Speech patterns that are cute for kindergarteners can be embarrassing or isolating for teens. Societal standards mean that strangers may make unflattering snap judgments based on how a teen speaks rather than the content of their message. Consider the following tips as you help your homeschooler to overcome their speech impediment.
- Investigate the Cause
Speech and language development delays or variations may be signs of underlying medical conditions. Ask your pediatrician or family doctor about what may be causing your child’s challenges at a wellness visit. The doctor may evaluate your child for an apraxia of speech diagnosis and run medical tests. It is common for children with lasting speech impediments to undergo hearing, swallowing, and neurological tests.
- Find a Compassionate Expert
It is important to have great experts on your child’s team. Find an age-appropriate speech pathologist for detailed evaluation and regular one-on-one appointments. You may be able to get such interventions covered by health insurance due to an identified underlying cause.
- Take Shame Out of The Equation
Children and teens need to be reassured that speech impediments are relatively common, often change with time and effort, and are not an indicator of diminished worth. Teens may experience bullying from their peers because of misunderstanding, and therapy could help them to heal from such hurtful interactions. Eliminating shame about speech differences enables teens to move forward with a positive, constructive mindset.
- Make a Realistic Plan
Correcting elements of a speech impediment could help your child to communicate more effectively with their peers. Read speech therapy materials and partner with a speech-language pathologist to create a plan of action. This can include specific daily exercises that require minimal equipment.
- Use Straw Strategies
A drinking straw is a simple and affordable tool for addressing speech impediments. It can be used to build muscle strength and improve tone, which impacts speech tremendously. Try creative games to help your child engage with the treatment plan.
- Encourage Practice Time
It may be beneficial to start a modest reward system for completing daily practice and weekly speech pathologist appointments. Use stickers for young kids or cook a favorite meal with your teen. Time together in the kitchen can be used for low-pressure conversations. Choose an encouragement or reward system that fits your family.
- Read Together
Reading books with your children is invaluable for speech and language development. Let your child pick their favorite book series and commit to being a reading buddy. This can prepare them for academic presentations when they are older. Teens may enjoy reading news or magazine articles out loud for ten minutes at the breakfast table. Young writers could also share their own work out loud.
- Listen Patiently
Resist the urge to correct every speech issue that you hear throughout the day. Let your child know that you see their efforts and demonstrate that you understand their communication intentions. By encountering patient adults at home, they will be able to work toward improvements with minimal stress.
- Remove Distractions
Contain distractions during skills practice time and family conversation moments. Model looking up from phones and computers to be an engaged and responsive listener. Turn off TV screens and radios at a certain hour so that your young person can focus on the immediate task.
- Track Progress
Celebrate steps toward more clear and efficient communication. Keep a private milestones journal or videos to look back on when you need a reminder of how far your child has come.
Speech impediments are manageable challenges and having an encouraging grown-up on their side can make a huge difference for your homeschooler.