One of the therapies we do with Hazel is Speech Therapy. Sometimes children with Down syndrome experience challenges with their speech development. In order for us to help Hazel to be prepared to face these challenges, early intervention with speech therapy has been our biggest tool.
Down syndrome aside, I think that it is important to talk to your kids as much as possible, especially during daytime routines. Repetition and being able to anticipate routines helps kids to understand what is about to happen and eventually comprehend the language being spoken. We talk to Hazel constantly. I feel like a sports announcer at home a lot of the time. Announcing every activity before we do it.
A couple of examples…
- “Let’s go and eat Hazel. Are you hungry?” She signs, “eat” or says “mmmmmmmm” (or both)
- “Would you like to read a book?” She signs and says, “book”
- “Would you like to get up?” She says “up”
I really just try talking to my girl all the time and exposing her to the language so that she can start to understand and try to imitate. It's no different than what most of you do in your homes.
When we started this, I tried to get her to imitate as many sounds as possible. Examples would be, “ma ma”, “bah bah”, “na na”, “ta ta” and so on through the alphabet. She tried her best to repeat after me and I would clap and tell her she was a good girl no mater what sound came out of her mouth. As long as she tried I was happy.
We also worked on attaching a meaning to that sound. Some examples:
- Bah - Bye Bye
- Baa – Bubbles
- Na Na – Nonna or Nana
- All Dah – All done
We still work on imitation, but now I try to get her to repeat full words. She tries and I clap and make a huge deal. It really is quite the production. The more I repeat, the more she tries to say it back. I also try to sync it to signs whenever possible.
Read. Read. Read. All day, every day.
I feel like I read the same books over and over and OVER. Hazel has definitely decided which ones are her favourite and she will sit all day and listen. Now she is starting to make sounds that she remembers as we go. She sits and reads books to herself ALL DAY. Turning the pages and pointing to pictures and words. I ADORE watching her.
- We do alphabet sounds with some books, and I try to get her to repeat.
- While we are reading books we practice animal sounds.
- I try and get her to point to different things on the page (Where’s the ball? Where’s the pool? Etc.)
3. Singing songs and signing along
This is by far Hazel’s absolute favourite thing to do. I sing just about any song I can think of and just make up signs to it. Anything will do as long as I am consistent. While I sing I pause for a moment to let her try and show me what's next. In the beginning it really helped her to focus and try to come up with the next action. She knows so many now and loves it. It is really adorable to watch too!!!
Some examples of songs are:
- Itsy Bitsy Spider
- Wheels on the Bus
- Five Little Ducks
- Row Row Row Your Boat
- Twinkle Twinkle
She knows each song so well now she's trying to sing along. Also, she is able to communicate to me which song she wants me to sing to her. This really has been a great speech tool, in that she has learned to communicate and sign along. Try it with your kids, it's the cutest!!!
Small Disclaimer: I just want to remind everyone again that these activities were given to Hazel, for Hazel, by her Speech Therapist. If you would like to try any of these at home with your babes, please ask someone in your local community for support and advice on what will work best for your children.