Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

The Language of Toys: Teaching Communication Skills to Special-Needs Children - a Guide for Parents and Teachers

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

The Language of Toys: Teaching Communication Skills to Special-Needs Children - a Guide for Parents and Teachers

Article excerpt


Teaching Communication Skills to Special-Needs Children

Developing communication is as much a basic human need as seeking food and comfort. For many children this is a relatively simple process, while for others there may be significantly delays in this area. There are a wide variety of causes for a language delay in this area. Regardless of the cause, the results are usually the same: a child with delayed language development and concerned parents.

These concerned parents want to help their children with special needs learn language skills but often don't know the best way to go about it. Through our years of teaching and raising our own children, we have seen that an amazing amount of language can be pulled from even the simplest toy. Our book, The Language of Toys, shows you how to use toys to aid your child's language development. While you are playing with your child, you can be helping him increase his language skills. And you can have fun together at the same time. We know your child can benefit from these times with Mom and Dad. We also know this play/work time is dramatically more important for children with delays in their language development. They will need the extra effort that their parents can give them to help develop their language skills.

When speech and language therapists or teachers work with children with language delays, they usually use toys they think will encourage certain words or sounds. There is no "magic" to the toys they use. Rather, the toys are chosen carefully to be teaching aids. This book will help you to choose and to use toys like the professionals to enhance the development of language in your child. Although we have selected certain toys for this book, we want to assure you that there are many other toys that can be bought or made which can serve equally well.

The Language Of Toys is divided into two parts. In the first part, we explain important background information about language, its sequential development, some of the causes of language delay, the value of play, how play can enhance language development, and your role in all this. In the next section -- which is the heart of the book -- we recommend toys that we have found to be useful in stimulating language development and show you how to use these toys in playing with your child. For each toy in the book we provide you with sample language dialogues to help you get the most from that toy. We encourage you to use these ideas in your play to encourage language development.

We have designed this book to be used with any child who has a language delay, whatever the cause may be. We have given you guidelines which should help you decide which toys your child would be most interested in playing with and most ready to learn from. These guidelines are based on language developmental ages. Each child has his own unique profile for all developmental areas, including cognition, motor, social, self-help, and language. A child may make progress in different areas at different rates. The result is wide variation in the developmental picture for each child, regardless of his chronological age. For example, a three-year-old child with a twelve month language delay may have "normal" cognitive development or motor skills but speak on a two-year-old level. Alternately, a four-year-old child with "normal" language may have very delayed motor skills.

We have individual suggestions for modifying your play to accommodate the specific learning needs of each child. …

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