Tips on how to support your child’s Speech and Language language

by Gazette Reporter

BY Sarah Kelly

Currently in Ireland there are over 30,000 children on the waiting list for Speech and Language Therapy services in the HSE. Parents are forced to access private services or research for themselves.

Whilst the availability of information is widely accessible on the internet, Dr. Google can be a frightening place. My advice – find reputable sources or send your questions into her for tips and ideas!   

As a parent, I recognise the pressure to work, maintain a house and be a parent at the same time.  Firstly, let me reassure you – you’re the best parent for your child, never doubt that. Parents do not cause speech and language difficulties.  

It is estimated that 12-15% of 18-24 month old children are late talkers. A late talker is described as a child who is aged 18-30 months with a reduced vocabulary despite meeting all other developmental milestones.

The milestones in vocabulary we expect are 10 words at 18 months, 50 words at 24 months and 250 words at 36 months. It is important to mention that the milestone means that 90% of children will achieve this and the average child will have more words.  Therefore, if your child isn’t meeting the milestone, it is advised to seek help.  

The good news is you can start supporting your child’s language straight away. Here are some of my top tips to get you started:  

  • * Be mindful of questions, instead make comments about what your child is doing or showing an interest in. E.g. instead of what’s that? Try “look a bird, the bird is flying, hello bird.”   
  • * Follow their interests – children are more likely to learn language about something they’re motivated by. 
  • For an early communicator or first words user – focus on language that will help them express their needs and wants. Academic language (numbers and letters) comes a bit later.     
  • *Keep a note of the words your child uses consistently and appropriately in context.  We often forget how many words our kids have, keeping this note helps you keep on track.  
  • * You will also see lots more advice on my Instagram page in the highlight “top tips” @speakeasyslt_ie 

Sarah Kelly is a Speech and Language Therapist, Montessori teacher and most importantly a mum. Sarah is here to help – send your questions to [email protected] and she will pick a question to feature here and answer. Sarah Kelly is a Senior Speech and Language Therapist and owner of SpeakEasy SLT. She also runs an online educational toy shop PlayEasy. See more on www.speakeasyslt.ie 

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