My youngest child had a speech delay. He wasn’t really saying anything at the time of his two year check, and his tantrums born from his inability to communicate were hardcore. They brought me to my knees. and often found me googling how to help a child with a speech delay.
Now at 4 years old my son has nearly caught up. He is a little bit behind his peers, but is continuing to make progress all of the time. He is a little chatterbox now. I love the sound of his little voice and after the worry of the last few years it is such a relief to hear him talk.
You can read more about our specific journey in the posts linked at the end of this one, but I just wanted to offer some practical things you can do to help a child with a speech delay.
Firstly I would say, take any help as soon as it is offered. I am forever grateful for the NHS, but overstretched and understaffed mean long waiting lists for speech therapy. Our son did have 4 group sessions of speech therapy, and they visited him in is pre-school a few times, but in my mind it wasn’t enough. His development and progression wasn’t because of those 4 sessions.
Secondly, make sure your child’s pre-school or nursery are on board and helping. I cannot praise my son’s pre-school enough for the work they did with my son to help him, and for always being there to talk things through with me.
There are six simple things you can do at home as part of your daily routine to help a child with a speech delay and encourage your child to speak more.
1 Mr Tumble
Honestly, when I had my first son I thought Mr Tumble was a bit annoying. Now, after Little’s problems, I honestly believe Justin Fletcher deserves a knighthood for the work he does with children. Mr Tumble helped my child start communicating. The Makaton sign language opened the door for him, and even now he still signs ‘thank-you’ as well as saying it. That and ‘sausagges’.
2 Being tough
We’re all busy. I always seem to be doing at least three tings at once. So it’s easy to just grab the toy your child is pointing to. But it helps to be firm with them. If they want something encourage them to say the word rather than just pointing. “What is it you want?” “Do you want the rocket?” As my son’s language development progressed we would encourage him to ask by putting a sentence together, rather than just saying “rocket”.
3. Give simple choices
Rather than “Would you like a banana”, ask “Would you like a banana or an apple?” Encourage them to give answers other than just yes or no, by giving them a simple choice.
4. Use simple descriptions
If they point to a car and say “car” praise them by saying “Yes it is a car, it’s a red car.” Pick something different each time to describe an object and help increase their vocabulary. This can easily be applied when looking at picture books and flash cards too.
5 Sing Songs
Nursery rhymes are great for repetition. You can also get some great DVD’s and CD’s. My son loved the Tony George series of DVD’s. For full disclosure they are cringe worthy to watch, although you have to give Tony an A for trying!
6 Helping with pronunciation
If there are words that your child is continuing to pronounce wrong, repeat them back both ways so they can hear the difference. For example our Son always said ” Ham” when he meant “Sam”. It only took a few goes of saying “Is it fireman ham or fireman Sam?” and really emphasising the S for him to get it. We did this with lots of words that he couldn’t pronounce, including his own name, and it really worked. He was so please with himself when he got them right.
Sometimes our kids just need time and encouragement. I know every child will respond differently, but these are the things that really helped us. I hope you found this post useful.
God bless Mr Tumble!
Here are some links to great products that helped my son. Please note these are affiliate links, which means I earn commission on any purchases you make. I only ever use affiliate links for products that i genuinely love.
You can read more about our journey with speech delay here:
Do you have any thoughts on how to help a child with a speech delay?