Parents often ask us for activities they can do in their daily lives to help encourage their child's development. Recently, we came across Vroom, a website and app, which can do just that! To get started you simply make a profile and then Vroom will send you a daily tip or idea to help encourage your child's development. The service is free and you can get it sent directly to your phone, so you can do these activities on-the-go and anywhere!
Vroom is tailored to your child's age, so the activities grow with you as your child continues to develop.
Apps and websites like Vroom make it easier to incorporate ways to encourage your child's development. But, if you are worried about your child's communication development, contact us at The Speech Space! We offer free screenings, which take approximately 30 minutes, and can help identify potential problems.
The quick, short answer to this question is: Yes!
By the time your child is two years old, they should have at least 50 words (some children will have as many as 250 words or more!). Two year olds should be starting to, if not already, combining words or using at least 2-word phrases. In addition to using nouns, your two year old child should also use verbs or action words (e.g., "want cup"; "car go"; "mommy up").
When does all this actual talking begin? Children should have their first word(s) around the age of 12 months. Around the ages of 15 months-18 months, your child should start to sound like a parrot-- copying a lot of what you say, repeating what they overhear in conversations, or easily imitating what you ask them to. From 18 months- two years old, your child should have what we call a "language explosion". During this period you should see your child begin to quickly use new words, add more words to their repertoire, as well as, combining words. Check out our Communication Milestones for more details! Also, here are some ideas to help encourage your child's language skills.
Worried your child isn't talking as much as they should be? Contact us at The Speech Space! We offer free screenings, which take approximately 30 minutes, and can help identify potential problems.
Parents often want to know what sounds their child should have or be using correctly. Today's post focuses on what your 5 year old should be able to do. If you missed our post about 4 year olds, find it here!
By the time your child is 5 years old, they should be able to make most sounds correctly on their own without help or reminders (with the exception of R sometimes, which we will touch on later). At 5 years old your child should be able to easily produce the following sounds all the time in conversation: all vowel sounds, H, M, B, P, W, F,V, K, G, Y, L, Blends (e..g, two sounds together--SM, GL, etc), S, Z, SH, CH, J and typically, R and R blends (e.g., GR, BR, PR, STR, FR, KR). Most children will start being able to use TH and ZH (e.g., vision; fusion, television) on their own by 5 years old, but technically these sounds aren't mastered until the age of 6.
Now, time to talk about that "R" sound! Children often master their "R"s around 8 years old, so experts call R the "late 8". However, in our experience most children will naturally acquire this sound well before that time and waiting that long (or longer) to get it fixed just makes it harder.
The reason some children easily acquire R on their own and other children do not can depend on a few things. Maybe your child has some low muscle tone through their lips, mouth, tongue and/or jaw (see our article here about fun activities you can do at home to strengthen up your child’s oral musculature). Or if your child needed help acquiring other sounds before R, it is likely they may need help with this tough sound.
Another important marker to think about is how intelligible your child is (i.e., how much can other people understand what your child says). A child of 5 years old should be at least 95% intelligible-- meaning people should understand at least 95% of what your child says, regardless of if the context is known or unknown.
You may have heard someone refer to your child's "speech skills" or their "language skills", when talking about their development. While they may sound similar, these are actually quite different areas of development. This post provides a quick, basic summary on the difference between these two areas.
Speech skills: Speech, which is related to how your child talks, can be split into two different areas, articulation and fluency.
Articulation refers to the way children acquire and produce sounds in words, sentences and conversation. If your child is having difficulty with their articulation development you may see things like:
Fluency is the aspect of speech production that involves smoothness, rate and effort. If your child is having difficulty with their fluency development you may see things like:
Language skills: Language can be broken down most simply into two parts: receptive language and expressive language (Note: Today we are just talking about foundational or basic language skills. We'll cover higher-level language skills in a future post.)
Receptive language is the ability to understand what is being said and can include things like following directions or understanding questions. If your child is having difficulty with their receptive language skills, you may see things like:
Expressive language is the ability to use language and includes things like grammar, vocabulary and answering questions. If your child is having difficulty with their expressive language development, you may see things like:
Some children may have trouble with one of these areas of communication (speech or language) or both. Some children may have difficulty with one area of their language development, but not the other (receptive vs. expressive).
Looking out for potential red-flags with your child's development is the best way to combat any difficulties in these communication areas. Identifying areas of weakness and working on them early gives your child the best chance to make progress and catch up to their peers!
