We all have a need to be understood. But few among us struggle to stitch a sentence together. Conversational breakdowns are common among people who are but not limited to hard of hearing, battling autism, or suffering from speech delays.

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How to help your child with speech therapy at home

If you are concerned about your child’s speech, it is important to seek advice from a trusted health professional who may recommend an assessment by a speech and language pathologist, if required.

If your child is found to have a speech and language delay, speech therapy can help. But speech therapy goes far beyond what happens during therapy sessions. Apart from the practising exercises given by the speech therapist, every day interactions with family, friends and teachers are crucial for your child’s speech and language development.

How can I help my child with their speech at home?
There are many ways that you can encourage your child’s language development at home, whether or not your child needs professional speech therapy. Here are some tips for making the most of daily activities and interactions.

Spend quality time together
These days, we are all busy and family time can be limited due to work and other responsibilities. However, you can make the most of the time you do have. Quality time with children, such as eating meals regularly together, is important not only for encouraging speech and language but for cognitive and emotional development also. During play and everyday activities, talk to your child about what you are doing, or how you are feeling, and ask them questions. Reading together, singing songs or saying rhymes are also great ways to connect with your child and help their language development.

Reduce screen time
When you have time to communicate, be present in the moment. Turn off the TV, laptop or tablet. Too much screen time can reduce face-to-face interactions, affecting development of language and social skills. Reducing your own screen time also sets a good example to your child. Try not to get distracted by texting or answering calls when you are spending time with your child.

Model correct speech
Kids learn by imitation. Therefore, talking clearly to your child on a regular basis is great for their language development. Avoid ‘baby talk’ and always speak in grammatically correct sentences. Don’t discourage your child when they mispronounce things or use made-up words. Repeat the correct word for them in your response. When your child uses a single word or very short sentence, respond back to them in a full sentence.

Encourage with positive reinforcement
Focus on what your child can do. Notice and praise even small efforts and improvements. This will help build your child's self-esteem and confidence to keep going. Rather than anticipating what your child wants, encourage them to ask before giving it. Increase vocabulary by giving choices, e.g., ‘Do you want the red one or the blue one?’

Make speech therapy practice into a game
If your child is seeing a speech therapist, it is important to practise the exercises they give you to do at home. However, try to make these into a game rather than a chore. Try to make it fun and get siblings or other family members involved.

Be patient
Children can get frustrated when they are finding it difficult to communicate. Be patient and give them time. If you ask your child a question, wait for a response. Try not to rush them or answer for them. Encourage your child to communicate in any way that they can. You can use visual cues and gestures alongside speech. Children who struggle with communication can often benefit from learning sign language or using AAC assistive speech apps, such as Fabulaa to help them express themselves more clearly.

Speech therapy is about much more than what happens during therapy sessions. You can support and encourage your child who is facing speech and language challenges. Speech and language practice doesn’t have to be a chore and can be built into daily interactions with family and friends.

What is Fabulaa?
Fabulaa is a FREE mobile app which uses augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) technology. Fabulaa is designed to help people of all ages,
from children to adults, who face communication challenges.

The Fabulaa communication app can be used as a speech assistant by clicking on image cards, words or phrases to activate voice output. It can also convert speech to
text. Fabulaa is customizable with colourful visuals and engaging features.

Fabulaa is not a substitute for assessment and treatment by health professionals, but can be used as a tool alongside professional help.

Fabulaa is the most affordable and accessible AAC app in the GCC and is currently available in five languages.