Caspar has been in and out of Speech Therapy over the past three years. When he was a toddler we recognised his language wasn't as developed as other children. We had him tested privately and the results were ambiguous. When he turned three our school asked for him to be tested again so we had him tested in the public system. We've been told the public system has much more experience with children. It was determined he had some issues with articulation and begun therapy.
It's difficult when experts determine your child has an issue when you don't really think there is one. All children develop differently. We could understand Caspar, it was only people we didn't know well that had trouble understanding him. His friends? I think they could understand him too. However it does require familiarisation with how he speaks.
He has been in and out of therapy because it is taxing. When he started full days at school he was too tired to concentrate on therapy at the end of the day. We gave him terms off to adjust. Now we are at the point where he can't take any more time off. It's something he needs to be working on. His Speech Pathologist said today that his articulation is not as severe as many of the children she sees however it is a significant issue. Apparently it's an issue that won't go away on it's own.
Caspar works with his (wonderful) Speech Pathologist on one sound at a time. The focus begins with the sound at the beginning of a word, the end of the word and then within the word. For work at home he is given pictures of objects (language cards) that he needs to say repetitively to practise the sounds. Repetitively. Repetitively doing something that is hard, boring and tiring. This week I asked his Speech Pathologist for ideas to make it fun.
Doing therapy at home is so important but I'm not a fan of drilling things into children. At home we don't use bribes or incentives (as others have suggested as being good for getting through therapy). But we keep it short and as light hearted as possible. The suggestions we received were really useful and made me think of the Montessori concept of incorporating movement with learning. Playing hide and seek with his language cards (saying the word after finding each card), playing bingo or memory (saying the word after matching or turning over the card), posting the language cards (say the word and then post the card into a box) or incorporating them into games such as dice games (every time you get a six you say the word). Using a mirror and for some sounds a straw is useful and fun too.
This isn't generic advice because I know there is great variation in therapy. Rather some recognition of a issue we are working with and how we are doing our best to get through something not so pleasant. We are also trialling Caspar having therapy at different times of the day, so he isn't so tired. This may mean some therapy during school hours but we are hoping it is worth it.