Speech: 8 Activities to Help with a Speech Delay


When a child has a speech delay, communicating about their wants and needs can be a difficult task. It may be equally frustrating for caregivers and adults when communication is ineffective. Whether the speech delay is developmental or due to another medical issue such as a hearing loss or autism, teaching a child with a speech delay can be achieved with the right approach. Encouraging communication is key. Here is a list of talking tips and oral exercises for effective communication with your child at each developmentally critical stage:

Speech Delay 1

8 Activities to Help with a Speech Delay

1. Provide a language rich environment by talking about your daily routines throughout the day in simple language (2-3 words at a time). This may help to build receptive language skills. Use lots of speech/routine games such as "Paticake," "Itsy Bitsy Spider," and singing. Watch as well as listen to your child's responses, and respond to all intentional communication both nonverbal and verbal (a smile, movement, vocal attempt, or actual word).

2. Talk using simple, clear language. Discuss what your child is feeling, hearing, or doing throughout the day. Don't forget to praise your child's efforts to communicate. You may make a "speech/language book" by cutting out pictures of favorite toys or foods from the newspaper, or adding photos of family members into a homemade journal. You can "read" your book daily and practice words of favorite toys, foods, and people.

3. Ask questions to stimulate additional thought and language. However, limit the frequency of questions you use. Frequent "commenting" often elicits as much, or more, language from a child.

4. Play "Simon Says" or other listening/following instruction games to help develop listening skills. Make sure requests are simple (i.e., "touch your nose").

5. Blow bubbles! Not only is blowing bubbles a great activity to keep children entertained, but it also increases the use of the facial and jaw muscles. Developing a strong "bubble blowing" oral position can help a child who has a speech delay make the "w" sound, as in "what" or "ewww," and long "o," as in "book" or "food," and other sounds.

6. Drink from a straw. This oral exercise is great with kids who have a speech delay because it uses the same muscles that blowing bubbles does, except it also gets the tongue moving and raises awareness of the pallet. This oral exercise also offers a tighter grip than blowing bubbles, further developing the muscles in the moth, face, and jaw. Try to encourage your child to drink from a straw as often as possible to help improve their speech delay.

7. Use finger guides. Many children with a speech delay cannot figure out what to do to make the words and sounds they need to make come out. By adding little "queues" and guides, you can help your child take notice to the position of YOUR lips when speaking to them. Simply point to your lips when you use letters like "p" as in "pop," "b" as in "ball," "m" as in "mine," and so on. It also helps if your speech is semi-over exaggerated. Say POP!, instead of pop. Make it exciting and repeat the first syllable a few times before saying the word. For example say "Pa Pa Pa - POP!" while pointing to your lips while talking to your child. In time, you can place your finger near their lips to encourage them to do the same.

8. Make eye contact. Take every opportunity you can to use words and make eye contact with your child. It can be as easy as listening to the sound of the car and saying “vroom vroom vroom” while the engine starts. Maintain eye contact and exaggerate the sounds heard in the beginning or end of the word, such as "VROOOOOMM."

Remember to celebrate what your child can do, and enjoy them while they are little. Embrace the areas where they excel and work on the things that are hard for him. The most important thing to remember is that a slow start does not mean speech won't come. Much like learning to walk, these processes take time and many kids work on a different time table. Don't be afraid to inquire for help from professionals. Many times these services are offered for free through the education system. Inquire at your school about available types of speech programs.

Don’t forget, your child has already shown you that they can learn and do so many things. He or she will learn to do the rest on his own time.

How do you help encourage your child's speech development? What has been the most helpful technique?

Talking Tips contributed by and Photo Contributed by Flickr

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Jocelyn Lieppman

Jocelyn is a recent college grad who is passionate about writing, traveling, and teaching. Right now, she works as a private tutor in Southern California as she explores her career interests. She spends her free time exploring new places and finding new adventures wherever she goes.


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