It’s time for “The Professional Sez….”! This occasional post is designed to help parents, caregivers, other educators and relatives understand how to help a child with hearing loss/language delays. Today’s post comes from Holly Frigerio, MA in Early Intervention and Deaf Education, and SJI’s Toddler and Preschool Room Educator.
As parents or caregivers, it may be easier for you to understand what your child’s wants and needs are, even if they have no words. Over time, you have learned what their different cries or gestures mean. As a result, your child may rely on these to communicate rather than their voice which is developing and harder to use right now. It’s important to set expectations for verbal communication so your child’s use of language expands throughout the day in a variety of settings. By setting these expectations, your child will quickly realize, to get what they want, they must communicate with the language they know! Example of setting communication expectations using modeling:
Child: points at the ball
Parent: “You want the ball?”
C: points again
P: “Tell me! I want the ball!”
C: “I want the ball!”
If they try to use words and it comes out garbled, praise their effort with “Good try! Can you say it like this?” Encourage them to try again, modeling the speech. Listen carefully for what sounds they are missing so you know this is an emerging skill. Now you can give the child the ball!
Knowing where your child’s communication and language is will help determine how much or how little language you expect them to use in these situations. Enjoy the essential role you are playing in their language development!