Early Child Language Development

Can You N.E.D.?

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing with your child, shopping, washing, out on the street or looking at books and pictures, take the opportunity to:

N: Name the objects in a picture and when you are out and about, ask your child to find things – ”Where’s the light?”, “Show me the chair”. Do this wherever you are – inside or outside – “Show me the big ball”, “Can you see a red car?”

E: Explain what’s happening, what people are doing, what the object is for e.g. – “You turn on the light”, “You sit on the chair”, “Mammy drives the car.”

D: Describe shape, size, texture, and other features, – e.g. “ The chair is fast,” “The car is fast.”

You can also help your child’s communication to develop by watching how they communicate (facial expression, pointing, looking, making sounds, words etc.) and waiting for them to try (give them time).

Some children may have a problem with early language development and are seen for speech and language assessment.

Parents and the speech and language therapist will decide together on one or more of the following:

  • Group or individual therapy.
  • Suggestions/programme given to parents/ school.
  • Child to be seen again for review.
  • Assessment by another Service, e.g. hearing test.
  • No need for child to be seen again by the speech and language therapy service.

What Can You Do?

There are lots of things you can do to promote your child’s speech:

  • Reduce background noise by turning off your radio/TV/Video.
  • Get down to your child’s level – sit/lie on the floor.
  • Encourage your child to look at you.
  • Play with your child and have fun.
  • Say as you play – name things.
  • Simplify and repeat what you say.
  • Remove your child’s soother.
  • Sing lots and lots of nursery rhymes.

For further information contact the Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists, 29, Gardiner Place, Dublin 1. Tel: (02) 8780215, www.iaslt.com. With the support of the Health Promotion Unit Dept. of Health & Children. With credit to Marian May, Senior Speech and Language Therapist Midland Health Board.