better speech and hearing month

Activities That Can Make Speech Therapy More Fun While At Home
Activities That Can Make Speech Therapy More Fun While At Home 1080 1080 PTN Chicago

Happy May! This month, the PTN team and people across the country are celebrating Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM). During BHSM, we’re provided with, “an opportunity to raise awareness about communication disorders and the role of ASHA members in providing life-altering treatment,” says the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.  

At PTN, we believe this is a great time to recognize potential hearing and speech problems and also guide parents so they can take appropriate action. Unfortunately, due to the current situation happening around the world, it may be hard to get access to a speech therapist for your child, leading to you (the parents) taking over that all-important role. 

However, just because you may have to lead speech therapy at home doesn’t mean it can’t be fun for both you and your child! There are many ways in which you can incorporate speech therapy and language learning through engaging activities, games, movement, and more. 

If you feel like you’ve tried everything under the sun but your child doesn’t seem to be interested in working on their speech development, we get it.  We also understand how stressful this can be for not only parents but for children. For this reason, we have come up with a few simple ideas that can make speech therapy a time that you and your child look forward to. Take a look:

1. Take a Bike Ride to a Pretend Place

If your child is old enough to ride a bike, you can take a bike ride to a pretend place together. To start this activity put on your helmets and get ready to ride! Ask your child to come up with a pretend place that you two will ride to – a castle, an ice cream parlor, the ocean, etc. While you’re riding, ask your child questions about the location you’ll be visiting. For example, if your child said that you’ll be visiting a castle, you could ask them questions such as, “What does the castle look like?” or “What type of animals live at the castle?”. Once the bike ride is over, you can go inside and have your child create a drawing of the imaginary place you visited, or go on another adventure!

2. Play, Guess What I’m Sculpting

Believe it or not, playdough is a great speech therapy tool. For this activity, you only need one tub of playdough to share between you and your child. You’ll each take turns sculpting something while the other person guesses what the sculpture is. You can even go the extra mile during this activity by having your child/you give clues on what they’re creating while they’re the sculptor. 

3. Go on a Picture Scavenger Hunt

Picture scavenger hunts are a fun way to get some of your child’s energy out while working on those all-important speaking skills. You’ll need to print out some pictures of common objects that are around your house (bed, television, window, etc.). Hand your child one picture card at a time and have them describe what the object looks like. Ask them questions like what color the object is, what room of the house that object is in, and finally, what the object is. Once they correctly describe or name the object, have your child run to that object and place the card down. Repeat until all the cards are placed in their correct location!

4. Get Creative With Sidewalk Chalk Art

Who doesn’t love playing with sidewalk chalk? We know we sure do! All you’ll need for this activity is some sidewalk chalk and your imagination. Sit with your child on your driveway or sidewalk and decide on a picture or object you’re going to create together. Next, take turns saying what you’ll add to the drawing.

For example, you and your child decide that you want to draw a dog. You could start by saying that you’re going to draw a circle for a face. Then, your child might say, “I’m going to draw the nose”, you might then say, “I’m going to draw an ear.” and so on. Continue switching off being the artist until you have a fully completed masterpiece!

During these trying times, it’s important to stay on top of your child’s speech therapy/speech development. If you are concerned that your child may be falling behind, don’t be afraid to contact a speech therapist to find out how you can help your child. 

You can learn more about Better Hearing and Speech Month by going to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website.

Better Speech and Hearing Month
All the Ways We Can Celebrate Better Speech and Hearing Month Together
All the Ways We Can Celebrate Better Speech and Hearing Month Together 1000 1000 PTN Chicago

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month, and we all can do our part to help raise awareness.

Many people don’t know just how common speech, language, and hearing disorders are among children. There also tends to be a misconception that if someone has difficulty speaking or if they are deaf, they must have other physical or mental impairments, which simply isn’t true. By spreading the word about BSHM and sharing both facts and personal stories of how speech, language, and hearing disorders have affected your friends or family, you can help make the world a more informed, understanding, and accepting place.

Here are a few stats that we found interesting courtesy of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Feel free to share these on social media!

