One night, a fifteen-year-old boy stole a car. He drove away at high speed and wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. Suddenly, he lost control of the steering wheel and crashed into a tree. ‘Tom’ (whose real name has been changed to keep his identity confidential) acquired a traumatic brain injury, commonly referred to as TBI. He experienced a lot of changes after that night. Tom thought the changes would go away. But they didn’t. Tom was the first child I ever worked with who had TBI. He inspired this post.
What causes Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?
TBI is caused by sudden damage to the brain by an external object. This may occur from impact during a car accident collision, sport injury, violence (such as a blow to the head or gunshot) or fall. Falls are the most common cause of TBI, particularly in young children and older adults .
Who is at risk for TBI?
There are three age groups who are most at risk:
1. Children up to the age of 4.
2. Individuals (mostly males) aged between 15-24. This is because young males are more likely to engage in high-risk work or behaviour.
3. Adults above the age of 70.
What are the problems associated with TBI?
TBI can be easy to miss when first meeting someone. This is because individuals with TBI look just like you and I. However, 80-100% of individuals with TBI experience some form of communication impairment, mainly cognitive-communication disorder  which impacts the way they think and interact with others. The problems associated with TBI include :
What are the long-term consequences of TBI?
Scientific research has shown that individuals with TBI are likely to experience difficulty in several areas of their life. These areas include overall independence, employment, academic, maintaining relationships, and social integration .
What can be done to prevent TBI?
Here are some steps which can help:
1. Always wear a seatbelt in a car.
2. Wear a helmet when riding a bicycle or a motorbike.
3. Ensure rugs inside your home are secure to prevent slipping.
4. Clear stairways of objects which may cause tripping.
5. Install stair gates at home.
How can a speech therapist help an individual with TBI?
1. Assessment 
A speech therapist will first assess a person’s orientation (their awareness of who they are, where they are and what date it is) and their cognitive-communication skills. Once these have been determined, the speech therapist will form a treatment plan. The goals of this plan will depend on each person’s needs, with the focus of increasing their independence in daily life.
Early Stages 
In the early stages of a person’s recovery, for instance, during coma, a speech therapist will work on obtaining a response from the person to sensory stimulation. As the person becomes more aware, the speech therapist will focus on improving their orientation and gaining their attention for basic tasks.
Once a person has regained their orientation and awareness, the speech therapist will work with them to improve their cognitive-communication skills using scientifically proven methods . In many teenage and adult cases (unless in the case of severe intellectual impairment or severe receptive aphasia), the individual can be involved in selecting what areas they want to prioritise in therapy.
Now, let’s revisit the story of Tom. Initially, Tom was very reluctant to participate in therapy. However, by being involved in his own goal-setting, Tom realised the relevance of therapy. Eventually, Tom chose to work on these three areas in therapy:
Finally, there are several negative impacts of the cognitive-communication disorders experienced by individuals with TBI. Speech therapy can greatly improve the areas where an individual with TBI is experiencing difficulty through the use of scientifically proven methods. In my opinion, it is important to involve the individual in the goal-setting process whenever possible.
The Expat Speechie
Acknowledgement and thanks to the following sources whereby some of the above information was obtained:
 Freund , J. , Hayter , C. , MacDonald , S. , Neary , M. , & WisemanHakes , C. (1994). Cognitive-communication disorders following traumatic brain Injury: A practical guide. Tucson, AZ: Communication Skill Builders .
 MacDonald , S. , & Wiseman-Hakes , C. (2010) . Knowledge translation in ABI rehabilitation: A model for consolidating and applying the evidence for cognitive-communication interventions . Brain Injury, 24, 486 – 508 .
Last Friday, I started the monthly parent communication empowerment training at the Rainbow Room, a special needs awareness centre here in Bangkok. Below is a summary of what was discussed:
Below is the translation in Thai:
Come and join me for the next parent communication empowerment session on Friday 10th of February, 2017, at the Rainbow Room. All parents are welcome!
The Expat Speechie
It always fascinates me just how similar speech sound errors are among bilingual children who speak the same languages. Every day, I hear common speech sound errors among children who speak both Thai and English. However, before I delve deeper into this post, it is important to note that not all children who speak Thai and English have speech sound errors. This post will be focusing on the errors noted in the speech of those children who do.
