If you have a child with language difficulties (receptive and/or expressive) sometimes it’s difficult to know how to communicate with them. Should you speak in shorter sentences or help them understand? Should you speak slower? Should you interact in a specific way? Here are four do’s and don’ts of parenting a child with language delays or disorders.
1. Don’t speak louder if your child doesn’t follow your directions. Do repeat directions slowly. Breakdown multi-step directions into single step directions. Provide hand-over-hand support to help your child follow the direction if they don’t follow the first time. Help your child to be successful in completing the task.
2. Don’t speak less to your child because he isn’t speaking back to you. Do speak as much as possible to your child. Describe what you are doing and describe what they are doing. Talk to them about what you see. Even if your child isn’t responding, he/she is absorbing the information and receiving good models of communication.
3. Don’t separate your child from his peers since he isn’t speaking as much as them. Do involve your child in activities that will strengthen his language skills. Sign your child up for swimming lessons or form a small play group that gets together weekly. Keeping your child involved in activities will help strengthen language skills (exposure to new vocabulary, practicing to follow directions). It will also improve social skills.
4. Don’t think you’ll child will outgrow these difficulties. Do contact a speech language pathologist for an evaluation and see if treatment would be beneficial. If your child is under three-years-old then contact your state’s Early Intervention program. If your child is already in school, contact the schools’ Child Study Team and request an evaluation. You can also seek out the advice of a private speech therapist. To find a certified speech pathologist in your area click here. It is critical for your child to receive speech services earlier than later to obtain the best outcomes.