If you have questions or concerns about your child's development, contact us at The Speech Space. We offer free screenings, which take approximately 30 minutes, and can help identify potential problems.
Children often master their "R"s around 8 years old, so experts call R the "late 8". However, in our experience most children will naturally acquire this sound well before that time and waiting that long (or longer) to get it fixed just makes it harder!
The reason some children easily acquire R on their own and other children do not can depend on a few things. Maybe your child has some low muscle tone through their lips, mouth, tongue and/or jaw (see our article here about fun activities you can do at home to strengthen up your child’s oral musculature). If your child needed help acquiring other sounds before R, it is likely they may need help with this tough sound.
So What Sounds Should My 4 Year Old Have?
By 4 years old your child should be able to easily produce the following sounds all the time in conversation: H, M, B, P, W, F, V, K, G, L, Blends (e.g., two sounds together-- PL, SN, etc).
Most children by 4 years old will also have later developing sounds, such as: S, Z, SH, CH, J, Y, TH and of course, R and R blends (e.g., GR, BR, PR, etc).
Another important marker to think about is how intelligible your child is (i.e., how much can other people understand what your child says). A child of 4 years old should be at least 85% intelligible-- meaning people should understand at least 85% of what your child says, regardless of if the context is known or unknown.
If your child is having difficulty acquiring sounds at the appropriate times and others have a hard time understanding your child, speech therapy can help! Not only will speech therapy help your child acquire the sounds they are missing and help with their overall intelligibility, it can also help your child with their future academic skills.
Did you know children with articulation issues often have trouble with their pre-reading and reading skills? Speech therapy can help prevent and even work on these issues for your child.
If you are having concerns about your child’s development reach out to us at The Speech Space! We offer free screenings, which take approximately 30 minutes, and can help identify potential problems.
Does your child have frequent ear infections or bad seasonal allergies? If your child has these issues, they may end up with buildup of fluid in their ears. The fluid in your child's ears blocks sound from making it efficiently and clearly into their inner ear (where the actual hearing is done) causing hearing issues. Difficulty with hearing sounds can negatively impact your child's total communication development (meaning: speech development, language development and even social development!). If your child is not hearing how sounds are made correctly, they will likely have difficulty imitating sounds and words.
As we discussed in a previous post, children start their engagement and communication early on, so interference with your child's hearing can impact their development, particularly as they get older. Not only can their speech development (i.e., learning how to produce sounds correctly) become impacted, but their language development and social development can become stunted. Think of your child’s early years as practice for these type of skills (speech, language and social skills) for later in their childhood and even later life. If your child is not able to practice their skills, how will they be able to correctly use the skills they haven’t been able to practice?? After all, practice makes progress!
If you have concerns about your child’s ability to hear correctly, it is vital that you get their hearing checked out! You can speak to your pediatrician about your concerns and they may refer you to a pediatric audiologist or ENT. ASHA also has an online catalog of certified audiologists all over the country. Another resource is the Early Hearing Detection & Intervention - Pediatric Audiology Links to Services (EHDI-PALS).
Red-Flags that your child may have issues with their hearing:
If your child does have hearing issues due to fluid, your pediatrician and audiologist will determine the course of action to address their hearing loss; however, it is likely your child may need speech therapy as a result of the time they were not hearing correctly. Many of the children we work with at The Speech Space end up doing very well and can quickly progress through therapy once the fluid in their ears is no longer present. There is no harm in getting it checked out-- better safe than sorry!
Feel free to reach out to us at The Speech Space if you are having concerns about your child's development. We offer free screenings, which take approximately 30 minutes, and can help identify potential problems!
Great article from ASHA on the causes of hearing loss in children
So, what is Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)?
CAS is a motor speech disorder, which means your child has trouble saying sounds, syllables, and words. This trouble is not because of muscle weakness or paralysis, but rather the brain having trouble planning how to move the body parts for speech (e.g., lips, jaw, tongue). Your child knows what he or she wants to say, but his/her brain has difficulty coordinating the muscle movements necessary to say those words.
Red Flags For CAS
The signs of CAS vary from child to child, but here are some red flags that are often seen:
It can be scary when you suspect or learn your child is not developing in the way you expected. And the lingo used when a diagnosis is given can be confusing and scary as well. However, as a parent it is important to understand a diagnosis in order to do what is best for your child.
