Many children with diagnoses such as autism, cerebral palsy, TBI, and Down syndrome often experience delays or deficits in language development. Delays in language development make it more difficult for children to communicate with family members, teachers and therapists resulting in frustration, potential delays in social development, and difficulties in academic settings.
If your child has trouble learning new words, has problems stringing words together in sentences or has consistent trouble getting the message across verbally, there are things you can do to help.
Recognizing and treating language delays as early as possible will allow your child to communicate effectively and set the stage for greater independence in the future.
Here are 5 great activities for language development you can start using today.
Building towers and similar structures isn’t just a fun game to play; it also provides ample opportunity to work on language skills. You can introduce adjectives like “higher” and “up”, verbs such as “build” and “fall down,” as well as numbers and colors. As each block is added, take the time to explain to your child what is happening and ensure he or she uses the corresponding words to describe the action.
Most children enjoy playing dress up games – role play will allow your child to explore his or her imagination without any restrictions. When you introduce different characters to the game, you can also introduce new words and help build your child’s language skills. If there are specific words or concepts you’ve been instructed to teach by your child’s therapist, create characters that allow you to work them in naturally.
Since the goal is to have a child that is able to communicate with others using a wide and varied vocabulary, it makes sense to practice throughout the day in a range of situations. Point out things you see, hear, taste and smell and give your child an opportunity to respond and comprehend what you are saying. Talk about produce and products at the grocery store, what others are doing as you drive by them, different businesses and buildings and objects around your own house. Just remember to keep it simple and avoid “baby talk.”
Listening to music with your child is an effective activity to encourage language development. Music has a beat and focuses on intonation, which can help with syllable awareness and other aspects of verbal communication. For some songs, you can also use accompanying books to follow along and point to pictures, or act out the lyrics from the song, which will create links for your child between actions and words.
It’s no secret that children love being told stories – you can use books to help develop language skills from an early age. Whether the books have pictures or not, make sure to focus on language and build associations in your child’s mind to help develop his or her language. Feel free to stop and discuss what’s happening as often as necessary, and always give your child the chance to talk about the story once the book is finished.
If you can incorporate these kinds of language development activities into your child’s routine, you will be able to make progress without having it feel like a chore — for you or your child!
At NAPA Center, we understand your child’s unique needs and incorporate a wide range of custom therapies to help them reach their full potential. To learn more about us and find out how we can help, get in touch with us today.