If you know my story, you know that I have lovingly struggled with my 2-year-old and her inability to communicate. In the beginning I was sad and frustrated, but then I put myself in her shoes and realized that this must be a struggle for her as well.
I sometimes do get sad when I am around other children her age. To hear them call out to their parents “mama” or “dada”, Oh how I long to hear those words.
I never realized how precious those moments are when you hear your child speak for the very first time. I cherish what limited communication we do have with each other, and I am thankful everyday for her bright smile and tight hugs. We have made progress or shall I say she has made tremendous progress, and the effort is always there.
I have read many books and have searched the web tirelessly for tips and suggestions to encourage language and this is what I found works best for us.
Reading is our number one love and the reason for her progress. I have always known the benefits of reading and how it unlocks the mind, but it has opened my eyes to its true power.
The type of books we use to encourage language are books with repetitious text and rhythm like “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See” by Eric Carle
Picture books with vivid pictures and minimal text, like “All About Winter” by Frankie Murdock
Books that we read on our iPad device. These particular books read to you, they are interactive, and many times they offer cool features like hidden gems and age appropriate games.
Books that encourage letter recognition and counting. My daughter loves to make the sounds of the alphabet song, which brings me to the next discovery of works for her development and that is
We sing songs with minimal lyrics, but catchy phrases and funny sounds, like Old Mc Donald, BINGO, and If your happy and you know it.
We love to get out the instruments and make up our own songs as well. I will repeat a phrase over and over again, but allow her to create the beat with the instruments. She loves trying to form the words and sounds that I am making, and the beat of the music gives her the ability to make the syllabic sounds.
Familiar children television songs like Daniel Tiger and Angelina Ballerina. During her t.v. time she likes to watch the same episodes over and over again. She can imitate the sounds and some of the words of the songs. During the day when the television is off I can start to sing some of the songs from those shows and she will try to sing along.
She will occasionally show interest in other tunes, but she prefers many of the songs from PBSkids.
We do so many different arts and craft projects, but drawing is the one activity that brings out the language. She does not use words per se, but she speaks her gibberish in efforts to describe her pictures.
I have an easel that I keep supplied with paper and markers. Throughout the day she will just go and draw and pull someone over to show and describe what she is drawing.
She also loves to imitate what I draw. We are working naming the parts of the face and body, so I have been drawing happy faces for her copy. This has helped with her identifying different parts of the face.
Some stories that are classics, that I do not own, I will draw out the story on the board and have her follow along. On her own she will try to replicate what I have done and tell the story in her own words.
We are fortunate to have a speech therapist come out to our home once a week to help with my daughters speech. The therapist has toys and learning games and uses those tools to encourage her to speak.
He focuses on blends and beginning and ending sounds. He also encourages her to initiate words on her own through different types of play.
All of these things have helped with her speech development and has given her the confidence to try new words and sounds. I am excited about the future for her and I hope that maybe this can encourage another family, who may find themselves struggling with the same thing.