How to Develop Your Child’s Speech with Play

“Not all children are ready to learn the same thing at the same time in the same way.”
– Kathy Walker

It is important not to compare children with speech and language difficulties. Many times when a child does not begin to speak parents become concerned and panic. The first step when you notice your child is not speaking is to set up a speech and language evaluation or speak to your pediatrician.

10 tips to help your child develop their speech through play:

  1. Practice makes perfect. Many children are reluctant to speak so it is important to engage them in meaningful play activities to encourage them.
  2. 1 on 1 play time is very important. Make a routine with your child ( daily for 30 minutes a day) to sit down and talk to your child. It is also important to minimize distractions.
  3. Pay close attention to your child’s interests and use their interests to engage them. I.e. if your child is really into cars it is important to use words that relate to cars
  4. Use clear, concise sentences that are directly related to the play. Do not use complex overloaded sentences that will confuse your child. ” The car says beep”, ” the car fell down”, ” the car will stop”, “the car will go”. Make sure to model while the toy is performing the action.
  5. Give you child a chance to respond. Often parents will not give a moment to their child to respond. It is vital to provide your child with this time in order to respond. Allow at least 10 seconds for your child in order for them to respond.
  6. Find new and engaging ways to play. For instance, find other toys they are interested in such as bubbles. Use appropriate (short, clear, concise) when using the new toy.
  7. Try to target the sound your child is having difficulty with. For instance, if your child is having trouble saying very and says “WERY” make sure to target this word throughout play. Build a very very very large building to model the sound.
  8. Repeat. Always repeat what your child attempts to say clearly and correctly so they can hear how their speech should sound. You can also expand on what your child says.
  9. Praise. Always praise your child and stay positive. Acknowledge their hard work.
  10. Be patient. Remember that all children learn at their own pace. Do not become anxious around your child or place demands that are too high. Just remember to give them time and not expect things to happen over night.



Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder in Individuals with Down Syndrome

Children/adults diagnosed with Down Syndrome are at risk for OMD (orofacial myofunctional disorders). OMD can affect the resting mouth posture of the child, feeding, oral placement skills, and speech. Child with OMD benefit most for tactile therapies including myofunctional therapy and oral placement therapy (OPT).

In 1997, Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson identified the myths of Down syndrome. This included: a high narrow palatal vault, (Myth #1), tongue protrusion (#2), mild to moderate conductive hearing loss (#3), chronic upper respiratory infections (#4), mouth breathing (#5), habitual open mouth posture (#6), and finally, the impression that the child’s tongue is too big for its mouth (#7) (Rosenfeld-Johnson, 1997). The reason Sara referred to these issues as myths, is because clinical evidence suggests that these issues can be prevented and/or improved by therapeutic intervention. For example, Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson presented case studies at the American Speech and Hearing Association annual convention, highlighting improvements in an adult patient with Down syndrome with one month of OPT (Rosenfeld-Johnson, 2014).

Therapeutic intervention can occur in four different ways including: oral sensory motor therapy, feeding therapy, oral placement therapy, and myofunctional therapy. These variety of therapies should be implemented to target interdental lisp, teeth grinding, reverse swallow pattern (tongue thrust), low jaw posture, and anterior resting posture of the tongue.

As always our therapists are trained in Myofunctional therapy and implement oral motor exercises to correct the issues mentioned above.

Jessica Dayan MS-CF-SLP-TSSLD


Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders in Individuals with a Diagnosis of Down Syndrome. (2015, June 25). Retrieved September 14, 2015.

5 Ways to Get Your Children Excited for the New School Year


  1. Back to school schedule:The first week of school can be the hardest due to early mornings and longer days. One of the best ways to prepare your child for the school year is to set up a school routine ahead of time. Start with bedtimes first and then work on waking your child up early to mimic times that he/she would need to walk up for school. Parents can incorporate fun things to do such as decorative breakfasts or an outdoor adventure.


2. Back to school shopping: Get your child excited about school by buying them new clothing and school supplies. Check the school websites for lists. Some stores may have a supply list from the school for convenience.


3. First day of school: take a first day of school year photo. It shows your child that this day is extra special and that we as parents are proud of their progress from year to year. Print it out and hang it up as a reminder.


4.Back to school survival guide: creating a system that works for you is key for your family’s back to school preparation. Discussing it together and setting goals together will help children be prepared for their routines, supplies, and overall memories as you share your excitement about the upcoming school year.


5. Enroll your child in extracurricular activities: This will give your child opportunities to make new friends and encourage them to enroll in a sports club or club of his/her choice. This will help to foster school spirit, especially at the start of the school year when apprehension may be present.


Jessica Dayan M.S.-CF-SLP-TSSLD