Written by Tara S. Boyd, M.A., CCC-SLP, Executive Director & Speech-Language Pathologist
When I meet someone new and they find out that I’m a speech-language pathologist, I get a lot of questions. Almost everyone has a child in their life or social circle who has difficulty speaking or being understood. Sometimes people want to run something by me to see what I think about a speech issue. Sometimes it sounds relatively normal to me and sometimes I think, “oh boy. I hope this child gets some help soon.” Children follow a general course of development in this area, but each child is an individual person. What might look like a disorder according to developmental “norms” could be normal. However, it may not be normal. It may be a sign that a child’s speech difficulties need to be addressed by a professional as soon as possible. Continue reading for our fun suggestions of Halloween tips and tricks for parents of children with speech disorders.
How is a parent supposed to know if a speech issue is normal or not? The answer is: they are not supposed to know this. Speech-language pathologists are highly-educated, trained professionals in speech disorders and speech therapy, among many other things related to communication. If you or someone you know has a child who is having difficulty speaking to the degree that seems unusual or very different from other children her/his age, parents should get an assessment with a speech-language pathologist immediately. Also, if any professional tells you something is “normal” or “nothing to worry about” and you still think something is off, trust your gut and have an assessment with a speech-language pathologist. Insurance plans will typically cover this. The worst that can happen is you learn that what you are seeing IS normal. If something is an issue, you can address it right away. Early intervention is crucial for children who have speech and language disorders to reach their full potential in school and life. Don’t wait.
Now I can get off my soapbox and give you some tips and tricks for Halloween with your kids who might need a little extra help in the speech department. Your other kids can join in too so it’s a win-win for everyone! Before I wrote this blog post, I checked in with one of my favorite speech-language-pathologists of all time, Amy Gundlach. She always has fun, easy activities for little ones under her belt! One that I love is marshmallow playdough. It’s fun, inexpensive and simple to make. It is also edible. Now I know what you are thinking. How can I help my child speak with marshmallow playdough and what does this have to do with Halloween? Well, my friends, the opportunities are endless. Here is the first thing that comes to my mind (it’s true): Ew, yuck, and blah!
You can make a funny face and use the words, “ew, yuck, and blah!” while you mix and play with this yummy concoction. Those 3 words (or approximations of those words) are easy to say for kids, can generalize to other Halloween activities in school and in the community and they LOVE saying them. They also love it when adults are grossed out by something, make faces and say funny things. Never. Fails.
After all this practice, your child is ready for Halloween festivities. If he gets to play with slimy goo at the Halloween party, he can say ew or ew, yuck! If you’re feeling brave, maybe try for something new. How about icky? If ghosts or goblins come to the door, how about boo?! Think of all the pre-Halloween activities you could do with boo to get your child prepared for that word! Kids LOVE BOO!!!!!
It is important to keep in mind that if your child is beyond the ew, yuck, blah game, the bullet points above apply to any activities you do with your child with speech and language difficulties: Praise attempts, celebrate small successes, simplify what you are doing if need be, wait and see what they do, step it up a notch when you can, and most importantly, keep it fun!
Like I said in the beginning, if you are concerned about speech at all, get your child in for an assessment with a speech-language pathologist right away. Early intervention is so important for the future of your child’s academic and social success.
If you have any questions or want to schedule an assessment with a speech-language pathologist at Ally Pediatric Therapy, call the office at 602-606-2237 or check us out online at www.allypediatric.com.
Tara S. Boyd, M.A., CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist and the Executive Director of Ally Pediatric Therapy. Tara has worked with children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) since 1996.