3 Mistakes to Avoid if Your Child is Stuttering

Is your child repeating sounds, words or phrases?  Are they stretching out words or getting stuck before talking? 

Around 12% of children begin to stutter by 4 years of age.  Children who begin to stutter in their preschool years need therapy immediately to prevent its negative impacts and reduce the likelihood of them stuttering for life

If left without treatment your child’s stuttering can get worse or be with them for life.  The impact of stuttering on a child’s life is varied however it’s absolutely certain that it will interfere with their ability to communicate.  This can lead to your child feeling embarrassed to speak in front of others, they can become frustrated with it and they may develop social anxiety which significantly affects their interact and build relationships with people.  This social anxiety can begin to emerge by just seven years of age.

With the right treatment stuttering can be eliminated.  Your child can become an excellent communicator who can confidently answer questions in class, stand up and give a speech and build strong relationships with those around them. There are also mistakes you can make that may lead to your child’s stuttering getting worse. It’s so important to avoid making these mistakes if your child is stuttering.

So, if you want to get your child’s speech stutter-free here are 3 mistakes to avoid:

       1. Finishing their sentences

Maybe it’s hard to watch your child struggle to talk or maybe you’re in a hurry. Either way, it can be very tempting when your child is struggling to get their words out to try to help them by finishing their sentence for them. Whilst your intentions are good, doing this can lead to frustration and a drop in their confidence.

       2. Telling them to slow down and take a breath

This is a really common mistake we see parents make. Again, we know you mean well by it however it doesn’t help your child talk smoothly at all. Rather than telling them this just give them the time they need to say their sentence and wait patiently until they’ve finished.

         3. Not seeking professional help immediately

There used to be a recommendation that you could wait 6-12 months before seeking help from a Speech Pathologist for your child’s stutter. This has changed. It is now recommended that you get help as soon as your child begins to stutter. Waiting can put your child at risk of becoming frustrated, losing confidence or having a stutter for life.

So, if your child is stuttering it’s time to avoid these mistakes and get professional help.  Our Speech Pathologists see children who stutter every day.  We can implement treatment to eliminate stuttering and build your child’s confidence in their communication.  Simply send us an email or call us on (02) 9653 9955.

 

 

 

 

 


3 Ways to Develop the Critical Skills Your Child Must Have Before They’ll Talk

If you have a child who’s not yet talking, those first words are probably something you’re excited about hearing. Keep reading to find out one thing your child needs to be able to do before you’ll hear those precious first words and ways you can help them to learn how to do them.

 

The critical skill they need is joint attention. Joint attention is when you and your child share focus on something together. It might be a toy, a person, or something interesting in your surroundings. It’s important that your child is able to gain and direct your attention to something. They’ll often do this by pointing and looking at the thing of interest. It’s also important for them to be able to respond to you and shift their attention when you want to share something with them. Joint attention is super important as it’s one of the ways we ‘tune in’ to other people and learn from them and our surroundings. It’s a critical skill your child needs to learn to talk. Without it, your child’s talking will be delayed. 

 

So, how do you help your child develop joint attention? Here are 3 things to try:

1. Get down to your child’s level

When you’re standing up, you seem a really long way away from your child and this makes it harder for them to focus on you and what you're looking at. Getting down to their level helps them to pay attention to your face and the thing you’re showing them. It also makes it easier for them to get your attention and direct it to what they’re interested in.

2. Be animated 

When you’re trying to get your child’s attention or you’re sharing focus together, use lots of facial expressions and an excited tone of voice. This will not only help to capture your child’s attention but it’ll help them stay focused for longer too.

3. Follow their interests

Pay attention to what your child is interested in and join them by looking at it too and making comments about it. There’s no need to try to get them to focus on a new toy if they’re interested and enjoying focusing on another. When you do this your child will be far more likely to return the favour and share in your interests.

If you’re worried about your child’s talking, a paediatric Speech Pathologist is the health professional who can help. Contact your local Speech Pathologist or send us an email. 

 

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Successfully Starting the School Year

It's that time of year and your child is transitioning back to school. It’s a time filled with mixed emotions not only for you but for them as well.  In this article, we’ll share our top tips for making the transition to school as smooth as possible.

“Starting school can be an overwhelming time for both children and parents.  It’s a massive life change that needs preparation and ongoing attention and effort to make sure it goes smoothly for everyone”

Without preparation and putting the right strategies in place your child can easily become overwhelmed by the experience of starting school.  This overwhelm is often expressed through behaviour.  Your child may become upset and cry frequently, they may get angry and act out or they withdraw into themselves.  Needless to say, you want to avoid your child becoming overwhelmed.

