This topic is for Q&As arranged by MNHQ. If you have questions about the site and how it runs, please do post in Site Stuff topic. If want to know about Q&A opportunities, please mail sales@mumsnet.com.

Q&A with speech and language therapist Fiona Barry - ANSWERS BACK

(87 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 11-Sep-13 12:05:48

We're running a Q&A this week with Speech and Language therapist, Fiona Barry. Fiona will be answering any of your questions relating to children's speech, language and communication. If your child doesn't say much, mispronounces words, has a stammer, or you just want to boost their confidence and chatting skills, Fiona can provide practical advice on what to do at home. Post your questions to Fiona before midday on Wednesday 18th September and we'll post up her answers on 25th September.

Fiona has worked for the NHS with children who have speech language and communication needs. She also set up TalkingTipsForKids, a website and free app and Android app which helps parents boost their child's communication skills.

Fiona has developed a series of short films that give practical tips for parents worried about their child's communication skills, as well as for those who aren't but want to give their child the best start in life. The films are divided into age categories giving specifically geared advice for all stages of communication development. Starting with the baby in the womb and going right through to the 5 year old school child, Fiona shows how easy it is to fit language boosting tips into everyday routines. Each video also includes ideas for simple but fun games you can play with your child to help with their talking and listening skills. For more information see www.talkingtipsforkids.com

This Q&A is sponsored by talkingtipsforkids

sickofsocalledexperts Sun 15-Sep-13 11:20:51

Tips!

Yes. I'd like to know more about the communication part of SALT and why there is so little specialism.

Is it because with minor speech issues that are easily resolved, you can get many more children through the clinics and number-wise this looks better on the stats than keeping 30 children with complex issues on the books for years whilst the minor ones remain on waiting lists?

Or is it because SALTs know how to assess for problems but not how to address them? It can't be very rewarding to stand in a room blowing bubbles at the back of a child's head whilst modelling the word 'more' when the child is fiddling with the radiator knob (which was our experience in no less than 6 SALT clinic sessions) nor is it beneficial for the child and certainly not the parent.

SALTs surely have more to offer than that to children with ASD after their years of rigorous training. But is the reason they don't specialise here to do with the above (getting the numbers through with the minor problems) and also because it is perhaps not so rewarding if they haven't been trained in behaviourist principles and how to engage the child so ultimately are unable to deliver the therapy, so discharge on the basis of no progress!?

If all the above is true (and I have come to believe so), then my real question is:

What CAN a parent do to help their child who has these issues but who has been discharged by the SALT for no progress?

jellysmum77 Sun 15-Sep-13 15:10:13

Hi Fiona, my question is have you got any tips/activities that I can do at home with my 4.10 year old son who has articulation problems and phonological disorder?
After feeling a little let down by the SLT we have had so far (waited moths for group sessions which seemed to be aimed more at language/communication, which he has no problems with then waiting another four months to get 5 sessions before having to go on the waiting list again) we are about to book some private sessions and are doing lots of practise at home. After just one week of daily exercises using bigmouth and other things I found on the internet he is beginning to say words he has never been able to pronounce before so would love some more ideas to try out. Thanks.

Common errors he makes;
time= pime/ pig= kig/ tummy =pummy. (all of these he has said correctly this week but at the moment it is still inconsistent).
jump he says as bump jam as mam.
The ends of his words are mostly missing and some middle consonants.
Struggles with s/f/l at the start of words.

Lorajay Sun 15-Sep-13 21:36:09

I feel I should be a bit concerned about my 17 month old. She does babble, not so frequent with mama or daddy though I do believe I've heard her say them. She does seem to say one, two, three, go but only we could understand it. She does point and say 'what's this?' Not clearly, sometimes she doesn't even open her mouth to say it but just sounds it. I'm also pretty sure she can say hi and bye. Why I'm concerned is she just doesn't seem to be very clear, doesn't have many words and very rarely wants to try talking. My 3 year old talked so early and has great language skills and vocabulary. Am I being a bit premature at being concerned? Should I be doing something to encourage her?

Bronteshoes Mon 16-Sep-13 10:15:36

Hello Fiona,
DS is 4 and has some issues with clarity of speech. His phonology and language are good, but he speaks quietly, quickly and tends to mumble. DH and I are quite attuned to his speech, but children tend to ignore him when he talks and adults usually smile and nod without acknowledging (to DS) that they can't understand. I sometimes ask him to repeat himself slowly and louder but he seems not to be able to monitor or adapt his speech (and I've modelled fast and slow speech etc.) He has no known issues with hearing. Do you have any ideas on what we could do to help?

