Every week my son and I have a speech therapist come to my house and train me on how to help him learn how to speak. My son is almost 2 years old and is experiencing a speech delay. Of my 4 kids, 3 of them have experienced speech therapy in some form or another, but this is the first time I have experienced it with a toddler. When you take a toddler to speech therapy you are really taking yourself to speech therapy. My wonderful speech therapist and I visit about what we can do to help encourage my son to speak, and then we play with him, practicing some of the concepts that we spoke about.
One bit of her advice impacted me enough to write about it – “Quit Asking Questions.” I ask many questions, “Do you want to…. run? walk? eat? sleep? push the car? blow a bubble? jump? play blocks?” or “What…. color is it? What book do you want to read?” … the list is endless. I ask these questions and get nothing back in return. My speech therapist shared with me that it adds stress to the situation for my toddler because he is constantly trying to form an answer. He is essentially in a test all day long, I know that I would get tired of that also. From my perspective I get frustrated that I am not getting a response. I didn’t realize how much it was bothering me until I quit asking the questions. All of a sudden, I didn’t expect a response, and any response I received was fun. Now, when I play with him I say “The hammer goes BAM, BAM, BAM!” and if I am lucky he responds “BAM, BAM, BAM!”. Then I cheer and we are both happy. I cannot explain in words how much happier I am in my interaction with him, let alone how much happier he is.
My speech therapist and I were laughing about how it may work better with my middle schooler, and you know what I am going to try it. Instead of what I normally say….”How was school?” and he answers “OK”. End of conversation.