When you prepare well and put strategies in place that work you can do just that.  Your child will feel more confident, have fewer emotional outbursts (still expect some though!) and the transition will be much smoother for both them and you.

So, read on to find out how you can help not only your child but yourself get through the transition with minimal overwhelm and upset.

#1 Stick to a routine

Routines are super important.  When children have consistency in their life and know what to expect they will be less anxious.  And when they’re less anxious they’re more calm and confident.  Set up a morning, afternoon and evening routine for every day of the week and stick to it. A visual schedule is a great way for school starters to remember their routine.  Get your child involved by having them check off the steps in their schedule as they go through each of them.  You can find out more about visual schedules here https://teachingmama.org/visual-schedule-for-toddlers/.  Routines can also help you get out the door on time without the stress and hustle!  And lastly, we can’t emphasise enough the importance of a consistent bedtime that allows your child to get enough sleep.

#2 Give them downtime

There are so many before and after school activities on offer these days.  It can seem like booking your child into a bunch of these would be good.  You may have a case of FOMO for your child however you need to avoid overscheduling them.  School is incredibly tiring when they’re just starting out on their schooling journey and all those extra activities add to the drain.  If they’re tired they’ll have trouble maintaining their attention and learning new things at school.  What’s more important is to book some downtime into their calendar every day.  They will need time to relax and play quietly and recharge their battery ready for the next day.

#3 Talk to them about school

Start conversations about school right from the start.  Avoid general questions like “how was your day?” or “how are you?” and replace these with specific questions about their day such as “who did you play with at recess?” or “what was the favourite thing in your lunchbox today?”.  Also, talk about how they’re feeling with questions like “how did you feel when…?”.  They may not be able to describe this to you just yet so teach them how by telling them about your feelings in different situations.  And if they do get upset, act out or withdraw, talk to them about it after you’ve helped them calm down and reconnect with you.

#4 Arrange a play date or two

This can be a fantastic way to foster friendships and make your child feel more comfortable at school.  You can always ask their teacher who they seem to be getting along with if you’re not sure.  Just check how the school wants you to communicate with the classroom teacher beforehand.  Playdates are also a nice way for you to connect with other parents at school.  No doubt you’ll need someone to remind you about an excursion permission slip or listen to you talk through your guilt at forgetting about sports uniform day at some stage in your child’s schooling journey!

 

Put these tips in place and you’ll find your child’s transition to school will be so much smoother and you’ll feel calmer.  Found this article useful?  Click the button below to share it with your friends.

 

 


Toy Central: Tummy Ache

Playing Games Together

No doubt you’ve heard the message “play with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what games are good to play and how to play them.  Did you know it’s these two things – the what and how - that makes the difference to your child’s development?

So why take the time to play with your child? Well, research shows us play allows children to use their creativity as they develop their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, social and emotional skills.  Phew! That’s a lot of areas play can influence. Play is also so important for healthy brain development. Most of all play is a fun and simple joy that children love and by playing with your child,  you are giving them time when they feel special.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how for playing with your child by telling you about a game we like to use in clinic and sharing our top three tips on how to play the game to encourage your child’s listening, talking and thinking skills.

 

Name of the Game

Tummy Ache – Orchard Toys

In this game, you take turns turning over cards showing different foods and drinks to put on your placemat. But watch out! There may be some bugs or creepy crawlies hiding in some of the food. The winner is the first person to make a bug-free meal.

3 ways to play

When it comes to games you don’t have to follow the instructions. Modifying the way you play means you can teach your child a whole bunch of new skills using just one game!

So, here are 3 ways to play:

1. Find your favourites and talk about the foods they have chosen

Place the picture cards facing up and ask your child to create their favourite meal and put it on their placemat. Talk about the foods they have chosen and encourage children to describe their meal.

2. Play restaurants

Take turns pretending you are at a restaurant and ‘order’ the meal that you would like to have. Your child will need to listen to your request and follow instructions as well as request what they would like to have. Make it silly by requesting for foods and drinks with bugs!

3. Catergorize food groups

Have all the picture cards face down and take turns turning them over. Ask questions for your child to begin sorting food groups whether it is a drink, side dish, main meal or dessert and put them into catergories and discuss what other foods and drinks might go into those groups.