Snatchoo Tue 17-Sep-13 08:57:53

Hi Fiona.

My twins are five in January and have just started school. They are speech delayed, by about a year according to the reports. They are both attending a school with a specialist SALT unit attached, and for the help we've had I'm really really grateful.

They don't appear to have any other needs as such, and they have improved a lot over the last few weeks even (been attending SALT since age 3).

Does there come a point when they are still not improving we should start looking at other issues? I can't imagine them not improving significantly to not be in mainstream classes at say, Yr 2, but with all the help I find that we are getting a lot of jargon and 'wait and see'. Realistically I know every child develops in their own way, but I'm the type that finds it helpful to have case studies to refer to!

Also, we also have DS3 who is nearly 2. Already he is saying a lot more than the twins ever did at his age, but does speech delay tend to run in families?

Thanks so much.

nornirishgirl Tue 17-Sep-13 14:17:45

Hi Fiona
My twin sons are 9 1/2 years old, were not premature, and have no problems whatsoever with their school work.
However, they both are still lisping to a certain extent. They call their friend Theo "Feo" and pronounce their "s" sounds like "th".
This was all very cute when they were younger, but concerned it does not seem to be disappearing by itself.
Should I be seeking some SALT help?

Many thanks

Ahhhcantthinkofagoodname Tue 17-Sep-13 22:15:36

Hi Fiona
DS is 3 and has been diagnosed with verbal dyspraxia and ASD. He can barely say anything that someone who doesn't know him would understand.
He's had some speech therapy from the NHS - we get a block of a few weeks then a gap of a few months, then another block - and we are also seeing a private speech therapist once a week. My question concerns the fact that the approaches of the two therapists seem very different although they are both using the Nuffield cards for part of the sessions. The NHS speech therapist, although she is lovely, is much firmer and tougher on DS. She pushes him a lot harder to attempt sounds and to look at her. To be fair she has been partly successful in that he has managed to make one or two new sounds during her sessions but I worry it's too stressful for DS. He seems a bit stressed and unhappy after the initial excitement has worn off and usually wants to leave after 20 minutes or so. At the other extreme the private therapist plays with DS for an hour and let's him totally dictate what they do, she just puts various games and resources out for him to choose. He loves going to see her but to be honest he often doesn't attempt to say much during the sessions, to the point I wonder if it's worth it! I guess it is - he really concentrates on stuff with her and she does have good things that probably help him in wider areas than just his speech and language.
Ay advice on whether we should be speaking to either therapist to ask them to modify their approach? Any other advice on how to best help DS?
Thanks v much

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 18-Sep-13 12:17:02

The Q&A is now closed. We'll be sending a selection of 20 Qs over to Fiona later today and post up her answers next Wednesday (25th September).

FionaBarry Wed 25-Sep-13 15:20:20

jellysmum77

Hi Fiona, my question is have you got any tips/activities that I can do at home with my 4.10 year old son who has articulation problems and phonological disorder?
After feeling a little let down by the SLT we have had so far (waited moths for group sessions which seemed to be aimed more at language/communication, which he has no problems with then waiting another four months to get 5 sessions before having to go on the waiting list again) we are about to book some private sessions and are doing lots of practise at home. After just one week of daily exercises using bigmouth and other things I found on the internet he is beginning to say words he has never been able to pronounce before so would love some more ideas to try out. Thanks.

Common errors he makes;
time= pime/ pig= kig/ tummy =pummy. (all of these he has said correctly this week but at the moment it is still inconsistent).
jump he says as bump jam as mam.
The ends of his words are mostly missing and some middle consonants.
Struggles with s/f/l at the start of words.

It sounds like you’re doing a great job and, you’re right, little and often is best. Speech work can get VERY repetitive and boring for little ones (and parents!). My one word of caution is to make sure you discuss with the therapists exactly which order the sounds are being worked on. If he misses the sounds off the ends of words the therapist may want to target this in a general way before working on any specific sound - or vice versa depending on his exact profile.

