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Speech (and communication device)

What should the speech therapist be doing to help my 2 ½-year-old daughter start talking? My daughter has been seeing a speech therapist since birth. We would like to know if the therapist is doing the best that she can for my daughter. My daughter can say “mamama” and “nanana”. My daughter can vocalize and she also stares at your mouth when you talk to her. The therapist wants to use a communication device but we want her to speak instead. What are your suggestions?

In response to your question, I am wondering if your daughter is using "mamamam" and "nananan" as names for specific people or does she say these utterances somewhat randomly and in response to various kinds of situations. If she is using these utterances only for specific people or items, this is a good sign that she will develop other words. If not, I would recommend the caregivers use, or continue to use, parallel talk and self talk. Parallel talk is using short sentences to describe what the child is doing, and self-talk to describes what the parent is doing. These short descriptions of behavior help to build a child's ability to understand language.

If upper-limb malformations do not limit the possibility to use sign language, then before considering a communication device, I would try sign language or gestures. All of us have used gestures and signs before we were able to talk and research shows that these nonverbal behaviors facilitate oral communication. Please know that I am not suggesting that your daughter only be taught sign language. I am suggesting that these forms of communication be incorporated with attempts to stimulate the spoken language. Can your daughter imitate any non-speech sounds, such as a cheer or rude noises? If she is able to imitate other sounds, this is also a good sign for the development of speech.

MG/TK 7-13-10



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