3 skills your child can learn

  1. Turn-taking and following rule based games
  2. Vocabulary development for foods, drinks and describing words
  3. Social skills and role-play of familiar contexts

 

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Christmas Gift Guide to Grow Your Child's Language Skills

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas and it's that time of year to find gifts for the children in your world. There are so many options available so we thought we'd put together a list of the best toys to engage your child's language skills - after all learning through play is one of the greatest ways to help your child develop their communication and have fun!

Looking for some last-minute stocking fillers or a Christmas present for under the tree?  The masses of toys you find in the stores can be rather overwhelming.  You may find yourself asking which ones will they enjoy and will also help with their development? To help you choose, we’ve put together of few of our top suggestions for some great presents this Christmas that everyone will love and won’t send you rushing out for more batteries on Boxing Day.

1. An experience voucher

Not every gift has to be a toy. An experience voucher is a great way to explore the world around us together. Whether it is a voucher for the zoo, movie tickets, an interactive play centre, a wildlife park, adventure park, water park, aquarium or science centre.  There are so many fabulous places for children of different ages.  Your child will love spending time with you and seeing something new.  And, of course, it’s the perfect opportunity for them to learn new things too!

2. Books

The benefits of books are enormous and a great gift for any age!  For younger children, colourful picture books and books with lots of repetition and rhythmical language are perfect.  Some wonderful authors include Mem Fox, Pamela Allen, Eric Carle and Julia Donaldson. For older children, you’ll probably know what they’re interested in reading.  Some great series include the Treehouse series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Bad Guys and Captain Underpants. All of these chapter books have images and text to be able to engage your child in a love for reading.

3. Construction Toys

Think soft or plastic blocks for babies, wooden blocks or Mega Blocks for toddlers, Duplo or LEGO for preschoolers and Technic LEGO for school children.  They will spend hours constructing whilst using their imagination and motor skills. When playing together construction type toys give the opportunity to talk through steps and further develop vocabulary and an understanding of prepositions (i.e. in/on/top/under) which can be explored at any age.

4. Board and Card Games

Games are a great way to explore communicating within a fun framework. They encourage children to take turns, read and process information, express themselves and develop strategies for communicating. When finding games for preschool seek out ones that are simple and encourage taking turns like Snap, Match-Ups, Memory games or Snakes and Ladders. As they get older children can further explore multiple-step instructions and turn-taking along with other literacy skills in a fun way with games like Top Trumps, UNO, Scrabble - Kids Edition, Kids Know Best or Monopoly to develop these skills.

There are lots more specific and detailed suggestions out there. One of the things you’ll notice about these lists is the toys do not need batteries! Studies have found that toys with lights, sounds and automatic actions actually reduce the number of ways a child will play with it and reduce the amount of talking that happens during their play.

We hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and you find a gift that’s your child loves.

Happy Christmas shopping!


Is Your Child Stuttering?

What is stuttering?

Stuttering is a communication disorder in which there are interruptions to speech.   The types of stuttering that may be present are:

  • Sound repetitions (e.g. t-t-t-teddy)
  • Word repetitions (e.g. my-my-my-my turn please)
  • Phrase repetitions (e.g. I want-I want a banana)
  • Blocking (i.e. getting stuck before the word)
  • Prolongation (i.e. stretching out the word)

Signs of tension or effort may also accompany these interruptions.  Stuttering can range from mild to severe and its onset may be gradual or sudden.  The severity of stuttering can also fluctuate over time.

How common is it?

Stuttering is common.  In their study, Reilly et al (2013) found that 11.2% of children were stuttering by 4 years of age.  Stuttering is more common in boys than girls however it is not known why this is the case.

What causes it?

The cause of stuttering is not known.  Current thinking is that it is most likely due to some difficulties in the brain activity involved in speech production.  It is not caused by anxiety, though feeling anxious can make stuttering worse.

It is known, however, that stuttering tends to run in families and therefore there may be a hereditary component.  There is no evidence to suggest that the way parents interact with their children leads to a child stuttering.

Will it go away by itself?

Some children will naturally recover from stuttering without any treatment.  Currently, it is not possible to predict which children will recover naturally.

When it comes to when to start treatment individual circumstances must always be taken into account.  There are certain characteristics that indicate immediate treatment is required.  As such, it is recommended to seek advice from a speech language pathologist if your child begins stuttering.

There are programs that have been proven to be very effective in the treatment of childhood stuttering.  The most widely used in Australia is a program developed by Sydney University’s Australian Stuttering Research Centre called The Lidcombe Program.  It is recommended that stuttering treatment begins during the preschool years.

