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       What is Speech?
                                                                                                                           
             The term “speech” refers to the actual physical aspects of
             communicating 
    a message.  There are three major aspects of
             speech:

     

            1.  Articulation- the physical production of sounds in speech. Speech  
               re
    quires air to pass from the lungs through the larynx or voice box,
               causing the vocal cords to vibrate.   The sound is altered by the 
               palate, 
    tongue, lips and teeth. 

     

       2.  Voice – two bands of muscle in the throat vibrate to create our voice.  The size and  shape of the vocal   cords, along with the size and shape of the mouth influence a person’s voice.  Aspects of voice are loudness, quality (hoarse, breathy, husky, weak, etc.) and resonance (nasality). 

     

       3.  Fluency – ability to speak easily, smoothly and expressively. 
       What is Language?

     

    Language is an organized set of symbols that are used to communicate thoughts and feelings. Language always has some kind of form (how we say something), content (what we say) and use (why we say something).

    Receptive language refers to the skills involved in understanding language.  These skills include :  --ability  to hear differences in sounds (phonology) Ex: hot – pot – being able to remember what is heard, as when repeating words or following directions ---understanding vocabulary and concept words (semantics) --- understanding different grammatical forms (morphology and syntax) Ex: cat- cats.  

    Expressive language refers to the skills used to communicate one’s thoughts and feelings to others.  These skills include: -- being able to use the sound system (phonology) --- choosing word forms and word order appropriately (morphology and syntax)  --- combining inflection and information to convey feelings with words – being able to create a variety of language functions based on knowledge of the rules.
     
    What are oral-motor skills?
     
    Oral motor skills are our abilitiy to move our lips and tongue in a precise, coordinated fashion in order to speak and swallow.  Difficulties in this area can contribute to poor articulation, an open- mouthed posture, trouble swallowing and persistent drooling. It can also lead to dental problems as a child's permanent teeth start to appear.

    The speech-language specialist provides a series of oral motor muscle exercises to help improve oral muscle tone and coordination.   This type of therapy often coincides with articulation therapy to help your child gain control of the speech mechanism. 

    What is Speech and Language Therapy?

    Speech and language therapy involves a series of activities to meet specific goals.  These goals were chosen based on the results of a speech and language evaluation.

    Your child will learn new skills and compensatory strategies in therapy, based on the nature of the delay or disorder.  The goals are outlined in an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).  Therapy proceeds in small steps, and your child is rewarded and praised for effort.  The therapist tries to develop a good interpersonal relationship with your child.  Games are used to stimulate your child and to maintain interest.  Parents play a key role in the therapy process by observing their child outside of school, reinforcing concepts at home through completion of homework assignments, and providing feedback and reinforcement for their child. 


            STAGES OF SPEECH
    AND LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT                                   


    THREE YEARS OLD:

    At the age of 3 your child...

    - can match primary colors, name one color

    - has a sentence length of 3-4 words

    - has a vocabulary of nearly 1000 words

    - knows night and day

    - can sing songs

    - knows his/her name, sex, name of street, and several nursery rhymes

    - can draw a circle and vertical line

    - understands things that have happened in the past: “yesterday", "tonight", " summer", etc.

    - can tell a story or relay an idea to someone

    - begins to obey prepositional phrases like “put the block under the table.”

    - can stay with one activity for 8-9 minutes

    - ask "what" questions frequently

    - may repeat sounds, words and phrases, which is perfectly normal at this age.

    FOUR YEARS OLD:                                                                                                 

      At the age of 4, your child...

    - points to colors red, blue yellow and green.

    - has a sentence length of 4-5 words

    - has a vocabulary of nearly 1500 words

    - uses past tense correctly

    - copies a line and a circle

    - follows a command

    - understands "early in the morning", " next month", “noon time",

    - identifies crosses, triangles, circles and squares

    - asks “who" and "why" questions

    - begins to use complex sentences

    - uses contractions such as "it's a" or "there's a"

    - stays with one activity 11-12 minutes

    FIVE YEARS OLD
    :                                                                                                                                            

      At the age of 5, your child...

    - knows his address

    - has a sentence length of 5-6 words

    - has a vocabulary of around 2000 words

    - defines objects by their use and can tell what objects are made of

    - knows spatial relations like "on top", “behind" and "far".

    - knows common opposites like "up/down" and "big/little"

    - understands "same" and “different"

    - counts 10 objects

    - uses future, present and past tense

    - questions for information

    - distinguishes left and right hand in himself but not in others

    - uses all types of sentences

    - stays with one activity for 12-13 minutes

     

    HOW YOU TALK WITH YOUR CHILD IS IMPORTANT

    You can use everyday routines and events to help your child learn language. Children learn words and rules for using them by listening to others talk. Then they imitate the language they have heard.  Your child is using you as a "model" for correct language.  Therefore, what you say - and how you say it - is an important influence on your child!

