Facilitating speech for your child or the child you care for can be loads of fun, and in today’s episode, hosts Rachel and Jessica cover a whole bunch of activities that can incorporate language into daily tasks.
While we don’t focus specifically on language development - but rather verbiage - some of these tasks may help your child with enunciation, so there should be something for everyone!
We kick off the show by diving into our first exercise: sequencing through singing. We talk about all the various interactive songs you can sing, as well as how to combine them with fun actions.
Sticking to the beat, we then talk about how metronome activities can help children discover direction of movement and instruction, before moving onto impulse control games. Teaching your child to control their urges to perform an action can be made fun by playing games like, “ready, set, go.”
In the latter half of the show, we talk about animal sounds and puzzles. Using repetition and the power of pause, listeners will find out why it is just as important for parents and caregivers to exaggerate these sounds with the movement of their mouths.
Later, we talk about imitating the noise and communicative actions children make and expand on why it’s beneficial to do so.
As we come to the closing stages of the show, we touch on naming things in your immediate environment and why putting things out of reach encourages communication. If you work with children in any way, or have children of your own, be sure to tune into this episode!
[00:00:55] RH:Hey, guys, welcome back to The Sensory Project Show. This is Episode 139 and you're listening to Rachael and Jessica.
[00:01:02] JH:Welcome back. If you have been with us before, and welcome if you're new here. We're so glad you're here. Today we're going to talk about speech.
[00:01:16] RH:Yes, now, we are not speech therapists, we are both occupational therapy assistants. But with that being said, we work as a team, with the speech therapists that we have worked with in the past and currently. So, with that being said, we're not speech therapists. But there is a way to facilitate speech through everyday activities. And as therapists, that's what we do is we work on everyday activities with these kiddos. And there are a lot of easy ways to facilitate speech and language into daily tasks.
[00:01:55] JH:As quotas, when we are documenting our sessions, our treatment sessions, we typically will use verbiage such as communication, or ability to verbalize wants and needs, and so, that's really what we're talking here. We're not necessarily talking about language development –
[00:02:16] RH:I mean, kind of, a little bit.
[00:02:20] JH:We are, but we don't have the same training in speech and language development. And so, the way we address it is definitely different than an SLP would address it.
[00:02:31] RH:It's almost like speech facilitation is what we're talking about today. How to facilitate speech, in your little one through either occupational therapy strategies, play strategies, the things that we are good at, and we have education in our background.
[00:02:49] JH:And then also using a lot of sensory integration as well, movement is going to be one of the big things that we talk about, because movement facilitates learning. So, when we incorporate that movement in that sensory component, we're better able to help the child communicate better.
[00:03:08] RH:Yes, so this episode isn't necessarily for special needs parents, because every child talks, every child needs to talk, and facilitating speech and your child starts from the day they're born. And so, if you're a new mom, expecting mom, this is a great episode to listen to, to get some ideas on improving that functional communication.
[00:03:31] JH:And this is great for therapists as well for other occupational therapists and other occupational therapy assistants, because you can incorporate all of these different things into your treatment sessions, as well as then provide these ideas to your families.
[00:03:46] RH:Boom. Alright, let's jump into it.
[00:03:49] JH:So, like I said before, one of the big things we're going to talk about is movement. Movement facilitates learning. So, movement activates the vestibular system, which then activates the visual system. And then when you incorporate an auditory component into it, it's going to activate that system as well and facilitate speech and communication.
[00:04:11] RH:Yes. So, why not just throw your kid on the swing and talk to them and thank them? You're going to have so many positive benefits.
[00:04:19] JH:This is something we joked a lot about in the past, when Rachel and I were at the clinic together before she decided to have a baby, that I will – I like to place a child on a swing and as they are swinging, I will sing the ABCs and I have terrible singing voice. I cannot hold a tune, but it doesn't matter because the child enjoys that movement combined with that rhythmic sound of singing and, you know, it goes up. I don't even know what it’s called. You have like singing, you have that rhythm to it.
[00:04:57] RH:You're right on. That's true. Yes, you do have a terrible singing voice. But no one cares except for us.
[00:05:05] JH:Exactly. And so, this is a great way if your child is struggling to verbally communicate and maybe they're not even seeing the ABCs yet. You do this a couple of times, and chances are they're going to start singing with you.
[00:05:20] RH:I learned Baby Shark on the piano, specifically to do in-therapy with my kids, because they love it. And they'll sing to it. And they'll play on the piano with me back when we worked in a church and there was a piano. But it's those little things that make a huge difference. So, if you need to learn a song on the piano or the guitar, I guess, that's a great thing to do.
