I love teaming up with pediatric experts to bring answers to your questions. I recently had my Facebook followers voice any concerns they had regarding their child’s speech development. The response was incredible; we all share so many of the same issues and worries. My favorite Speech Language Pathologist, Liz Blake addressed my readers’ questions with her exceptional expertise and professionalism. She is incredible at empowering parents with the tools they need to help improve their child’s speech.
Questions from my readers:
Stephanie: My stepdaughter is allowed to baby talk (like how a child learning to talk sounds like) at her bio mom’s house and when she comes home she has issues with annunciation and making letter sounds. She is going to be 10 this year and this issue has been present for almost 4 years now. What can we do to help her?
Liz Blake: Thank you for your question. You stated that you have observed your stepdaughter using an immature speech pattern. This is not common in a 10 year old. If the child attends school while living with you, I recommend you contact her classroom teacher to determine if these speech patterns continue in the school environment. If so, then you can discuss with the teacher a referral to speech pathology. In general, what you can do is: 1) model correct pronunciation after she makes a speech error. Do not ask her to repeat, simply say the word again correctly. 2) praise her “appropriate” speech when you hear her using more mature speech patterns.
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Carolyn: My son has trouble stuttering at the beginning of sentences. When he finally gets past it, he’s so out of breath that he rushes through the rest of what he’s saying to the point of exhaustion and I can’t understand anything he said. Are there any exercises to help him with that?
Liz Blake: Thank you for your question. What you describe is a difficulty with fluency of speech. I recommend you visit two websites to learn more about what this is and how you can help: the Stutter Foundation and the National Stuttering Association . There are guides and resources to help you determine if your child would benefit from an evaluation of his speech. Early identification and treatment are very important.
It would be inappropriate for me to make recommendations about exercises to help any child without the child receiving an evaluation. Children go through periods of disfluent speech at different times in their development. As you will read at these two websites, it is recommended that you NOT ask your child to slow down. Adults who stutter report how frustrated they were with individuals asking them to “breathe” or “slow down”. They all report “it was not about slowing down or breathing”.
Jennifer: I think our 2 yr old just thinks faster than her mouth can make the words (tested at a 6 yr old level fir responsive but expressive is that of an 18 month old). How can we help her to slow down so she can be heard? She already is in speech three times a week and getting better with animal sounds.
Liz Blake: Thank you for your question. Your child has already been evaluated and is receiving speech therapy. That is great news. There is little you can do to slow down her thinking and talking. I would encourage you to NOT ask her to slow down or say things like “take your time”. Instead, you can model using pauses in your talking. I advise parents to try and use “Mister Rogers speech” – take longer pauses where they would naturally occur – at the end of sentences, at commas; and use a ”thoughtful” pause before you respond to questions from your child. By “modeling” these pauses, you are encouraging her to do the same. Your speech pathologist can make other recommendations geared to helping your daughter have more success in communicating.
I want to sincerely thank Liz Blake for taking the time to address my readers’ speech-related concerns. Ms. Liz has helped our family for the past four years. We are grateful to her for working with our son and giving us the tools we needed to “smooth his bumpy speech.” She rebuilt his confidence, and that was a beautiful transformation for us to witness as parents.
I highly recommend seeing a good speech therapist for any of your child’s language development concerns. If nothing else, getting reassurance that everything is “on track” is peace of mind worth its weight in gold.
Reach out to Lizanne Blake with any questions or to schedule a consultation.
Lizanne P. Blake, CCC-SLP
800 Village Square Crossing, Suite 120, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410
Don’t miss: “When is Language Development a Concern” – Liz Blake shares her valuable insights.