or put his snacks up in a cupboard so he has to ask for them.  When he wants something, wait a bit to see what he does. He might say the word! If he doesn't, say the word for him and wait just a bit. If he doesn't imitate you, give him what he wants and repeat the whole process the next time.  Over time, he'll start using the word before you do.
  9. If he's not making progress, or if you just want some additional help, don't hesitate to talk to your pediatrician about a referral to an early intervention program. We don't bite. I promise. :)
  10. Love him. More than anything else, children need to be in loving, responsive relationships with their parents.  All of the above tips are important, but this is the most important one of all. 

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      1. Very timely Becca! Thanks for the great post - it really speaks to what we're going through right now! Love your blog, thanks for all of the information!

      2. Claire, I thought of you when I wrote this! I hope that things are going okay...haven't been over to your blog lately but will stop by soon. Take care! :)


      3. My first child is special needs, my second was an early talker and now with my third I am always asking myself how can I encourage him to talk. This was a good reminder for me.

      4. I'm so glad you mentioned early intervention. My son qualified, and they worked wonders with his speech! He's still in speech therapy at age three, but he's made a LOT of progress, and loved all the people who worked with him in early intervention!

      5. thanks for sharing! These are such great tips for parents!

      6. Wonderful article! Thanks for sharing all the tips and your expertise!

      7. Michelle, Pam, Jana, and The Special Marathon,

        Thanks so much for the feedback. I appreciate it!! Happy Talking!


      8. Maryanne,
        So glad you are finding EI helpful! Hope your little one continues to do well. :)

      9. great suggestions-all things that finally got my later talker originally dx as moderate Autism to say single words at age 3! And start to combine words at 3.5 yrs old. The best things for him was to play ALL his favorite things out of reach but in sight. I also LABELED everything and took pictures of anything he used daily, printed them out, laminated and put on a key ring so he could have access. I made a point of holding the pictures to real objects often and saying the words.

        Though he still receives speech therapy via school system as a kindergartner he just was tested and found eligible for the gifted and talented program starting in 1st grade!! This after EI, and preschool inclusion classes.

      10. Does watching television have any effect on late talking?

      11. These are great and useful tips. It is very important to take your child to doctor if you see something unusual. Late talkers have developmental problems but they may also have hearing problems. It is important to take necessary actions to resolve any underlying problem.

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