Use Your Words: Sensory Strategies for Speech and Language

Little ones have a lot to say; they just don’t know how to say it. They may babble and talk in gibberish to you, or demand your attention by yelling or pulling at you. They may request “juice,” but mean cookie.

Although children begin utilizing 2–3-word phrases between 2-3 years of age, it doesn’t mean they know what or how to verbally express themselves clearly. This guessing game can easily turn into an onslaught of tears, tantrums, and frustration for both parents and child.

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Actions are Louder Than Words: The Speech and Movement Connection

Talking doesn’t start at the mouth. Before we can speak or give meaning to language, we must learn to move.

Movement is necessary to explore our surroundings and travel from point A to point B (even if it is just to the couch). Motor development relies on the teamwork of the tactile (touch), proprioceptive (body awareness), and vestibular (movement) systems to establish a physical awareness of self to feel safe and move without fear.

Research has shown that achieving motor milestones may also be closely linked to unlocking cognitive abilities, like speech and language.

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child(ish) Q&A: Speech Language Pathology

This spring, when we were planning this series, we wanted to get talking with a couple of our friends. We have mom friends and girlfriends, and we talk about our kids a lot. However, we don’t usually get to have professional conversations about their development. Enter our close friend Sarah, a licensed Speech Language Pathologist (SLP). Gotta love our super-accomplished Millennial Mom circle!

Before we start on our Course Notes series on the Auditory system, we gave her a few basic questions on speech that we were curious about.

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Interoception: Inner Workings

If your child is fidgeting in their seat, grouchy, or on edge, it’s easy to assume that they need a sensory fix to regulate themselves. However, if this happens on a regular basis, there could be more to it.

Interoception is our sense that handles the internal body sensations coming from our organs (including our skin). As our organs deliver signals to the brain (stomach growling, dry mouth, droopy eyes, etc), the brain gives meaning to these indicators (hunger, thirst, fatigue) and addresses them appropriately (eat, drink, sleep). These sensations and responses can vary from person to person.

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More Than Meets the Eye: Visual Perception

We are visual beings.

How we assess our environment, learn new skills, or consume entertainment is primarily through our eyes. We rely on our visual system so heavily that many times we don’t need our additional senses (touch, taste, hear or smell our surroundings) to know what’s going on.

So, if our kids overlook important visual details (like putting on a matching pair of socks), or can’t recall what they saw (“Where did you put your backpack?”), or have trouble discriminating between numbers and letters, it can be very concerning to us as parents. About 75% of classroom activities rely on the visual system.

In our throwback post, we learned that visual perception is the total process responsible for receiving and interpreting what we see. It involves visual-receptive (how our eyes move and focus on an object) and visual-cognitive components (how we interpret visual information).

When your child’s visual processing is compromised, we’re quick to assume that they need glasses/contacts or other visual aids. Although that may be the case, other factors can play a role as to why they’re seeing things differently.