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3 Tips for Developing Pre-Speech Skills

Often when we first meet children, they are keen communicators but have found speech sounds elusive. There might be many reasons why this is the case, but knowing some of the steps we can take to get there can be really helpful.

 Just as writing doesn’t emerge from nowhere, speech also takes some work behind the scenes. We helped Solomon gain more skills on his speech journey by sharing these three tips:

Tip 1 - Develop Oral Muscle Control

Chewing, blowing bubbles and instruments to make the different speech sounds we need to have control over our mouths, to make precise movements and placements. Solomon found it hard to coordinate and control his mouth movements and airflow so we helped him make progress with his chewing when eating, and coordinating his airflow with his lips by first introducing straws when drinking, then bubbles and musical instruments for blowing. 

Solomon loved sitting in front of a mirror and watching himself as he practised. Over time, this new confidence at having more control of his mouth led to confidence in trying out new sounds too.

Tip 2 - Have Fun with Sounds

Symbolic sounds, yawning, sneezing, microphones, voice recording apps…

Now that Solomon had discovered what he could do with his mouth, we wanted to encourage and celebrate his new voice as much as possible. We explored symbolic sounds through books and toys, when in the house and out and about, listening out for funny sounds to try and copy, or ‘chatting’ to animals at the farm. 

We played around with yawning and sneezing, and played with toy microphones and voice recording apps which Solomon also loved. Intensive Interaction was the perfect vehicle for all this sound practice, so whether in the car, out for a walk or during bath time, we heard Solomon’s voice a lot!

Tip 3 - Nurture Other Communication Means Too

We know that ‘not yet speaking’ says nothing about a child’s ability to understand, think and learn. It’s important that we provide opportunities for alternative means of communication at the same time as working towards speech. 

Solomon communicated by pointing, using eye gaze, gestures and pictures. He was very creative and often combined several means together in order to really get his message across. This was important, so that both Solomon and his communication partners didn’t get as frustrated with communication breakdowns.

Solomon’s speech did emerge in time, and by working so hard towards this goal, everyone expected it to happen – it was just a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’ he would start using his voice to communicate more clearly. Solomon still enjoys picking up a microphone and playing around with ‘silly sounds’ in therapy.

If your child would benefit from our support, we’re now offering Autism and Apraxia assessments! Click here to learn more and make the first step towards improved communication today…

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