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Using All Our Senses for Speech Sounds

Quick: Can you name the 5 senses? Which one do you associate most with speech? Probably hearing. And that’s for good reason: they are speech sounds, after all.

However, if you have a child who is having difficulty with a speech sound and our regular tricks of emphasizing the word in our own speech isn’t cutting it, then we need to start thinking outside the box a bit. And that can come in the form of maximizing sensory input.

So which senses can we use?

  1. Hearing, obviously. But more than just emphasizing the sound in our own speech, we can use a technique called auditory bombardment where we give lots of models in a relatively short time. The best way to do this is to find a book loaded with that sound. For specific book recommendations, check out my instagram page, and click on the picture with quick tips for the sound you’re looking for!

  2. Vision. Our little ones can be so visual. There’s a reason P, B, and M are 3 of the earliest-developing sounds: they’re the most visual! To maximize visual input, we just need to get on our little one’s level and be in front of them. So the next time you’re reading, try sitting in front of them (or over them, for babies). Gestures are also a great way to maximize visual input. See my “sounds” highlight on instagram for some ideas of gestures for specific sounds.

  3. Touch. Believe it or not, the airflow in a lot of sounds can be a great tactile reinforcer. Many times, our children don’t understand how air is flowing until they can feel it. Simple hold your little one’s hand in front of your mouth while you make a sound. This works great for H, F, V, S, Z, SH, and TH. You can also highlight the air pressure in stop sounds like P, B, T, D, and CH.

On the flip side, remember that any sensory activity should be made into a language learning opportunity! Whether you’re playing with playdoh, walking through grass, or cooking food, there are endless opportunities to give your child the words to describe what he’s experiencing.

What are some of your favorite sensory activities? Let me know in the comments!




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