Posts Tagged 'speech'

Pediatric speech and language: Frequently asked questions

baby boy reaching for man's face

Cropped image. Harsha K R, Flickr. CC license.

Pediatric speech-language pathologists get asked a lot of questions about childhood development. After all, we work with children every day! Below are a few of the most commonly asked questions about speech and language development.

Q: What are important early speech and language milestones for young children?

A: Children are developing skills constantly, and at different rates, but here are a few basics to look for at various ages.

  • 0 to 3 months: Cooing, smiling at familiar faces, crying differently for different needs, calming or smiling when spoken to, and recognition of your voice.
  • 4 to 6 months: Babbling with different consonant sounds (e.g., /p/, /b/, /m/), laughing, vocalizing excitement and displeasure, moving eyes in the direction of sounds, paying attention to music, and responding to changes in the tone of your voice.
  • 7 months to 1 year: Babbling long and short groups of sounds, using speech to get and keep your attention, using gestures to communicate (e.g., waving, holding arms to be picked up), imitating different speech sounds, using one or two words around first birthday, enjoying simple games like peek-a-boo, turning and looking in the direction of sounds, listening when spoken to, recognizing some common words, and beginning to respond to requests.
  • 1 year to 18 months: Shaking head “no;” may use between 5 and 25 words; begin making animal sounds; communicating needs by using single words, pointing, grunting, gesturing, facial expressions, or eye contact; imitating common actions (e.g., brushing hair, feeding, talking on phone); pointing to objects when named; and following simple one- and two-step commands.
  • 18 to 24 months: Using 50 to 200 words, responding to “yes/no” questions, attending to books, following multiple step directions, pointing to pictures, and attending to activities for 10 to 15 minute stretches.

Q: What are the best ways to stimulate my young child’s speech and language skills?

A: For children from the age of 0 to 1 year old, the best ways to stimulate their language include:

  • Responding to your child’s coos, gurgles, and babbling
  • Staying simple and consistent with your vocabulary and using the words repetitively
  • Matching language with your activities (e.g., “Shoes on,” “Mommy driving”)
  • Looking at simple picture books. Label the pictures, take your child’s hand and point to the objects.
  • Telling nursery rhymes, singing songs, and playing simple games together such as peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake
  • Encouraging simple directions (e.g., “Give me the cup,” “Kiss the baby,” etc.)
  • Teaching your child the names of everyday items and familiar people
  • Taking your child with you to new places and situations

For children from the age of 1 to 2 years old, the best ways to stimulate their language include:

  • Rewarding and encouraging early efforts at saying new words. Asking your child to “show me” if something is unclear.
  • Talking to your baby about everything you’re doing while you’re with them
  • Having your child imitate new words and ideas
  • Talking simply, clearly and slowly to your child
  • Describing what your child is doing, feeling, and hearing
  • Going on trips and adventures (e.g., visit the zoo, plant flowers)

Q: What are the best toys for young children working on improving their speech and language skills?

A: As a speech-language pathologist, one of the questions I’m asked most often is, “What toys should I buy to help my child talk?” The toys listed below include those that I often use with children working on increasing their speech and language skills, as well as those that I would generally recommend to parents of young children. The best toys to promote speech and language development for your child are the simplest toys. Items that allow children to get creative with play and allow them to use the toy in a variety of ways are great for promoting language development. These toys include:

  • Blocks
  • Cars/trucks/trains
  • Play kitchen and food
  • Farm set
  • Baby doll and accessories
  • Doll house
  • Dress up clothes
  • Tool set
  • Tea set
  • Mr. Potato Head

Q: What is the best way to introduce a second language? Is there a “window” of time that is best?

A: It’s never too early or too late to introduce a second language, but research shows that for the most part, earlier is better. Children learn language by listening to people who speak that language, whether it is their parents, family members, teachers, friends or others. The best models for language are native speakers, but when that’s not available, there are classes, apps, games and high-quality television programming that teach other languages to children.

Children who are bilingual experience benefits that reach into adulthood, including higher academic achievement, better problem solving, increased executive control, and overall better communication skills!

Q: What should I do if I think my child is falling behind in his speech and language development?