If you are concerned your child is stuttering please feel free to contact the team at Talk Play Grow on (02) 9653 9955.

Our speech language pathologists are experienced in working with children who stutter and can provide you with advice and guidance.

References
Australian Stuttering Research Centre (2012).  What is Stuttering?  Retrieved 22 March, 2014, from http://sydney.edu.au/health-sciences/asrc/what_is/index.shtml

Reilly, S. et al (2013).  Natural history of stuttering to 4 years of age: A prospective Community-Based Study.  Pediatrics, 132(2), 460-467.  Doi: 10.1542/peds.2012.3076

Stuttering (2011).  Retrieved 21 March, 2014, from http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Stuttering?open

 


Toy Central - Shopping List

Playing Games Together

No doubt you’ve heard the message “play with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what games are good to play and how to play them.  Did you know it’s these two things – the what and how - that makes the difference to your child’s development?

So why take the time to play with your child? Well research shows us play allows children to use their creativity as they develop their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and social and emotional skills.  Phew! That’s a lot of areas play can influence. Play is also so important for healthy brain development. Most of all play is fun and a simple joy that children love and by playing with your child,  you are giving them time when they feel special.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how for playing with your child by telling you about a game we like to use in clinic and sharing our top three tips on how to play the game to encourage your child’s listening, talking and thinking skills.

Name of game

SHOPPING LIST by Orchard Toys

Image Credit: Orchard Toys

What’s it about?

The Shopping List lotto game is a colourful and simple vocabulary game which holds children's attention! Players take it in turns to turn over cards showing everyday items, from tomatoes to washing powder to pizza. If they match the pictures on their shopping list, they are encouraged to put them in their trolley. The winner is the first player to collect all the items on their list and fill their trolley or basket

This game is good for children ages 3-7.

Our top 3 tips

1. Take turns to fill the trolley

With younger children place the pictures face down and take turns to choose one, then see whose shopping trolley it should go in and help each other fill the trolleys. This is nice for encouraging social skills such as sharing, turn-taking and helping others.

2. Take turns being the shopkeeper

With older children, it can be fun to take turns to be the shopkeeper and encourage questioning and requesting skills. E.g. in response to ‘Hello what do you need today?’ – ‘I need tomatoes please’.

3. Talk about the items with additional information

This helps extend your child’s vocabulary and concept knowledge e.g. I’ve got carrots…do you have any vegetables in your trolley? My carrots are orange? Can you tell me something about the things in your trolley? This is fantastic for encouraging categorising and describing skills.

Remember the most important thing is to have fun!

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Book Central - Where is the Green Sheep?

No doubt you’ve heard the message “read books with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what books to read and how to read them.  Did you know it’s actually these two things – the what and how - that makes the difference to your child’s development?

We know from research that children who are not read to have poorer understanding of language, their vocabularies are smaller and their thinking skills are less advanced.  And this means they go on to have trouble learning to read themselves.  So, reading the right books in the right way to your child is critical to their development.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how or book reading with one fantastic book and our top three tips to make sure the way you’re reading is helping your child communicate, connect and succeed!

Where Is The Green Sheep? by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek

What’s it about?

This is a fun and colourful book that will have your child hooked from the start! It follows a wildly wonderful adventure in search for the green sheep. Before you find the green sheep, you and your child will be introduced to many other sheep along the way who are doing wild and wonderful things. Each page will leave you wondering when the green sheep will be found.

Our top 3 tips

1. Talk with your child about what is happening on each page.

As this book has limited print, it encourages the reader to be creative and generate their own descriptions and discussions for each page. Ask your child to describe the sheep on each page and why they have been given their name (e.g. “the bed sheep”, “the band sheep”). Your child will learn specific vocabulary related to the text and encourage their use of descriptive language.

2. Point out the different concepts and descriptors on each page (e.g. little, big, high, low, tall, short, etc.).

You can link them to real life examples to help solidify their learning (e.g. “Look this sheep is tall like a giraffe”).

3 Use the text as conversation starters (e.g. “so sheep really go swimming?”).

This will help your child extend their language by using reasoning and higher-level thinking skills.

 

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5 Skills Your Child Must Have Before Starting School

Are you wondering if your child is ready for school next year? This is an important article that could make the world of difference to your child’s schooling success.

 

“Children who know numbers, can write their name and read letters before starting school are no more successful than those who can’t.  You need to know the critical skills children must have before school to be successful.”