Here are some ideas for resources to make the work more fun:
•For pictures of sounds within words Caroline Bowen has some excellent free resources.
•As does Speechteach, they also show you simple games which make sound practise fun.
•How about using an app? Find a range of speech apps listed and reviewed here. I use ArtikPix professionally and I think it’s great (although a bit pricey for the whole range of sounds).
•Use games involving movement e.g. a treasure hunt with the sounds pictures dotted round the room or skittles with a different picture attached to each skittle.
• Try an obstacle course in the garden so he has to say a sound/word before he gets to jump round the course.
• Have you thought of using real objects for words instead of just pictures? I use this with children a lot and they love it. You could make your own 'p' or 'f' box with real objects beginning with these sounds and make a ‘feely bag’ with them.

FionaBarry Wed 25-Sep-13 15:25:04

sarahandemily

My dd is 3.5, talked early and well and is a real chatterbox. She has never pronounced her f and v sounds properly. F is more like s and v is more like b. we have recently started to correct her on this and try to get her to make the correct shape with her mouth and correct sound. With a lot of effort she can get a near f sound out at the start of the word fish but seems to struggle with putting her teeth on her bottom lip. Firstly is this anything to be concerned about at this age or is she likely to get it in her own time? Secondly are we right to try and get her to say it properly or might this make her feel self conscious and do more harm than good?

The ‘f’ sound is usually mastered by about 3 ½ years and ‘v’ by about 6. They can be tricky for lots of children.

Let’s talk about the ‘f’ sound here as this develops first and has the same type of lip and teeth placement as ’v’. Your daughter needs to be able to say the sound on its own correctly first. Try the ‘bunny teeth’ trick. Look in the mirror together and talk about having bunny teeth. Have a go yourself –you’ll see that your top teeth sit on top of the bottom lip. Once she has the correct teeth and lip placement, she just needs to blow. Try saying ‘bite your lip and blow’ – this will keep the teeth staying in the right place but will get the air flow going which is how ‘f’ is produced.

Once she can do this, then practise saying the sound with a vowel attached e.g. ‘fee, foo, fah, fay’. She may need to do this with a gap at first
eg ‘f…ee’ and may take time to learn to ‘blend’ to a smooth ‘fee’.

Give loads of praise like ‘great ‘f’ sound!’ and model the blending so you do it first then she tries.

Next, try words beginning with ‘f’ like ‘four’ and ‘feet’ (make sure you choose words that have ‘f’ followed by a vowel like ‘fell’, ‘fork’ – not followed by a consonant like ‘fly’ and ‘fry’ as these are more tricky and develop later). Keep practise sessions short and sweet. Try this for a few weeks but if you can’t get past blending ‘f’ and vowel sounds then see a speech and language therapist to get her started.

FionaBarry Wed 25-Sep-13 15:31:09

u2rmysunshine

Hi Fiona, our Ds is 4.3 and struggles with the r sound in words like bread and broken, for which he says bled and bloken. He pronounces words with an initial r correctly. He has always mispronounced them and I have hardly ever corrected him, but if I ask him to say it properly he can. I am just wondering if it is something that will sort itself out in time? We can still understand him, just with him starting school now I am wondering if others might tease as he gets a bit older. Thank you.

sleepyhead asked a similar question, so here is my answer to you both:

The good news is that he’s already able to say the tricky sound 'r' when it appears on its own! In 75% of children the 'r' sound is not developed until about 5, so he's doing well!

When 'r' appears in a blend or cluster (i.e. with another consonant -'br' 'fr' ‘tr’) it’s more difficult to say. Clusters with 'r' in them emerge anywhere from 4 ½ to 6 years old (and even beyond). Often children reduce the cluster down to one single sound e.g. 'bed' instead of 'bread'.

Your DS is part of the way there as he’s actually using another consonant alongside the 'b' - it’s just the wrong consonant. He can also say the 'br' sound in words when you ask him to try again. He just needs time to generalise this into everyday speech. Spend 5 minutes a day practising the sound in a fun way:

• Play listening games where he listens to you saying lots of words beginning with 'br' (a technique known as 'auditory bombardment') – there’s a list here on Caroline Bowen's website.

• Print pictures of the words and play hide and seek (hide the pictures round the room) or a matching game with two sets of the pictures. Every time he finds a picture or matches it, you say the word lots of times for him - this help’s his speech sound system correct the way he says it.

• Also play games where he has to say the words. He may have to try with a gap first e.g. 'br...ead' then try blending it. This is a very minor problem and should resolve on its own with time.

