speech and language milestones

When Should My Baby Start Talking? Speech and Language Milestones in the First Year

Many parents wonder, “When should my baby start talking?” Typically developing children usually say their first words between 12 and 14 months of age. However, your baby is learning to communicate long before he ever speaks. Here are some important speech and language milestones to note as your baby grows.

Speech and Language Milestones: When They Happen and Why They are Important:

Speech and language milestones at 0-3 months:

  • Watches speaker’s mouth: Your baby is starting to understand how speech sounds are made. He may even begin to move his mouthspeech and language milestones to match some of your movements. Observation and imitation of what he observes is essential to your baby’s development of speech and language, as it allows him to experience what you model, first hand, so that he can later use those articulatory movements to communicate.
  • Discriminates between angry and friendly voices: At a very basic level, your baby is learning to understand the different messages that can be communicated.
  • Has a hunger cry and vocalizes to show pleasure: This is one of the first steps toward understanding that communication can be used to meet different needs, wants, and feelings.

Speech and language milestones at 4 to 6 months:

  • Imitates some sounds: Again, imitation is one of the primary ways that your baby learns. By watching, listening, and copying your movements, he experiences what it is like to make them. He can practice and compare his own movements and sounds to yours.
  • Uses /p/, /b/, and /m/ to babble: Your baby is gaining more control over the muscles of his mouth and starting to experiment with speech sounds. He is practicing so that he can later use these sounds in a more meaningful way: saying true words to communicate.
  • Takes turns vocalizing: Language requires taking turns most of the time: one person talks while the other listens. When your baby takes turns vocalizing, he is laying the foundation for skills he will need to play and participate in conversation later in life.

Speech and language milestones at 7-12 months:

  • Responds to noises that are not visible and searches for hidden objects: Your baby’s understanding that objects exist even when he can’t see them likely indicates that he has started forming mental representations of his world. The development of symbolic understanding is necessary to his development of language and pretend play. We use words, not physical things, to represent ideas. Before your baby can use a word to represent something, the idea of the physical thing needs to be separated from the thing itself.
  • Responds to “Come here”: Your baby’s ability to follow directions is an indication that he is developing an understanding of what you are saying. Language comprehension typically develops more quickly than expression. Your baby needs to listen, understand, and internalize the meaning of language before he can use its meaning to express himself.

Speech and language milestones at 12-14 months:

Says 1-2 words: Hooray! These words may not be perfectly articulated, but they are an indication that your baby has learned to associate a series set sounds to a particular meaning AND that he can use those sounds to communicate that meaning. For example, your baby may have already started looking for “Mama” when her name was said by someone else, however, now he can use the word “Mama” to request her, ask where she is, get her attention, etc.

What can I do to help my baby start talking?

Click here to read more about encouraging your baby’s speech and language development.




how to understand a speech language evaluation

Understanding a Speech Language Evaluation

Taking your child in for a speech-language evaluation and receiving the initial report can be a confusing and overwhelming process. As a parent or caregiver, you are entering a new health care field, which comes with new terminology and jargon. In order to best understand your child’s needs, it is helpful to have a good foundation of what speech-language pathology is. Here are eight terms that you will likely come across when reading your child’s report or when talking with your child’s speech-language pathologist. Reference this list to get the most out of the information that you are given from your speech-language pathologist.

8 Terms to Know to Understand a Speech Language Evaluation:

1. Language is the system that you use to communicate your thoughts and feelings. The use of language can happen through several differenthow to understand a speech language evaluation modalities, using your voice, writing, or gesturing. There are three main components of language: Receptive Language, Expressive Language, and Pragmatics.

2. Receptive Language refers to your ability to understand language. Activities where you use your receptive language are when you follow directions, listen to a story, or when categorizing/grouping items. Learn about receptive language delay here.

3. Expressive Language refers to your ability to use language through speaking or writing. Activities where you use your expressive language include when you tell a story, answer a question or describe an item. Learn about expressive language disorder here.

4. Pragmatics is the last component of language and includes the social rules of communicating or how language is used within certain situations. An example of a pragmatic language skill is your ability to greet an unfamiliar person and learn their name.

5. Speech can also be thought of as vocal communication. It is the ability of the human voice to create a variety of sounds to form the words and sentences that we use when communicating. Speech itself is only a series of sounds, it is the language system that it is used with that gives your speech meaning.

Click here to learn more about the difference between speech and language.

6. Standardized Tests are used during speech and language evaluations due to the standard procedures laid out for the administration and scoring of these tests. The standardization of these tests eliminate environmental and clinician factors that could influence a child’s performance.