The most common speech sound errors I have noticed among children who speak both Thai and English are:
1. Replacing the ‘ch’ sound with the ‘sh’ sound.
For instance, saying ‘shilli’ instead of the word ‘chilli’.
2. Interchanging the ‘v’ and ‘w’ sounds.
For instance, saying ‘wery’ instead of the word ‘very’, or saying ‘ving’ instead of the word ‘wing’.
3. Replacing the ‘r’ sound with the ‘l’ sound.
For instance, saying ‘labbit’ instead of the word ‘rabbit’.
This occurs because of incorrect tongue placement when making sounds such as 's' and 'z'. You can read more about lisps in my previous post 'Let's Talk About Lisps.'
So, if these speech sound errors are so common, are they ever a problem?
The speech errors above are problematic when they impact a child’s ability to be understood by others. Between the ages of four and five years, 90-100% of what a child says should be understood by others. It is usually the case that parents understand their child’s speech the most, even if they have speech sound errors. This is because parents eventually become accustomed to these speech sound errors. However, if a child’s teacher, relative or friend is finding it difficult to understand what they are saying, then it is likely that these speech sound errors are hindering a child’s ability to be understood.
Importantly, speech sound errors should always be addressed if they are impacting on a child’s self-esteem or interfering with their ability to speak confidently. They should also be addressed if a child experiences bullying or teasing because of their speech.
Can these speech sound errors be resolved in bilingual children?
Absolutely! I have worked with many children who have made immense progress with regards to their speech in English, even when English is not their dominant language. As with monolingual children, this process takes consistent practice. I usually recommend 10 minutes of daily speech sound practice.
How are bilingual children taught to produce sounds correctly?
Bilingual children are given speech sound instruction the exact way as monolingual children. The first step is always to make the child aware of their speech, because after all, they can’t change what they are not aware of. This involves drawing attention to the tongue and lip placement necessary to correctly produce a sound. Children generally become quickly aware after this is explained to them. Even after they can differentiate between the correct and incorrect way to produce a sound, they might still find it difficult to correctly produce the sound themselves. This step usually requires much practice.
Once the child can correctly make the sound themselves, they then practice producing this sound in different vowel-consonant combinations, across different word positions, phrases, sentences, short-stories, and eventually, in conversation.
The important thing to remember is that it is always possible to improve a child’s speech, helping them to be better understood by others and boosting their self-esteem.
The Expat Speechie
As a parent, there are many ways which you can support your child with Autism. It all starts with one critical underlying fact- you are the best person to help your child.
You know your child better than anyone else ever will and you spend the most time with them. These two factors provide the best conditions for learning.
Below are some strategies and approaches which you can use:
1. Make a Visual Timetable:
Children with Autism have difficulty transitioning between activities or events. One practical way to address this, is by making a visual timetable to hang up at home. This can be made up of pictures showing different parts of their day in chronological order. For instance, you can have pictures for ‘breakfast’, ‘getting dressed’, ‘brushing teeth’, ‘play time’, ‘learning time’ as well as pictures of places you will go to together when you leave the house. Once your child completes an activity, they can then remove the corresponding picture from the timetable and place it in a ‘finish’ box. A visual timetable will help align your child’s expectations, making transitions easier. It will also allow your child to understand sequencing and that activities eventually come to an end.
2. Decrease Recreational Screen Time:
I have worked with children who are allowed many hours of exposure to recreational iPad games daily. Let’s consider a child who plays games on the iPad for five hours a day, this is FIVE HOURS a day whereby the opportunity to learn new things is foregone. Multiply that by a year and you can start to see the significant impact this can have on development.
Recreational screen time can be gradually decreased until it is limited to one hour per day. For more information on iPad use to best support your child, I have included the link to my previous post 'Your Child & The iPad'.
Meanwhile, try to increase your child’s exposure to programs and toys at home which will stimulate their development. For instance, there are many iPad Apps which can stimulate your child’s speech and language skills. Also, increasing your child’s exposure to pretend play toys is another great way to stimulate their language and cognitive development at home. Pretend play toys include pretend tea sets, food, dolls, action toys, cars and so forth.