FionaBarry Wed 25-Sep-13 15:34:33

Kewcumber

Another lisp question DS is nearly 8 and lisps "S" in all situations, he has other articulation problems (eg pronounces "bowl" as "boule") but we seem to slowly working on that between he and I.

I'm almost certain its not a physical issue as he pronounced S's in his first 6 months of speech then lost it.

He was delayed in speaking (about 3) for a variety of reasons - very premature (26 weeks) changed languages at 12 months from Russian to English and adopted from an institution (speech delays common in institutionalised children)

School have agreed for two years running that he should probably be assessed but still no referral. He no problem with general communication and is graded significantly above national average in "speech" of Speech and Literacy.

What exercises can we do at home for him - he is terribly self conscious about his lisp.

To complicate matters his front teeth have recently fallen out!

queenebay had a similar question.

Yes, this can be a real issue for the older child if they’re still lisping.

There are three types of lisp:
• A lateral ‘s’ which sounds a bit like the Welsh ‘ll’.
• The palatal ‘s’ where the middle part of the tongue raises to the roof of the mouth instead of just the tip.
• But the most common is the ‘interdental’ lisp where the tongue tip sticks out between the teeth instead of staying tucked behind the top teeth – ‘th’ instead of ‘s’.

It’s important to find out what type if lisp your son has. Lisps are very common and most children grow out of them - sometimes the arrival of adult teeth stops ‘Mr Tongue’ poking out in the case of the interdental lisp. When his teeth arrive that may help – in fact it might be a good idea to hold fire until they do.

We don’t worry too much about preschool children with lisps, but if it persists after this then it’s wise to seek advice from a therapist. You may only need one or two sessions just to establish what type of lisp he has and get him stared with tongue positioning.

A neat trick to see if he can say ‘s’ accurately is getting him to say ‘t t t t t t’ as fast as he can so it turns into a ‘ssss’ sound. This gets the tongue in the right place. Or you could ask him to close his mouth with his tongue behind his teeth. Now smile. Now blow out. Try it – a ‘ssss’ sound should appear.

FionaBarry Wed 25-Sep-13 15:37:23

turkeyboots

DS has had severe glue ear (now has grommets) and at almost 4 has very poor speech. Any suggestions now how to support him before starting school?

Speech therapist we saw just told us to talk to him... Like that hasn't occurred to us!

The advice I would give depends on whether your DS has had a recent speech and language assessment to establish if there is a delay.

However, you do say that his speech is poor – if this is the case and he hasn’t been assessed recently then refer him again– usually parents can self-refer but check your local service. Hopefully his hearing levels will be approaching normal limits again –make sure this is monitored by the Audiology team.

If his speech sounds are the problem then always say words back to him in the correct way if he says them inaccurately. Don’t to ask him to say the word back to you – he’s likely to say it incorrectly again –hearing a good speech sound model from you will really help. However, he may need specific speech sound therapy so do get this checked.

If it’s his language that is the issue (how well he can use and understand words and sentences) then the same advice applies – get him re-assessed. But you can do many things to help with his language at home which are explained in our ?Talented Talk? video.

Also practise lots of listening games – even if hearing levels have returned his ears may need to be ‘retrained’ to listening to sounds again. Have quiet times in the day when you listen to sounds around - who can hear the most and guess what they are (doorbell, car driving etc)?

Focus on speech sounds with him – lay out some toys and ask him to find a toy beginning with different sounds like ‘s’ or ‘t’. ‘I Spy’ is good too. Encourage him to look at you when you talk to him so he can watch how your mouth makes all the different sounds in speech.

FionaBarry Wed 25-Sep-13 15:39:07

Minimimimi

My DS is 2y2m. He is able to understand a wide range of vocabulary but is able to speak only a handful of words in English. (approx 25)
He has a tendency to invent vocabulary even when he knows its not the word. Eg. He calls aeroplanes eet eet, ducks quack quack ect. How can this be corrected? We always say aeroplanes and ducks but he seems to ignore us.
His obsessed with cars and have been saying cars for a few months, however recently his been calling cars, car b (have no idea why)

He does have difficulties pronouncing words, as when he wants a treat i would always get him to repeat please/ thank you- which he attempts but he doesn't pronounce it correctly.

We read a great deal at home and I limit the use of tv and iPads, even though my mil is convinced that every word which he has learnt were from those devices. Am I correct to limit the use tv and iPad?