Anyways, you're on a swing, you're singing the ABCs, whether it's great like me, or terrible, like Jessica, it doesn't matter. Honestly, we'll get more verbal communication most likely.
[00:06:04] JH:Going along with that, look at other songs that you can sing that incorporate movement. So, interactive songs are the best way to do this. We've got a list of a couple of our favorites, but any song that you can see that requires an action, or movement to go along with the words is great.
[00:06:26] RH:And snap that monkey right out of the tree, right? Or Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, one fell off and bumped his head. You know, those things, Five Greens, Speckled Frogs, Wheels on the Bus, you know, all of those songs are great, if you just Google it, find a YouTube, learn the song, And then while you're having your child on the swing, you snap that monkey right out of the tree, they fall onto the crash pad, you tickle on, they play, they laugh, and then they have to tell you more. And then you get back up on the swing. Like there are so many ways to facilitate communication with one freaking song. It's amazing.
[00:07:10] JH:Say the ABCs as well as the Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed. Those are my go-tos. And Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed is a great one to incorporate some sequencing because you're counting down from five to zero, you're pointing at the head when the monkey bonks its head. And then you can incorporate jumping and crashing and really get those sensory systems activated.
[00:07:39] RH:Yes, side note, Jessica, do you want to know something weird? So, I started doing reels and they're super fun. I had to change my Instagram account to a creator account rather than a business account. And then like a week later, I got the music function. Well, I turned it back to business and my music function is gone.
[00:08:01] RH:I know, right. So lame. It doesn't want me to be a business.
[00:08:06] JH:So interesting.
[00:08:07] RH:Okay. So, another thing that we like to incorporate with movement is the metronome. So, you guys know we love the metronome. We love so many activities that you can do with metronome. If you just have it on in the background at 60 beats per minute, you can have the child jump on arrows that you have taped on the floor, you can say, up, down, left, right, jump, hop, up, bounce. Those are words. And those are great words to incorporate.
[00:08:38] JH:Yeah, and I love naming the movements. This is a great one, the kiddos climbing a ladder, up, up, up. And at some point, if you're doing it consistently, at some point, the child is going to say, “Up.” And they're going to climb that ladder.
[00:08:52] RH:Yes, you know what's funny, like real life story of success story, I'll share this real quick. We had these colorful tactile discs, and I was doing an obstacle course with a little kid, probably three years old, with a diagnosis of autism, minimally verbal, and the child was jumping on each of those colored discs each time we are going through the obstacle course. And the first time, I would say the color of the discs that the child was stepping on or jumping on I'd say, “Blue, pink” in my therapist voice. We went through it probably four or five times by the fourth time, the child would step on the color discs, look at me, waiting for me to say the sound or the color and I wouldn't say it. So, the kid stepped on it and said it themselves. I love it so much.
[00:09:51] JH:It works. It really does work. Get that movement in and start naming things and saying things and they’re going to imitate you.
[00:10:01] RH:Yeah. And give give them that like, quiet moment to think about what to say. I didn't automatically go in and say, “Green, blue, pink.” I stopped. And that's like the power of the pause, you know, giving them that moment to process it and figure it out on their own is really important.
[00:10:20] JH:Okay, another way to incorporate speech and communication into your day is using “ready, set, go”. And this is a great way to also work on impulse control, because your child is going to have to wait until either you or they say, “Go”. So, what I typically like to do is if we're on a slide, or a swinging or getting ready to run, or crawl or jump, first, we have to stop. And I will begin by saying, “Ready, set, go.” And then they will do their action and as we repeat that sequence, at some point, just like Rachel said, I'll pause, I’ll say, “Ready, set”, and wait for them to say go. And if they don't say it, I might start just saying the g sound does a good job, and see if then they can verbalize it. And again, it's just that repetition. And at some point, they're going to get it.
[00:11:15] RH:Yes, I love this one so much on swings, and you'll like pull them up to like close to you and then before you let them go, they're like giggling and laughing. And they have to say go and you facilitate it. And then they say, go, and then you let them go. And they swing and they just laugh, laugh, laugh. And it's just such a fun way to build that rapport and that connection too.
[00:11:37] JH:And this can be so easily done on a playground. Parents go onto the playground. And yes, I totally get it, because I do this too. I send my kid out to the playground and I go, “Okay, go play.” And then I get some time to myself when my kids are on the playground. But maybe you spend the first five minutes or the last five minutes actually playing with them on the playground and working on this skill ready, set.
[00:11:59] RH:Go. I have to say it when you do that.
[00:12:05] JH:On the slides, on the swings, on the monkey bars, whatever they're playing on, and just spend a couple of minutes on the playground practicing this.
