SOMASLP Holiday Gift Guide and December Newsletter
Holiday Gift Giving Guide for Children with Speech-Language Challenges:
BASIC TOY CONCEPTS:
The less a toy does (lights, music, talking), the more language it will elicit.
Simple is better - with more simplistic toys, children are encouraged to use their imagination and therefore more language skills (i.e. a sparsely furnished doll house).
Less is more - with fewer options available, children need to either get creative or ask for other items. Even if there are many toys available to a child, I always recommend putting away all but a few at a time so the child can focus on one activity at a time.
TODDLER TOY IDEAS:
baby doll - Language is a symbolic activity, so working on symbolic (imaginative) play with a baby doll, some play food, and a bottle will help to develop both symbolic play and language skills.
Potato Head - body parts, clothing words, prepositions (in/ out on/ off), oh my! Potato Head is a great source of fun and development!
Musical toys - simple cause/ effect musical toys such as a musical cube that has 6 different instruments to play as the child pushes the buttons on each side, simple instruments young children can play like egg shakers and maracas (use language such as "shake" and "stop"), and drums/ xylophones that require 2 items be banged together to create a sound.
cars and race tracks - Toddlers love things that go. Children with language delays often produce sound effects first. Think about words/ sounds like "vroom", "beep beep", and "crash."
farm animals/ toy barn - What toddler doesn't love animals?! Target animal sounds and simple concepts such as in/out.
books as toys - Simple books with repetitive language are great for fostering language development. Some of my favorite titles: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, Goodnight Gorilla, Dear Zoo, That's Not My Monkey (and others in the series), Peek-a-boo Kisses, and Animal Talk and/or Baby Talk published by DK.
PRESCHOOL TOY IDEAS:
Kitchen and play food - work on concepts like in/ out, action words like mix, pour, roll, colors, sizes, and continue developing imaginary play skills.
Dress up clothes/ playsets - continue to develop imaginary play schemas for astronauts, firefighters, doctors, and restaurant workers. What types of language do all of these individuals use on a daily basis?
Play-doh or other sensory materials - So much language can be elicited during sensory play - soft/ hard, roll/ poke, colors, size, shapes!
Simple blocks - the more plain/ simple, the better! Let your child's imagination run wild with Duplo legos, Mega Blocks, or wooden/ foam building blocks. Target words like up/ down, big/ small, and add shapes and colors if the blocks are different colors.
Early games - preschool-aged children are beginning to be able to understand games with simple rules. You can start out with simple no-win games, like Snail's Pace Race and work your way up to some other simple games like The Sneaky, Snacky, Squirrel; Pop the Pirate; or any games by Orchard Toys such as the Lunchbox Game or the Shopping Cart game.
SCHOOL-AGED CHILDREN IDEAS:
Building toys - Legos, magnetic tiles, Knex, etc. all work on following directions, problem-solving, and visual-spatial perception.
Board games - from simple to complex, board games work on turn-taking, being a gracious loser or winner, and problem-solving. Some, such as Apples to Apples and Buzz Word work on vocabulary as well. Some of my other favorites are Connect Four, Uno, Monopoly card game (a simpler, shorter version), Spot-it, and Sequence.
Imaginary play areas - think bed forts, ceiling constellations and planets, and ceiling canopies.
Cooking and craft sets - baking and creating requires following directions, measuring, and problem-solving.
NEWSLETTER - this is the inaugural edition of the SOMSLP newsletter. You can expect to receive it 4 times a year.
VIRTUAL SOCIAL SKILLS GROUPS - This summer I began running virtual social skills groups for children in preschool through high school. They've been incredibly successful, so I've continued through the fall and can't wait until the day when I'll be able to host these groups live/ in-person! If you're wondering if a social skills group might be right for your child, here are some topics I cover during groups:
how to initiate a conversation with individuals/ groups
how to maintain a conversation
how to be a gracious winner/ loser
how to accept or decline invitations
how to respectfully disagree with someone
PRESCHOOL SPEECH-LANGUAGE SCREENINGS - I offer screenings for children ages 3-5 to determine if further evaluation is necessary. Screenings are approximately 15-20 minutes long and cost $25 for individuals. If an evaluation is recommended, the screening fee is credited toward the evaluation fee. I offer free screenings to preschools and daycares with 5 or more students to screen.
PARENT TRAINING - I'll be presenting workshops to support parents of children with speech-language challenges beginning in early 2021. Workshops will be virtual for the time being.
IN-PERSON THERAPY FOR YOUNG CHILDREN- In November, I began seeing my youngest clients in-person again with many safety protocols and procedures in place. It's been wonderful to share space with my littlest students again. In-person therapy is available to students aged birth to five (or kindergarten).