Late Talker Parent Strategies

Late talker therapy LOOKS (and should look) a lot like play since most of the work happens during play.

However, as we all know, it is much harder than it looks!

It takes a lot of skill. The speech therapist must:

  • engage children while letting them lead the play
  • naturally modify the environment
  • speak in a simple yet purposeful way
  • expand play
  • map words on to play routines
  • expand utterances
  • the list goes on!

All of this can be quite overwhelming and hard for parents to grasp. 

To help, I created parent-friendly handouts that I hand out during sessions as I introduced, teach, and practice each strategy. 


Late Talker Parent Strategies

Below are my top late talker language strategies!

1. Model Language

Children at this age, or any age, won’t learn words unless they are presented and practiced in meaningful ways. 

Modeling words allows a child  time to process the word! It can take some practice to learn HOW to model words. 

I created a handout that reviews what not to do, when to model words, how to model words, and why to model words for parents.

2. Withholding an Object

Many times, parents will withhold objects in order to encourage their children to start talking. While this technique comes from a good place, it can be cruel if not used properly or at the right time. 

In my parent friendly handout, I review: 

  • when to withhold an object (only when the child has a word/sign in their expressive vocabulary) and have used it spontaneously over multiple contexts
  • when NOT to withhold an object (an equally important skill)
  • why to withhold an object (to work on independence and confidence)
  • how to withhold an object and support/prompt the child if they can't name the object upon first request (we want all communication to be successful so skilled prompting is key!)

3. Imitation

Imitation is a MUST in late talker therapy. Once a child is able to imitate words, progress really takes off.

However, imitation can be difficult for late talkers. It is important to review the levels of imitation:

  1. gestures and motor skills
  2. gestures paired with a sound
  3. fun, exclamatory sounds
  4. words

Then, you can use the handout to help guide parents where and how to focus their practice at home.

4. How To Play....Purposefully!

Since therapy happens during play, it is essential that parents know how to play with a purpose!

In my handout, I review: 

  • Positioning (get down on the level of the child)
  • How and why you must follow your child's lead during play
  • How and why to talk with a purpose
  • How and why to you must listen and respond appropriately to develop language

5. 3 Strikes & You Win

This technique is something I created to help parents learn how to:

  • Model words using visual cues
  • Pause to allow time for the child to repeat
  • Prompt appropriately with child doesn't repeat
  • etc....

This handout is a must have!

6. Repeat-Expand-Repeat 

Expanding on a child's utterances is an effective way to naturally teach a child the next level of language development (i.e., move a child from 1 word utterances to 2 word utterances.

In my parent handout, I review how accomplish this task naturally with an example:

  • Child says a word
  • Repeat word
  • Expand the word
  • Pause long enough for the child to repeat!

7. Language Simplified

Since the child is learning language by listening and interacting with caregivers, it is crucial that caregivers know how best to talk!

In my language simplified handout, I review:

  • What language simplified is all about
  • Why it is important
  • How to use it on a daily basis

8. Asking Questions

Therapists and parents of late talkers don't want to ask too many questions of course, but there are times when they must. Therefore, parents must learn HOW to ask questions effectively. 

There must be:

  • balance - you never want too many questions
  • choices (great way to prompt!)

Parents must learn:

  • why it is important to ask questions the new way
  • support (who to prompt a child so he/she is successful)

9. Arrange The Environment!

Speech therapists naturally arrange the environment to ensure communication success and to create opportunities for communication learning. 

In my handout, caregivers will learn how to optimize

  • toy storage
  • snack storage
  • organization

With these simple tricks, children will naturally be challenged to communicate to have their daily needs met.

10. Narrate The Day

Narrating the day is an easy way to expose children to the language that is meaningful to their lives.

The key is to "narrate the day" correctly.

Parents must learn how to narrate their day and how to map language onto their child's actions.

P.S. If you would like to access all the parent handouts, you can join the membership here!

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