 

If children have not developed these critical skills and have not received effective intervention from a passionate health professional then they will struggle to learn at school, lack self-confidence and as they get older the gap won’t be able to be reversed.

When your child sees a health professional, someone who lives and breathes treating delays in development every day, someone who is passionate and celebrates your child’s wins, you’ll finally be in the right hands. Your child will then develop the critical skills they need and in doing so gain confidence, make friends and succeed at school.

 

“Forget about your child knowing numbers, letters and colours and the plethora of ‘school readiness’ programs out there.  There is NO evidence to show these make a difference to a child’s academic, social or emotional success”

 

If you want to set your child up for success at school then keep reading. Knowing about these next five skills might just change your child’s life.

#1 Language skills

These skills are proven by research to impact on a child’s academic achievement.  Children need to be able to put sentences together, ask and answer questions, tell short stories, use correct grammar and more in order to thrive at school.

#2 Resilience

This is all about being able to ‘bounce back’ after a challenge and research has also shown this is a critical skills for schooling success. Children need to be able turn around their thoughts and self-talk when the going gets tough and think positively.

#3 Fine motor skills

Another set of skills proven to have an effect on a child’s learning is their fine motor skills. They need them to do up buttons, unzip their jumper and write with a pencil.  All incredibly important things to be able to do at school.

#4 Concentration

Concentration is another key skill children must have for success both at school and in life.  They’ve got to able to focus and pay attention to learn new things and complete tasks.  And this includes being able to concentrate on story books.

#5 Social skills

Both in and out of the classroom, school days are filled with taking turns, solving problems, negotiating and understanding other people’s points of view.  These social skills are essential for children to achieve success at school.

 

If you want to check your child has all the critical skills for schooling success then you’ll be glad to learn that we’ve developed the ‘Get Set for School’ checklist.  It’s an easy to follow checklist to help you set your child up for success.  It covers the critical skills proven to improve your child’s academic, social and emotional success at school as well as ways you can help your child develop these critical skills at home.  To get it, simply click here  and you’ll get access to your FREE download.


Toy Central - Mr Potato Head

Playing the right games in the right way

No doubt you’ve heard the message “play with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what games are good to play and how to play them.  Did you know it’s these two things – the what and how - that make the difference to your child’s development?

So why take the time to play with your child? Well, research shows us play allows children to use their creativity as they develop their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and social and emotional skills.  Phew! That’s a lot of areas play can influence. Play is also so important for healthy brain development. Most of all play is fun and a simple joy that children love and by playing with your child,  you are giving them time when they feel special.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how for playing with your child by telling you about a game we like to use in clinic and sharing our top three tips on how to play the game to encourage your child’s listening, talking and thinking skills.

Name of game

Mr. Potato Head by Hasbro

Image Credit: Hasbro

What’s it about?

Mr. Potato Head is a game that allows children to use their imagination to mix and match different combinations of outfits for Mr. Potato. This game is great for our toddlers and preschool-aged children who love to build. Mr. Potato Head now comes in a variety of outfits and themes such as Avengers and Star Wars.

Our top 3 tips

1. Focus on vocabulary

Mr. Potato Head is filled with so many opportunities for developing basic vocabulary. Singing the nursery rhyme ‘Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes’ is a great way to encourage our toddlers to learn and use common words such as ‘shoes’ and ‘eyes’. Once your child is able to sing along with you, leave some words out of the nursery rhyme and encourage them to fill it in. Setting up predictable patterns of language, such as nursery rhymes of common phrases like ‘ready, set, go’ is a great way to encourage language use for toddlers who are late to talk.

2. Have more than one

If you are lucky enough to have two sets of Mr. Potato Head, you can build on your child’s visual-matching abilities by first completing a Mr. Potato head yourself then letting your child copy. This is also a great one for introducing the concept of ‘same’ vs ‘different’. For preschool-aged children, you could also deconstruct your Mr. Potato Head then ask your child to recreate it the same way you did. This helps them use their visual memory skills.

3. Practice requesting

Mr. Potato Head can be used as a resource for developing your child’s ability to request. A simple activity you can do with Mr. Potato Head is to have all the pieces in front of you, while your child only has Mr. Potato’s body. Your child is then has to ask for all the pieces using their talking skills (e.g., “Can I have a nose, please?”). See if you can extend your child's request by 1 word. For example, if your child is currently requesting by saying "nose", you can model "want nose" then wait and see if they'll copy your words.

And don't forget the most important thing: HAVE FUN TOGETHER!

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