Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Experiences Homeschooling a Speech Delayed Child, Part II

I am not a speech therapist or doctor, just a mom sharing her experience. It is always a good idea to consult your pediatrician if you suspect a speech delay. Part I is here.

Homeschool Speech Enrichment Ideas

The big leap in speech occurred at age six for our son. It was not a leap he would have made on his own, it was the curriculum and one-on-one teaching which got him there. He's nine years old now and doing great, with very little if any speech delay.

Here are a few things we did during the tough years, years when I worried about if he'd ever learn to talk or read, roughly between ages three and six. The time and energy worrying would have been spent more wisely in prayer, but I'm wiser now for having gone through this.

Helpful Stuff For Speech Enrichment:

We developed vocabulary with anything I could think of. I used preschool and kindergarten workbooks, like the big fat ones from K-Mart and wallyworld, and free online printables with picture identification. We went over the same concepts everyday until he got it. It took time and patience. I kept a notebook recording the concepts and words he still needed to cover, and found more sheets online which addressed these areas. I also went back and pulled worksheets which he had trouble answering, and we re-did them. We were able to do this by making reusable worksheets.

One example of a game I made up was a letter game with cut out pictures. I'd have about fifteen small cut out pictures I had collected off the net from free worksheet sites. I'd arrange them randomly on paper, and slide them into a clear plastic three ringed binder sleeve. He'd then place a penny on each thing that started with the letter I selected. I gave him the exact number of pennies that he needed to find the objects. He knew when he was done when the pennies where used up. These could be mixed up and interchanged for variety, and used again with other letters.

We used DLTK letter people which required cutting and coloring. I remember doing letter of the week. It was fun to collect free alphabet resources online each week.

We also used quite a few read along books on tape, and read along books on cd-rom. One particular read along series was very good for car learning: Let's Discover Words. A Troll Picture Dictionary. I purchased this series on ebay...I think it is out of print, but some libraries might still have them. It's worth the search. Each letter has it's own read along book and tape covering words which begin with that particular letter.

Computer learning software was helpful. There are many children's learning programs on cd-rom. Some of our favorites were Sesame Street learning, Reader Rabbit and Dr. Seuss Kindergarten. He did well with this type of visual learning.

He loved puzzles, so we got him puzzle after puzzle. I think he finally stopped at the 1000 piece puzzles. It was great for fine motor coordination, thinking and concentration, and pre-reading skills. When he began to read well around age seven, he stopped doing as many puzzles. The puzzles seemed to help him to transition to reading, so we ran with it. Solid well written literature was important for developing his vocabulary and improved language skills. Written language and spoken language are linked.

He enjoyed puppets, so we did quite a bit of learning with puppets. Sometimes the puppets taught. ;) He also seemed to be receptive to learning with flannel pieces. We used the book list from Before Five In A Row, and bought the matching hand made felt(flannel) story pieces from a few ladies on ebay who sell and auction these at reasonable prices. The visual clues of telling the story with the felt pieces helps engage a speech delayed child. He/she can also get prompts from the story pieces when narrating the story back to you.

We used felt pieces for teaching concepts like up and down, in and out, next to and below, top and bottom, etc. Just by moving felt pieces around the felt board we extended their use. I'd give directions like, put the duck next to the barn, or put the duck next to the cow, and he'd learn in an interactive visual way. This helped with speech enormously.

Here are some ideas I got from Dr. Camerata's web site. He works with late talking children at the Vanderbilt Brain Institute.

- Follows the child's lead
- Recasts the child's immediate verbal utterance or referent of
the child's attention.
- Does not require a verbal response from the child.

- Concentrated Play: Child led play using recasting.

- Modeling Language: Using short language to talk about what is happening now.

Other similar ideas:

- Self talk : Describe what you are doing as you do it.

- Parallel Talk : Describe what your child is doing as he does it.

- Expanding : Add sentence structure to what your child says.

- Extending : Add meaning to what your child says.

More ideas and explanations of these techniques here. There is also a beginning vocabulary list you and your child can work on, and links to verb and nouns phrases, and other developing elements of speech.