My husband speaks English to him and I speak Cantonese with him during the day with a 30 minute mandarin session. He watches 20 minutes of CBeebies and 15 minutes of mandarin cartoon each day.

Should I be concerned over his lack of communication? Am I confusing him with the multiple languages?

Many thanks

You’re doing lots of things right! Recent guidelines suggest no more than an hour a day of screen time for 3-5 year olds and less than half an hour for under 2s.

Also speaking more than one language with your child gives him a great start in life. Benefits include: ‘thinking’ advantages (bilinguals can think more flexibly because they’re used to storing 2 or more words for each object/idea) and increased employment opportunities (we now live in a ‘global village’ and many employers actively seek bilingual candidates).

Many parents worry that speaking another language will make their child have a language delay. But there is no evidence that bilingual children learn to speak later. Some children, whether bilingual or monolingual, learn to speak later than others.

By 2 years & 2 months a child can usually say at least 50 single words and will be starting to join two words together e.g. ‘more juice’. You say he has 25 words in English – it’s important to know how many he can say in Cantonese and to establish his language levels in BOTH languages so refer him to your local service.

DO NOT stop talking to him in Cantonese (as long as this is your first language). Children need to learn their first words in the languages of their home. The Mandarin sessions may be less useful at this stage if this isn’t your first language, but it’s fine as long as the sessions are fun without any expectation on him to repeat words back to you.

FionaBarry Wed 25-Sep-13 15:43:40

hedgerooni

Hi Fiona. My ds, 3.2 is outgoing, confident and chatty with an impressive vocab etc.. Two weeks ago he started stammering which has become progressively worse since. At its worst each word at the start of a sentence takes over ten attempts. The latter part of sentences come out fine, as does any singing or reciting stories from books. It feels that this has come out of the blue. What should we be doing to help him? Many thanks.

Here is my answer to you and Ohcrapwhathaveidone:

About 5% of young children experience some trouble with fluency as their language develops. For most of these children this will resolve, either with or without therapy. But for about 1% of these children problems will carry on into adulthood. Stammering can be really stressful for parents. It’s painful for them to watch their child struggling and stammering can come and go - because its unpredictable parents are often unsure of when to ask for help.

We don't fully understand the causes of stammering yet, but we do know that parents do not cause them. We also know that there are things parents can do that will help their child be as fluent as possible. Listen to your DS and give him plenty of time to finish what he wants to say in his own time – don’t be tempted to finish sentences off for him. Try to take the pressure off around talking by avoiding asking lots of questions and making sure he has time and space to talk to you without being rushed or interrupted. Try setting up 5 minutes of ‘Special Time’ in the day when you can play and chat with your child in this way. Our ?Champion Chat? video shows lots of these tips.

It’s best to ask for advice sooner rather than later. Preschool children can go through a normal stage of dysfluency as their skills are developing but if this continues for more than a couple of months, or if there is a family history of stammering, then you must ask for advice from a speech and language therapist ASAP.

These sites are useful: British Stammering Association and The Michael Palin Stammering Centre. It’s common for stammerers to find their stammer reduces when they’re reading aloud or singing (Gareth Gates is one of many examples).

FionaBarry Wed 25-Sep-13 15:49:34

StarlightMcKenzie

Hi,

My ds is almost 7 and has asd. He desperately wants friends and can start conversations with his NT peers by asking them how old they are and telling them his age. And then he gets stuck.

Sometimes children put up with him for a little bit but quickly move away as he'll ask another question that makes him appear odd like 'what boring things are you interested in' and he often gets laughed at as well as picked on by younger children who want to look 'big' in the eyes of his peers.

He is extremely capable of learning and, should I find WHAT to teach, he'd both work hard at learning and practice, but where do I start? What resources are out there to support him. In addition to his ASD he has been dx with a Speech an Language disorder over and above this and this manifests mainly in his expressive language (his receptive language skills are very good) which gives the impression that he understands a lot less than he does (and I understand is fairly unusual for children with ASD).

TheLightPassenger and HairyMaclary had similar queries.

It sounds like your DS needs some direct teaching on how to start, maintain and end conversations? Have you tried giving feedback to him on his communication skills? Make your feedback kind but direct – this will avoid him not understanding a point that you are trying to imply or infer. Try not to compensate for his difficulties by struggling to make sense of what he’s saying. Instead say outright ‘I don’t understand what you’re saying’ or ‘You’ve already told me about that’. That way he’ll learn ways to repair breakdowns in conversations.