3. Watch Your Language!
Children with Autism find abstract concepts and figurative language difficult. To support your child’s understanding during daily interactions, avoid using language which is unclear or requires interpretation. For instance, instead of saying things like, “it’s raining cats and dogs”, try to use literal and straightforward language such as, “it’s raining a lot.”
4. Use Language to Teach, Not Test
Be mindful of whether your language is ‘teaching’ your child or making them feel like they are being ‘tested’. Asking questions such as “what’s this?” or “how many do you see?” do not provide your child with any new learning material and will make them feel like they are being tested. Try to reduce the amount of questions you ask your child. For instance, if your child is holding a toy, use this opportunity to make comments about the object (e.g. “that’s a big blue car!”). This will introduce new words into their vocabulary, without them feeling like they are being tested.
As mentioned in my previous post, children with Autism often have echolalia. This can actually be used as a strength to teach them new words. For instance, after you say “that’s a big, blue car!” it is likely that your child will repeat this. Avoid using directive language to encourage your child to talk, such as, “say big blue car”. Chances are that your child is more likely to repeat these words spontaneously than when they are directed to say them.
5. Show Interest in Their Interests
Parents will often say things to me like “my child just doesn’t interact with me.” One way to address this is to show interest in your child’s interests. For instance, if your child is interested in trains, try to involve toy trains or the topic of trains in your interactions. Try to avoid redirecting their attention to a different toy or changing the topic, instead sustain the interaction until your child initiates the change. By involving your child’s interests in your interactions, your child will be likely to interact with you more often, creating more opportunities for learning.
6. Use Their Strongest Mode of Communication:
Remember that communication involves much more than just talking. Communication also includes using hand signs or pictures to convey messages. Some children with Autism are more comfortable communicating using methods other than talking. Once you know what your child’s strongest communication method is, use this as a tool to communicate with them.
Even though you can offer the best support for your child, you can’t do it alone! There are many professionals who can help your child further their skills in different areas. Below are a few:
Doctors: Children with Autism often experience seizures, allergies, digestive problems and sleeping problems. If your child experiences any of these, voice them to your child’s doctor. By addressing these health factors, you are helping to increase your child’s comfort levels and mood.
Speech Language Therapists: Many children with Autism have a speech and language delay. Most of them can learn to improve their verbal communication skills. However, some children with Autism are non-verbal and unfortunately, remain that way their entire lives. If a child is non-verbal, they can still learn to communicate through hand-sign or pictures. By learning to communicate their needs and wants effectively, children tend to show less self-harm behaviours and tantrums. A Speech Language Therapist can also help to support the development of their social communication skills.
Occupational Therapists: As mentioned in my previous post, children with Autism process sensory information differently to typically developing children. An Occupational Therapist can address this in several different ways. For instance, they can help your child to increase their awareness of when they are experiencing ‘sensory overload’ and teach them effective strategies to regulate their reactions to this.
Play Therapists: A Play Therapist can support your child’s language, cognitive and social development in a fun and engaging way.
Psychotherapist:s Children with Autism often experience anxiety. A Psychotherapist can help to address the anxiety as well as to increase your child’s awareness of their own emotions and teach them to apply effective strategies for dealing with heightened emotions.
Teachers: It is important to adapt your child’s school environment to support their learning needs. For instance, if your child requires high-level support at school, consider employing a full-time shadow teacher to provide one-to-one support. Also, children with Autism often learn best when information is presented visually, by text or by doing things. Once you know what way your child learns best, their classroom teacher can use this approach to support their learning. Teachers can also use a visual timetable in class to support your child’s understanding of the daily sequence and transition between tasks.
There are many ways which you can support your child with Autism. I hope that this post has given you some practical ideas to do so. Remember, you don’t have to do it all alone, there are many people who can help!
The Expat Speechie
As some of you may already know, I recently travelled to Singapore to become certified as an Autism Specialist. There, I was fortunate enough to meet many professionals from different countries working with children who have Autism, which inspired me to write this post.
