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Parent Information

Please see below for more information relating to the following subjects:

Developmental Norms

Communication skills develop over time, beginning in infancy. The links below contain information on when most children will reach speech and language milestones.

Each child develops at his or her own rate and if your child has not mastered all of the items at the age group it does not necessarily mean that there is a problem. However, if you feel your child has difficulty with many of the items at their age level you may want to consult a Speech-Language Pathologist.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. When should I seek SLP services?

  • Your child has little to no verbal speech
  • Family members or friends have a hard time understanding your child
  • Your child shows frustration because you don’t understand his/her speech
  • Your child shows no frustration but you as a parent cannot understand him/her
  • Your child continues to make numerous grammatical errors by age 5
  • Your child’s sentences are very short by the age of 5 (example: leaving out small words such as ‘is’, ‘the’, ‘a’, ‘to’, etc.)
  • Your child has difficulty following verbal directions
  • Your child has difficulty answering questions appropriately
  • Your child appears to be stuttering (repeating sounds/words, can’t get sound out)
  • You have a sense that something is just not quite right with your child’s way of communicating or interacting

 

2. How can I get S-LP services for my child?

If your child is attending LPSD you can contact your child’s teacher to discuss your concerns and request an assessment if necessary. If your child is a pre-schooler not attending the LPSD pre-kindergarten program you can contact a Speech-Language Pathologist at Prairie North Health Region at 306-820-6120.

 

3. My child is stuttering. What should I do?

Normal non-fluency

Almost all children between the ages of 2 and 6 go through periods of normal non-fluency. Children who develop language later or who are learning a second language sometimes go through a period of normal non-fluency later than age six. They are going through a language growth spurt; they know what they want to say but they can’t form the sentences fast enough. Characteristics include:

  • Repeating whole words or phrases (“I want I want the ball”)
  • Child seems to be unaware of the non-fluencies
  • Child shows no struggle behaviors (eye blinks, hand slaps, etc.)

If your child is experiencing normal non-fluencies try to ignore and wait patiently for the child to finish. Listen to what the child says, not how he/she talks. Model slow easy speech. Make sure your child knows that you are listening to him/her.

Stuttering

Signs that your child’s non-fluencies may be true stuttering:

  • Many repetitions of single sounds, syllables or words (“ t-t-t-t-two”, “ba-ba-ba-baby”, “he-he-he-he”)
  • Drawing out or prolonging a sound such as “ssssssssssoup”
  • May use a higher pitch or louder voice when prolonging a sound
  • Has points in sentences where no sound comes out (mouth is open but no sound is coming out)
  • Using escape behaviors such as nodding or blinking to break out of stuttering
  • Appears to be aware of the non-fluencies
  • Avoids talking

If you feel your child is stuttering he/she needs to be assessed by a Speech-Language Pathologist and receive appropriate therapy if indicated. In the meantime the suggestions above for normal non-fluency are appropriate.

 

4. Why is language important for school success?

Language is the foundation upon which all other skills are built. Language allows us to express our wants, needs, thoughts and ideas. Children who have difficulty in the area of language are likely to have difficulties in many academic areas. Children with a weak understanding of basic concepts (spatial, quantity, time/sequence) may have trouble with math and following directions in the classroom. Weak vocabulary knowledge may result in poor reading comprehension skills. Children with delayed language skills often have difficulty learning to read.

By Grade 3, children are reading to learn so if their reading skills are weak they may experience difficulty. Written language is an extension of oral language so if a child’s oral language is weak it is very likely that written language will be weak as well.

 

5. Will my child grow out of it?

The answer is ‘maybe’. There is a sequence in which speech and language skills develop. There is also a time frame in which specific skills typically develop. Some children develop skills in the order they should and in the time frame that they should. Other children are slower to acquire the skills or have difficulty acquiring the skills and need intervention. It is difficult to predict which children will outgrow it and which ones will not.

 

6. Why do SLPs work with children who have Autism?

Children with autism and pervasive developmental disorders have difficulty interacting with others and responding to social cues. Some of these children are non-verbal and require augmentative communication systems. Other children are quite verbal and require assistance with social skills and abstract language. S-LP’s work with both types of these students.

 

7. I think my child has trouble hearing. Where can I get it checked?

If your child has been referred for a speech-language assessment his/her hearing will automatically be screened. If your child attends LPSD, you can request a hearing screening by contacting your child’s teacher.

Tips for Working on Speech Sounds

Even though your child is attending speech therapy at school, it is important for you to also practice with your child at home. Since you spend more time with your child than anyone else you play a crucial role in your child’s speech sound development.

Learning a new sound involves practice at different levels – words, phrases, sentences and conversation. Some levels are more difficult than others and will require more practice. Refer to your child’s speech-language homework book for the sound(s) and level your child is working on. Your child’s speech clinician will provide you with specific cues that work for your child and activities to practice at home.