After standardized testing is completed a child will receive various scores. Two important scores to pay attention to are: Standard Score and Percentile Ranking.

7. Standard Score is calculated by standardizing a child’s raw score based on indicated method for that test. When standardizing a raw score, the child’s gender and age are often taken into account. Once a score has been standardized it can be compared to the continuum of scores of the typical population.

8. Percentile Rank also compares a standard score to the typical population by identifying the percentage of people who received the same or lower score than your own. For example, receiving a percentile ranking of 50 indicated that 50% of people who also took the same standardized test received the same score or a score lower than your own score.

The results from standardized and informal testing will guide your child’s speech-language pathologist recommendations for services. If services are warranted, these test scores and observations are used to identify areas of need and the child’s therapeutic goals. Every 3 to 6 months, re-evaluations are completed to assess your child’s progress through therapy.



Multimodal Communication

Multimodal Communication: Communicate Without Using Words

Does your child ever communicate without using words? Multimodal communication is simply communication through “modes”.  Multiwhata? What did you say? Some examples of modes may be verbal, pictures, gestures, sign language, etc. Multimodal communicators use more than one “mode” to communicate.

In the high technology world we live in, we use many modes of communicating daily. Next time you have a chance, ask your cell phone provider how many text messages you send per month. Sometimes, verbally communicating is not the easiest way for us to communicate. A quick, “I forgot eggs for my recipe, can you get them on the way home?” text message is much more efficient than a phone call. The same concept holds true for children who are struggling to speak verbally. Sometimes, other forms of communicating are more efficient at meeting their needs.

“Wait a minute”, you say to yourself. “I want my child to communicate verbally, I don’t want my therapist to stop working on that and I’m afraid if they use one of these ways to communicate they’ll stop wanting to talk”. That’s a common fear of parents, but let me tell you it is a myth. Study after study continues to show that utilizing varying ways to communicate does NOT (I repeat does NOT) hinder or interfere with the development of speech. So why is your therapist talking about introducing all of these non-verbal ways of communicating? Your therapist only wants to alleviate your child’s frustration. The goal of your speech therapist is giving your child a way to communicate their needs and wants in a more efficient way. By teaching your child more than one mode of communicating in a systematic way, you are giving them a greater opportunity to express themselves.

Multimodal Communication and How They Can Help:Multimodal Communication

Signs: The use of specific hand gestures representing true words can help children to communicate what they want across environments. Signs are typically introduced first to children who are struggling to produce spoken language. Spoken words are a symbolic system, and when we speak we are exchanging “symbols” or words. This can help teach children how to exchange “symbols” or words in the absence of verbal language.

Visuals: Visuals are typically used for quick and easy communication for a specific purpose. For example, your therapist might introduce a YES or NO board to your child. This way, your child can easily communicate their response by pointing to their answer. Before your flags go off, this is a great way to teach the difference between yes and no before it can be used verbally. For children with difficulty communicating verbally, they often misuse the words yes or no. Some other quick visuals can be, “bathroom” or “break”.  Another easy way to implement visuals at home is having pictures of items placed on or next to their corresponding real life representations. For example, in the kitchen have a picture of “food” posted on the refrigerator. These pictures are typically placed in an easily accessible place within a specific environment. These visuals can immediately alleviate frustration for children.

PECS: The Picture Exchange Communication System is form of communication where your child will exchange pictures for their desired items (hence the name). This is different from visuals. PECS is intended for use when communicating for a wide variety of items or actions and carried with the child across all environments. PECS is taught in many phases, by a trained PECS speech therapist, each one encouraging your child to become more and more independent with communicating. For children, this is often how they learn their communication and language is meaningful. Over time, this mode of communicating can alleviate frustration and teach children how to use communication to express themselves versus a meltdown.

Speech Generating Devices: These devices are typically in tablet form with a variety of “buttons” that have picture representations embedded within them. A child will then press their desired “button” for their desired object, and the device will produce the verbal output. There are many common misconceptions when talking about SGDs or assistive and augmentative communication devices. However, these devices that generate speech are specifically formatted for your child and can improve or increase verbal language output. Not only do these devices model language constantly, they can also continue to teach children how to use language.

I know that all of these alternative ways of communicating can seem overwhelming. Just remember, your child’s therapist is only trying to immediately alleviate the frustration your child feels in not being able to communicate needs and wants. It is okay for your child to use sign language and PECS, or visuals and an SGD, or any other combination of modes of communication. Studies show that when therapists introduce these modes of communicating early, children can increase vocalizations and improve overall speech abilities. Your child’s therapist will continue to model spoken word when using multimodal communication. Remember, spoken word will still be the target and utilized when teaching and using these alternative modes of communication.







