Sunday, September 8, 2013

Therapy through Play: Speech Therapy

Sheesh! I've been meaning to write about this for six months now. Time just gets away from me. I wonder why? *smile*

Back at the beginning of the year, we talked to Debbie, our Occupational Therapist, about our kids' speech development. At the time, Ellie was saying a few words, Abby was making a few sounds, Elijah had fewer sounds, and Caleb didn't have anything. We were happy when Debbie agreed that speech therapy would be a prudent move.

So we now have Debbie for Occupational Therapy, Jessica for Physical Therapy, and Tasha for Speech Therapy. We have such a great team working with the kids, and have different combinations of therapy sessions twice a week. Like Debbie and Jessica, Tasha comes to our home. The kids are in their own environment so it helps that there isn't a transition time to a new environment. (It also helps keep mommy sane!)

So although we have been working with Tasha for seven months, and it's old news at our house, I'd love to share with you how speech therapy works with our toddlers. Some of these ideas can easily be adapted to your own home if your kids are struggling to find their words.

Blowing Bubbles: One of the first things Tasha started working on was getting the kids to be aware of their lips and tongue. Bubbles are one of the items in her arsenal. Teaching them to blow bubbles helps them realize that they are in control, plus, they get the reward of seeing bubbles appear! Now she is trying to get them to blow on the actual bubbles, but it seems they think popping them is more fun. Something to keep working on!

Practicing Sounds: Debbie is the point person on our therapy team, so she is always here when Tasha is. Since Debbie is in our home two times a week, and Tasha is here only three times a month, it works out really well! With the way it is set up, Debbie knows what they are working on in speech therapy and continues working on it for the rest of the month. I really like the way that First Steps integrates the therapies together and makes sure that one person knows everything about what the kids are doing. (That's why Debbie is in some of these photos.)

I've written often about how much Sean and I enjoy reading, and how we hope to instill that love in our kids. Our therapists back us the whole way with that! When they are here, we read a lot of books and practice basic words and animal sounds. Even though Ellie isn't technically in speech, she participates in everything as well and really has monkey sounds down. Lol!

Singing Songs: With Tasha's help, we've realized that the kids do really well when rhythms and motions are associated with sounds. She said that muscle memory helps them move the sounds from their brain to their mouths. There is a scientific name for it, but I don't remember what it is. Sorry, not so helpful if you are into the technical side of things, but if you need the name, let me know and I'll find out! Hopefully you follow what I'm saying anyway. For example, we sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" while making rowing motions. In fact, that song is responsible for helping Caleb learn one of his very first words, "row!" That was a HUGE deal for my child who is the most speech delayed.

Whistle Blowing: What parent voluntarily gives their kids whistles? Ah, the concessions we make to meet developmental milestones! Tasha uses whistles to help them learn to pucker their lips, control their tongue, and blow out. Actually, I really love that she incorporates normal, easy to find items in their therapy. It just never would have occurred to me to use them without her!

Common Household Words: There is no way to cover all of the activities that Tasha does with our kids, but this is another great one as well. Tasha has a Little People House and all of the furniture that goes in it. The kids work on common household words for objects and activities while playing with it. The crying baby is a bit hit! (and then she takes the crying baby home, which is fine with me!)
Originally, we just had the boys set up for speech, but added Abby about a month later because she wasn't making much progress. Ellie now repeats almost everything, Abby is making some great strides, Elijah has a few words and can ask for "milk," a "show," and announce that he is "all done" with a meal. Caleb is progressing at a much slower rate, but we finally have him counting to 10 (and then he started counting backward from 10 on his own!). He does babble a TON more now that we are working so hard on it though.

We are incredibly grateful for the help and love of our therapists. Our kids are always so delighted to see them come through the door and wait at the window for them to arrive. And I'm happy to call them friends!

If you feel like your kids might be developmentally delayed, most states have a version of First Steps that will help you evaluate them for services. The therapy itself is subsidized and free or has a very minimal cost based on your family income. Early intervention is so important for kids, so if you are on the fence about it, please take a minute to look into your options and give your kids a good start on their milestones!

Curious what our Occupational Therapy looks like? Jump over there and take a peek!


  1. This was interesting to me, thanks for posting it. I think it's wonderful the therapists come to your home every week!

  2. It's awesome that this therapy is free or inexpensive. Your therapists seem great with the kids & I'm glad to hear they're doing so well!

  3. Gosh, I'm so glad they have things like this and that they make them fun. I know a friend in S.C. who has had similar therapies for her sons and she loves them. Neat pics, thanks for sharing.

  4. Thanks for sharing this! I actually spoke with our county's early intervention program about a month ago because I am worried that my 30-weeker (now almost 18 months) hasn't said his first word yet. The person I spoke with was so helpful and wasn't concenred yet, but I think I'm going to call again now that I've read your great review to see if we qualify for services. :)

  5. I know this was written months ago, but I just found it on Pinterest and am so happy I did. We just had a caseworker come to the home to evaluate if my 22 month old would qualify for speech therapy. He only says one phrase of "oh no" (apparently I say that a lot when something falls or spills). Now we meet with in the office next week to test his hearing and everything. I'm so nervous for my son. I don't want him to be embarrassed. I can tell he wants to talk to chatty kids at the park so bad. And he is incredibly tall for his age, so I get looks as to why he's not talking like the other three year olds in the mommy n me groups. But he's not even two. Anyway, thank you for this post and I will be looking through your other posts too!!


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