Help Your Child with Clarity of Speech
“If your child on the Autism Spectrum is unclear in their speech and you would like help in this area… look no further! The Autism Treatment Center of America® has been helping children and adults with verbal communication challenges (and all areas of language development) for the past 40 years, AND WE ARE EXCITED TO HELP YOU AND YOUR CHILD TODAY.
“When our children are unclear in their current use of speech, this may result in many challenges, such as:
• Not being understood by other people
• Not being able to get their needs met easily
• Not being able to express themselves fully
• Having challenges not getting what they want in their lives
“We want our children not only to feel empowered, but also to fully thrive in all areas of their development and in their lives. Here are some suggestions you can use to try to help your child be able to enunciate their words more clearly.
1) “Become a detective of your child’s speech. Becoming aware of the challenges our children currently have around saying certain sounds, or the way they are using their mouths when they speak, will be extremely helpful here. Take some time to really listen and educate yourself on how your child is saying a word. Create a list and write down EXACTLY how your child says the words they say. For example, if they say “ickle” for “tickle” – write down “ickle,” if they say “ba” for “ball”, write down “ba” on your list. Additionally, write down any clear words that your child might be saying already.
2) “For the partial words that your child is using, go through your list and write down all the parts of the word they are not yet saying clearly. For example, if your child says “ba” for “ball” then you will want to note that they are missing the “L” sound. If your child is saying “ickle” for “tickle”, you will want to note that they are missing the “T” sound.
3) “Say each clear word aloud to yourself, while paying attention to all of the different parts of your mouth, and throat, that you (yourself) use to say each word. For example, when saying “tickle,” notice that the “T” part of the word is created when we activate our tongue, pushing it against the roof of our mouth, while pushing the air out through our teeth… Noticing how you create the “T” sound yourself, will enable you to help your child create the sounds that they are missing in their speech.
4) “Create opportunities to help your child develop more clear speech! The next time that your child pays attention to you, offer a fun activity that you know they enjoy (also known as the motivation principle). If your child starts playing with you in that activity, this is a great opportunity to help them with their speech. Tell your child you are so excited to give them what they want and you are going to help them say the clear word! While playing the activity that your child enjoys, PAUSE… and show your child how you say the specific word that names that activity. For example, if playing a tickle game, pause and show your child how you say the word “tickle”, while emphasizing the “T” sound (if that’s the part of the word that your child has challenges with). Show your child your own mouth, instructing them on what to do (as described in point number 3 above). This will help your child see how they can use their own mouth to create different sounds.
Let your child know you are there to help them and you believe in them!
“Sometimes, helping our children with blowing (think bubbles, straws, balloons, birthday candles) and sucking (think sippy cup or drinking through a crazy straw) and offering them some massages around their mouth can be helpful to strengthen the muscles in and around their mouth. You can also encourage them to chew crunchy foods, or even chew on a soft toothbrush to stimulate their mouth and help get their mouth muscles activated.
“Be sure to use the useful and powerful Son-Rise Program technique of celebrating your child for each attempt they make at saying the clear word/words. Your celebrations will be a clear sign of encouragement and your belief in your child to be able to get there. It will make trying, fun and enjoyable and help them to feel successful in all of their amazing tries!”
Written by Becky Damgaard, Senior Son-Rise Program Teacher