Fostering Language Development in Your Baby and Toddler
In my many years working as a speech-language pathologist, I have evaluated a variety of babies and toddlers for speech and language disorders. Often, there would be a diagnosis, such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism, prematurity, or hearing loss, just to name a few. Most recently, however, there has been an absence of diagnoses. The children that are being referred for evaluations are "delayed", but with an unknown cause.
These "delayed" children eventually catch up after a year or two, but that is time spent in speech therapy, when they could have been spending that valuable time in the classroom. Sometimes these children will exhibit delayed motor skills as well. Often the cause for these speech and language disorders (as well as the motor delays) is due to lack of exposure and/or environmental factors. These delays can be more easily remedied the younger a child is (early intervention is key).
So how can parents help to prevent these potential language disorders? The American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) has highlighted some recommendations from the National Joint Committee on learning disabilities:
*Access to pre, peri, postnatal care
*Learning opportunities that include:
- exposure to rich and varied vocabulary, syntax, and discourse patterns
- responsive learning environments that are sensitive to cultural and linguistic backgrounds
- access to printed materials
- involvement in structured and unstructured individual/group play interactions and conversations
- engagement in gross and fine motor activities
- access to communication supports and services as needed.
The Our First Year team recommends that parents/caregivers engage in meaningful playtime with their baby from birth. The Our First Year Infant Backpack and Toddler Tote contain developmentally appropriate toys and activity cards to enhance your baby's developmental potential.
Exposing your baby and toddler to developmentally appropriate activities is easy...it's all in the bag!!!!