A: If you suspect any kind of difficulty or delay in development, talk to your pediatrician. She may recommend a speech and language evaluation by a certified, licensed speech and language pathologist, who can help determine if intervention is needed.

– Erin Reaume, M.A., CCC-SLP, Speech and Language Pathologist, Children’s Speech and Language Pathology Department, Beaumont Health

Fun support for speech and language challenges

Pediatric speech therapy

Parents often wonder if they’re doing everything they can to help their children succeed. That’s part of the reason there are so many kid-centered programs available in our community. Many of those groups and classes focus on supporting children’s social and academic growth, as well as engaging them in fun activities.

But what if you want those same things for the children in your life who have speech and language delays? Perhaps you’ve spoken with your pediatrician, initiated an evaluation and treatment, and are doing the home activities provided by your clinician. How can parents provide more, while keeping things appropriate for children with varied abilities and challenges?

Beaumont Health offers various group programs for children with communication difficulties through The Center for Childhood Speech and Language Disorders. These groups support and enhance the individual treatment in which children participate. Most of our group programs run year-round, so there are opportunities to participate throughout the school year and during the summer months as well. In order to provide an optimal experience, children are placed in groups based upon their skills and needs, as well as their ages and schedule availability.

Lil’ Sprouts. The Lil’ Sprouts group program is an educational course designed for parents/caregivers along with their children between the ages of 18 months to 2 ½ years. The goal of this program is to teach parents/caregivers how to increase speech and language within their home environment.

Toddler Group. The Toddler Language Stimulation Program supports expressive language development and speech clarity skills within a peer group. Children between 2 and 3 years old participate in functional, hands-on group activities that promote independent communication skills.

PALS. The PALS group is an intervention program targeting social communication and language development for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Play-based activities are used to target early communication skills including joint attention, eye contact, initiation and requesting, play skills, turn-taking, and transitioning.

PEP Group. The Pragmatic Enrichment Program (PEP) is designed to teach children with language impairments to interact comfortably with their peers. The goal is to help the child have more positive social relationships and more success interacting in the classroom setting. Specific areas of social interactive and pragmatic skills are addressed, and coordinated with children’s individual goals.

Literacy Group. The Literacy Program is aimed at preparing children between the ages of 4 and 7 years for early literacy intervention. Sessions focus on phonological awareness skills including sound-letter correspondence, sound blending, and other skills needed for reading.

There are four metro Detroit locations available to serve the community, including Royal Oak, Grosse Pointe, West Bloomfield, and Macomb Township.

Talk to your pediatrician if you have concerns about your child’s speech and language development. An evaluation by a speech-language pathologist can determine if your child could benefit from individual or group treatment options.

– Emily Rogers, M.A., CCC-SLP, Speech and Language Pathologist, Children’s Speech and Language Pathology Department, Beaumont Health

Lil’ Sprouts: A Parent/Child Educational Program

Offered by the Beaumont Children’s Hospital Center for Childhood Speech and Language Disorders, Lil’ Sprouts is a 10-week course designed for parents/caregivers with their children. The goal of this program is to teach parents/caregivers how to increase speech and language within their home environment. Children enrolled may be developing at a normal/average rate or may be delayed in speech and language development. Children are between the ages of 18 months and 2½ years. Due to limited space, we request that siblings do not attend the Lil’ Sprout sessions.

Session Format

  • We meet for 10 consecutive Tuesdays from 5:00 – 5:50 p.m.
  • The first 25 minutes of each session: We discuss our topic and teach you and your child how to complete a task related to our topic.
  • The next 10 minutes are spent at a table for a snack. During snack time, the clinician will help the children use word approximations, sign language, or simple words to request for food.
  • The final 10 minutes: We do a circle time activity and sing a song related to our weekly topic.

Each week your family is given a handout with home program ideas and ways for you to increase your child’s speech and language development at home. Please feel free to interact with other families in the group. This is a time to find out what works for other families and try ideas out on your own!

