How to Communicate With a Speech Delayed Child


A child who does not develop communications skills at a normal pace is considered to have a speech delay. A speech-delayed child may be difficult to communicate with as he will not be able to express himself verbally. However, there are other methods to communicate with the child that rely on verbal cues instead of spoken words. This method of communication is called augmentative and alternative communication.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Camera (optional)

Using Unaided Communication Systems

  • Watch the child for visual cues. For example, the child may make a particular face when he is upset or angry. Look for this visual cue in the future.

  • Teach the child common gestures. For example, shaking the head yes and no, pointing at objects he wants or any gesture you would like to be used in the home.

  • Use body language with your own speech. When you say the word up, point up. When you are happy, be sure to over-exaggerate it with a happy look on your face. The child will pick up on these cues and may begin to imitate what he sees.

  • Utilize sign language in the home. Sign language can be used for words, feelings or needs that cannot be expressed verbally. Encourage the child to use words along with sign language when possible.

Using Aided Communication Systems

  • Have the child carry a notebook and pencil when possible.

  • If the child has difficulty verbally expressing something, have him write it down on the paper.

  • Create a photo book. If the child cannot write or express themselves in words, a photo book can be utilized. Instead of writing the word, the child can show you a picture of the object or feeling they are trying to convey.

  • Inventory the objects in your home and pick out some of the child's favorites. You can do this by bringing a variety of objects to the child and having them point to their favorites.

  • Take photos of the objects or draw them on index cards.

  • Place the photos in a book or other format that is easiest for the child to utilize. The child can now show the photo card when he wants to discuss the object pictured.

Tips & Warnings

  • Remember to be patient. The child may take some time to adjust to these new methods of communication.
  • Speak with your child's doctor to discuss these methods and what will work best for the child.
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images
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