Thursday, 17 October 2013

Question time

Since i started this blog a few months ago, I have had a couple of enquiries from parents just looking for a bit of advice whilst waiting for therapy sessions to start.  I'm not saying I have all the answers, but as the feedback I got was positive, I thought I would share the conversation with you, just in case there are any other parents looking for advice out there!

(Please note that I have edited slightly and changed names to protect confidentiality)

I hope you don't mind me contacting you- a friend, told me about your page and suggested I contacted you... so I would be really grateful if you have any advice but understand if you're too busy! I am reading your blog and using a lot of the stuff there which is really good,

Basically my daughter is almost 3, she says about 25 words, and uses about 40 signs... NHS waiting lists are long so we have to wait for 5 months to see someone - at our last appointment they seemed to suggest a specific language impairment... but couldn't say more or give any advice really. 

We are having private speech therapy- after a really long struggle to find someone who could help-  but it doesn't really seem to involve much more than we are doing at home- adding details when we are playing 'eg you have a red car...' to help her understanding (however, I think her understanding of words is good- she struggles when they are in a sentence) and told us to follow her lead.... which we do anyway. 

So, anyway I would really, really appreciate any advice on things we could do, website we could use or good resources- anything really!... - I am working so hard but no progress is being made. 

 I have streamlined her toys and they are all ones which are good for talking with, made sure we have no background noise and are using signs when we can. 

She is otherwise pretty normal- physically fine, social, excitable, likes friends and pre-school and is pretty confident... The signing has saved my sanity as she can now tell me what she wants, and we have sort-of conversations with the signs. It is hard though as I just want to help her

Anyway... your blog is excellent and I will keep reading and using the ideas 
and I will understand if you are too busy.


Hi Zara, 

What a difficult time.  I know it can be a very anxious and frustrating period when you are waiting to get the help you have been told your child needs. 

Specific language impairment or SLI is very complicated, and I'll be honest it's not my area of expertise. However, areas to think about and ask your therapist could be as follows:

Does your daughter have any pronunciation difficulties? You may need to do a bit more work on helping her to process and order the sounds. I use things like musical instruments - choose a set of 3 pairs eg bells, shaker and tambourine. Give her one set and you hold another. Help her to listen as you make a noise with one and she has to match it up. Start so she can see which one you've got then when she's got the idea, hide your set under the table so she has to choose just by listening. As she gets better make a noise with two or more instruments so she has to recognise the sound and the order. This will help with auditory processing, sequencing and auditory memory, but won't put pressure on the linguistic side. 

Auditory memory: play shopping games so that she can find pictures of items to put in her bag (you can just use a selection of toys or lotto pictures) ask for two but always repeat both if she only takes one. If she takes the last thing you said, she's probably got difficulties with auditory memory. Eg "can you get me the cat and the flower?" She gives you the flower, you say "give me CAT and FLOWER". Also if you keep 2 hands held out, one for each item it will help her realise you wanted two. And you won't be making it easier for her by just repeating the one she missed out. I hope that makes sense?! 

If she's finding it hard to follow sentences ask your therapist to explain "key words" and find out what key word level she's at. This is basically how many choices within a sentence a child has to make. "Language steps" available from stass publications is a great language programme working through developmental stages. If you feel she's struggling with anything more than the single words, I'd use familiar people and talk about their clothes, what they're doing and what items they have to extend her understanding and make it easy for her. Try to use just two word phrases such as "mummy's jumper", "daddy's sitting", "aunties apple" etc. 

At every stage, you want to be modelling just one step ahead, so if she's using one word at a time, you repeat back what she's said and add just one more word. If she's not yet using the word, just model that one (or a choice) to her. 

Other websites which are useful are: - for speech and language tips and info for parents - for info on speech and language disorders and resources - for everyday parenting/language development tips!!! (Had to put mine in there ;) )

Hope that helps a bit.  

Good luck with everything



As my field of specialism is currently in pre-school special needs, please feel free to contribute to the ideas and discussions at the end, if you are a therapist with more skills or knowledge! Thank you!


  1. As an SLP and a parent of a child who was a "late talker" I found the idea of "talking time" to work well with my son. I will qualify though by saying that language skills were not an issue so this reply deals more with speech production.
    I never liked the idea that I would always pressure him to speak. I've talked with parents who advocate for not giving a child anything until they say the name or something like it. That being said, we did need some time to work on sounds and syllables. We did 3-4 days per week "talking time" of around 20-30 minutes where the expectations were first around making silly sounds or just any voluntary vocalizations to start out. Then I worked on shaping the ones he could do into more meaningful words. The latter part I would recommend doing in conjunction with an SLP though since I made decisions based not only on what he could produce, but what were the next logical choices of sounds and what word positions would be most facilitative.

  2. Thank you John, for taking the time to contribute. :) Katie