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Jan 05

Incorporating speech and language skills in the home by: Carly Bisesar, M.S., CCC-SLP, RBT

Written by in Speech language pathology
The role of occupational therapy in autism by: Juan Nieto, COTA
Many parents and guardians often ask what they can be doing at home to assist their child’s speech and language growth. Although each child is unique and learns in their own way there are many activities that we do everyday that we can learn to enhance to better serve our child’s speech and language development.
According to the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) Leader food and/or drink preparation can be an excellent way to help facilitate speech and language goals with a variety of children that span from different ages and disabilities.
  • Sequencing: Recipes follow steps; sequencing can be an ideal goal. If there are too many steps in a recipe for your child to follow then break them up into smaller steps. Some children require visual support; consider taking pictures of each step to creating a sequencing activity.
  • Literacy and Vocabulary: If a recipe has complex language that your child has difficulty reading and processing, modify it! You can either re-write the recipes with containing appropriate vocabulary or discuss synonyms with them. Also, target the new vocabulary and create visuals to support the new vocabulary words as you prepare the food and/or drink with them.
  • Articulation: Target specific sound during food preparation. If your child is working on the /r/ sound in speech therapy prepare foods that contain the /r/ sound, such as, raspberries, radishes, and rice, or even red colored foods.
  • Describing and Commenting: Food/drink preparation can be an excellent time to describe and comment. Model language and use descriptive words such as “gooey”, “sticky”, “wet”, “sweet”, etc. Compare other foods/drinks that also possess some of the same characteristics. Also, encourage your child to use all five senses during the activity!
  • Actions: When baking a simple muffin recipe, the actions such as measure, pour, fill, mix, bake, open, and eat can be targeted.
  • Answering “wh” questions: As you are preparing food, ask your child open ended questions, such as “What are we baking?” or “Why are we adding this sugar to our recipe?” and more.
  • Problem Solving: Forget the eggs? “Hmm, what should we do?” How about forgetting the chocolate in chocolate milk? Ask your child different ways of resolving specific problems with food preparation.
  • Turn Taking: Whether you are working with one or two people, turn taking occurs naturally during baking and/or food preparation. If you are working with a group of children, make assignments for each child before beginning.
  • Recalling Information: As you prepare the food/drink, ask your child to recall specific steps/ingredients/etc. After you have completed the recipe ask your child to recall the steps of the recipe.
If you’re a family on the go and don’t always find the time to prepare materials or an activity ahead of time consider these tips from the ASHA Leader Blog.
  • Make a plan to practice 10 to 15 minutes every day!
  • Ask your child’s speech therapist to write down their goals and post these on your refrigerator or family bulletin board.
  • Assign at least five daily routines where your child can practice before, during, or after the routine. Some examples include during bathroom routines, mealtime, leisure time, folding laundry, cleaning, waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting for sporting events to begin, while on a walk, driving in the car, playing board games, in front of a bathroom mirror, when re-telling a movie/book, or show off to a visitor.
  • Come up with your child’s “Speech Team!” The team can include a spouse, older sibling, nanny, babysitter, aunt, neighbor, and/or grandparent. Assign times/days for different members of the team to work on your child’s speech goals.
  • Praise their speech and language success! Several times a day, when you hear your child correctly say or use his/ her speech and language goal, offer a genuine praise such as “That was really clear,” “You said _____ so nicely!” “I understood you” or “Look at you! Great job!” When you praise a behavior, that behavior increases. Avoid the temptation to stop your child and correct them. The research does not indicate that correcting helps and children don’t seem to respond well to this approach. Interrupting your child while they’re talking to correct them can lead to other speech and language concerns such as stuttering and/or decrease in expressive language and potentially decrease they’re overall confidence.
Remember that preparing even a simple beverage such as chocolate milk, preparing cereal in the morning, and/or packing their lunch before they go off to school can be an excellent activity to engage in at home. Speech and language generalization/carry-over progress works best when you speech three to five minutes at a time, three times a day (Marshalla, P., 2010). Become an active part of your child’s speech and language progress to experience the best outcome and success.
Eisenberg, R. (2015, January 27). 10 Speech and Language Goals to Target during Food/Drink Preparation. The ASHA Leader, 8-8.
Vandongen, K. (2015, November 17). 5 Time-Saving Solutions for Home Practice. Retrieved December 29, 2015, from
Marshalla, P. (2010) Carryover Techniques in Articulation and Phonological Therapy. Mill Creek, WA: Marshalla Speech and Language.
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