Summer Term Schedule

  • Week 1: First Day! Speech and Sound Development and Sign Language
  • Week 2: The Development of Receptive Language Skills (Part 1 of 2)
  • Week 3: The Development of Receptive Language Skills (Part 2 of 2)
  • Week 4: The Development of Expressive Language Skills (Part 1 of 2)
  • Week 5: The Development of Expressive Language Skills (Part 2 of 2)
  • Week 6: The Interaction of Play Skills and Communication
  • Week 7: The Interaction of Sensory Skills and Communication
  • Week 8: The Interaction of Oral Motor Skills and Communication
  • Week 9: Idea and Toy Exchange
  • Week 10: Last Day! Wrap Up and Review and Recommendations

Enrollment Information

  • The summer term runs June 16 – Aug. 18, 2015.
  • Sessions will be held at the Beaumont Health Center in Royal Oak and the Beaumont Medical Office Building in West Bloomfield. Please contact one of the locations if youare interested in enrolling for the summer term.
    • Royal Oak: (248) 655-5975
    • West Bloomfield: (248) 855-4480
  • We will be taking payments during the first class. If you need to set up a payment plan, we will do so during the first visit. There are no refunds for this group program.

Sing a Holiday Song To Stimulate Language Development

image credit: epiclectic

image credit: epiclectic

Happy Holidays! This is such a joyful, exciting (and busy) time of year! Holiday traditions often involve families getting together, socializing, and having fun. Music and songs are also prevalent, and this is a great way to stimulate speech and language development in children. Singing along to your favorite songs with your children is a great place to start, and there are some simple ways to incorporate even more learning into your favorite songs.

Benefits of singing include improvements in:

  • Understanding of reciprocal communication
  • Vocabulary development
  • Rhyming skills
  • Concentration and memory
  • Spatial reasoning
  • Fine- and gross-motor development (particularly when dancing and finger-play is included)

Below are a few links for holiday songs that can be fun to sing with your children and families:

Hanukkah songs

Christmas songs

Kwanzaa songs

New Year songs

There are several methods that teachers and speech-language pathologists use to support language skills while singing. These can be easily integrated into your own favorite songs and activities.

  1. Try pausing before the last word in a line (e.g., Jingle bells, jingle …), and see if your child can finish. This is building attention, memory, language, and rhyming skills.
  2. Add extra verses, changing one detail (e.g., I had a little dreidel, I made it out of clay…I played it all night long…). This encourages children to be creative and flexible, as well as supporting vocabulary development.
  3. Make a “mistake” while singing and see if the child notices and can fix it! This is a great way to help improve attention and listening skills.
  4. Adapt a non-holiday song to include holiday and seasonal topics (e.g., The Santa on the bus goes ho, ho, ho).
  5. Make up your own songs that include following directions to teach comprehension for a variety of topics and motor movements.

Try some of these techniques with your children next time you sing a holiday song. They will have fun creating new verses to beloved songs and laugh when the words suddenly change! These can also be adapted to nursery rhymes or other favorite songs throughout the year to stimulate speech and language development.

–Sara Lipson, M.S., CCC-SLP and Kellie Bouren, M.A., CCC-SLP, Speech and Language Pathologists, Children’s Speech Pathology Department, Center for Children’s Rehabilitation at Beaumont

5 Ways to Spread the Word About Augmentative and Alternative Communication

International AAC Awareness Month is celebrated around the world each October. The goal is to raise awareness of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and to inform the public about the many different ways in which people communicate using communication devices.


Here are some ideas adapted from


  • Participate in a webinar,  read a journal article or explore a new AAC app.
  • Discover accessibility options built into the operating systems of the technologies you use.
  • Go to a vendor website of a speech-generating device or AAC app that is of interest to you and participate in the training materials.
  • See what AAC-related trainings are in your area  and register.


  • Follow #augcomm, #assistivetech and/or #AAC on Twitter.
  • Join ASHA SIG 12.
  • Expand your professional learning network.
  • Find support groups online  or within your community.


  • Adapt a game or book to use with AAC in therapy.
  • Develop a back-up communication aid for someone who uses technology to communicate.


  • Share information about what you have learned with families and other professionals
  • Teach volunteers and those who are unfamiliar with AAC devices about their use in a variety of environments.
  • Hold an informational night for parents, caregivers and other professionals to learn about low tech-high tech devices.

5. DO

  • Organize a AAC training session
  • Identify needs of AAC and technology on your caseload
  • Raise money to purchase  new equipment for your department.



