Home Treatment for Language Delayed KidsParents play an integral part in their child's language development. This is especially true for children with delays in speech and language. To put this into the proper perspective, if your child is seeing a speech-language therapist, she probably sees him or her two or three times per week. You, on the other hand, spend hour upon hour together. Think of all the opportunities you have to help your child reach his therapy goals; and we promise, there will be no stress or pressure of any kind on either of you. In fact, it will be fun!
Children learn to speak one word at a time. What that means is that children go through a one-word stage, a two-word stage, a three-word stage, etc. The one word stage continues until there is a single word vocabulary of approximately fifty words. There are nine semantic categories that are expressed by these single words. These are existence, non-existence, recurrence, rejection, denial, attribution, possession, action and locative action (Lahey, 1978; Lahey, 1988; modified by Masterson & Apel, 2000). Children generally do not progress past the one word stage until they have learned to express each of these concepts. If your child is in the one-word stage, you want to try to gently nudge him into two word stage.
How you do this is to play (and really have fun) with your child and try to limit your comments to two or three words at a time. The activity should be one that is of your child's choosing. Here is how you structure your talking with your child. You are playing with your 14 month old who is at the one word stage. She is playing with blocks and putting one on top of the other and she says "bah" for block. You may reply "big block", "red block", "block on", "no block", "block fall down" or even "more block." A dialogue you might have with your 14 month old might be the baby saying "bah" for block while she places a block on top of stack of blocks. You reply, "More block, more block, more block on, uh-oh block fall down." Describe the action as it is happening and, as much as possible, talk about what your child is doing. Talk to your child all the time even if you are too busy. He will not get tired of hearing your voice!
If your child is either older or using longer utterances, then make your utterances longer too. You just keep adding a word or two and give the additional words extra emphasis. Remember that whatever you say has to be contextually appropriate.
And one other very, very important role for parents: making it fun for your child and keeping it real and keeping it salient. That way she uses the words on her own and makes them her own, incorporating them into her own verbal repertoire and used again later on her own. So wherever you are, be it in the car, the living room or Key Food, there is always, always time for language development.