[00:12:13] RH:And you guys, you can start this with your infant too. If you are working with babies, this is a great thing to do. I was pulling trip around the other day on a blanket and I was saying, “Ready, set, go.” And then stop and then go. So, they realize that associate that movement or that stopping with those words.
[00:12:31] JH:I'm glad that you brought up the stop. That's an important one as well, stop. What does it mean to stop? Can they physically stop their bond when you say stop? It's also really important for safety out in the community to learn.
[00:12:43] RH:One hundred percent. I'm glad you said that.
[00:12:48] JH:All right, next one.
[00:12:50] RH:Animal sounds. So, one of the first ways we like to incorporate animal sounds is puzzles. There are lots of puzzles that have batteries in them. The Melissa & Doug puzzles have batteries. So, the animals actually make the sounds when you put the puzzle piece in. But if you don't have that, pictures, magnets, blocks, anything that has animals, books, stuffed animals, you can talk about the different animal sounds. As your child grabs an animal, name the animal and make the sound and then have them try to do it as well. And then just make it goofy and silly and fun always.
[00:13:34] JH:And this is perfect for an obstacle course where you can make the sound of the animal multiple times before they grab the next animal. So, maybe they grab the cow and you make the cow, “Moo”, and they crawl through the tunnel and then the cow moos again. And then they do the side and the cow moos again. And so, you're doing it multiple times. Again, it's all about that repetition.
[00:13:59] RH:Yes, repetition is key and the power of pause. That's what we're going to say throughout this whole episode now.
[00:14:06] JH:Repetition and pause.
[00:14:07] RH:Now, make sure when you're doing these animal sounds, you really exaggerate the sounds that your lips and your tongue are doing. So, if you're doing a like a bear, “Roar!” You really push those lips forward and then out into like a big O and then back to like purse your lips for that R, I don't know, that's probably more of the speech thing. But in my head, like roar.
[00:14:35] JH:You guys know what, we mean, and you know if your child is watching you watch your face and your movements while you do this and then they're going to start imitating you.
[00:14:43] RH:Yeah, and you can also put a mirror in front of them for these two so they can watch their own facial expressions to see what their mouth does when they say, “roar”, right? See if they match.
[00:14:54] JH:Take some videos. Video feedback is awesome and kids love watching themselves on videos. So, that’s a great way.
[00:15:04] RH:Yes. Okay, the next one, imitate everything. So, this is a great for babies and infants and toddlers, and as well as those kiddos who maybe are nonverbal or pre verbal.
[00:15:15] JH:Yeah, so if the child makes a funny noise, you imitate it. If the child is babbling, you imitate it. If the child goes raspberries, you imitate it. Any sound or noise that they make, you do imitate it. And chances are, they're probably going to look at you. You've got their attention, maybe make the sound again and see if they imitate it back.
[00:15:37] RH:Yeah, and also, besides just mouth noises, think about body noises, too. So, if they clap their hands, or if they stomp their feet and imitate that as well, because that's still communication. And you want to tell them that you hear what they're saying, you're communicating back, you're working on that social emotional connection with them, and they'll in turn, figure out that they can communicate with you.
[00:16:03] RH:All right, guys, let's talk a little bit more about today's sponsor, Harkla. Like we said earlier, they make high-quality products, things like sensory swings, weighted items, compression sheets and supplements that everyone can benefit from.
[00:16:15] JH:If Rachel can successfully install a swing in her house. And if you didn't see her Instagram stories, a while back, then you're missing out. You guys need to just watch them because it was great. But if Rachel can do it, then you can to, not saying anything bad about Rachel, I'm just saying that it's so easy. It's a simple process that takes less than a day, and provides results that will basically last as long as your house does.
[00:16:40] RH:And if you're in a clinic setting, this company is perfect for all of your sensory needs. Their equipment will withstand even the roughest of sensory seekers and with our lifetime guarantee, should something crazy happen, they will replace it for you.
[00:16:55] JH:Okay. stay tuned, because at the end of this episode, we're going to give you a discount for when you purchase an item from Harkla.
[00:17:02] JH:So, this one, I think is huge for infants before your child is even really even really understanding what you're saying, start naming things in your environment. So, while you're driving, while you're walking through the store, while you're walking through your house, while you're going for a walk outside, start pointing and naming things so that they understand that things have a purpose and a meaning and a name.
[00:17:32] RH:Yeah, so as you're at the grocery store, and they're a little bit older, tell them to go grab the red apple, and they'll have to go look around and find the red apple. If they find the green apple, don't say, “No, that's not right”, or “No, that's a green apple.” Say, “Oh, what color is that apple?” And they'll have to say, “That's green.” Then you would say, “Well, what color apple did I ask you for?” And then they have to recall and remember that.
