Monday 26 January 2015

Do you have a pre-school child with ASD?

As a parent, you know how difficult it can be for your child with suspected or confirmed Autism Spectrum Disorder to interact meaningfully with others and connect with the world around him.
At Small Talk Speech and Language therapy we use The More Than Words Programme from Hanen. This was designed specifically for parents of pre-school children on the autism spectrum. Addressing the unique needs of these children, the programme provides parents with the tools, strategies and support they need to help their children reach their full communication potential.
More Than Words does this by empowering parents to help your child reach the following three goals:
  1. Improved social skills
  2. The ability to engage in back-and-forth interactions
  3. Improved understanding of language
Here are some of the valuable things you’ll learn when we help you carry out the More Than Words Programme:
  • How your child learns best and what motivates him to communicate
  • Why your child behaves in certain ways, and what you can do to either increase or reduce those behaviours
  • How to use your knowledge about your child to set realistic goals
  • How to make interactions with your child last longer and be more meaningful
  • Tips for using pictures and print to help your child’s understanding
  • Tips on how to talk so that your child understands you
  • Strategies for developing your child’s play skills
  • Ways to help your child make friends

Practical strategies you can use in everyday situations

The More Than Words Programme focuses on your natural, day-to-day life with your child. You’ll discover how to take everyday activities like meal time, story time and bath time and use them to help your child improve his communication and social skills. And you’ll have fun together while you’re doing it!
The More Than Words approach is easy to understand and easy to put into practice. With every strategy you learn, you’ll be given ample opportunity to practice and discuss it so that you won’t forget it.
We have spaces from the middle of February. Register your interest: by contacting us

Wednesday 14 January 2015

How to play with children to help develop speech and language development?

A guest blog post by Karolina Spałek from Poland

The following article is addressed to all parents of 0- to 3-year-old children.

A two-year-old child should use about 200 - 300 words, including the names of family members (mummy, daddy), toysonomatopoeic words and basic verbs (eat, sleep, drink, walk, etc.). Every day, I have to deal with children who do not use words. They just do not speak at all. It seems worrying. It can even be said that a child who is not able to speak, is at the same time not able to think. The ability of using speech promotes the development of thinking. If you want your child to develop properly from the very first moments of his life, the most effective way is to take advantage of fun and learn through play. 

An excellent method of learning a language is to create communication situations in which the child feels the need to talk: the situations concerning desiressatisfaction and joy.
The factor of the quantity of words and the quality of language you use to communicate with your child has an invaluable impact on the speech development. We should not underestimate the fact that the speech and language development has a lot in common with shaping other skills, such as writing, reading and learning. Language facilities are also crucial in establishing contacts and relationships with other people.

You can easily influence the correct development of your toddler. The following list consists of some inspiring tips for the speaking manners and some pieces of advice concerning the proper use of toys while strengthening the bond with your baby:

1.       Talk to your child as often as possible: during everyday activitieswalks, shopping, etc. Speak slowlyclearly and correctlyKeep the eye contact while addressing your child. When you show animals, things and people - call themIf your child is in a pushchair, remember to keep him facing you! By using this strategy, you provide the child with an opportunity to observe your facial expressionsemotions and the movement of your mouth!

2.       Provide sound stimuliavoid or eliminate television completely. It unnecessarily stimulates the child and leads to sensory processing disordersInstead, listen to the sounds of the environment. Ask and answer: What is it? A car, a dog, a cat...

3.       Have fun by imitating animals - show pictures of animals, imitate their noises (cow: moocatmeow, dogwoofau). Enjoy walking like astork, speaking or jump like a frog, moving like a cat or swing like a monkey!

4.        Imitate the sounds of vehiclescar engines, trainsaeroplanesIt is a good idea to use toy vehicles and onomatopoeic words to show how the real ones move and sound. You can put some toys or objects insidea doll driver or your child's favourite bear. Do not forget to ask questions during the playWhat can you see? What is it? It gives the child an opportunity to make a choice what he or she wants the vehicle to carry. A ball or teddy bear? A cat or a dog?

5.       Be a storytellerRead or tell stories to your child every day before bedtime. Take advantage of illustrated books or fairy tales. Read a passage and ask your child what he remembers: What was the story aboutWho is in the pictureWhat's happened?

6.       Present illustrations, ask questions and give your child a chance to come up with the answer: Who is it? What is he doing?

7.       Talk about experiences. Let the child express his emotions while talking about a kindergarten or a day spent with a grandmother. Allow your child to talk about shopping with his mother or the animals met during a walk.

8.       Enjoy counting with your child: How many cats can you see in the pictureHow many animals are there in the carHow many apples has daddy boughtOne, two, three! Three apples! Ask questions and count together with your child!

9.       Use the mirrormake funny facestouch your nose or chin with your tonguelick your lips. By following your behaviour, by repetition, your child creates a sense of awareness of his own body. With your guidance, he does it in a pleasant atmosphere. Remember to let your child act on his own initiative and try to mimic his gestures!

10.   Draw. Use crayons and markers - inform your child what you are drawing: Mummy is drawing a catWhat does a cat doMeow! The child scribbles but later follows the scheme. This is a combination of speech development and the improvement of motor skills. It prepares your child to draw, colour and write.

11.   Practice breathingwhistle, use pipes, flutes, fansMake soap bubbles, blow feathers, pieces of paper or ping pong balls. Blow a drop of water using a straw or let your child have fun by blowing the paint around the paper to create fabulously abstract works of art. This painting can be attached to the fridge with a colorful magnet clip!

If your child does not speak, encourage him by all means to do so!

300 - 500 words -this is an amount of active vocabulary of a three-year-old child who uses them to build his first sentencesRemember that the onomatopoeic expressions, such as 'woof' or 'meow' are ones that vary across cultures and nationalities! If you notice that your child lags behind his peers in his ability to talk, it is necessary to contact a speech and language therapistHowever, before the first visitdo not waste your time and take matters into your own hands! Help your child to move forward! I wish you good luck in all actions you will carry out to encourage your little ones to use language!

Karolina Spałek

Translate: Aleksandra Kmieć

Tuesday 6 January 2015

Please help AFASIC... and have some fun too! 'Zip It' for Afasic

As we enter a New Year, AFASIC are encouraging us to get involved in their latest challenge that should be a bit of fun, and also raise some money towards their work. They are often the only place a parent can turn when they have a child with SLCN and no-one else seems to understand that it affects the entire family.
They really need  help to ensure that Afasic has the funds it needs to provide this ongoing help and support for children, young people and their families who are affected by speech, language and communication disabilities now and into the future.
How to get involved
Please take part in the Afasic ‘Zip It!’ challenge this spring  - you can take part yourself, encourage your local school to take part, get people in the office to take up the challenge, or get the family to have a quiet and challenging evening at home!
The challenge is to stay silent and use only non-verbal methods of communication for a period that you can decide (it could be 5 minutes, an hour, a morning, a day etc.). For more information and to register for a full information pack go to