Helping Kids Communicate: Super Star Speech

Tuesday May 11, 2010

I stumbled across the most interesting blog the other day about kids and communication.

Have you ever wondered if your child is on target with his or her speech? Does his language seem just not quite right? Do you wonder if she should be making that “th” sound at this age?

Keep reading and meet Debbie Lott, a speech pathologist and homeschooling mom of four. She has a M.Ed in speech pathology, and she shares information about speech development and speech therapy for children on her blog, Super Star Speech.

Debbie has published a series of books called Super Star Speech: Speech Therapy Made Simple. This series can help parents correct their child’s articulation errors at home. And on her blog, Debbie has free resources and some great advice, too.

ME: Were you a speech pathologist before you had your children?

DEBBIE: Yes. I graduated from college and worked in the public schools for 2 years while finishing up my master’s degree. Then I got married and worked in a school for one more year. Since having children, I have done part time private therapy at my home off and on and speech screenings at our church’s preschool.

ME: What got you interested in this field?

DEBBIE: My little sister had speech therapy when she was 3 or 4, so that was when I was first aware of the profession. I remember her being required to say, “cookie” correctly at home before she could have one! When I was in high school, I enjoyed doing some volunteer work with disabled children and decided to major in speech pathology at that time.

ME: How do you categorize speech and language disorders?

DEBBIE: There are actually 4 main areas of speech and language disorders/delays—articulation, language, stuttering, and voice. Articulation and language are the most common.

ME: Maybe it would be helpful to tell my own experience with this at this point, Debbie. One of my sons started showing signs of language problems at about 4, and a speech pathologist worked wonders with him. (If you asked him why we have clocks, he would say “Because it’s five o’clock.” He also seemed to misuse prepositions. I usually knew what he meant, but we began to realize it could be a problem.) She worked with him once a week and left activities and exercises for us to do with him, and it really worked! Is that a common thing, and what are some signs that such a problem is in the air? Are there some benchmarks you should look for and be concerned about if they aren’t reached?

DEBBIE: Language problems are common and something that parents may not realize can be a problem. Your examples are good ones. If a child can’t answer wh- questions or understand prepositions, or uses pronouns or verb tenses incorrectly, there could be a language delay, depending, of course on his age. Language delays can impact success in school and are often associated with other learning disabilities.

ME: What advice would you give to parents – what are some warning signs they should look for?

DEBBIE: Well, for articulation, one rule-of-thumb is that by 3, the child should be fairly easy to understand by people outside the family. By 6, the child should have no more than a couple of sound errors, and none by age 7 or 8.
In the area of language, children should be using single words by 18 months and combining words by 2 years. I have more guidelines for language development on my blog. If a parent has concerns, he or she should have their child tested by a speech pathologist.

ME: You’ve authored some materials that can help parents help their children. Can you tell us about those?

DEBBIE: My Super Star Speech books are designed to help parents identify their children’s specific sound errors and to help them work with these articulation errors at home. They include instructions and tips for teaching all the sounds and games, picture cards, and other practice activities.

ME: How would you describe your blog for potential readers?

DEBBIE: My speech blog is new, so I am just figuring that out myself! My intent is to provide information for parents about speech and language development and speech therapy.

(ME AGAIN: Deb’s blog is full of all kinds of helpful, practical information. You should visit!)

ME: Is there anything else you’d like to tell parents about speech pathology?

DEBBIE: If you are concerned about your child’s speech or language, make an appointment with a speech pathologist. You can most likely get a free evaluation, even for preschoolers at your local public school. Pediatricians have little or no education in speech development, so they really aren’t the best source on information on this particular subject.
I really believe that you, the mom (or dad), are your child’s best teacher. Even if your child is in school, or in therapy with a professional, what you do at home to support that is crucial.

When you visit Debbie’s blog, be sure you click on Speech and Language Resources and Free Materials. She has two great resources there:

1. A Speech and Language Development Chart that shows typical ages for development of speech and language, and

2. An Articulation Sounds Chart that lists the approximate ages at which children should have mastered sounds in order.

Thanks for all the great information, Debbie. Here’s to communicative kids!


luvmy4sons said...

Great info. I have a son who has a language processing disorder. I knew there was a problem early on-maybe because I am a home schooler and an RN-but it took me many years to get anyone, even speech pathologists to diagnose him. Thanks for stopping by my place. I am outnumbered too. Blessings!

Wendy said...

This is such great information. My oldest son didn't speak at all until he was nearly 3-years old. He was seeing an ENT and eventually had surgery, and two years of speech therapy. At the time, I felt so helpless to do anything. I'm going to pass this blog along to my homeschool group... it sure would have helped me! Thanks again!

Heather said...

Great info as this is something I worry about with my twins! Thanks for sharing.

Donnetta said...

THANK YOU for this link! I have recently been looking for info such as this having learned that 2 of my children are needing some assistance.

I am bookmarking her site!

Jean Wise said...

great info here and one not many of us know much about. Thanks!

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