As in any other country, Autism is a reality that many families in Thailand live through each day. While awareness is growing here in Thailand, the understanding of what Autism is and the resources available to support individuals with Autism are still limited. This ‘A’ word lingers on the mind of so many parents, though, not all can bring themselves to talk about it.
This post will address some common questions about Autism.
What is Autism?
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder. This means that for children with Autism, the brain does not develop typically.
Children with Autism show these two main features below:
1. Social Communication Deficit: Children with Autism have difficulty with the verbal and non-verbal aspects of social communication or the ‘unspoken rules’ of social interactions.
· These verbal aspects include difficulty with back-and forth conversations, initiating conversations, maintaining conversations or ending conversations. For instance, I have worked with a child with Autism who would not give others a chance to speak during conversations.
· The non-verbal aspects which children find difficult include interpreting emotions, making eye-contact, engaging in imaginative play, understanding 'personal space' and the use of gestures.
2. Repetitive and Restricted Routines: This includes verbal and non-verbal repetitions.
· Children with Autism may repeat things over and over again verbally, which is referred to as ‘echolalia.’ For instance, I have worked with a child who recited the same YouTube video repeatedly.
· They usually display repetitive movements such as hand-flapping and rocking.
· They tend to become very upset and have very low tolerance for a disruption or change in their routine.
· They are either much more sensitive to sensory stimulus around them, or they do not seem to respond to sensory stimulus. For example, I once worked with a child who repeatedly walked around the room to run his hands across all the furniture.
· They might seem ‘obsessed’ with a certain topic of interest which they insist to keep bringing up and talking about.
It is important to understand that the above features differ to varying degrees for each child with Autism. This is because Autism ranges on a wide spectrum. While many children with Autism require significant support, there are also several children with Autism who are high-functioning.
How Common Is Autism?
Based on statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2014, approximately 1 in 68 children have Autism. There has recently been an increase in the reporting of children with Autism. This can be partly explained by greater awareness and the availability of better diagnostic assessments.
Autism is also five times more common in boys than girls. Moreover, it is more common in families who have a history of Autism.
What Causes Autism?
Unfortunately, little is known about what causes Autism. However, recent scientific research suggests that the cause is a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
There has been much controversy around the topic of vaccines causing Autism. It is important to know that there is no scientific evidence to support this.
Can Children with Autism Learn?
Children with Autism can learn so many different things. The extent to which they can learn depends on each child. Children with Autism often learn best through the use of pictures, when things are written down or by physically doing things.
Sadly, there are many children with Autism who do not reach their full potential because they do not receive specialised support. In my next post, I will outline certain strategies and approaches which can be used to support the learning of children with Autism.
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The Expat Speechie
I would like to acknowledge and thank the following sources below where the information for this post was obtained:
1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC.
2. Autism Speaks. www.autismspeaks.org
3. Baio, EdS, J. Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network Surveillance Year 2010 Principal Invesitgators (2014, March 28). Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder Among Children Aged 8 Years - Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2010., from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss6302a1.
This week’s post is a little different. It was inspired when I was asked to give a talk to a group of parents about why speech and language therapy is so important. In the last decade, the amount of research evidence outlining the negative consequences of speech and language delays has been quite shocking. I understand that for a parent, this information can be overwhelming. However, it is important for parents to understand the consequences of speech and language delays, so that they can make a well-informed decision about therapy.
Over the years, there have been many research studies that have looked at the implications of speech and language delays. Here is what was found:
Learning [1, 2]
Children with speech and language delays are likely to experience difficulty learning during their school years, especially with regards to reading and writing. In fact, children with speech and language delays are 4-5 times more likely to experience reading difficulty compared to their peers.
Academic Achievement 
Because of the difficulties in learning outlined above, these children tend to have lower academic achievement compared to other children.
Children with language delays are more likely to display behavioural problems. These children are also more likely to show aggression compared to their peers. This is often a result of their frustration, due to difficulty they have expressing themselves or understanding what others are saying to them.
Scientific evidence shows that children with language delays are more likely to have lower self-esteem when compared to their peers.
Social Adaptation 
Children with speech and language delays often experience difficulties making friends and forming attachments with others. As a result, they feel socially isolated and are less able to adapt to social situations compared to their peers. This is likely to transfer into adulthood.
