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Developing Speech and Language in Children: Response Time to Babbling is Critical

As children bridge from babbling to first words, their primary form of support comes from adults using spoken models of words and sentences. In the 2009 book release of NurtureShock, authors PO Bronson & Ashley Merryman remind parents about the positive impact that spoken models have on a child’s language development. Similarly, therapists have been encouraging parents to boost a child’s exposure to vocabulary through the use of  “scripts” (talking out loud about current events), object labeling, and varying of sentence combinations. For parents that have been wondering what else can be done to support vocabulary development, this book shares how a parent’s RESPONSE TIME to a child’s babbling also matters.

What is Response Time

When a child vocalizes a sound, makes a communication act (such as eye gaze), or explores an item, an adult has a short moment of time to respond while the child is still engaged. Parents can respond with spoken words, touch, and/or an action. For example, when a child reaches for a toy, a parent can label the toy and bring it closer (“here comes tiger”). Or when a child looks at and babbles toward a food item, the parent can touch the child’s arm and talk about the food (“you’re eating cherries”).

Results of Response Time

When a parent responds within seconds to a child’s vocalization or exploration, a child learn’s that sounds from his/her mouth are meaningful. Secondly, the child learns to make associations with the object in focus and adult’s spoken word.

How Parents Can Use Response Time

Parents should respond rapidly and frequently to a child’s gaze, reach, vocalization, or exploration. Parents can model vocabulary at a single word or sentence length, and additionally provide a touch or object movement. Parents can vary enthusiasm in stretching words, highlighting pitch across a sentence, and varying the touch (tap, tickle, kiss) or movement (bounce toy, bring toy closer).
One suggestion for starting this technique at home, includes setting aside a 10-15 minute play time with your child in which you are focused on rapidly responding. The child can lead as you label what the child is naturally focused on. Pay close attention for the use of newly developed sounds, and praise new sounds with more enthusiastic responses. Since mistakes can occur if you label what the child is not looking at or miss new sounds to praise, it may be more beneficial  for you to use this technique during a focused play period, rather than spreading it across your day when you start out.
Up to 15 months of age, it can be beneficial for you to move/shake objects you are labeling in a sing-song pattern or in rhythm with the sounds/words you are modeling. The action can keep a child’s attention and provide a multi-sensory experience for object labeling. Lastly, parents should remember to vary sentence combinations (e.g., here comes tiger, tiger is coming, he’s coming for you) in repetitive play as this will also expose children to a variety of grammar forms.

You can explore more about Response Time in NurtureShock” New Thinking About Children, 2009.

Written by Speech-Language Pathologist, Rachel Collins

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Crystal Scheibe

Great place, glad we found them. Been going to Medina over 2 months now and he loves Lauryn and Kyler. Wish they had more ABA therapy places available... live in Wooster and long drive everyday.

Karrie Swan LaRock

My 11 year old son has dyslexia and has made noticeable gains in working At LLA THERAPY. Katie is strong in her approach toward him and also keeps him comfortable enough to perform well. We will continue visiting both the Fairlawn and Hudson offices and recommend them highly.

Ron Monroe

My 9 year old just completed about 9 months of weekly speech sessions (due to his stuttering) with Matt Hagge at LLA and we are thrilled with the experience and results. What I thought might be a negative (what kid really wants to go to speech class?) was made very positive by Matt, and my son never hesitated or complained when we talked about class. He really enjoyed it and really took what Matt taught him to heart. His speech has been greatly improved and we definitely recommend LLA. Thank you so much!

Heather Dougherty-Pantoja

My son’s Occupational Therapist, Jess, is an amazing OT! She gives practical tips on working with my son at home and school!

Terri Apgar

I cannot say enough good things about LLA Therapy. My daughter was a client of Teal Simmons’ for approximately 2 years and was just released from speech therapy! She was diagnosed with Apraxia in 2015 and worked with Teal twice a week. Through Teal’s application of PROMPT therapy, my daughter had age-appropriate speech after one year. All of the staff we interacted with at LLA were absolutely wonderful. They really care about what they do and making sure your child achieves their goals.

Kelli Geisler Davisson

LLA Therapy has been an excellent experience for my son as well as my family! My son always asks, "When can I go see Ms. Jeannine again, is it Monday??" He has also made huge gains in only 5 months! I would highly recommend LLA and have already shared my experience with friends looking for services!

Victoria Hansford-Price

We are so grateful for our Speech Therapist Ms.Teal. We have seen a great improvement with our sons confidence and communication abilities since we have started "Prompt" therapy. What we love the most about LLA and Ms. Teal is that Kohl feels comfortable and relaxed which has played a critical role in his progress. Thank you Ms. Teal for all you have done.

Laura Lee Hogsett

They have helped in numerous ways. Speech, OT and behavioral. I've had numerous compliments on my son's progress thanks in very large part to LLA. I would recommend LLA before I recommend our local children's hospitals, though they are good, they don't have the staff that LLA does.

Amy Furukawa

We had a great experience with Matt Hagge at LLA! Our Middle School age son was becoming very conscious of his voice, which is nasal due to a cleft palate. Matt helped him to better form his sounds and project his voice in a way that makes the unavoidable nasality less noticeable.Our son is more confident and outgoing & even took on a speaking role in the church play. Matt has the perfect personality to relate with our son, and we would recommend him to anyone needing speech therapy services!

Jessica Havalotti

LLA Therapy has been an excellent experience for our daughter. I would highly recommend LLA. Miss Grace was so amazing and I can't believe how quickly our daughter showed improvement. Thank you!
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