  • Almost 8% of children between the ages of 3 and 17 have had a voice, speech, language, or swallowing disorder in the past 12 months.
  • Among children who currently have a speech, language, voice, or swallowing disorder, about 34% of children aged 3-10 have multiple speech or language disorders. That number drops to 25% for children aged 11-17.
  • The prevalence of speech and language disorders is highest from the ages of 3 to 6 – during those formative years when most children are learning to speak with fluency (almost always with bumps along the road).

And here are some interesting stats about hearing:

  • 15% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 have some degree of hearing loss.
  • Between two and three of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with detectable hearing loss in one or both ears.
  • More than 90% of deaf children are born to hearing parents.

In addition to outreach on social media, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has put together a great list of ways that you can celebrate Better Speech and Hearing Month.

Personally, we love teaching children about communication through – you guessed it! – play. Here are a few simple games that you can enjoy with your children to help them understand what communication is and why it’s so important.

Simon Says – This classic game is wonderful because it can be played virtually anywhere. Driving in the car, in the park, around the dinner table… you name it. By having your children listen carefully and follow instructions, they can practice some of the fundamental elements of strong communication.

The I Love You Game – Ok, I just made this game up, but I think it’s going to catch on. The game is simple – work with your child to come up with all the different ways that you can express love to one another. You might start by saying “I love you” out loud. Then you could give each other hugs. Or maybe kisses on the cheek. Maybe you could express love with a dance or by doing something nice for each other. See how many fun ways you and your little one can come up with to communicate your love for each other. And when you get tired of being lovey-dovey (if that ever happens), try playing the game with other concepts or emotions like happiness, sadness, and surprise.

children and autism
Better Speech and Hearing Month: How Our Therapists Support Children with Autism
Better Speech and Hearing Month: How Our Therapists Support Children with Autism 1000 667 PTN Chicago

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month (BSHM), and that feels like the perfect time to discuss how our therapists support children with speech and language disorders, particularly children on the autism spectrum.

At Pediatric Therapy Network, our team specializes in occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech and language therapy. Children with autism often benefit from each of these therapies, but speech therapy can often be the most transformative for families. When a child is able to clearly express their thoughts, feelings, and wishes to their parents for the first time, that is a truly magical moment.

Since 1927, our nation has celebrated Better Speech and Hearing Month (BSHM) to raise public awareness that over fourteen million Americans struggle with a hearing, speech, language, voice, and/or swallowing disorder, and many of those affected are children. Over fifty pairs of muscles in our mouths and throats must work together so that we can chew, swallow, and speak. It’s very easy to take those processes for granted. Recognizing what a gift clear communication is and helping as many people as possible enjoy the benefits of better speech and hearing are what this month is all about.

Better Speech for Children with Autism

Our physical, occupational and speech therapists in Chicago work with all sorts of children to help them communicate more clearly. With children on the autism spectrum in particular, speech therapy can take many different forms, depending upon the severity of the child’s condition.

For example, some children with autism are able to speak clearly and actually enjoy speaking with a variety of people. But these same children sometimes have difficulty recognizing and understanding social cues and body language. They may need help understanding when it’s ok to touch other people, how to be gentle, and what sorts of things are appropriate to say in certain situations. This sort of behavioral therapy can involve speech therapy, occupational therapy, and sensory integration therapy in combination with one another.

At the other end of the spectrum, some children with autism are unable to speak at all. In these cases, a speech therapist can work with the child and their caregivers to create a system of communication that will help the child be understood. An appropriate system might include a combination of sign language and picture boards, known as a picture exchange communication system, that the child can point to in order to indicate wants and needs.  Research has shown that using these types of systems can actually help a child learn to communicate verbally.

One of the most important things to remember when working with a child with autism is that they are a unique individual, just like each of us. Therefore, every child with autism – and indeed, every child with a speech, language, or hearing disorder – should be met on their own terms using therapies that are customized to their specific needs, wishes, and interests.

To learn more about Better Speech and Hearing Month, or to schedule a consultation with our Chicago speech therapists and/or occupational therapists, contact our team today!

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