Crossing the Midline

MORE Activities for Crossing the Midline

As discussed in last week’s post, crossing the midline is an essential skill that affects a person’s efficiency in many of life’s everyday tasks. By engaging your child in activities that promote this skill, you are helping her to create pathways in her developing brain that can benefit her motor abilities, learning capacity, and behavior.

10 Activities to Promote Crossing the Midline:Crossing the Midline

  1. Dance! Get your child moving to a rhythm with her entire body and you will promote coordination and crossing over midline with big body movements.
  2. Play Twister.
  3. Do karaoke or grapevine walks.
  4. Engage in bimanual activities such as stringing beads, playing Pick Up Sticks, cutting with scissors, creating crafts or other projects with stamps, stickers, glue, etc.
  5. Play clapping games such as pat-a-cake or row, row, row your boat.
  6. Create a secret handshake that involves tapping feet, knees, or elbows to that of the other person.
  7. Involve him in baking! Let him stir the ingredients into a big bowl that he will have to help stabilize with one hand in front of his body, while the other makes big circular motions with the spoon.
  8. Engage him in a sorting game and encourage him to complete rounds of sorting using only one hand at a time.
  9. Play Simon Says. You could even take this up a notch and specify right or left side.
  10. Help with chores! Have her help you wipe off tables, mirrors, dishes, etc.

General recommendations to encourage crossing the midline:

  1. Always encourage children to complete self-care tasks such as dressing, eating, and bathing to the fullest extent they are capable. So many of these everyday tasks require us to spontaneously and purposefully use both hands together and to move one hand to the other side of the body.
  2. Before hand dominance is established, always present utensils (spoons, markers, etc.) at the child’s midline. Encourage the child to complete the task with whichever hand he initiates use of that utensil. Be sure he uses the other hand as the “helper” to stabilize the bowl or paper.
  3. Discourage w-sitting! W-sitting (where a child sits with his knees bent and feet out to either side of his body so that his legs form a “W” shape) has many negative implications. One of these is that the child is unable to cross midline as easily. When engaging in an activity on the floor, help your child sit “criss cross” instead.
  4. When completing work at a table, encourage your child to keep herself in the center of her work rather than scooting herself (or what she’s working on) to the left or right.
  5. Make it fun! Working on the development of midline crossing does not need to be a tedious exercise. As you engage in the fun activities listed here, you will begin to see how easy it is to adapt games and other tasks with this skill in mind. Don’t be afraid to get creative and let us know what you come up with!

Click here for a refresher on the 1st article to promote crossing the midline.

Preschool Playdate

Let’s Play! 5 Tips for a Successful Preschool Playdate

Are you considering planning a preschool playdate for your son or daughter?  That’s great!  Peer-to-peer play helps aid children in the development of their social-emotional abilities.  They learn things like problem solving, how to communicate their ideas, and how to overcome social obstacles.

5 Tips for a Successful Preschool Playdate:Preschool Playdate

Observe closely but don’t hover– Many parents have trouble deciding how involved they should be in their children’s interactions with peers.  The answer?  It depends!  The younger your children are, the more you’ll need to participate.  Children three and four years old may not need you to participate as actively, but they still need you close by.  Observe how the children play with each other.  Who takes the lead?  How do they handle disagreements?  Does anything surprise you about their play?  Remember, children behave differently depending on whom they think is watching.  So observe closely, but don’t hover.

Set expectations- Let both children know what is expected during play.  These expectations may be different depending on where in the house they play, or if they’re spending time outside vs. inside.  Keep expectations to a minimum (2 or 3 at a time).  To ensure that the kids understand, have them repeat the expectations back to you.  Then, when an issue arises you can remind them of the expectations that have been set.

Give plenty of warning before the end of the playdate- Transitions can be tough for little ones.  Let your kids know about 20 minutes prior to the end that in 10 minutes it will be clean-up time.  If you know your child has particular difficulty transitioning from social time or his favorite activity, give him more warning.

Help the children build problem-solving skills, don’t solve the problem for them – If the children playing aren’t agreeing on which toy to play with, rather than saying, “Ok, play with this toy for X amount of minutes and then play with that toy”, say something like “So you want to play with the trucks, but you want to build with blocks.  What should we do about this?”  By putting the dilemma into words, you help them recognize that there is a conflict, and that conflicts have resolutions.  If you put the question back on them and they are unable to figure something out, or if you notice emotions rising, only then should you provide a solution.

