Speech Therapy for Down Syndrome during COVID 19

Speech Therapy for Down Syndrome during COVID 19

Speech Therapy for Down Syndrome during COVID 19, Present situation of the pandemic has been very stressful for everyone. This is especially more challenging for persons with special needs as there are no support services and habilitation services available. This in turn has increased the anxiety amongst parents and caregivers as they are waiting for habilitation services to resume in full pace.

We don’t know when things are going to get normal but one thing that we are sure is that we need to go ahead with this new normal. On the brighter side of this situation, we all have been confined to our house and have been spending more time with our near and dear ones. This has also given us more time to gel with them, more time to interact and more time to share.

Speech Therapy for Down Syndrome during COVID 19

COVID-19 time has been really difficult for individuals with Down’s syndrome as they have been confined to the four walls of the house. Individuals with Down’s syndrome benefit from wide range of intervention services like speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and special education. Also these services have to be very dedicated, tailor-made and consistent in their delivery to be able to help individuals with Down’s syndrome.

However, in the current scenario going to therapy centers it comes as challenge. This is more challenging for individuals with Down’s syndrome as some of them have additional issues, compromised immunity and so on. Therefore it become important to impart the knowledge of activities related to speech and language therapy at home to the parents. This requires the parents and caregivers to adapt speech therapy techniques at home so that it becomes more convenient to train them at home. Before going ahead with what to do, lets first focus on how to do and how to integrate these therapy activities in a home situation.

  1. Follow a schedule: Planning on a day to day basis is very crucial to good outcome. As parents/ caregivers you need to plan your day with the child. This can be divided into activities like calendar, coloring, sorting objects, and pre-academic.

Photo credit: superteacher200.blogspot.com/2014/10/social-story-for-following-schedule.html

  1. Reinforcement: Reinforcement is very essential for learning. You need to reinforce every small effort and progress your child making in the process of learning.

 

  1. Minimize screen time: This comes as a bigger challenge for all the parents during this situation of pandemic as mobile, TV and tablets are readily available at home. Here you should remember that using these gadgets as reinforcement also should be avoided as it presents itself as the biggest barrier in the process of learning. However, watching TV as a family leisure activity can still be encouraged as it helps to boost family bonding but the content and the time child spends with the screen should be closely monitored.

  1. Integrate learning in daily life: Your home is the biggest experimental laboratory one can have. For teaching your child at home, you need not take help of toys, therapy aids and books. You can use situations and things at home to make teaching and learning a great experience for the child.
  1. Assimilate all the senses: Another biggest advantage of a home based therapy is combining all the senses. Here when you are doing some activity with your child, make sure that there is a rich sensory experience. The child is not only hearing, seeing but also touching the materials being used, smelling it and so on.

Speech Therapy for Down Syndrome during COVID 19

Down Syndrome awareness

  1. It’s a group effort: Therapy sessions have a restriction on number of caregivers being allowed to join the session. But when you do it at home, make sure you involve all the family members. This will not only make the family realize the importance of therapy but also help them to believe that they can be integral part of this beautiful journey.

Tips to improve reading in kids

  1. Keep it short and sweet: Another most important part of therapy at home is to keep is simple and short so that it fits well within the child’s attention span.

Now let’s look into what can be done at home. Our home is the biggest therapy space one can ever have but it also presents itself as the biggest challenge because of number of distracters which are present. These distracters present themselves in a much larger way when the child is not interested in the therapy activity. Therefore it is very crucial to integrate the therapy activity in the activities of daily living.

Below are few tips on integrating speech and language goals to activities of daily living.

  1. Break the chain: Every activity is a chain of event. In this chain of event, if you break it at any point in the middle, it would help the child to come up with spontaneous utterance. For instance, you are doing a bathing activity with the child in the bathroom. Hide the mug and instruct the child to start pouring water on his/her body. Now silently wait for child’s reaction. If you see a searching response, ask questions like “what are you looking for?” At this point, if you get any reinforcement form the child, reinforce it. If the child is not speaking, switch to yes/no questions like “are you searching for soap”, “are you looking for mug?” etc. Reinforce every attempt to communicate made by your child. Some more instances where you can break the chain are as follows:
  • Hiding the color pencils during coloring activity
  • Keeping away the brush/paste during brushing activity
  • Serving breakfast in plate without spoon and waiting for the child’s response.
  • Giving a different dress after bath which does not belong to the child.
  • Putting the t-shirt or pant inside out on purpose and wait for the child to speak to you about the same.
  1. Integrate therapy in daily living activity: Being at home gives an immense opportunity to generalize your therapy activities and goals. Best way to do it is making the child do it and talk about it. One such activity which children love doing is cooking. Involve your child in simple cooking. Talk to them about what to cook, what is needed in cooking, how to do it. Once you finish talking, give simple and short instructions and ask the child to do it. You can go on increasing the complexity of your commands based on the response of your child.

Some of the simple activities which you do while engaging your child in the kitchen activities are as follows:

  • Making lemon juice. This is an age old therapy activity with very high success rate. Children not only love making the juice but also enjoy serving it to the family members. Here you can ask them to make a list of things required, how to make the juice and also teach them verbs like stir, pour squeeze, filter which is otherwise difficult to teach.
  • Segregating vegetables in different containers/boxes: It’s very exciting task to pour all the contents of your vegetable shopping bag in one place. You can ask your child to sort out the context in different containers. This will not only give them an experience of touching different kinds of vegetables, feel their texture but also will help them to improve their sustained attention and concentration abilities.
  • Arranging the dinner table: One activity which the children can do is arranging the dinner table. You can talk to them about different sizes of plate, spoon and glasses. In addition, you can also give inputs about the shapes of the utensils. This will make the activity more interesting for them.
  • Other kitchen activity can be making different shapes out of chapatti dough, making sandwich and cutting it into different shapes, filling water bottles up to different levels (full, half, quarter, etc).
  1. Making an experience book: One thing what can be done is have pictures clicked when the child is engaged in doing these activities. You can have around 4 to 5 pictures of each activity. Later you can stick these pictures in a book in a sequence and while doing this talk about each picture. This not only will have a pronounced effect on the child’s memory and he/she will be able to relate to it better but also help him with his/her narration skills.

Ideas of books for toddlers.

  1. Share a book everyday: Sharing a book should be mandatory part of your everyday training. Pick up books with bright colors, have more of pictures and attracts the child’s attention. You can either read, narrate what is happening or encourage the child what is happening in the book. This habit will reduce the screen dependency and gives them great language development.

These are just few things on what can be done at home and how it can be done. Thumb rule is to utilize all the situations and context which gives maximum opportunities for speech and language development. Be consistent in your efforts.

Involve all the family members so that the burden on you reduces. Have time for play and natural conversation so that learning becomes fun for the child.

In addition to this, you can also avail Online Speech and Language Services which will increase the pace of learning for your child.

Speech Therapy for Down Syndrome during COVID 19

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