My son did not speak till late five years old. I remember praying he would just say a word of what he wanted or needed instead of throwing a fit to communicate. There were some nights it was just so exhausting not knowing how to help him help himself.
I quickly realized I had two paths. I could simply complain about my son’s inability to speak or I could attempt to help him figure out this essential skill.
I chose the latter.
Know you are not alone. According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, approximately 7.5 MILLION people have trouble using their voice. And, most people have trouble communicating in written form too. Communication is HARD.
Here are the four steps I used to get my son from speechless to not shutting up.
Don’t hold back. Babies can read. Did you know that? Research has found when a mother frequently spoke to their infant, the child learned almost 300 MORE words by age 2 than their peers whose parents seldom spoke to them. More surprising is that by age 2, a child’s brain is as active as an adult. By age 3 it is twice as active – and it STAYS that way.
Read to your child. Often. Reading to your child allows them to experience shared talking. They see it visually as they hear it aurally. This means their brain is double engaged. This is the best way to stimulate language and cognitive skills.
Comic books! I hear a LOT a kid won’t read because they think it is boring. Coming from this author, editor, and avid reader – YOUR KID IS RIGHT. The problem is not with reading, it is the material. Find what excites them and read that! For us, it was Disney Comic Books (also limits screen time so win–win)!
Ask Questions. Too often we read a book to a child and then simply kiss them goodnight. We do them a disservice. Ask them about what they are reading. Is it interesting? Is the character sad? How would they feel in a similar situation? What do they think the place looks like? Asking allows them to interact with material not just lay there like a dead fish.
With these simple steps (and a slew of speech and language therapy), my kid went from non-communicative to never silent! You can watch him on his Youtube Channel where he creates, reads, dances, and just gets all-around silly. Just sit back, relax and watch as your child begins to open up.