Communicate with the other child’s caregiver- If your child is going to another person’s house, let the other parent know what your child needs to be most successful when playing with others.  For example, if your child is quick to get frustrated, let the other parent know what helps your little one calm down.  Food is often involved in preschool playdates, so be sure to inform the other parent of any food restrictions or allergies.  If you’re hosting the playdate, ask the other caregiver about her child.  You may even want to invite the other parent in for coffee while the kids play.

Click here for activities to promote reading at your preschool playdates.

sensory strategies for school success

Sensory Strategies for School Success (& over the holidays) Webinar Recording

Watch Abby Rohlfing MOT, OTR/L and Marissa Edwards, OTR/L in this informative webinar on the best ways to set up your child with Sensory Processing Disorder for success at school. This webinar also explains strategies to maintain this success over the holidays with sensory activities for home.

Who: Abby Rohlfing MOT, OTR/L and Marissa Edwards, OTR/L

What: Learn strategies to empower your child with SPD to succeed in school and tips to maintain this progress at home over the holiday season.

Where: Via webinar in the comfort of your own home

Cost: FREE

Read What A Few Of Our Attendees Had To Say:

  • “Excellent explanation of sensory integration, processing. Lots of activities, strategies. Liked the format of the Red Flags/Strategies section — very clear with a lot of information.”
  • “I learned some new ways to explain different sensory processing difficulties to parents/teachers.”
  • “The power point was helpful for following along. The charts with red flags+recommendations was helpful (concise and informative)!”
  • “Great to hear explanation of strategies and then hear the variation of the idea for the holidays!”
  • “I liked the visual powerpoint while the OT was talking. I liked the different school recommendations (I am a teacher).”
how tp prep your child for a new sibling

How to Prep Your Child for a New Sibling

Have a little one at home and another one on the way?  You might be thinking, “No problem, I’ve done this before!” However, this time may be a little different.  Through all of your doctor’s appointments, new room preparations, and pregnancy aches, you have a child who may be feeling any number of ways as she prepares for her new baby brother or sister.  If there’s already more than one little one at home, one might expect that reactions to the third or fourth child will be the same as when your second one came.  But beware…things change. Here is how to prep your child for a new sibling.

My primary piece of advice when preparing your child for a new sibling is to follow her lead.  Some kids might have lots of questions and show great interest in talking about the new baby.  Others might act as if you never even told them the news.  Don’t worry, kids react to these changes in all different ways.  Make yourself available to your son or daughter, while never forcing the topic.

With so much going on in your life right now, it can feel overwhelming to stay on top of all of this.

Below are some tips that parents have found helpful when preparing their child for a new sibling:

  1. Discuss changes that will occur when the newborn arrives, and start early! A newborn will bring how tp prep your child for a new siblingmany changes to the entire family, such as different responsibilities for all members of the household.  If your child will have to make significant changes such as moving his/her bedroom, try to make this change long before the newborn arrives.  This will help your little one not feel like they are being displaced by their new brother or sister.  While sharing is expected among siblings, let your son/daughter know about things that will remain theirs and stay constant.
  1. Read books about welcoming new brothers and sisters. Your local librarian is a great resource for age-appropriate books about the arrival of a newborn and books are a great way to learn about life transitions. While reading a book on the topic may spark rich discussion, it also may not.  Don’t be discouraged though; give your child time to let the changes sink in.
  1. Allow your son or daughter to be part of the planning and preparation for the newborn. Whether it’s setting up the baby’s room, looking at ultrasound pictures, or purchasing items for the nursery, having your son or daughter participate in the preparations, may help ease some of their anxiety.
  1. Expect some mixed feelings. Children’s emotions often seem all over the place. One minute they may be talking excitedly about their role as a big brother/sister and the next minute showing zero interest or even stating that they do not want to be an older sibling.  People’s emotions are often mixed about life transitions/changes, so remember to let your child know that it’s normal to have some mixed feelings about the new addition to the family.
  1. Lastly, be prepared to provide some extra support to your son or daughter, possibly more so than he or she typically requires. Of course this depends on each parents individual schedule and what time/life permits. However, spending lots of family time together and focusing on this special time you have together before the new addition arrives is important. If your child seems anxious about the arrival of the new sibling, reassuring him or her of their relationship with you will be helpful.  Maybe show them pictures from when they were a baby, so they see what it was like. While there may be lots of time and attention given to the newborn, let them know you’ll still be sure to make time for them.

