Helping Your Child Speak Clearly

Some children are just naturals at being articulate. Others struggle a bit more and for some children without the help of a professional, becoming understood is quite a challenge.

How we speak to our children does have an impact on their ability to express themselves. Have you ever been in a conversation with a person who has an extremely fast speech rate?  Notice how you start speeding up as well? Or if someone is speaking very loudly, all of a sudden you are speaking louder than you normally would.

Years ago, a study was done with speech language pathologists and clients looking at transference of behaviours in therapy sessions. The group chosen were adults who stuttered, which is also known as dysfluency. First of all, let’s be clear that no one is 100% fluent.  We all stutter, repeat sounds, syllables or words approximately 2% of the time. People who are diagnosed as stutterers exceed this 2% and may also exhibit other behaviors such as holding their breath or facial grimacing. 

In this experiment, the fluency of the therapist was measured and a fluency measure was obtained on the adult stutterer. The therapist was at the 2% range and the client stuttered 16% of the time before the therapy session. Then the clinician and the client spent one hour together in the same room in a therapy session. After the session, the fluency assessment was repeated.  The therapist was now stuttering 5% of the time and the adult stutterer was down to 10%. This is what is referred to as transference. We influence the people who we communicate with in many different ways. 

How does this apply to children developing speech and language? If we present children with a slower, but natural rate of speech it gives them the opportunity to transfer this back to their communication partner. This is very important for children who have difficulties with particular sounds or sequencing of sounds within their words. Every time a child’s message gets through, they are reinforced to repeat the strategies that gave them success.  

For more suggestions on helping your child develop articulation skills and intelligibility at all levels, feel free to contact us at our office in Port Perry, Ontario.