Emotional Outcomes [5-7]
Everyone wants their child to grow up to be a happy person. However, speech and language delays have been linked to difficulties with emotional stability in adulthood. Research evidence has found that children who had a receptive language delay at the age of 5, were more likely to experience depression at the age of 34. This finding was more profound for men than women.
Evidence has shown that children with persistent language delays are more likely to hold lower-skilled jobs and are more likely to experience long-term unemployment in the future.
How Can I Minimise The Impact Of A Speech Language Delay On My Child’s Life?
As a parent, there are certain steps you can take to reduce the impact of a speech language delay on your child’s life. These steps are:
Step 1 Identification.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, consult with a speech therapist. An assessment will help to determine if your child requires therapy and to identify the areas where they require further support.
Step 2 Early Intervention.
It has been scientifically proven that the earlier that children receive therapy to support their speech and language needs, the better the outcomes are likely to be.
Step 3 Consistency.
Parents often underestimate their influence on their child’s speech and language development. However, evidence has shown that when certain strategies are used by parents, the gains are even greater than when they are implemented by therapists.
Finally, research has shown that there are many negative implications of speech and language delays. Unfortunately, this issue often receives less attention than necessary, and as a result many parents do not know the potentially serious implications of these delays on their child. Moreover, many parents also do not know that there are scientifically proven strategies available to them to support their child overcome these delays.
I don’t normally ask that people share my posts, however, if you know someone who is considering therapy for their child, or who would consider it after reading this, please share this post- you could change a child’s life!
1. Raitano, N.A., Pennington, B.F., Tunick, R.A., Boada, R., & Shriberg, L.D. (2004). Pre-literacy skills of subgroups of children with speech sound disorders. J Child Psychol Psychiatry, 45(4):821–835.
2. Peterson, R.L., Pennington, B.F., Shriberg, L.D., & Boada, R. (2009). What influences literacy outcome in children with speech sound disorder? J Speech Lang Hear Res, 52(5):1175–1188.
3. Young, A.R., Beitchman, J.H., Johnson, C., et al. (2002). Young adult academic outcomes in a longitudinal sample of early identified language impaired and control children. J Child Psychol Psychiatry, 43(5):635–645.
4. Schoon, I., Parsons, S., Rush, R., & Law, J. (2010). Children’s Language Ability and Psychosocial Development: A 29-Year Follow-up Study. Pediatrics, 126(1).
5. Law, J., Rush, R., Schoon, I., & Parsons, S. (2009). Modeling developmental language difficulties from school entry into adulthood: literacy, mental health, and employment outcomes. J Speech Lang Hear Res. 52(6):1401–1416.
6. Cohen, N.J., Barwick, M.A., Horodezky, N.B., Vallance, D.D., & Im, N. (1998). Language, achievement, and cognitive processing in psychiatrically disturbed children with previously identified and unsuspected language impairments. J Child Psychol Psychiatry, 39(6):865–877.
7. Cohen, N.J., Menna, R., Vallance, D.D., Barwick, M.A., Im, N., & Horodezky, N.B. (1998). Language, social cognitive processing, and behavioral characteristics of psychiatrically disturbed children with previously identified and unsuspected language impairments. J Child Psychol Psychiatry, 39(6):853–864.
Children develop each speech sound at a specific age. For instance, the ‘m sound’ is one of the first sounds to develop at around the age of one. Whereas, the ‘r sound’ is one of the latest sounds to develop, and may take until the age of seven.
When a child has not yet developed certain speech sounds, they will have speech sound errors. These errors are considered a ‘typical’ part of speech development.
The speech sound errors below are all considered ‘age-approriate’ if you child is below the age of five:
1. Replacing the ‘r sound’ with the ‘w sound’.
For instance, your child says ‘wun’ instead of ‘run’.
2. Omitting the ‘r sound’ from ‘r clusters’.
For instance, your child says ‘tee’ instead of ‘tree’.
3. A Frontal Lisp: Your child protrudes their tongue between their top and bottom front teeth when producing sounds such as ‘s’ and ‘z’.