So, giving them that opportunity to make mistakes when they're communicating is really helpful as well.
[00:18:09] JH:Yeah, and you know, giving them positive feedback, even if they do get their colors mixed up, or they mix up words, say, “You're right, it is a green apple, let’s put the green apple back and go find a red apple.” So, that can be a great way to do that. I
[00:18:26] RH:Love that. So, naming everything, this should start from the day your baby is born. Just talk to them all day, every day, and take them on adventures around the house, while you're carrying them and they see a curtain, say, “Oh, that's a cool curtain, it feels soft.” “Oh, here's a fork, it's really smooth. We use this to eat.” Just talk to them and explain what they see in the environment, it'll make such a big difference.
[00:18:56] JH:So, kind of going along with that is going to be asking questions. So, instead of telling your child things, or providing answers to things, ask them questions instead. So, going back to the apple example, if you said, “Go grab the red apple”, and they bring you back a green apple, say, like Rachel said, say, “What color is it?” And they're going to have to answer you. And even if they answer wrong, they're like, “It's red.” And be like, “Oh, it's actually green.” But questions instead of telling them is going to be huge, not just for that speech and communication, but it's really work on a lot of problem solving as well.
[00:19:35] RH:Exactly. So, another example we want to share with you. So, instead of saying, “Go put the plate in the cupboard”, if they're helping you to unload the dishwasher, or you know, put dishes away after dinner, instead of saying, “Go put the plate in the cupboard”, say “Where does the plate go?” And then they have to think about and say, “Oh, I don't know.” So, if they don't know, then you can say, “Well, where do you think a good place would be for the plate to go?”
[00:20:02] JH:You can even say something like, “Do you think the plate should go in the cupboard or in the fridge?” And that would start a whole conversation about the cupboard versus the fridge.
[00:20:16] RH: “What would happen if the plate went in the fridge? That would be silly? What do you think your dad would say if they saw the plate in the fridge? Should we try it and see what happens?” Like there are so many fun ways that you can engage them in these conversations to build their speech.
[00:20:32] JH:Yes, ask questions.
[00:20:34] RH:All right, the next thing that you can do is to put preferred items out of reach. So, we don't mean this in a mean way. We mean –
[00:20:43] JH:I feel like, put all their favorite toys away.
[00:20:47] RH:No. So, let's say you're playing with a ball and they love the ball. So, we're going to put the ball out of reach, you're going to put it in a container, maybe a see-through container where they can see it on the top of the shelf, and they see it, and they have to request it. They can request it by signing, by saying, “ball”, by pointing to it by saying more, have them request that preferred item.
[00:21:12] JH:I also like this example of maybe using sour spray. We love sour spray for so many different reasons. But this is a great way to increase communication skills with sour spray or preferred, anything preferred really. But in this example, you have three different colors of sour spray. You have green, blue, and pink and you have all three available visually. And they have to tell you which color they want, in order to then receive a score to that sour spray.
Now, for those who maybe are really, really struggling with verbal communication, you might have to provide them with only two choices. And really verbally give them the option so that they can try to imitate you.
[00:21:55] RH:Even if they can't verbally say I want pink, they can start by pointing to the one that they want. You guys have to remember that is important communication to be able to just point or grab or look at the item that they want. That's all communication, and we need to praise them a lot. And that's the nice thing about using things like sour spray, is they automatically get that feedback of. “Oh, I looked at the purple one. So, I got the purple one. That means if I point to the purple one next time, maybe I'll get faster.”
[00:22:26] JH:And you can also do like hand over hand assistance to get them started. They looked at the color when they want it, so you give them that positive reward. And then you repeat it, but this time you have them reach out and touch the one that they want and you help them do that. The next time they're more likely to reach out independently.
[00:22:47] RH:Definitely. Okay, the last way that you can facilitate that communication is by using sign language.
[00:22:55] JH:Oh, this one’s huge. So, I know, Rachel is starting sign language with Tripp already. And I remember doing something with Logan when he was younger. I mean, he's still a child. When he was an infant and before he could speak, I've got videos of him signing more and I mean, this is huge for kids who are going to talk someday, no matter what age they are, they can communicate with sign language, it's just going to help them so much.
[00:23:25] RH:Absolutely. So, even if you have an older kiddo, and maybe they're nonverbal, or pre verbal, or working on communication, then use those signs with them. There's a lot of accounts, we should probably link to some fun Instagram accounts, some YouTube channels, to learn sign language, there's books. But communicate in sign language and teach them those things and that will make just frustration last, it will make everyone a little bit more happy because they have a way of communicating something in their wants and their needs and their dislikes and their likes, with sign language.
