Every person uses some form of expression to communicate. Pointing at an object, using sign language and verbal speaking are all forms of communication. For children who have hearing loss, speaking properly can be frustrating and challenging. One way you can help your child is to use some language-building strategies at home.
Why Is Speech Development Important?
From infancy, children begin to interact with their surroundings. Most children say their first word before their first birthday, although every baby will develop on their own timeline. Learning to express their desires by communicating reinforces a baby’s sense of self.
For toddlers with hearing loss, speech development is often significantly delayed. Babies are easily frustrated anyway, but not being able to communicate often causes even more frustration. This can lead to behavioral issues, which are stressful for both the child and parents.
When Should You Begin Speech Therapy?
It’s never too early to support your child’s communication. Although infants won’t necessarily respond, they will still learn and apply that knowledge when they do begin to speak. If you think your child may have hearing loss, have them tested.
The earlier hearing issues are diagnosed, the better chance your child will have at learning to adapt to the associated difficulties that hearing loss causes. One suggested treatment will likely be speech therapy. Medical professionals and schools can conduct this therapy, but you’ll give your child the best chance of success by supporting this communication regularly at home as well.
What Kinds of Strategies Work Well?
- Toddlers will be more engaged if you follow their interests and are playful
- Try to give them focused attention without too many distractions
- Over exaggerate your sounds and words, add some songs.
- Encourage your child’s successes rather than drawing attention to what they can’t do.
It’s important to know what speech development milestones are appropriate. Focus on addressing developmentally-appropriate skills.
Different methods of therapy will work better than others for your child depending upon their temperament and their specific learning challenges. Some methods are:
- Make a fun game out of learning how to pronounce sounds or words.
- Present visual connections while saying words, such as holding juice when saying the word “juice.”
- Encourage them to participate when you read to them by pointing at the right picture or repeating a word/sound.
- Have your toddler repeat sounds; repetition reinforces learning.
Where Can You Find Help?
You play a big part in your child’s communication development but you don’t have to do it alone. HEAR Center will assess your child’s hearing issues and suggest treatments and therapies to help.
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Also, for more information about Speech Therapy please visit our webpage: https://www.hearcenter.org/services/speech-language-pathology/