Openly teach him how to choose children who might be compatible friends with similar interests. Some children with ASD assume that everyone is into what they are - help him narrow down his search. You could teach and rehearse with him a bank of scripted questions to use in conversations,
e.g. questions about people’s weekends or music/sport/TV

Carol Gray’s ?Comic Strip Conversations? could be really useful to highlight ‘good’ and ‘bad’ questions. Keep the language in the questions simple if his expressive language is particularly affected by his language disorder.

How about using an app? There are many that work on conversational skills for children with ASD. Autism Apps is an app which lists and reviews apps which would make your search a lot easier. Also, ?The Conversation Builder? is certainly worth looking at.

There are lots of board games available to work on this such as ?The Talkabout Game? by Winslow or ‘Communicate Junior’ by Super Duper Publications – here?s one of their videos showing how it works.

FionaBarry Wed 25-Sep-13 15:54:25

Dysgu

My youngest daughter is 4.8 years old and has just started Reception. She is a happy, chatty girl at home but is VERY quiet in a school setting - this was the same at pre-school where she went for 2 years. She is a very well-behaved child and no one at the pre-school noticed that she did not tend to volunteer any speech. She would respond to a direct question and was never rude but was perfectly happy playing and doing what she was supposed to.

Her speech development was fairly normal although we were concerned as she did seem to be behind (but we were comparing with a very verbal DD1 who spoke full sentences by 18 months) and were reassured that all was fine. She made huge leaps forward when she reached the age of 2 (and started wearing glasses - linked?)

She mispronounces many words and sounds.
She misses off the beginning of words: computer becomes '-tuter'.
She mixes up b/v so very becomes 'bery'.
These are just two examples but her speech can be hard to understand even for her dad (who lives with us and is very hands-on).

She is bright and taught herself to read CVC words this summer as she knows all the letter sounds and can say them all individually.

When I asked pre-school about this (in April of this year) they accepted that they had not noticed it as she does not volunteer to speak. They did a lot of work, putting her in 'talk groups' to build her confidence to speak. She quickly became the demo kid in these groups as she CAN say all the sounds correctly, she just doesn't/can't in normal speech.

I spoke the to Reception teachers who are aware of things. But what else should I be pushing for? Should I contact our GP and ask for a referral or wait and see what school thinks? As I said, she is academically bright (as far as 4 year olds go: can read (at a simple level), count to 100, solve addition sums to 20) and I don't want her to go unnoticed because she won't make a fuss and will do everything she is told - and there are some much more needy children in her class.

Yes, the quiet child can get overlooked in the classroom! She sounds like a bright little button with some age-appropriate speech sound errors occurring. It could be that she’s finding it hard to due to shyness, what do you think as you know her best?

However, she may be displaying some features associated with a term know as ‘selective speaking’ (or Selective Mutism). Have you heard of this or considered it yourself?

This is where a child fails to speak in specific social situations (school) even though they are able to speak in other more familiar settings (home). It’s only diagnosed once a child has failed to speak for at least a month after they’ve started school/ nursery (although she responds to direct questions which is positive). It’s widely thought to be linked to anxiety rather than stubbornness (old-fashioned view). It usually starts between the ages of 3 and 5 and can have a gradual onset (starting as shyness) as well as sudden (triggered by an emotional event). It may be that she’s showing a mild form?

We’re seeing an increase in ‘selective speakers’ clinically. This may be due to an increased pressure to get our kids talking in schools (kids start school very young and teachers have targets for speaking in groups), some children are just not ready for this and need adults to expect less but support more.

Early support is essential. Talk to her teacher and share the leaflets on The Selective Mutism and Information Research Association or ?The Selective Mutism Resource Manual? by Maggie Johnson and Alison Wintgens.

Ask for a referral to see an Educational Psychologist to find out the root of the problem and advise on support, SLTs do not usually treat Selective Mutism.

FionaBarry Wed 25-Sep-13 15:57:02

Bronteshoes

Hello Fiona,
DS is 4 and has some issues with clarity of speech. His phonology and language are good, but he speaks quietly, quickly and tends to mumble. DH and I are quite attuned to his speech, but children tend to ignore him when he talks and adults usually smile and nod without acknowledging (to DS) that they can't understand. I sometimes ask him to repeat himself slowly and louder but he seems not to be able to monitor or adapt his speech (and I've modelled fast and slow speech etc.) He has no known issues with hearing. Do you have any ideas on what we could do to help?