[00:24:07] JH:And I think, for us, at least, our go-to are going to be more all done, healthy, help.
[00:24:15] RH:Help is important. Yeah. So, there you go.
[00:24:21] JH:I was just thinking of one more really quick, and that is pictures that we use for our visual schedules.
[00:24:27] RH:Definitely, yes.
[00:24:30] JH:Kids are such visual learners. And so, if they're struggling with verbal communication, if we can show them a picture of something, and we can help them start naming it, and then from the picture, we get the actual physical object and we name it, then they're more likely to then be able to start naming it as well.
[00:24:49] RH:Yes, I'm glad that you brought that up because there's picture exchange communication, which is helpful for a lot of kiddos and just incorporating simple visuals into their daily routine will help them learn to communicate. And you can even put labels on different items with pictures. So, print out pictures of a water bottle or a pencil and start sticking them on those items, so that way they realize, “Oh, this is a pencil. This is the water bottle.” And they can grab the picture, they can give it to you, that exchange of the pictures will be really helpful.
[00:25:26] JH:Yeah. And so, you know, we were talking specifically about verbal communication and speech throughout this episode. But as we went along, we did talk more about those nonverbal ways of communicating, sign language and pointing, and using pictures. So, there are a lot of different ways that your child can communicate with you. And you just have to give them that positive feedback if they're trying to communicate, even if it's not in a verbal way.
[00:25:54] RH:Yes. So, hopefully, this motivates you guys. I really liked this episode, because I don't know, I just feel like doctors don't necessarily say, “Hey, start talking to your child as soon as they're born.” They don't tell you to do these things. So, as a parent, you just go about your day talking to your significant other about this than the other and you forget to talk to your baby, or you don't realize that your child should be communicating at a certain age, and they're not. So, facilitate speech all day, every day, that's your job as a parent or as a therapist is to facilitate that. So, get to it.
[00:26:34] JH:Well, and too, go along with that, eye contact is a way of communicating. And so, if your child is providing you with eye contact, go ahead and give them some positive feedback for that eye contact.
[00:26:48] RH:Definitely. That's really important. I like that.
[00:26:52] JH:So many good things, you guys. Hopefully you liked this episode, because like Rachel said, I agree with her, that I really like this one, too. It's so important. Communication is so important.
[00:27:02] RH:Yes. On that note, please leave us a review on iTunes, if you loved this episode, even if you didn't love it, let us know your feedback. And tag us while you're listening. Take a screenshot, tag us on Instagram @thesensoryprojectshow and we would love to share that because when you share it, then the message gets to a wider audience and more kids are helped and it’s wonderful, it's amazing. It's all good things.
[00:27:30] JH:Yeah. I will say that we got a message from a listener recently on Instagram. And she just said how happy she was that she found our episode because her doctors didn't tell her anything about any of this stuff and she was still in the dark. And she was wondering how she could, you know, share the message with more people. And I just told her I was like, share the podcast, tell people about the podcast because the more people that listen, the more people that know things. So, if you can share this podcast with your friends and your family and your followers on Instagram, it just helps more people.
[00:28:10] RH:I just have to share because you were talking about that. I just got a notification that came through from someone who said, “I seriously recommend your podcast all the time.” So, thank you guys. That is so awesome.
[00:28:24] JH:That's why we're here.
[00:28:27] RH:Yes. All right, gang. Thanks for being here this week, and we will chat with you next time.
[00:28:32] RH:All right, you guys. One more quick reminder about today's sponsor, Harkla Co. A family owned company that provides therapy and sensory equipment, along with supplements. We love them. We love their mission. We love their equipment. And we love that 1% of each month sales goes to the University of Washington's Autism Center which funds cutting edge research and sponsors scholarships for children with autism to attend a summer camp. How cool is that?
[00:28:59] JH:For real, I love it. They're great. They're local to Boise, which is really cool for us. But I mean, it's still cool for everyone else too. But if you're ready to jump in and check these guys out, go to harkla.co and you can save 10% on any of their products by using the code “sensory”. Make sure you let us know what your thoughts are and definitely go check them out.
[00:29:32] RH:We are so excited to work together to help create confident kids all over the world and work towards a happier, healthier life.
Just a friendly reminder this is general information related to occupational therapy, pediatrics, and sensory integration. We do not know you or your child, therefore, we do not know any specific needs, therefore you should always refer back to your pediatrician and occupational therapist for more information.
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