To make speech therapy effective at home:

  • Practice regularly, at least 4-5 times a week. Try to pick a consistent time every day (after school, after supper, etc.)
  • Practice for short lengths of time (eg. 5-10 minutes). This is more effective than a larger amount of time once a week.
  • Only correct the sound your child is working on
  • Use lots of praise and fun activities to motivate your child.
  • Be specific in your praise. Instead of saying “good job” say “Great I saw your tongue go up for the ‘l’ sound
  • Be encouraging! Creating a new habit is hard work. Your child needs to know that you don’t expect perfection

More Specific Tips:

  • Try to draw attention to target sound(s) throughout the day
  • Use your own speech as a model. Place emphasis on the sound as you read or say words containing the target sound(s)
  • Use a mirror so your child can see what his/her mouth looks like. Sit side by side with your child so he/she can see what your mouth is doing and try to match your movements.
  • If your child says a sound incorrectly in a word, repeat the word back correctly, emphasizing the correct sound
  • Use verbal/auditory cues to help your child produce the sound correctly (Oops, I didn’t hear your ‘s’ sound when you said “sun”. Keep your teeth together and do a snake sound.)
  • Read stories that have lots of words targeting your child’s sound(s). Click here for a list of books containing various sounds
  • If you notice your child using his/her target sound correctly in conversation point it out to him/her and provide praise (“Hey I noticed you used a good ‘s’ sound when you said ‘sun’)
  • Make practicing fun by using simple board games. To get a turn in the game your child has to say a word/phrase/sentence (whatever level he/she is working at) a few times. When it is your turn have your child see if he/she can catch you making a mistake when you say a word/phrase/sentence.

Additional Resources:

 

Tips for Working on Language Skills

Information on Stuttering

Normal non-fluency

Almost all children between the ages of two and six go through periods of normal non-fluency. Children who develop language later or who are learning a second language sometimes go through a period of normal non-fluency later than age six. They are going through a language growth spurt; they know what they want to say but they can’t form the sentences fast enough.

 

Characteristics include:

  • Repeating whole words or phrases (“I want I want the ball”)
  • Child seems to be unaware of the non-fluencies
  • Child shows no struggle behaviors (eye blinks, hand slaps, etc.)

If your child is experiencing normal non-fluencies try to ignore and wait patiently for the child to finish. Listen to what the child says, not how he/she talks. Model slow easy speech. Make sure your child knows that you are listening to him/her.

 

Stuttering

Signs that your child’s non-fluencies may be true stuttering:

  • Many repetitions of single sounds, syllables or words (“ t-t-t-t-two”, “ba-ba-ba- baby”, “he-he-he-he”)
  • Drawing out or prolonging a sound such as “ssssssssssoup”
  • May use a higher pitch or louder voice when prolonging a sound
  • Has points in sentences where no sound comes out (mouth is open but no sound is coming out)
  • Using escape behaviors such as nodding or blinking to break out of stuttering
  • Appears to be aware of the non-fluencies
  • Avoids talking

If you feel your child is stuttering he/she needs to be assessed by a Speech-Language Pathologist and receive appropriate therapy if indicated. In the meantime the suggestions above for normal non-fluency are appropriate.

 

Additional Resources:

 

Information on Hearing

Possible Signs of Poor Hearing:

  • Frequent ear aches
  • Discharge from the ear
  • Complaints of ear noises such as ringing or buzzing, lasting over a long period of time
  • Frequent colds
  • Speaking too soft or too loud constantly
  • Lots of speech errors: omission of ending sounds, omission of sounds such as ‘s’, ‘sh’, ‘ch’ and ‘f’
  • Frequent requests to have words or statements repeated
  • Turning of one side of head towards speaker
  • Appears unaware when spoken to, if not watching the speaker
  • Poor general school progress
  • Difficulty following directions

The school SLP automatically screens the hearing of children referred for speech and language assessments. However, if you have concerns about your child’s hearing, a screening can be completed at the school upon your request. You can contact your child’s teacher who will make the arrangements. Please note that a hearing screening is not diagnostic. It is used to provide an indication of which children would benefit from additional hearing testing from an audiologist.

If the child passes the initial screening no further referral is required

If the child has some difficulty during the first screening a second screening will be completed to determine if the results are consistent

If the child has difficulty with the second screening it is recommended that the family doctor check for possible middle ear infection/fluid. Following that a hearing assessment by an audiologist may be recommended.

 

Additional Resources:

 

Information on Voice

If you child’s voice is habitually too loud or too soft, this may indicate a hearing problem. Please refer to the Information on Hearing section.

If the quality of your child’s voice is hoarse, nasal, or sounds like he/she constantly has a head cold, a referral to the Ears Nose Throat Doctor may be indicated. Please contact your family doctor for this referral.