Click here for 5 Roles to Assign a Sibling of a New Baby!

If you have concerns about how your child is adjusting to a new baby in the family, click here to meet with a social worker.

 

5 tips to get your child with autism to sleep

5 Helpful Hints to Get Your Child with Autism to Sleep

Children with developmental disabilities and autism are at greater risk of sleep problems (40-80% in comparison to 20% of children without developmental disabilities).  Problems can include all aspects of the sleep process, including trouble falling asleep when needed, waking frequently throughout the night, and waking early in the morning hours.  Given what we know about how sleep impacts our attention, emotional regulation, and socialization, it is that much more imperative that we help our children with developmental disabilities be well rested.

Why do children with developmental disabilities have more problems with sleep?

While speculative at this time, evidence thus far points to the following explanations:5 tips to get your child with autism to sleep

  1. Biological: Children with developmental disabilities show higher rates of circadian rhythm disturbance and lowered levels of melatonin.
  2. Social: children with developmental disabilities struggle with interpreting social cues, including those cues that indicate inform bedtime.
  3. Sensory: children with developmental disabilities exhibit disturbances in sensory processing. Because of this, minor bodily complaints, noise, light, and tactile input can disrupt a good night’s sleep.

If your child with autism or other developmental disabilities struggles to sleep well, the following strategies can help:

  1. Keep a sleep diary to recognize patterns in your child’s sleep. You may discover a precipitating cause or consistent trend causing the difficulties.
  2. Create a visual schedule of the bedtime routine. Knowing the routine and consistently following it can help the child prepare for bedtime.
  3. Have the child engage in calming activities one hour prior to bedtime. Screen time is prohibited due to its stimulating effects and interference with melatonin production.
  4. Provide the necessary sensory input that your child needs. They may require a weighted blanket for deep pressure, sound machine to drown out extraneous noises, or dim lights prior to bedtime to cue the child that sleep is approaching.
  5. Melatonin supplement use has been shown to be helpful in children with developmental disabilities but should always be discussed with your pediatrician and approved by them before beginning any regimen.

Read more about sleep disorders in children here.

Need help with getting your child with autism to sleep? Contact one of our sleep expert specialists.

 

a beginning babysitters guide-discipline basics

A Beginning Babysitter’s Guide – Discipline Basics

Discipline. Uh oh! Not the D word! Discipline is one of my least favorite parts of babysitting. It is not pleasant for you or the kid, but sometimes it is necessary. Luckily I’ve found some great ways to handle discipline and even prevent the need for it in many cases.  Hopefully these discipline basics will help you out.

 Discipline Basics for Babysitters-Prevention:

  • Prevention is key as you may have noticed from my other blogs, I am all about being proactive anda beginning babysitters guide-discipline basics prepared. Many people don’t realize how much they can do to prevent bad behavior and the need for discipline. Surprisingly there is actually a LOT you can do to help.
  • Energy – It’s a fact of life. Little kids have lots of energy…. And they need to let that energy out. Sometimes lazy or tired people try to force these kids to sit still and watch TV or play by themselves, but the kid just can’t seem to do it. Then they get in trouble, throw a fit, and continue to act up for hours on end! This can all be prevented.

Look for things they already have around their house to play with and get energy out. Maybe you’ll even hit the jackpot like I have with the  3-year old I batmansit right now (he’s “too old” to babysit, and he calls himself batman all the time – so yes, I batmansit). His parents bought him his own mini bounce house and put it in his basement play room. I love that thing! He gets to bounce his little butt off and let all of his energy out. I told them it was a present for me just as much as him! Yes, the kids you sit for most likely will not have their own private jump-jump, but look around and get creative. Start a game of Simon Says or Monkey See Monkey Do or better yet take them outside and let them run!

  • Attention – Many times kids act up as a plea for attention. Sometimes it can be difficult when sitting for a baby with an older sibling. The baby requires lots of time and attention, but the older sibling kind of gets the shaft. Get the older sibling involved in something you’re doing with the baby, talk to and play games with him while you hold the baby, and focus 100% on them once the baby goes to sleep. Just that little bit of attention can prevent meltdowns later.
  • Communicate – A lot of problems can be prevented if you communicate in advance with the kid about what is going to happen. If you let them know “we’re going to go to bed in about an hour” etc… it helps ease them into it.