This is a fairly common issue - are you sure he doesn’t need a phonology assessment? Sometimes parents are so ‘tuned in’ to their child’s speech they may ‘tune out’ speech errors. It’s possible that he’s making errors that are affecting his intelligibility but you’re not hearing them. I really like this articulation guide by Linda Welsh, for parents to check where their child is at.

There are no known issues with his hearing but it may be useful to get this checked as sometimes children suffer with glue ear, an ear infection which causes fluctuating hearing loss. Periods where hearing isn’t tip-top can affect speech development. Speak to his GP about this.

He‘s a bit too young to be aware or modify his speaking skills - even primary school aged children this difficult. It’s likely to improve with age. However you cold try the following to work on his volume and rate:

• Play games where you try being ‘Mr Noisy’ and ’Mr Quiet’, read the Mr Men books and find pictures to help with this.

• Let him see you being Mr Noisy and Mr Quiet – then let him try – lay out the Mr Noisy/Quiet pictures and drive a car nearer to Noisy or Quiet as he speaks to give him visual feedback on his volume.

• Try the same games with pictures of a hare and a tortoise for rate. Read the story then practise talking fast and slow. Once he can identify when he’s being too quiet/ fast practise in pretend play eg shopping.

Don’t expect generalisation into everyday talking straight away, it’s tricky!

FionaBarry Wed 25-Sep-13 15:59:43

Lorajay

I feel I should be a bit concerned about my 17 month old. She does babble, not so frequent with mama or daddy though I do believe I've heard her say them. She does seem to say one, two, three, go but only we could understand it. She does point and say 'what's this?' Not clearly, sometimes she doesn't even open her mouth to say it but just sounds it. I'm also pretty sure she can say hi and bye. Why I'm concerned is she just doesn't seem to be very clear, doesn't have many words and very rarely wants to try talking. My 3 year old talked so early and has great language skills and vocabulary. Am I being a bit premature at being concerned? Should I be doing something to encourage her?

My response to you and Keznel:

By 18 months children can generally say around 20 simple words (daddy, ball) and understand some single words like (shoe, car). They can follow simple instructions like ‘clap hands’ or ‘kiss teddy’.

Write down all the words she can say, even those that are mispronounced. If it’s a sound she uses that is consistent for that item every time then include it as well as ‘baby’ words like noises for animals (‘moo’ for ‘cow’).

Her speech sound system is in the early stages of development. The first sounds to emerge are p, b, t, d, m, w. Do you hear any of these in her babbling? Are you hearing strings of babble like ‘bababa’ or ‘goo-ee-yah’ with the sing-song style of adult talk? This is an important stage that comes before real words emerge.

It’s good that she uses pointing alongside her babble. Is she starting to use early pretend play like pretending to talk on the phone? If so, this is a good sign as pretend play is linked to language development.

Lastly, do you have any concerns about her hearing? Doe she have frequent colds? Sometimes children suffer from ‘glue ear’, an ear infection which causes periods of fluctuating hearing loss which can affect language development. If so speak to her GP.

If she’s not doing most of these things then refer her to your local speech and language therapy service. Our ?Wise Words? video has loads of tips to encourage language at this stage. You clearly know what you’re doing as you 3 year old is a chatterbox! Keep up the good work by playing, chatting, singing and sharing books with her.

Jellyandjam Wed 25-Sep-13 16:01:03

Thank you for the ideas, I will check out those links now. Yes we tend to work on the sounds being targeted by the therapist each week and like to add more activities on those sounds. Thanks again smile

FionaBarry Wed 25-Sep-13 16:01:31

sweetiepie1979

Hi my daughter is 2.2 and has a vocab of 30 words. Sheuunderstands so much though and she can put 2/3 word sentences together. She babbles a lot and lives speaking on the phone and pretending to gave conversations. But I am worried about her pronunciation. For example milk and cot she finishes with a ch. I have not counted these in the words she can say. Any advice.?

She’s doing well! If a child is putting 2-3 words together in sentences its likely they have more than 50 single words. At her age it’s important to include all words even if they’re unclear or baby-ish (‘choo choo’ for train), we expect them to sound immature. It’s great that she’s using pretend play, it’s linked to language development so no worries on that score for her.