These ideas are not just good for speech delayed children, it's wonderful for any young children because you are expanding their language and communication skills in a one-on-one child led situation. You are spending special time with your child, bonding in love. What better way to learn!

Update: Some of the speech enrichment links above are not working as the site has moved, or is in the process of moving. Here is the main link. 

More Resources:

Helpful resource for home-based speech therapy. This is a homeschool deaf education link, but the therapies could be useful for hearing children with communication issues.

Support for homeschooling children with special needs: NATHAN, National Challenged Homeschoolers Associated Network.

Straight Talk - Speech and Language Program to use at home by Marisa Lapish, M.A. Home based speech therapy guides.

Plain & Simple Phonics: Created for children with delays that need to move very slowly. According to the website, there is a lot of repetition and no hand printing.


Anneatheart said...

Hi Alexandra,

I just happened on your blog from Lady Lydia's and saw this post. My daughter will be 5 in January. She has Trisomy 9, which is EXTREMELY rare. Fortunately, she only has about 10-15% of her cells with the third chromosome, so she is mostly 'normal'. Anyhow, her main problem is her speech delay. She has a very hard time getting her brain and vocal chords to work together. She knows what she wants to say, but can't get it out. She is in the public school system in the special needs class, which is amazing, but I never see her or teach her myself. I don't know how I would homeschool her, as I also have two more daughters ages 3 and 1.

I'm just curious about your son- he just had a speech delay not related to anything else? Was it the intensity and repetition that really helped him? My daughter gets so frustrated because she can't say what's going on. She can do a few signs and can say some parts of some words. I've just really been thinking about this a lot and wondering how I could home educate her with her needs and the demands of the other little ones.

Anyways, sorry to ramble, just wanting more details. You can email me at sundholm5@yahoo.com

Thanks so much!!


Alexandra said...

"I'm just curious about your son- he just had a speech delay not related to anything else?"

Yes, just a speech delay...he had tons of the genetic tests, and a thorough medical work-up to exclude any other issues. And he's fine now.

Was it the intensity and repetition that really helped him?

Yes, the one-on-one really helped him. He just needed a little more help than anyone else could provide. Speech therapy was only once a week. This was something we could do in addition to the therapy. When our funds ran out for the speech therapy, we just continued at home following the teaching tips of the therapist.

I'll email you later. :)

Chrystal said...

Enjoyed reading your post. Especially the part at the top about worrying vs. praying. I needed to hear that the most. My speech-delayed son is now 5 and I am starting to see the light. It was been a very long road and it is also encouraging to hear from someone else who has traveled the same road.

My son has been in the public school special ed preschool for half days. He enjoyed it and it gave me time to school the other children. But next year, for kindergarten, he's coming home. I'm excited and nervous, all at the same time. Thanks again for your encouragement.

Also, glad to hear you mention

Tundra Mom said...

I know this is a very old post, but wanted to thank you for it. My 6 year old daughter sounds very similar to your son. She has been in public preschool for 3 years and will be entering K. She still doesn't know letters, colors, shapes. She has the verbal capacity of a 2.5 year old.
I have a feeling that whole group is not for her and I am considering homeschooling her with much trepidation!

Alexandra S said...

My son is 15 years old now and doing great! We still homeschool. It was the best thing for him. Best of luck with homeschooling and hugs for your little one. :) Follow your instincts. A trial run at homeschooling would not hurt her. It's worth a try, in my opinion, if you feel you have the patience and motivation to work with her on a daily basis.

mneff said...

a few years later and this blog is blessing me today. Giving me HOPE! Our 4 yr old (almost 5) recently adopted son has been with us for 10 months. We know very little about his past, but he does have a significant speech delay. I know homeschooling will be a part of our journey to healing him. Thank you for your advice and resources listed.

Alexandra S said...

Best wishes for your success!

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I'm a homeschooling mom of two, a teen and a little. I hope this collection of mine helps you as much as it has helped us. I have an Etsy shop here:http://www.etsy.com/people/Alexandra66 And a blog: http://happyheartsathome.blogspot.com/