The first 3 years of life, when the brain is developing and maturing, is the most intensive period for acquiring speech and language skills. Knowing what’s “normal” and what’s not in speech and language development can help parents figure out if there’s cause for concern. To figure out how can parents support and expand the speech development of their children, The Kangaroo Mamas interviewed the New York based Speech Language Pathologist and Feeding Therapist Molly Dresner.
Known as The Speech Teacher, Molly Dresner is certified by the American Speech and Hearing Association and trained in the SOS (Sequential Oral Sensory) Approach to Feeding. Dresner received her Masters in Speech Language Pathology from Teacher’s College, Columbia University, her Bachelors in Speech and Hearing Science from George Washington University. She emphasizes that the more caregivers and parents know, the stronger they will be in supporting their little one’s speech, language, and feeding development.
Speech delay in toddlers can cripple the communication process. You mentioned on your website that 1 in 5 children is a late speaker. How can a parent know if their child is experiencing delay in speech?
Parents can reach out to their pediatricians if they believe that their child may be a late talker. There are also resources that include typical speech and language milestones that parents can refer to in order to see where their child’s skills fall.
What are the common reasons behind delayed speech in toddlers?
There are many reasons why a child may be experiencing delayed speech skills. There are overall learning difficulties, specific language impairments, hearing loss, etc. I would like to stress that it is very rarely anyone’s “fault;” however, anyone can be a part of the solution!
Children with feeding difficulties are sometimes referred to speech therapists. What is the relation between picking eating and speech development?
There is no relation between picky eating habits and speech development. Speech Language Pathologists work on feeding development and speech development because the anatomy is the same.
Since we mentioned feeding difficulties, which food options would you advice parents to offer their picky eaters to compensate for their poor nutrition?
I like to work with what the child likes texture wise – that is, if the child only likes drinking smoothies or eating soft, pudding like textures then I would add nutritious foods or supplements to those textures. It is really important to take baby steps with picky eaters because trust is the most important factor. We never want to “trick” children into eating something that we know they don’t like. It is best to make meals fun, enjoyable, and stress-free!
How can parents work on building a richer vocabulary for their little ones?
Play! Get down on the floor and play with your child. You can be labeling items, narrating pretend play scenes, describing objects and actions, etc. You should stay on your child’s level and slowly build from their by taking baby steps.
What activities can mothers do with their children to stimulate their speech?
You can make any activity, even daily routines, speech focused. I like to “word-chunk” activities. That is, if we are cooking I will pick 3-5 words to focus on (e.g. mix, pour, more, etc.) and then if we are taking a bath I will focus on 3-5 body parts. When you are both focused, engaged, and motivated by the activity it becomes a perfect time for learning.
When children start to speak, ‘no’ is usually one of their favorite words, how can a parent rephrase their requests to minimize objections from their children’s’ side?
The best thing to do is provide 2 choices that you are okay with: “do you want to read a book or do a puzzle?” That way your child feels in control, you have provided them with a question that doesn’t allow for a “no” answer, and you feel good about both choices.
Drooling is a subject of concern for many parents. When is drooling a red flag?
Children should not demonstrate excessive drool, especially if they are not teething. We want our kids to breathe from their nose and not their mouth for many health reasons. Children with open mouths for breathing usually drool. Additionally, some of our children need reminders to swallow throughout the day. Drooling can indicate that a child has low muscle tone.
Molly Dresner is the author of ‘The Speech Teacher’s Handbook’, which is available on Amazon. Website: https://www.thespeechteacher123.com