I have another great example with my little “batman”– usually at bedtime he asks about his parents, and I remind him that “Mommy and Daddy will be here when you wake up.” He knows that to be true, but still likes a little extra re-assurance. However, we are about to have a big change. This weekend I will be watching him two days in a row with an overnight stay. This is a big step for him, so I’ve been slowly working him up to it. We’ve talked about it for the past 3 or 4 weeks, so he knows what is coming and has now accepted it. He’s even excited now about our upcoming “pajama party.” This little bit of communication has probably saved me a long day and night of tears!

What to Do When Prevention Does Not Work:

Although preparation is a life-saver, it is not going to prevent every problem. Sometimes, you will ultimately have to discipline your “little monster.” Here are the basics steps to effectively handle the task.

  1. Talk to their parents in advance – find out what the house rules are before the parents leave, and how they discipline bad behavior (This way you never have to guess at whether a kid’s statement about how “Mommy or Daddy always let me do this.” is true or not.)
  2. Give a warning – In a calm yet firm tone explain to them that if the behavior continues, he will receive “______” as a consequence.
  3. Stick to your guns – If you warn the child and he continues then you have to follow through or he will walk all over you forever – he now owns you! 😉
  4. Take a deep breath and don’t make it personal – Sometimes a kid can try your last nerve, and it can make you want to lose it. You should never take out your anger on a kid. Take a deep breath and administer the discipline with a clear head.
  5. Remove the problem source – If he abuses something he loses it. End of story. If he is hitting a sibling with something, or blasting the TV too loud, then simply take access to the item away and explain thathe can have it back when he begins to behave.
  6. Time out is a sitter’s best friend – Time outs are really the easiest method, and most parents will approve of this tactic. Calmly sit the child in a quiet area and tell him to stay there. Set a timer – a good rule of thumb is one minute for every year of the child’s age (2 minutes for 2 year old, 5 minutes for a 5 year old etc…) When the timer goes off, go over to the child, make eye contact, and calmly remind him why he was in a time out. then explain what you expect from him in the future, ask if he is ready to go play nicely. This might also be a good time for a hug.

There you have it! Hopefully, discipline doesn’t seem to be quite so scary now. Stay tuned for more upcoming blogs with more great tips and tricks of the babysitting trade trade!

For more information on getting started babysitting, click here.

 



help for a speech and language disorder in the classroom

Improving the Self-Esteem of Children with Speech and Language Disorders in the Classroom

Building up a child’s self-esteem is important for all children within typical development, however this may require special attention for children with speech and language disorders. Self-esteem is important as it affects how a person feels about themselves and ultimately how they behave and act.

For a child with a speech or language disorder, maintaining a high self-esteem may be difficult.help for a speech and language disorder in the classroom

In a study completed by Jerome, Fujiki, Brinton and James, it was found that children with specific language impairments have a significantly lower perception of themselves than their typically developing peers by the age of 10 (2002). This difference in self-esteem was especially evident in the areas of academic competence, social acceptance and behavioral skills. Being aware of a child’s vision of their own self-worth is important for all adults in a child’s life – parents, teachers, clinicians, etc. Low self-esteem could have a negative impact on a child’s social relationships, mental health and academic performance.

The classroom offers a unique and accessible environment to provide a child with positive interactions to improve his or her self – esteem.

Here are some simple tips to implement during your daily classroom life which may have a positive effect on a child’s self-esteem:

  • Make time for one on one interactions with the child. Demonstrate that you are actively listening. Maintain eye contact and acknowledge what the child says. These are important components of listening.
  • Provide positive praise for things the child does, whether the actions or big or small.
  • Educate other students on speech and language disorders. As a teacher, you could hold a peer educational day in order to increase children’s understanding of their peers.
  • Be a role model for other students by demonstrating how to communicate with someone who at times may be difficult to understand. Try to concentrate and be patient with the child. Set up positive social interactions between the child and an appropriate peer.
  • When possible try to decrease frustrations for the child by eliminating distractions and giving the child enough time to communicate. Speak with his or her speech-language pathologist to better understand the errors the child typically makes when communicating. Importantly, try not to finish the child’s sentences, rather than letting the child speak for him or herself.

If a child’s low self-esteem is judged to be significantly interfering with a child’s ability to perform in academic and social situations, additional steps should be taken. Observing a speech-language pathologist interact with the child may provide further suggestions for successful communication. Contact a social worker through North Shore Pediatric Therapy for additional support.



Reference: Jerome, A. C., Fujiki, M., Brinton, B., & James, S. L. (2002). Self-esteem in children with specific language impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 45, 700 – 714.