Monday, October 8, 2012

31 for 21 Day 8: Encouraging Speech

We are really seeing a jump in Anthony's speech recently.  It's very encouraging!  He's still nowhere near using his talking words as his primary means of communication, but he really does seem to be having an explosion- more sounds, words, and an expansion in how he uses his signs.  And we have to remind ourselves that signing is language.

And so is air guitar!

How can we help Anthony to continue this progress with his speech? Two resources I like a lot are Communicating Partners and the Hanen Centre's It Takes Two to Talk Program. Their approaches are similar- take your cues from the child; meet them where they are but go a step farther; and most importantly, don't do all the talking. Give the child the time and the opportunity to speak. I hope this information might help some other parents out there who might not have encountered it yet. I'm also posting it as motivation and a reminder for us to do these things more consistently with Anthony.

Communicating Partners (Dr. James MacDonald).  Lots of practical information and research. Here are a few tips from the website:
  • PLAY FREQUENTLY in ways your child plays
  • BALANCE your times together; be sure both of you do about as much as the other
  • WAIT FOR YOUR CHILD TO TALK; avoid doing all the talking
  • MATCH your child's actions
  • MATCH your child's communications, communicate in ways your child can do
  • TALK AS MUCH AS YOUR CHILD DOES; then show him a next step
  • RESPOND to your child's little sounds and actions as communications at first
  • RESPOND MORE to your child's words than gestures or sounds, after he's talking regularly
  • SHOW HIM WHAT TO SAY in one or two words
  • TRANSLATE your child's own language of sounds and movements into A WORD
  • DON'T RUSH YOUR CHILD TO WORDS; communicating with sounds come first
  • REDUCE YOUR QUESTIONS; show your child what to say instead
  • ACCEPT ANY PRONUNCIATIONS AT FIRST, he won't talk like an adult until he practices a lot
  • BECOME MORE OF A PLAY PARTNER THAN A TEACHER; your child will stay and learn more
  • BE A LIVING DICTIONARY; put words on your child's experiences as they happen

The Hanen Centre's "It Takes Two to Talk" Program for Parents.
In the Hanen approach, like Communicating Partners, you follow the child's lead to encourage and expand communication.  You also learn to identify your child's stage and style of communication so you can learn what steps to take next. This is one of the few interventions that actually has research to back up its effectiveness.   The course is expensive, but if you're lucky your Early Intervention program might hold one or pay for you to attend a course.  (Good luck with that if you receive services from Multnomah County, though.)

Even if you can't attend the full course, a coursebook is available for purchase or you can get it from the library.   Below are some excerpts from the book.

Letting your child lead begins with OWL (Observe, Wait, Listen):

ObserveTake time to observe your child's body language — actions, gestures and facial expressions. Discovering what has captured your child’s interest will help you share the moment with him or her.

WaitWaiting gives you time to observe what your child is interested in.  Even more importantly, it gives your child time to start an interaction or respond to what you’ve said or done. In this book, wait means three things: stop talking, lean forward, and look at your child expectantly. If you need to remind yourself to wait, count slowly to 10 —silently, of course. The most important thing to remember about waiting is to give your child enough time to understand that you expect her to send you a message — any message. It doesn’t matter whether she sends it with sounds, words or gestures. Anything that your child does or says to make her needs or interests known to you is a message. 

Listen.  Listening means paying close attention to all of your child’s words and sounds. Take care not to interrupt her, even if you’ve already figured out what she's telling you. When you listen to your child’s message, you’re also letting her know that what she says is important to you. This helps build her confidence and self-esteem.

I  think we mostly follow this advice at home, and Anthony's preschool teachers and speech therapist do also.   One area I think we could work on more is the waiting.  I think we tend to jump in and speak for Anthony instead of waiting for him to respond.  Sometimes it takes a long time for him to respond, and it's hard to wait.  It's advised to sometimes wait as long as 30 seconds for a response- it's hard to get used to that long of a silence, but it really does work.  For example, if we're playing cars, and I say, "Ready, set...." and look at Anthony to say, "Go!" he'll say it if I give him enough time and keep looking at him expectantly.  But it's hard to be patient during those long delays.

"Will you people pipe down and let me say something for a change?"

What tips do you have for encouraging speech?

1 comment:

  1. I just finished reading It Takes Two to Talk. Really good stuff in there. It is hard to wait. And I think Cora is getting stubborn when it comes to communicating with me. She knows that I know what she wants so she doesn't want to sign/speak. But she will do it more so with her therapists. It's so hard to be patient enough and to gently withhold what she wants until she uses a sign or word.

    So exciting to hear that Anthony's taking off!