Julie is a Speech-language pathologist and owns a private practice in West Plano called Speech TX. She specializes in working with children with autism. She has a wonderful husband, adorable daughter, and an ill-behaved labradoodle, all of whom she loves with all her heart.

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Simple Ways to Encourage Speech and Language Development

Communication milestones are often met in some children with ease. However, at times, delays are noted. Specialists, such as Speech-language pathologists, can assist when a communication delay has been identified. Speech delays include issues with sound pronunciation (articulation), as well as fluency (stuttering) or voice concerns. Language delays refer to difficulties with expressive and/or receptive language. Here are a few ideas for parents and caregivers to faciliate communication development for their children.

Birth to 2 Years:
- Reinforce attempts by maintaining eye contact, responding with speech, and imitating vocalizations using different patterns and emphasis, such as raising voice pitch to indicate a question.
- Teach child to imitate your actions, including clapping hands, blowing kisses, and play simple, familiar games such as peek-a-boo
- Talk through familiar routines, as you bathe, feed, and dress your child to give labels for actions and items, consistently labeing familiar words, such as colors, numbers, and names of familiar people.
- Combine gestures with familiar words, such as waving when saying hi or goodbye .

2 to 4 Years:
- Use clear, simple speech that is easy for your child to model.
- Make a book of favorite or familiar people/places by using photos (or cut out pictures from magazines).
- Ask simple questions that require more than just a yes/no answer (i.e., Where are you going? What are you doing?)
- Ask questions that require a choice, i.e., “Do you want an apple or an orange?”

4 to 6 Years:
- When your child starts a conversation, give your full attention whenever possible, and make sure that you have your child’s attention before you speak.
- Pause briefly after speaking. This gives your child a chance to continue the conversation.
- Continue to build vocabulary by introducing a new word with its definition, or use it in a context that is easily understood.
- Use specific vocabulary, such as sequencing words (first, middle, and last), positionals (right, left, behind, under, etc.) and opposites (up/down, on/off, in/out).
- Teach following multi-step directions using familiar routines, i.e., “Go to your room, and bring me your shoes.”

These are a few ideas to get you started- would love to hear from you what worked!

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