Monday, January 21, 2013

My Toddler Talks: A Book Review and Giveaway!

This post was originally published on Pediastaff.

Giveaway from 1/21/2012-1/27/2012! Details for entering are at the end of the post.

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing a new book:  My Toddler Talks, by Kimberly Scanlon, MA, CCC-SLP.  This book promises to provide parents with strategies and activities to promote their child's language development- and it delivers.  After looking through it, I have lots to say about it, the first of which is this: If you like Child Talk, you will love My Toddler Talks.

Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I believe toddler language can be strengthened best inside of daily play and activities.  From sidewalk chalk to bubbles to dishwashers and laundry and grocery shopping, there is little doubt that much language-learning can be woven into the context of meaningful and fun everyday activities. What's more, toddlers learn best when simple, yet specific, language facilitation strategies are integrated into those activities.  Those two things - language-learning strategies and meaningful daily routines - pack a powerful punch.  And it is precisely these two things that make up Kimberly's My Toddler Talks book.

Kimberly first does a beautiful job of describing language modeling techniques and elicitation strategies in a way that is easy for anyone to understand and apply.  Then, she helps out the parent who is stuck, in her chapter: "Troubleshooting Tips: What to Do if the Toddler is Not Imitating You." I can't tell you how many times parents have said to me, "I talk to my toddler all the time- but he just doesn't talk back!"  Kimberly wisely anticipates this and provides parents with some time-tested methods of motivating a child to imitate.  Her other introductory chapters, "The Do Not List" and "Some More Tips: The Five Rs (Raise it up, Reinforce, Respond, Rearrange, and Relax!) are also spot-on.

The real value in My Toddler Talks, though, is provided in the 25 play routines that Kimberly provides. The activities are simple and familiar, as great activities often are: animal farms, bouncing balls, dolls, puzzles and play-dough are all activities many toddlers and parents already enjoy.  Kimberly uses each of these activities to create powerful play routines, each with a beginning, middle, end and language techniques that are matched directly to the play routine. She also describes simple cues to increase the chances a toddler will imitate, such as when she suggests using a fill-in and the use of a phonemic cue ("I have a p...") to get a child to say, "pig" while playing with a farm puzzle.  Her combination of play routines and language strategies is fantastic and will surely be helpful to parents who want to boost their toddler's language!

Lucky for all of us, Kimberly has offered to giveway one free copy of her book!  To enter the giveaway:  "Like" this post and leave me a comment (here or on ChildTalk's facebook page to let me know you did so! If you leave me a commment on the blog, make sure you leave your e-mail address in the comment so I can contact you if you win. I'll select one lucky reader on Sunday 1/27/2013.

Looking for My Toddler Talks? You can find it on Amazon.
And, you can find out more about Kimberly and her book here.


Disclosure: Although I did receive a copy of Toddler Talks to reviewI did not receive compensation for this post. My views are my own.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Using Self Talk and Parallel Talk to Facilitate Toddler Language

A while back, I posted about the power parents have in growing their toddler's language. So much power, in fact, that the amount of "family talk" that surrounds a toddler at home seems to predict a toddler's vocabulary at age three and, still later, at age nine. The more a family talks, the bigger a child's vocabulary.

Pediatric speech-language therapists have their own ways for describing the 'types of talk' that benefit children.  Two of the most simple language facilitation techniques are self talk and parallel talk.  These two strategies are pretty straightforward: talk about what you are doing as your child watches (self talk), and talk about what your child is doing or seeing (parallel talk). These strategies tend to come pretty easily to most parents, although many certainly feel a bit silly talking a blue streak to a little one who doesn't yet always talk back.  But it gets easier as you go! (It helps if you already engage in "self-talk" on a regular basis with no one around.)

Short Phrases
In the video below, I'm using parallel talk and self talk to describe what I'm doing as I prepare for snack. I keep my phrases simple, using only two or three words at a time, because my little guy is at the one-word phrase level (he only says one word at a time).  When I'm teaching parents to use parallel talk and self talk, I often suggest they use phrases that are just a bit higher level than what their child is currently using.

Choosing Words
As I talk, I choose simple concrete nouns (milk, apple) paired with common verbs (pour, eat, cut) and simple, early-developing concepts (bye, in, yummy).  I do so because I know that as children start to talk, their first words tend to be nouns that represent the objects that surround them. They then begin to use words to represent the common actions they see, and then finally begin using simple locations (in, on, out, up, down), sizes (big, little) and quantities/qualities (more, one, all, yummy, yucky, hot, all gone).  So it is these three categories of words that I weave into my comments as I go.

 Indirect vs. Direct
You'll notice that I don't command my little guy to say words, because parallel talk and self talk involve indirect language facilitation, meaning that we don't require children to talk back or withhold anything until they do so. Instead, we surround children in specific types of language with the expectation that as children are exposed to these language models, they will begin to spontaneously talk in a very natural way. Although there is certainly a time when more direct language facilitation strategies are required, self-talk and parallel talk can be powerful in and of themselves.  The effects are not always immediate, as young children might not talk back right away. But, over time, these strategies can be fantastic way to keep a toddler's language growing.

In the video, I'm also demonstrating responsivity -  a fancy word that simply means I consistently and naturally respond to my little one's communication attempts.  Maternal responsivity is positively linked to language development in both typically developing children and those children who have language delays.  As I respond to my baby boy's comments and actions,  I sometimes expand his phrases, such as when he says, "apple" and I respond by saying "Apple. Yummy apple. We're going to eat apple!" or when he says, "please" and I expand it to, "please, apple." And sometimes I simply imitate his actions in a playful way, such as when I comment on and imitate his yawn, which elicits continued interaction and a giggle from him.  Although it might seem small, those little moments of shared social engagement build a beautiful foundation for language development over time.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Speaking of Apraxia

From Leslie Lindsay, author of Speaking of Apraxia:

"Many thanks to dedicated SLPs like Becca Jarzynski---
Kids with CAS now have a bigger and brighter voice. 
Becca's blog and speech tips can be seen in this book, 
Seen here at a Chicagoland Barnes & Noble.  
Also available thru Woodbine House and Amazon"  

Cool beans! :)