If you suspect your child may have CAS or have been told your child has CAS, a complete evaluation of their oral musculature (i.e., lips, tongue, cheeks, jaw), speech sound repertoire, and their language skills should be completed to determine the most effective course of treatment for your child. It’s also important to take into consideration that there are often co-existing conditions (e.g., hypotonia, autism, sensory integration disorder, etc) that can be associated with CAS. Co-existing conditions would impact how your child's treatment plan should be designed.
Research shows that children with CAS have more success when they receive frequent (3-5 times a week) treatment. A high-frequency and intensive treatment plan would help your child improve their motor planning abilities, as well as their coordination and sequencing of movements for speech sound production. Every child is unique and every child with CAS is unique as well! The duration of therapy your child may need depends on their severity, the commitment of parents and caregivers for completing homework, and your child's personality. Your speech therapist should provide you with weekly homework to help guide you in the carryover of skills at home.
Our team is recommended providers on The Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America (CASANA): Megan C. Littlepage & Monica T. Phillips. Additionally, we are trained in PROMPT, Sarah Rosenfeld-Johnson's Oral Placement Therapy, and the Kaufman Speech Praxis kits. We have extensive experience working with children with CAS and their families. At The Speech Space we really take a “team approach” for our kids--this includes our team, your child, you, and other caregivers and educators!,
The Speech Space offers free 30 minute consultations to help identify potential problems with speech, language and communication development, as well as, for feeding issues. If you have concerns or further questions about your child’s development, please feel free to contact us at The Speech Space!
Important Resources for CAS:
Did you know that using sippy cups may hurt your child's speech development? Over at The Speech Space, we are huge proponents of straw cups, straw drinking and open cups instead of sippy cups for younger children. The type of cup your child regularly uses can impact their speech development! Here are a few reasons why at The Speech Space we like straw cups instead of sippy cups:
1. Oral Musculature (or the muscles your child uses to talk!)
When children have strong oral musculature (i.e., lips, tongue, cheeks, jaw stability), they are more likely able to clearly imitate a variety of movements needed for speech sounds. This is the core for developing clear speech. Children with weak oral motor skills have a higher risk of having a speech impairment. Straw cups and open cups are one way of helping your child develop these critical muscles that they will need to produce sounds. While using a sippy cup does not necessarily mean your child will need speech therapy, it's best to encourage oral motor development by using straw cups at home.
Another area of your child's development is swallowing, which requires strength from all those oral structures we mentioned earlier! When your child drinks from a bottle or a sippy cup, the spouts prevent your child’s tongue tip from elevating, often requiring them to stick their tongue out in order to drink. Liquid rushes out from sippy cups, so your child doesn't use their oral structures while drinking. This can contribute to weaknesses in your child’s lips, cheeks and tongue.
By drinking from a straw cup or an open cup your child must use more movement and control from their jaw, tongue, lips, and cheeks. This additional movement (in part to prevent spillage) works on strengthening their oral motor skills and can contribute to their speech development!
If you’re interested in trying out straw cups with your child, there are some great ones on the market! Some of our favorites are available here and here, but there may be cups you like more. As a parent, we know you are solving for a variety of factors (when traveling, something that doesn’t leak, your child may have a favorite color or character, or a handle so your child can hold the cup by themselves). The most important thing to look for in a straw cup is that the straw is not too soft (so your child cannot bite it too easily--that’s cheating!) and not too thick.
If you have any further questions or concerns feel free to reach out to us at The Speech Space! Until then, bottoms up...or straws up, we should say!
It’s only normal to worry about your young child’s speech and language development, particularly at the critical ages of 18-24 months. Your child’s development will impact their ability to engage with others and effectively navigate their world!
At two-years old, your child typically should be using between 100 and 150 words, consisting of familiar nouns (“cookie”, “dog”, “cup”) and verbs (“eat”, “go”). Additionally, your child should be combining words into 2-3 word phrases, for example: “Eat cookie”, “Mommy go”. You should see a language “explosion” around this age, where your child begins using new words more frequently than before and progress accelerates.
Furthermore, you should monitor your child's ability to understand – technically called receptive language. At two, your child should be able to identify clothing and body parts, follow simple 2-step commands, respond to yes/no questions, and point to familiar items/objects. If your child struggles to understand language, it may be harder for them to learn and use new words.
You can encourage your child's development through day-to-day activities, especially including ones at home:
If you are concerned about your child's speech and language development, act now, as early intervention helps prevent your child from falling further behind. For children with speech and language weaknesses, speech therapy is imperative to address those weaknesses in order to help your child effectively communicate with others. If you have any questions about your child’s speech and language needs, please contact us at The Speech Space!