  • Dynavox
  • Prentke Romich Company (PRC)
  • AbleNet
  • AssistiveWare
  • Mayer-Johnson LLC
  • Saltillo Corporation
  • Words+ Inc.
  • Spectronics Inclusive Learning Technologies

–Heather Osterhouse, M.A., CF-SLP and Monica Puente, M.A., CCC-SLP, Beaumont Pediatric Speech Department


Give Every Child a Voice: Augmentative and Alternative Communication


It’s October and this means its National Augmentative and Alternative Communication month!  Augmentative and Alternative Communication, or AAC, is a method for children who are unable to speak, have a say in their thoughts, feelings, wants and needs.

AAC comes in different forms including:

Unaided: relying on the user’s body to convey messages. This includes gestures, body language, and/or sign language.

Aided:  require the use of tools or equipment in addition to the user’s body. Aided communication methods can range from paper and pencil to communication books or boards to devices that produce voice output (speech generating devices or SGD’s) and/or written output. Electronic communication aids allow the user to use picture symbols, letters, and/or words and phrases to create messages. Some devices can be programmed to produce different spoken languages.

When a child is unable to express their wants and needs through their own voice, they may benefit from an AAC device.  This method of communication helps reduce the frustrations of not only the child, but also the parent.  It gives the child a “voice.” There are different methods of AAC devices your child may be suitable for and choosing the right method is an important process.

If you have any questions regarding AAC and feel that it may benefit your child, please contact our speech/language department at the following locations:

  • Beaumont Medical Center (West Bloomfield): 248-855-4480
  • Beaumont Health Center (Royal Oak): 248-655-5975
  • Neighborhood Club (St. Clair Shores): 313-473-4730

—David G. Schneider, M.A., CCC-SLP

Local Event: There is also a fun filled event for individuals who use any type of AAC, their family and friends.  Volunteers from The Art Experience in Pontiac will lead some amazing art activities to celebrate communication through art.  Come and  create,  communicate and socialize with peers and new friends!

When: Saturday, October 26th, 2013

Where: Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan/Children’s Hospital Novi Center

42005 W 12 Mile Road, Novi  48377

 Time: 1:00- 4:00pm; art activities will run from 1:00-3:00 pm

 Please RSVP to or 313-832-8939

Start Social Routines Early To Encourage Language Development

Instagram credit: @k_a_r_everything

Instagram credit: @k_a_r_everything

You may be noticing that your baby is starting to coo, babble, make raspberries, and maybe some other sounds while exploring her mouth. When you hear these noises coming from her cute little lips, make it right back at her. If she coos, you coo. If she babbles, you babble. If she makes a raspberry, you make a raspberry. This is a wonderful way to start reinforcing a baby’s vocal output, as well as begin to demonstrate social and reciprocal play. You want your child to understand that there is a benefit to using his/her voice.  This benefit is that you will reciprocate that action.

For older babies, social games and songs are great ways to emphasize back-and-forth play, as well as reinforce initiating.  For example, while playing peek-a-boo, don’t remove your hands to show your face immediately.  See if your baby will reach for you or vocalize when you “disappear.”  Reinforce his vocalization by showing your face and saying, “peek-a-boo!”  Or, stop your song and movement during “Row, row, row, your boat…”  Once your baby “tells you to continue” by vocalizing, laughing, and/or reaching for you, continue your fun song.

What would your toddler do if you threw off one of his routines? What if he didn’t get his favorite toy during bath time?  Would he reach for it?  Vocalize?  Whine?  Use a word or two?!?  This form of “routine sabotage” is a wonderful way to work on initiating and back-and-forth exchanges with your toddler. Other ways to sabotage familiar routines include:

  • Giving an empty cup instead of filling it with milk/juice
  • Getting your child dressed in a different order than usual (shirt put on first if it’s usually put on last, etc)
  • Not opening a bag, box, or door for your child immediately
  • Stopping a familiar song/nursery rhyme (including movements) in the middle of it

These techniques are very beneficial for stimulating your child’s language development.  If you have concerns regarding your child’s speech/language development or are interested in more stimulation activities, talk to your pediatrician or contact a speech-language pathologist.

— Sara Lipson, M.S., CCC-SLP, Speech Language Pathologist


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