I’m sure like all parents, you ask yourself how can I best help my child who struggles with speech succeed? What does he/she need? It isn’t always clear as to how to best help our children. As we all know, there is no manual on your child. There are books and online resources out there to help, but no other child is like your child and therefore, understanding your role as a parent of a child struggling with speech can sometimes be difficult. We can give suggestions, but in the end you must tailor all the ideas and suggestions to your individual child. We have compiled a list of ways to help your child improve and succeed with this challenge in their life.
Get a Diagnosis
If you are concerned about your child’s speech, then seek a diagnosis. Don’t wait or wonder, if there is something going on, the sooner they receive a diagnosis, the sooner your child can get the help they need. First thing is first, ask your pediatrician for a referral to a Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP) in your area. Don’t forget to also check out our list of milestones by age.
Take them to Speech Therapy
This might seem like an obvious suggestion, but it is not always the easiest to accomplish. Let’s face it, we have busy schedules and sometimes it is difficult to find the time, but speech therapists are truly beneficial in teaching your child the tools to improve their speech. Not only that, but they can help us as parents better understand how to help our children.
Help them with Speech Therapy Work
Whether they do speech therapy at school or privately, many speech therapists give some kind of practice assignments. These assignments really help to reinforce what they are learning in therapy. If your speech therapist is not giving assignments for practice, then ask them if they have worksheets or what you can do to help reinforce what they are teaching your child.
Read to them
The more we read to them, the greater their vocabularies and comprehension grow. Children also learn from modeling so hearing you say the words will help them to learn correctly. I could go on and on about the many benefits of reading to them, but suffice it to say it’s really great for them so do it often. Don’t forget if you have older kids have them read to you. What a great way to practice pronunciation and comprehension.
Be their Advocate at School
This is a very important point. We MUST be their advocate at school and make sure they are getting the help they need. Even in a school where the SLP is on board, we have to know what we want and ask for it and sometimes even insist they receive services. There are no free handouts at school. If you don’t ask, then more than likely they will not get all the support they need.
We can’t be an advocate at school, if we don’t know what to advocate for. Education is a key factor in helping your child get the accommodations they need on an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) or 504. You can find many resources online, the library, support groups, and even ask the school for resources.
Teach them Coping Skills
Having a speech disorder, can be very frustrating. When someone doesn’t understand your child’s needs or wants, they may decide to act out. Imagine speaking a different language and asking for help, only for people to tell you they don’t understand or to just blanket agree with what you have said. Both would be extremely frustrating for an adult, let alone a child who is still trying to understand the world. Teaching our children coping skills can be a very important resource for them. Not only will it help them, not be frustrated, but it will help them to gain confidence in the world around them.
Find Activities They Enjoy
This may seem kind of random but it really is not. Not being able to be understood can be frustrating and can lead to feeling bad about themselves. Finding them activities they feel successful at will give them more confidence and help them succeed in all areas of their life including their speech.
Help Kids Find Supportive Friends
The old saying “It takes a village” is true with any child but especially with children who may have developmental struggles. Finding friends that your child feels comfortable around, and can be themselves with, is important and gives them the opportunity to gain self-confidence.
A Final Note
For all you parents who go to appointments week in and week out, good job mom and dad! I think we sometimes need that pat on the back. You are doing what your kid needs and you are truly helping them. It can be grueling sitting in waiting rooms especially if your child has more than just speech therapy so I say again, good job mom and dad. You are awesome!
Don’t know where to start your education! Check out these great blog articles that will help you prepare for IEP meetings and more.