Difficulties articulating speech sounds can impact a person’s confidence expressing themselves and can also impact on their ability to be understood by others. There are a number of ways to help improve and develop speech sound skills for both children and adults.
Practice in front of a mirror or using video.
One way to help improve your speech or your child’s speech sound skills is to practice the sounds that are difficult in front of a mirror so you can see what your lips and tongue are doing. Taking short video clips of yourself or your child saying difficult sounds is a good way to identify how you are saying them.
It is a nice interactive way to target those difficult sounds and also a bit of fun! It can also be helpful to associate a sound you or your child is finding difficult with a gesture or movement. For example, if your child is having difficulty with the ‘ch’ sound, doing a pretend sneeze can often stimulate correct production of the ‘ch’ sound (ahh-chooo).
Face to Face Modelling.
An effective method that helps children to feel comfortable, and not pressured into constantly repeating an incorrect sound; is face to face modelling. You may be having a conversation with your son or daughter and hear them say “wook at the gog”.
Acknowledge what they have said and repeat it back to them slowly while correctly modelling the speech sounds e.g. “yes, look at the dog”. You may also expand on the sentence they said while focusing on the sounds they had difficulties with e.g. “yes, look at the dog. The dog loves running”. Doing this frequently will help your child hear the sound correctly modelled many times during your interaction.
Singing is such a great way to practice speech sounds while also building language skills. Alternating the tones in your voice while you are singing uses a different part of the brain and can help stimulate language and sound learning.
Songs that have a lot of words with the sound your child is having difficulty with in them, are a great resource. For example, if you are targeting the ‘t’ sound, “twinkle twinkle little star” would be a good song to practice together as it contains multiple ‘t’ sounds at the start, in the middle and at the end of words.
Drawing pictures of items that start with the sounds that are difficult for your child can also be a fun and engaging way to help improve speech skills. It’s an interactive way to work on the sounds in the words.
You can also use the pictures to make silly sentences or a short story. Working on the difficult sounds like this is motivating but also allows for the difficult sounds to be targeted while increasing the level of difficulty moving from single words to telling a short story.
Books are fantastic for so many things. Reading books is great for speech and language development and can spark your child’s imaginative thinking. Discussing the pictures and the finer details in the pictures can also be a great way to work on speech sounds your child has difficulty with.
You can pick images on the page that start or end with challenging sounds. For older children or adults, reading books with a lot of alliterative sentences is a good way to practice difficult sounds. An example of an alliterative sentence may be “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers”.
How does Harrison Speech Pathology help children improve their speech skills
The Speech Pathologists at Harrison Speech Pathology can help you identify what articulation difficulties your child is having through a full speech assessment.
Once the areas of need are identified, the most appropriate individualised treatment approach and recommendations will be given. This will also include strategies to try outside of the clinic that will be easy to implement into daily life and routines.