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Guest Post: Simple Activities to Help Your Child with Language Impairment

If your child has been identified as having a language impairment, there are simple activities you can do at home that facilitate language development. These activities work in conjunction with your child’s formal therapy sessions and the activities he or she may participate in at school, either in the classroom or in an adjunct therapy session.

Such activities have three characteristics:

  • They are fun.

Therapy is almost always more effective for small children if it’s fun. Observe the therapist and note that almost all of the activities during the session are based around something that your child already likes to do.

  • They are part of “ordinary” interactions.

While formal therapy sessions are important, the activities at home don’t need to resemble therapy. Instead, they should be built into the normal course of everyday interactions to facilitate language skills naturally.

  • They build receptive language and vocabulary.

As you help your child develop language at home, the process becomes a natural part of your day together. Instead of being singled out as “language impaired,” your child is a loved and “normal” part of your family, and building his or her language skills becomes something that you do with your child just as you would with anyone. In addition, the interaction as you work together to strengthens your bond as you communicate.

Some simple activities to help your child include:

  • Reading aloud

Every child loves to be read a bedtime story; it’s a special time to snuggle with Mom or Dad and to hear a favorite story, again and again. Children find this repetition comforting; it also helps build both receptive and communicative language because as they learn the familiar words – both what they mean and how to say them – they can repeat them as you read the story together. This is perhaps the most perfect activity to help your child because you can do it every day. In fact, your child will look forward to it and probably even demand that it be done.

  • Telling stories, repeating rhymes, and asking your child to “complete the sentence”

Nursery rhymes and familiar stories are additional fun ways to expose your child to both communicative and receptive language. These activities develop language skills in a playful and non-stressful manner. For example, as your child develops familiarity with a rhyme, story, etc., simply pause at the end of a phrase and have him or her complete it.

  • Singing and listening to songs

Music is a wonderful facilitator of language too, and great to include in activities to help your child with language impairment issues. Spend some time each day singing together or listening to songs while driving, for example.

  • Playing the game, “What comes next?”

The “alphabet song” is a good example of how to play the game, “What comes next?” with your child. Since this song helps most children learn the alphabet, begin by singing the song together, and then as your child learns the alphabet, drop out so he or she sings the next letters alone.

“What comes next?” can also be played with days of the week, months of the year, counting, and more. The beauty of “What comes next?” is its applicability to anything language-based. Customize it to suit your child’s likes and dislikes, and it never gets boring.

  • Providing appropriate language modeling

Among the best activities to help your child is modeling correct language during conversations. Your child will watch, learn, and ultimately respond correctly, with gentle prompting at first.

About the author:

Erica L. Fener, Ph.D., is Vice President, Strategic Growth at Progressus Therapy, a leading provider of school-based therapy and early intervention services.

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In Case You’ve Missed it – Multisensory stimulation: using edibles to enhance learning

Last week one of my posts was a part of Speech Snacks Blogiversary . In case you missed it, read below some of my suggestions on how to creatively use edibles to enhance learning.

There are times when we (speech-language pathologists) encounter certain barriers when working with language impaired children. These may include low motivation, inconsistent knowledge retention, as well as halting or labored progress in therapy. Consequently, we spend countless hours on attempting to enhance the service delivery for our clients. One method that I have found to be highly effective for greater knowledge retention as well as for increasing the kids’ motivation is incorporating multisensory stimulation in speech and language activities. Continue reading In Case You’ve Missed it – Multisensory stimulation: using edibles to enhance learning

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App Review and Giveaway: Speech Therapy for Apraxia – Words

A little while ago I reviewed “Speech Therapy for Apraxia” by Blue Whale Apps. You can Find this post HERE. I liked that app so much so I asked the developer to take a look at the next level of this app “Speech Therapy for Apraxia – Words”.

Similarly to Speech Therapy for Apraxia, Speech Therapy for Apraxia-Words is designed for working on motor planning with children and adults presenting with developmental or acquired apraxia of speech. Continue reading App Review and Giveaway: Speech Therapy for Apraxia – Words

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App Review and Giveaway: Speech Therapy for Apraxia – NACD Home Speech Therapist

Recently I got the opportunity to take a look at the “Speech Therapy for Apraxia – NACD Home Speech Therapist” by Blue Whale Apps.

According to the developer the app is applicable to

• SLPs with individuals with apraxia (both children and adults)
• Parents working with children with apraxia
• Traditional articulation practice (drills)

Developed by the National Association for Child Development (NACD) by an SLP, the Apraxia app provides choices of different phonemes to target and gradually increases the levels  of difficulty to improve motor planning for speech. Continue reading App Review and Giveaway: Speech Therapy for Apraxia – NACD Home Speech Therapist

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To Speech Buddy or Not to Speech Buddy: That is the Question?

