At eighteen months, my grandson Michael was not talking. He wasn’t even using common words like “mama”, “dada”, or “ball.”
Because my children and grandchildren started speaking around 9 months, I was concerned about Michael’s language development. In talking with his mother, Elizabeth, I discovered that she too was worried and was currently in the process of inquiring about speech/language services for her son. However, the process was slow while we waited for professional evaluations, diagnosis, and treatment plans.
In the meantime, Elizabeth’s research for answers resulted in her finding a gold mine in Laura Mize. Laura Mize is a pediatric speech-language pathologist who specializes in treating young children, ages birth to three, with communication delays and disorders. Laura founded and authors the website http://teachmetotalk.com, hosts a popular weekly podcast, Teach Me To Talk: The Podcast, and has authored training materials for both parents and professionals.
Laura recommends beginning with 11 Essential Pre-Linguistic Skills including: attention, gestures, joint attention, and playing with toys appropriately, etc. Elizabeth began working with Michael on these basic skills. Getting these skills in place first builds a strong foundation for language acquisition, in both expressive and receptive areas.
Elizabeth was easily able to learn and apply Laura’s principles of teaching language and almost immediately began to see results. In just a few short weeks, Michael could maintain eye contact, mimic facial expressions and gestures, and started to add new words each week. And of course, I spent time with my precious grandson, reinforcing the skill that they were working on each week. What a joy to witness Michael’s progress and experience renewed hope for his development and language acquisition.
In addition to the podcast, Laura Mize has produced a plethora of Youtube videos, a free ebook, A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Speech Language Development and Teach Me to Play, a book that has practical games, songs, toys and strategies for teaching language. Elizabeth, Michael, and I highly recommend these resources to kick start your child’s language development.
Dr. Trudy Abel, the Special Needs Program Director for the Homeschool C.A.R.E. Foundation and consultant to the HLA Special Needs Counselors, provides information and resources on specific disabilities and learning disorders on the HLA and HCF websites.