Personal column by Abigail Fertal
May is almost over, but we are still celebrating Better Speech & Hearing Month! If you know a speech-language pathologist or audiologist, this is the month to celebrate all they do for our community. Better Speech & Hearing month is focused on helping the community prevent & treat a variety of communication disorders. This year’s theme is “Building a Strong Foundation.” How do we build a strong foundation of communication for our children?
First, connection leads to communication. Daily routines offer low-pressure opportunities to connect and communicate with your child. Whether it be walking through the grocery store, driving to work, or changing a toddler’s diaper, make daily routines a time to bond through shared experiences. Describe the objects and places your child is interested in and narrate the activities that you do daily. Be responsive to your child’s attempts to communicate. Children build connections between daily routines and the words their caregivers use.
Second, read often with your children. Books offer opportunities for children to hear diverse and new vocabulary that they may not be exposed to otherwise. They also offer opportunities for connection and fun! Don’t be concerned when small children become impatient with longer passages; focus on following their lead. This may mean skipping pages or talking about the pictures.
Last, always speak to a certified speech-language pathologist about concerns with your child’s comprehension or expression. An SLP can identify if your child is meeting their developmental milestones or if they need early speech & language intervention. An SLP can help answer questions about your child’s vocabulary, social skills, speech, and even feeding skills.