Speech therapy techniques for children

Written by tia benjamin
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Speech therapy techniques for children
Speech therapists may use board games to elicit relaxed, easy speech from children. (game image by Mitarart from Fotolia.com)

Speech disorders are quite common in young children. According to the The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), approximately eight to nine per cent of young children have some form of speech disorder. By the first grade, five per cent of students continue to have a speech or language disorder requiring therapy. There are four main types of speech disorder: articulation disorders (problems producing speech sounds), language disorders (difficulty processing receptive speech), fluency disorders (stuttering), and voice disorders (difficulty controlling the voice). Consequently, speech therapy techniques vary depending on the type of disorder the child has.

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Articulation

Encourage children to practice articulating words on flashcards. For group therapy, pick a flashcard without telling the children which one. Children take turns choosing a flashcard and saying the word on the card. Give a sticker to whoever picks the winning card. For solo speech therapy, attach a paper clip to each flashcard. Instruct him pick up a flashcard using a toy fishing rod with a magnet on the end of it. He must say the word on each card he catches with the magnet. Have him practice repetition while bouncing a balloon in the air. If the balloon touches the ground have him repeat the target word or sound combination.

Language

Encourage students to expand their language usage and understanding by using descriptives. Play hide and seek with flashcards. Put several different flashcards in front of the student. Describe the attributes of the picture on one of the cards until she guesses the card you are talking about correctly. Do not use the name of the object. Have her identify which card you are talking about. Practice following directions. Set out a large play road map and give her a toy car. Give the student directions to navigate the road with her car. For example, tell the student to turn left at the end of a certain street.

Fluency

Children with fluency disorders such as stuttering often need help to focus less on their speech. Provide children with play dough, craft materials or other items they can focus on while speaking conversationally. Use board games to practice easy speech. This activity aims to increase the number of word combinations the child can say without stuttering. Use Candy Land to practice single words (the child names a colour) and work up to Guess Who for more complex, multiple-word questions. Children with fluency disorders tend to have particular self-esteem issues, so this group also needs to focus on the fact that the speech disorder is just one small part of who they are. Have children ask friends and family what makes them special and then work with the children to create a poster board with all of those characteristics. Make sure one of the characteristics is "I sometimes stutter."

Voice

Teach children non-abusive strategies for using the voice. Use pinwheels to teach correct breathing. Instruct the child to inhale, then exhale to move the pinwheel. Once the student has mastered controlled breathing, ask him to make a gentle vowel sound while exhaling. Use puppets to model desirable voices and non desirable vocal sounds. Puppets can also be used to demonstrate the differences between soft and loud voices. Have the child provide the vocals for the quiet puppet so they can practice softer sounds.

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