We are often asked this question ...and this is a question that was recently asked on our Southend Child Speech & Language Support Group.
"I have a 22 month old boy who shows good understanding of what you are saying but says very little. About 6 weeks ago he began making brum noises when playing with cars and some animal noises. He is beginning to say words, but appears to only be able to make the initial sounds. We are awaiting an SLT appointment, is there anything I could be doing with him in the meantime?"
A child's understanding of language develops before expressive language. All children develop skills at a different rate ... some children at 22 months might be making small sentences and others saying very little. The speech therapist will assess his overall communication skills looking at his listening and attention, eye contact, communicative intent and play skills as well as understanding and expressive language and speech.There are lots of fun, easy ways you can boost this natural early words development and encourage your him to get talking. Here are some of our favourites:
Listen and enjoy sounds around you. Name sounds for him (e.g. phone ringing, wind blowing, water running, police sirens)
Have fun making sounds together. Copy sounds … such as animal sounds ("moo", "miaow", "quack," "woof" & "baa").
Provide a commentary to your his day. Talk about what you’re doing together helps him to associate words with the things he sees. It doesn’t have to be complicated – just pointing out the red bus he’s looking at, or explaining all the delicious ingredients you’re putting into his lunch will be fine.
Encourage your him to make vowel-like and consonant-vowel sounds such as "ba," "ma," and "da”.
Make sure if you ask your him a question, you leave time for him to respond. He might not speak, but those little babbles, giggles and noises are his way of joining in the conversation!
Always try and respond to his attempts to communicate.
When your he tries to name something / show you something, praise him and say it back to him. For example, as he points to a car and vocalises, you might say ”Well done … car … car”.
When you’re reading stories together, give your theatrical skills a full airing – make silly sound effects and create funny voices for the characters. When he sees that language and words are fun, he'll be more likely to join in and try out new words.
Don’t anticipate his needs. If he points to the fridge, ask him if he wants milk or juice rather than just getting her a glass of milk. Don’t correct him if he mispronounces words; you might put him off trying new words next time. Instead, repeat their words back to him, using the correct pronunciation yourself. He’ll soon get the idea!
Sing songs with your him, especially those with fun noises and actions. Encouraging him to join in will develop his vocabulary and memory.
Listen to what your he's saying and add some new words, e.g. “big ball”, “Yes, that’s a big, yellow ball”.