4. Omitting the ‘s sound’ from ‘s clusters’.
For instance, your child says ‘top’ instead of ‘stop’.
5. Replacing the voiceless ‘th sound’ with the ‘f sound’.
For instance, your child says ‘fing’ instead of ‘thing’.
6. Replacing the voiced ‘th sound’ with the ‘d sound’.
For instance, your child says ‘dat’ instead of ‘that’.
7. Replacing the ‘ch sound’ with the ‘t sound’.
For instance, your child says ‘tip’ instead of ‘chip.’
8. Replacing the ‘j sound’ with the ‘d sound’.
For instance, your child says ‘duice’ instead of ‘juice’.
9. Replacing the ‘l sound’ with the ‘w sound’.
For instance, your child says ‘wate’ instead of ‘late’.
10. Replacing the ‘l sound’ with the ‘y sound’.
For instance, your child says ‘yip’ instead of ‘lip’.
It is important to note however, that not all speech sound errors below the age of five are considered age-appropriate or a typical part of speech development. If your child has speech errors which are not mentioned above, consult with a speech-language therapist.
The Expat Speechie
© COPYRIGHT 2016. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
I would like to acknowledge and thank the following source:
Bowen, C. (2011). Table 2: Phonological Processes. Retrieved from http://www.speech-language-therapy.com/ on 22/8/2016.
I am yet to meet a child who isn’t fascinated by books! Although, before children can actually read, they start to develop a set of skills known as phonological awareness skills. These skills involve the ability to manipulate the structure of words, syllables in words and sounds in words. Phonological awareness skills are important because they form the basis for reading. Therefore, strengthening your child's phonological awareness skills will better equip them for reading.
Phonological awareness typically starts to develop from the age of three up until the age of seven. However, some children may require additional support to develop these skills. Below are ten ways you can practice phonological awareness skills with your child:
1. Syllable Segmentation
Teach your child to count the syllables in words.
Example, “How many claps in butterfly? But-ter-fly… 3 claps.”
2. Syllable Blending
Help your child to join syllables together to make a word.
Example, “Let’s put these together... bed-room… bedroom.”
3. Rhyme Identification
Teach your child to identify words that rhyme together.
Example, “Which word rhymes with cat… hat or mop?”
4. Rhyme Production
Help your child produce words that rhyme together.
Example, “Give me a word that rhymes with cat and hat?”
5. Letter-Sound Awareness
Teach your child the association between the alphabet letters and their sounds. A great way to do this is by using songs.
6. Initial Sound Identification
Help your child identify what sound a word starts with.
Example, “what sound does the word hat start with?”
7. Final Sound Identification
Help your child identify what sound a words ends with.
Example, “what is the last sound in the word hat?” (Your child will need to understand the concept ‘last’ prior to teaching this skill).
8. Segmenting Sounds
Help your child segment sounds in words.
Example, “Let’s separate the sounds in the word hat … h-a-t”).
9. Blending Sounds
Teach your child how to bring sounds together to make words.
Example, “Let’s put these sounds together b-e-d …bed!”)
10. Sound Isolation
Help your child find a particular sound in a word.
Example, "Where is the 'n sound' in the word sun?"
That’s all for this week… subscribe to my mailing list to be notified about future articles!
© COPYRIGHT 2016. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Social communication skills play an important role in a child's life when it comes to making friends, completing classroom group activities and participating in team sports. However, some children require additional support to develop these skills. If this is the case for your child, below are 9 strategies that can help:
1. Face Your Child
Facing your child when communicating with them will help your child develop better eye-contact. Conversation, reading books, and play-time are great examples of when you can practice face-to-face communication with your child .
2. Make Objects Less Accessible
Keep objects such as toys and books in sight but out of reach for your child. This will encourage your child to initiate communication. When your child is unable to reach the object they want, they will have an incentive to communicate their wants. Don’t give the object to your child until they use at least one of the following communication tools: words, sounds, eye contact, pointing or gestures.
3. Play Interactive Games
Interactive games will teach your child how to take turns with objects when interacting with others. Board games, stacking blocks, and rolling balls are great examples of interactive games that allow you to practice turn-taking with your child.
