The earlier you interact with your baby helps them to build the foundation for communication skills.
Talk, sing and play games with your baby. They know familiar sounds and voices and will start to respond by babbling, smiling and giggling. We communicate in a variety of different ways through facial expressions, tones and gestures.
Early non-verbal communication signs include:
- eye contact
- turn taking
After you bring your baby home, you may want to look into getting them into an early intervention program. A team will evaluate your baby to determine what services will be needed and by whom. They will design a plan that will incorporate your goals for your child and provide you activities that you can do with your child at home. One of the therapists may be a Speech Language Pathologist.
Some of the interventions they work on may be hearing, stimulating visual skill development, feed/eating and sensory integration. These types of interventions will help lay the foundations needed for speech and language development.
Getting your child the right therapy from the very beginning will help them to reach their milestones quicker.
There is a lot of great information and resources out there for you to get ideas for different activities you can do at home to help your child build their communication skills.
One of those great resources is:
This book provides you some good activities that you can do at home with your child along with the activities that your therapist may want you to do.
National Down Syndrome Society – Speech & Language Skills
You may also want to teach your child sign language, this may help them to communicate their needs earlier if they are having difficult with oral motor and language skills. Some people may think that either learning/teaching sign language is hard and some people may also think that if they teach their child sign language they will never learn to talk. That is not the case.
It’s a form of communication (a second language). When you teach sign language you are not only signing but you are also saying the word. I taught my son sign language and it was very beneficial to both him and us because it helped him to ask for the things he wanted. He now is very verbal, but still signs and speaks the first couple of signs that we taught him “more” and “bottle.”
The sign language program that worked for us was the Signing Times dvd’s/flashcards:
Now that Jacob is almost 6 years old he is starting to learn how to write words.
In this video you can watch him learning how to write and read the word “hero.” (click picture to be taken to YouTube)