Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fabulous First Words

As a pediatric speech-language therapist, I find myself teaching toddlers the same first words over and over.  Why?  Because, based on the principles of speech sound development, I know which types of words will be the easiest for a child to imitate.  And, I know what kids like!  Combining those two factors together has led to a first words list that I keep tucked in the back of my head and rapidly sort through during therapy sessions as I find ways to sneak the words into toddler activities.

Parents are often amazed as their toddlers start talking quickly using these words. But what looks like magic is really just simple science.  To arrive at this "magic" word list, I simply combine what we know about speech sound development with what what we know about the easiest syllable shapes.  And, presto, words emerge. 

Once a child has mastered words in one word list, I know he is ready for the next level.  And up the word lists we go.  This is especially effective for children who are diagnosed with apraxia of speech, but it works well for all children, typically developing or not. 

So, what are these fabulous first words?  

For very beginning speakers
Bye, Boo, Bee, Baba, Baby, Baaa (for a sheep), 
Bee, Bye, Ball (ba is okay), Bubble (buhboh)
Me, My, Mo (for more), Moo (for a cow),  Mama, 
Papa, Pooh, Pea, Pow, Puppy, Dada, 
Ni-ni, Nana (banana/grandma), Up, On, In, Out,  
Two,Toy, Toe, Tree (tee) Eat, No, Neigh
Hoo Hoo (owl sound), Hi, Go, Wee, Woah! Wow, Yay!

The next step up
Ta-da!, Oh-no, Uh-oh, Oh-boy! 
Mommy, Daddy, Num-num,
Apple (apo), Open (opuh), cracker (kaka)
Pop, Mom, Dad, Boom, Beep, Bam, Peep,
 Nite, Hot, Hat, Hop Down, Done, 
One, Dot, Toot, Elmo ("Emo")

One more step up
 Pony, Cookie, Nummy, Nite, Muddy, Table (tabo)
Happy, Tummy, Duckie, Doggie, Kitty, Water (watuh)
Book, Bonk, Please (pees), See, Bed, Bike, Choo choo ("too too")
Truck (tuck), Spoon  (poon),  Duck, Milk
Cow, Cheese (tees), Candy, Bunny, Piggie, 
Eyes, Nose, Toes, Bus, Car ("Ka"), Cup, Bed, Yes or Yeah, 
Block (bak), Big, Juice (doos), Off, Wet, Dirty (dihtee)

So now that you know the magic words, how do you get children to say them?
Surround him with these words in All Kinds of Talk,

Happy Talking! :)