A few weeks ago I received my new gleaming set of Speech Buddies for the purposes of review.  So today I’ll be describing my experiences using speech buddies in speech therapy with several clients. My client’s ages were 3.5, 4.5, 8, and 9. Prior to initiating the use of the speech buddies I have posed a number of questions for myself including:

  1. Does the use of a particular speech buddy really shorten the time needed to attain sound mastery? (Since on their intro page a chart shows them to be twice as faster in eliciting correct sound production)
  2. How does the use of a speech buddy compare with the use of a “traditional” oral placement implements (e.g., bite block, tongue depressor, cotton tip applicator, etc)
  3. Do the speech buddies justify their cost? Continue reading To Speech Buddy or Not to Speech Buddy: That is the Question?
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In case you missed it: How to Successfully Address Client’s Inattention, Impulsivity, and Hyperactivity in Therapy Sessions

Last week I did a guest post for The Speech Bubble Blog. In case you missed it,  below are my recommendations on how to address aspects of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity in your therapy sessions.

In recent years, with the ‘back to district trend’ sweeping our schools, more and more speech language pathologists find themselves working with children who present with behavioral deficits in conjunction with speech-language delays and impairments. A significant portion of work with these children in therapy involves successful management of a number of behavioral difficulties, which often interfere with successful objective completion and goal attainment. Continue reading In case you missed it: How to Successfully Address Client’s Inattention, Impulsivity, and Hyperactivity in Therapy Sessions

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App Giveaway: Are you Sleeping?

Today Thanks to the generosity of Lavelle Carlson of I am giving away multiple copies of their newest app “Are You Sleeping”.

Continue reading App Giveaway: Are you Sleeping?

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Guest Post:Speech and Language Therapy for Preschool Students with Severe Special Needs

Today I have the pleasure of bringing you a guest post by Carrie Manchester the author of popular speech pathology blog: Carrie’s Speech Corner.  Carrie’s guest post takes me back to my Clinical Fellowship Year, when I worked with children 3-21 years of age with severe disabilities.  Below, Carrie provides an overview of communication approaches with preschoolers diagnosed with severe language disabilities. 

Across the country, school department budgets are shrinking.  Because of this, many schools are choosing to create classrooms and accommodate the IEPs of students with severe special needs rather than contracting out to “Day School” programs.  As a result, SLPs are finding more and more children with challenging disabilities on their caseloads.

My district is no different.  In 2007, I found myself working in a preschool classroom for children with severe special needs.  The terminology for this type of classroom varies across the nation, but the dynamics are pretty similar:  small class size, smaller student to teacher ratio, children with multiple impairments, and a great deal of related services.  In the five years I spent working in this classroom, I saw children with many different disabilities:  Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Myotonic Dystrophy, Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum, Chromosome Deletion Syndromes, William Syndrome, etc.  Most of the students’ IEPs specified speech and language services several times per week. Continue reading Guest Post:Speech and Language Therapy for Preschool Students with Severe Special Needs

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Book Review and Giveaway: My Toddler Talks

 Today it is my pleasure to review a book written by a NJ based, fellow SLP, Kimberly Scanlon of Scanlon Speech Therapy LLC entitled “My Toddler Talks“.

What it’s NOT! As Kimberly points out this book is definitely NOT a replacement for speech language therapy. If you are a parent and are concerned with your child’s speech language abilities you should certainly seek appropriate consultation with a qualified speech language pathologist.

What it is! A nice and functional collection of suggestions on how caregivers and related professionals can facilitate language development in children between 18-36 months of age (give or take). Continue reading Book Review and Giveaway: My Toddler Talks

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My new article was published in January 2012 issue of Adoption Today Magazine

My article entitled: Speech Language Strategies for Multisensory Stimulation of Internationally Adopted Children has been published in the January 2012 Issue of Adoption Today Magazine

Summary:  The article introduces the concept of multisensory stimulation and explains its benefits for internationally adopted children of all ages.  It also provides suggestions for parents and professionals on how to implement multisensory strategies in a variety of educational activities in order to stimulate interest, increase task participation as well as facilitate concept retention.


Doman, G & Wilkinson, R (1993) The effects of intense multi-sensory stimulation on coma arousal and recovery. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation. 3 (2): 203-212.

Johnson, D. E et al (1992) The health of children adopted from Romania. Journal of the American Medical Association. 268(24): 3446-3450

Ti, K, Shin YH, & White-Traut, RC (2003), Multisensory intervention improves physical growth and illness rates in Korean orphaned newborn infants. Research in Nursing Health.  26 (6): 424-33.

Milev et al (2008) Multisensory Stimulation for Elderly With Dementia: A 24-Week Single-Blind Randomized Controlled Pilot Study. American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias. 23 (4): 372-376.

Tarullo, A & Gunnar, M (2006). Child Maltreatment and Developing HPA Axis. Hormones and Behavior 50, 632-639.

White Traut (1999) Developmental Intervention for Preterm Infants Diagnosed with Periventricular Leukomalacia. Research in Nursing Health.  22: 131-143.

White Traut et al (2009) Salivary Cortisol and Behavioral State Responses of Healthy Newborn Infants to Tactile-Only and Multisensory Interventions. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing. 38(1): 22–34