    Talk about the here and now.

    It helps children understand when you talk about objects, people and events that can be seen, heard, and touched.  So talk about events as they happen.  Name objects that the child can see.  Talk about people around you.

    Talk about what is important to your child.

    Help your child learn to listen by talking about things that interest the child.  Remember that what is interesting to your child may not be interesting to you.  Listen to your child.

    Talk aloud about what you are doing.

    Any time you are with your child is a time for language learning.  By putting your thoughts and actions into words, you are teaching your child language.  Describe how you make a cake, do a load of wash, hang up the clothes, etc....

    At times, talk to your child.

    Your child is able to think before being able to express those thoughts.  You can help sometimes putting thoughts into words for your child.  By doing this, you give your child words and sentences to remember for future use.  

    It is important to put your child's feelings into words.  The child may not have words to express these feelings.  You can help your child understand emotions by labeling them.  For example:  “I can see that you are angry.  David broke your car.  But we can fix it.”

    Expand your child's remarks:

    Child:  "Doggie run."

    Parent:  " The doggie runs fast."

    This strategy is called expansion.  In using expansion, the parent above did not change the child's meaning.  The parent just made the remark longer. As a result, the child heard a good language model.  In addition, the parent did not "correct" the child's remark or require the child to repeat the expanded remark.  The use of expansion is a non-threatening way to model good language for your child.

    Add a little more information to your child's remark.

    In addition, to expanding your child's remark, you can build on what your child already said by adding new information.  Your remark can include your child's original thought plus a new idea.   For example:

    Child:  “Doggie bark."

    Parent:  "The doggie is barking.  He likes to bark and make noise."

    Research has shown that parents all over the world change their normal language when speaking to their children. To simplify their language, parents change words used, speed of talking, pitch, and languages.  These changes are often called "motherese" or "fatherese".

    You may already use some of the tips presented below when talking with your child.  Remember that a child with delayed language development may need extra language practice.  Take every opportunity to talk with your child.  Use these strategies consistently.  The changes you make in your language can readily help your child's language development.

    Use a slower rate of speech.

    Children who have trouble learning language often have difficulty understanding fast speech.  Speaking slowly will make it easier for your child to understand you.  You don't have to talk like a turtle.  Even a small change in your rate can improve your child's understanding of language. 

    Use shorter remarks. 

    A shorter message will be easier for your child to understand. Use phrases and sentences just beyond your child's language level.  For a child who is using 3-4 word sentences using a 4-5 word sentence would be appropriate.

    A good way to shorten your remarks is to pretend you're sending a telegram. 

    Another way is to break the message into separate parts.  For example: “First you'll take your bath and then I will read you a story" becomes “Your bath is first.  Then your story."

    These remarks may seem grammatically incorrect.  But, they use language that your child can understand.   If your language model is too difficult, your child will not be able to understand or imitate, and language learning will not occur.  As your child's language skills develop, you will be able to model more complex phrases and sentences.

    Use simple sentences.

    It will also be easier for your child to understand sentences that have simple structure.  Sentences that contain a basic subject + verb + object or adjective are the easiest.  For example:

    Subject                             Verb                                   Object or Adjective

    Tommy            +               drank                  +              milk.

    Apples             +               are                      +              red.

    He                    +               ran                      +              home.

    As your child's language develops, include more information in your remarks.  Keep your remarks just beyond your child's language level. 

    Use repetition.
    When you repeat words, phrases and sentences your child has a better chance to learn and understand.  For example:
    Child: "Doll"
    Parent: "Sue's doll."
    Parent: "Your doll is pretty."
    Parent: "I like your doll."
    These interactions show how much you can stimulate your child's language through repetition. This parent modeled several different sentence structures.  New information and vocabulary were added each time.  However, the essential meaning of the child's message was kept the same and repeated. 
               Exaggerate important words with your voice.

    Children learn to respond to changes in people's voices.  Your child will pay more attention to words that you stress when you talk.  So, put more stress on the word or words you want your child to hear and remember.  For example:

    “BIG dog!"

    “You’re a GOOD boy."

    Use gestures when you speak. 

    Using gestures helps your child understand the meaning of your spoken messages.   Natural gestures you can use include:

    Facial gestures - surprised, excited, happy, sad, etc.

    Hand gestures - Come here, Give it to me, Stop, etc.

    Body postures - Arms out to indicate a hug, folded arms to indicate anger.