Q&A with Caley Nunnally: Your Top Speech Questions Answered
As a parent, there are few things more exciting than watching your child use their imagination and explore new ideas! However, sometimes it can be difficult for little ones to communicate their big thoughts clearly. Whether it is trouble pronouncing certain words or a delay in speech, there are many obstacles children may face while finding their voice.
We recently invited Caley Nunnally - a Pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist - to chat with members of our Yoto Community and answer their speech and language development questions.
Caley is a mom, speech-language pathologist, and founder of Learn with Chatterboxes. She started her Instagram @learnwithchatterboxes when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and has been able to provide resources for families all over the world. She also provides early intervention services for children ages 0-3 in their homes and works at an outpatient children's hospital. She is passionate about using her platform to educate and empower parents.
Caley answered questions from parents around the world, offering helpful advice on speech development and improving communication skills! Here are some of our favourites:
What cards do you suggest for a 2-year old-with speech delay? Audiobooks don't seem to hold his attention enough, he just presses the buttons and skips half the story.
I really like the Phonics cards - the "Guess that Sound" card is a fun way to work on listening and then they can label the item when it pops up to work on expressive vocabulary. I honestly like using putting the cards & the player as a way to work on functional “big bang for your buck” words too like MORE for getting them to ask for more cards, HELP when they can’t get it in the player, IN and OUT as they put the cards IN and OUT. These types of words can also be used during mealtimes, during playtime with other toys, bath time etc.
My 21-month-old only has 2 front teeth on the bottom and my dentist doesn’t think he’ll get the other front teeth, will that impact his speech development? He has 4 front teeth on top and 4 molars but that’s it for teeth.
Hi Carolyn! It should not impact his speech-language development. The teeth really only simply serve as a guide for the tongue for most sounds. As your child gets older, it may be harder for him to keep his tongue inside his mouth for the “S” sound for example but children lose teeth and get adult teeth without speech being impacted.
Hello! Is it normal for a 5 year old to kind of get stuck at the beginning of a sentence - so starts talking and then pauses or repeats the beginning of his sentence over and over before managing to finish it?
It can be, but it depends on how frequently it is occurring and other factors such as is he getting frustrated, any co-occurring blinking/blocking while he is trying to talk. Stutteringhelp.org is a helpful resource that talks more about risk factors for stuttering.
How can you encourage speech/communication growth in young kids that seem to be falling behind compared to their peers?
How old is your little one? It depends exactly what your child needs to work on and what their current speech and language skills are. Communication skills can be anything from speech/articulation to understanding, to using appropriate words functionally/sentences, grammar, social language etc! Have you considered a speech-language evaluation? Therapy services are free in the US through your local early intervention program or, if your child is over the age of 3, through your local school system.
Any ideas how to support a 4 year old that has echolalia? We're being referred to Speech and Language but I want to know what I can do in the meantime.
Look for the communication purpose behind the echolalia. Most children script and have a meaning behind it! For example, I’m working with a little girl who scripts from a book about a girl being mad and she uses the phrases from the book when she is mad. I ask “oh you’re feeling mad?” And she will say “yes,” then mitigate it to “I’m mad!” One resource I would recommend is @meaningfulspeech on Instagram! This is her specialty and she has a parent course. I’m in her course for professionals right now and it is so helpful! But her free content on her page is a great place to start.
Are the other language cards (French, Spanish etc) any good for a child who isn’t being exposed to those languages anywhere else? My son is 4.5, we only speak English so he hasn’t been exposed to tear languages (except maybe from children at school)
If he is motivated by them - yes! They are awesome for introducing vocabulary. But if the goal is functional/conversational language, keep in mind they will need to learn in daily routines, with conversational partners too. I just mean that simply memorising vocabulary won’t help to make a child fluent in another language if that makes sense!
We hope these tips were helpful! For more parenting resources, you can follow Caley (@learnwithchatterboxes) on Instagram or her website. If you aren't already, be sure to join our Facebook Group where you can connect with over 14,000 parents and Yoto fans from all over the world!