There are so many challenges when raising a toddler. Your sweet little baby becomes, mobile, opinionated and passionate seemingly overnight. If your toddler is experiencing a language delay and isn’t speaking yet, things can become even more challenging. He still has the same opinions and passions, but has a hard time expressing them in a way that you can understand. Fortunately, a qualified speech therapist can use techniques to help you and your toddler communicate more effectively.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, toddlers say their first word at around 1 year, and rapidly expand their vocabulary from then on, with 50 to 100 words spoken at around 2 years. Your toddler’s pediatrician will discuss language development at her well child check ups. If your pediatrician feel that speech therapy is necessary, your pediatrician can help you find a qualified speech therapist.
One powerful tool speech therapists are using with toddlers is the tablet computer. Not only are tablets easy to use and filled with applications, toddlers love to get their hands on electronic devices. With toddlers who aren’t speaking, the tablet can be used for vocal imitation, following directions, sound association, vocabulary building and communication through joint attention to pictures or stories on the tablet. As toddlers become verbal, they can use applications on the tablet to stimulate spontaneous utterances and increase the complexity of their expressive language.
Picture cards are another speech therapy technique for toddlers who don’t speak. Therapists may make their own and then teach children to hold up the cards to communicate; such as holding up a picture of a sippy cup when they are thirsty. A more formal version of this technique is called PECS, or the Pyramid Education Consultant System, where therapists are using with toddlers follow a more formal training manual and script to help children develop language skills. There are even PECS applications available for tablet computers, so that people can combine both learning tools.
Toddlers learn a lot through play and speech therapists capitalize on that. They use toys that will motivate the child to interact such as puzzles, blocks, action figures or dolls and cars. During the play time, they will require toddlers to communicate with them through gestures, facial expressions, following directions and eventually spoken language. The idea is to get the child socially motivated to communicate; speech therapists will often choose favorite toys or novel toys for this activity.