4. Make Songs Interactive
Make songs interactive to teach your child how to take turns with others during verbal interactions. Pick a nursery rhyme or song that your child enjoys singing and take turns singing parts of it with your child. Allow your child a turn by leaving blanks when singing the song (e.g. “twinkle, twinkle little ____, how I wonder what you ____”) .
5. Wait...wait...and wait some more
Most parents try to elicit communication from their child by asking them many questions. Instead, try waiting and see what happens. Contrary to what most people might think, children tend to communicate more when their communicative partner is quiet. When you wait, you give your child more opportunities to communicate. Also, try waiting for your child to ask for “more” or “help” during play .
6. Make Playdates With Other Children
The best way for your child to practice using their social communication skills is to be exposed to other children. By arranging play-dates for your child, you are providing them with many opportunities to interact with other children.
7. Show Your Child How
If your child is struggling with a particular social communication skill, show them how. You can model this skill when interacting with others in front of your child, or you can role-play this skill with your child. For instance, if your child forgets to say hello to people, have your child pretend to walk into the room and then model “hello”. You can repeat this role-play and switch roles.
8. Tell Your Child Social Stories
People remember information better when it is told in the form of a story compared to when the information is given as a series of facts. Scientific research has shown that this is because listening to a story activates more parts of the brain. Therefore, you can help to teach your child social communication skills by making up a relevant story. Your child will not only enjoy the story, but they are also more likely to remember it.
9. Use Pictures
Many children are visual learners and respond much better to information presented in pictures compared to verbally. When possible, use pictures to support your child’s understanding of social communication skills. For instance, you can use pictures of a person waving with a speech bubble saying “hello” to teach your child how to greet others.
That's all for this week... subscribe to my mailing list to be notified about all future articles!
© COPYRIGHT 2016. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
I would like to acknowledge and thank the following reference:
 Pepper, J., & Weitzman, E. (2004). It Takes Two To Talk. A Practical Guide For Parents Of Children With Language Delays (Fourth Edition). The Hanen Centre: Toronto, Ontario
Everyone wants their child to be happy when they grow up. Interestingly, the longest scientific study ever conducted on happiness, a seventy-five year Harvard study by Psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, showed that good relationships are the greatest determining factor of happiness. This study also found that good relationships actually keep people healthier as well.
As you can imagine, social communication skills are crucial for sustaining good relationships with family and friends. These include both verbal and non-verbal skills which people use to send and receive messages to communicate with others.
It is also essential for children to have adequate social communication skills for reasons other than forming relationships with other people. For instance, these skills are necessary for classroom activities such as completing group work and engaging in classroom discussions. They are also important for participating in team sports. Once a child has completed school, these skills then play a major role in obtaining and sustaining employment.
When do children develop social communication skills?
Children start to develop social communication skills much younger than most people think. These skills typically develop as below:
From birth – 6 months a child will:
How can a speech language therapist help?
The first step a therapist will take is to obtain information about the social communication skills that your child already has. The therapist will do so by collecting information from you through an interview and questionnaire. The therapist will then interact with your child to probe the social communication skills they have and try to elicit certain responses from your child. If your child is old enough to attend school, the therapist might also collect information from their classroom teacher, or even observe them in their classroom or playground environment.
The therapist will then compare the information obtained with what is typically expected from children of a similar age to your child. Based on the findings, the therapist will formulate an individualised therapy plan to improve your child’s social communication according to your child’s abilities, needs and their motivational factors.
Therapy sessions will allow your child to learn and practice social communication skills. They will often be shaped to reflect your child’s natural settings as much as possible. For younger children, therapy sessions are primarily ‘play-based’ with a focus on non-verbal interactions skills first. If your child attends school, then therapy sessions are likely to be more ‘conversation-based’ and might involve your child’s peers.
That’s all for this week… If you would like to be notified when my next article is released, subscribe to my mailing list and receive a copy of the speech and language development table!
I would like to acknowledge and thank this resource whereby the above milestones were obtained:
Lanza, J. R., & Flahive, L. K. (2008). LS Guide To Communication Milestones. LinguiSystems, Inc. USA.
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