Speech Therapy and Us
Our lovely little man, Noah has always been very vocal. However, the last year or so (definitely since he has turned 3) we had started to have concerns about his speech. He has a broad vocabulary and can tell you anything about everything but… it is just understanding him where the difficulties lie.
As his mum I spend a lot of time with him and it took me a while to make the call to the health visitor about his speech because I can, kind of, understand what he is saying. Although that is largely by me thinking as he does and making the judgement in the context of where we are and what we are or have been doing.
However, there are plenty of times when we are in a rush or my mind is elsewhere that I struggle to understand him too. I can see also that he gets a little frustrated with us not understanding him. It must be quite stressful when people don’t understand you. He quite often thinks it is funny as I try to guess what he is saying (and get it wrong!)!
Anyway the call was made and I was asked a number of questions about which sounds he can say and which he can’t. His understanding of what is happening is absolutely fine and we don’t have any concerns about his hearing. As our firstborn has had grommets because of partial deafness this was a factor I considered but there were no hearing concerns with Noah at all.
We were invited initially to the clinic to see a Speech and Language therapist in a group setting, which took place towards the end of 2012. There was one other child there and his parents. Noah played happily with the toys and the therapists joined in and observed what he was doing and saying. At the end of the group they told me that Noah’s sound awareness was slightly delayed in that he doesn’t say the harder sounds such as “f” and “th” instead saying the “d” sound ie “dundair” instead of “funfair”. We were invited to a Sound Awareness Course to promote his speech sound development and luckily managed to get a place on the next one running which started in January.
TheSound Awareness Course was again a group session with five other children. They were all around the same age and it was run by three Speech Therapists. Things we did in the group include…
- The Therapist had three (non speech) sounds ie cymbal, shaker and xylophone and she would make one or two sounds on them behind a screen for the child to point to the sounds she had made.
- Using “Jolly Phonics” sound cards for ”sh”, “s”, “p”, t”, “c” and “f” and the associated actions the Therapist would ask the child to point to the sound she was making.
- The Therapist would sometimes put the “Jolly Phonics” sound at the beginning of a word or at the end of a word so the child was listening to all the sounds.
- The children had to take turns going around the group and were rewarded for having their “go” with something to do with another game eg Bee Game where they could pull out a leaf and take any bees that fell (we have bought this since!), or Pop up Pirate where they could remove a sword. The idea was to make the sessions fun and enjoyable for the children.
- Clapping out the syllabals in a word eg “ele-e-phant” would get three claps and “tea” would get one clap. This is to ensure the child is differentiating between the sounds in a word.
- They also used rhyming as a strategy to encourage the child to listen to the ends of words. We read books by authors such as Julia Donaldson and Jez Alborough who write fun and engaging books that rhyme beautifully.
- We were given exercises to practice at home, little and often.
I have to admit Noah seemed to get a bit bored with it all after about twenty minutes or so but he really enjoys rhyming words and the jolly phonics. These are all things he is learning in preschool and will be doing more of when he starts in Reception in September. I think his speech has improved just by going to preschool and having to make himself understood clearly by the other children and carers.
The Sound Awareness Group has now finished and we are to continue with the strategies we have learnt in the group. We will then be reviewed in a couple of months in clinic so look forward to seeing how he develops over this time. I am sure he will get there before he starts school in September.
Have you had any concerns over your child’s speech and had a similar experience?