Speech sounds develop gradually over time during the preschool years and have a set pattern of how they emerge. Most young children make mistakes and this is normal. Roughly speaking by 18 months parents can understand 25% of what their child is saying, 50-75% by 2 years of age and 75-100% by 3 years old.

By 2 children use a limited number of sounds in their words and may miss the ends off words e.g. ‘cu’ instead of ‘cup’. By 2 ½ they will add a sound on but this may not be the right sound. This is probably what she’s doing now.

By 3 her speech should become clearer, but she may shorten longer words, e.g. nana for banana. Clusters of sounds where 2 or 3 sounds happen together will be tricky, e.g. ‘boo’ instead of ‘blue’ as well as other sounds like s, f, sh, ch, th, and l, r,w, y. It sounds like her speech is within normal limits for her age. You can help by repeating back words correctly to her so if she says ‘coch’ you say ‘Yes, it’s your cot’. Don’t ask her to repeat the word back. A good rule of thumb is to refer her if unfamiliar people can’t understand her by age 3.

Thank you. I'll have a look at those links.

FionaBarry Wed 25-Sep-13 16:03:11

halfwayupthehill

Ds2.2 had a few words at around sixteen months, then stopped talking except for mama. He was eventually diagnosed with glue ear in the spring. This cleared up by the start of this month but he has never recovered the words he had and only says me or mummy. He has no consonents except for mmm and bbb. He does not copy eg. Animal sounds.
His passive understanding is fine and he seems to hear ok.
I am very worried.

Yes, I can imagine that you’re really concerned. Firstly, make sure his hearing is being monitored by the Audiology team to ensure normal hearing levels have returned. You say that the glue ear has resolved, but once a child gets glue ear they can be prone to recurrent bouts so do make sure the GP and Audiology are following him up. We don’t know if his hearing has returned to normal levels yet although you say he seems to hear ok. Some of the sounds used in speech are of a high frequency and only an Audiologist can check if he is hearing within all the frequency ranges needed for speech.

Even if his hearing is now ok it could be that he hasn’t had time to ‘catch up’ yet. By the age of 2 a child should have at least 50 single words and be joining them together to make 2 word combinations e.g. ‘Daddy car’ or ‘more milk’.

They should also be copying sounds and words form adults. You say that he’s not doing this and only has a few single words.

Refer him to your local speech and language therapy service, in most areas you can refer yourself without having to go through the GP. They’ll check his language skills and are used to seeing children with this type of problem. It’s important to ask for support now rather than leaving it as we know that early intervention is always best for language and hearing problems.

FionaBarry Wed 25-Sep-13 16:06:20

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie

Hi Fiona....I am asking about my nephew who I sit for a lot. He is 3 and a half and is currently being assessed for High Functioning Autism. He's very bright and can count and recognise numbers to 30 and is starting to read but his functional language is behind...he can't ask for a drink or to join in a game....he has no real grasp of "under" or "on"....he loves people though and is sociable.

How can we help him to begin communicating his needs more? And to learn how to approach other children....currently he will just play close to other kids or if they leave, he might grab them. sad this doesn't help him when it comes to making friends.

His functional language is not good and he can’t join in play - a common issue for children with ASD. The National Autistic Society has some great advice on how to support social skills, so this is a brilliant starting point.

Everyone in your nephew’s life needs to be involved in this so support his parents to involve nursery staff (if he attends). Social skills are something that most children just pick up along the way but he’s likely to need issues like sharing and playing together explicitly taught and practised with him. His nursery probably has some experience with this.

Once given a diagnosis of ASD, or not, as the case may be, the health and education systems have teams in place which would support him eg speech and language therapy if required or nursery visits from specialist teachers to help staff support him.

Meanwhile, you can help by:
• Using clear and simple language with him (don’t use jokes, sarcasm or idioms like ‘cry your eyes out’, he may not understand these).
• In everyday situations, talk about the differences in what people like and think (this is tricky for children with ASD)
eg ask him to help you pick snacks out from the kitchen based on what he knows about family members’ likes/dislikes). This helps him think about what others think and like.
• Read books together and talk about what the characters are thinking/feeling.
• If a difficulty arises when he’s trying to play with others, talk to him openly but kindly about why it went wrong e.g. ‘Sam is sad because you grabbed him. He wants to stop playing now. It’s ok he’s still your friend’.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now