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Not Your Average Toy!

Not Your Average Toy offers a transformative approach to pediatric therapy, catering to the different needs of our pediatric patients in occupational, speech, and physical therapy within our clinic. These specialized toys aren’t just playthings; they motivate children to develop essential skills like fine motor control, visual perceptual abilities, grasping techniques, following multistep directions, stimulating ‘what’ questions, fostering color and shape recognition, encouraging problem-solving, and refining hand-eye coordination. What makes these toys exceptional is their unique ability to grasp the children’s attention while integrating therapeutic goals into engaging activities tailored to each child’s journey toward progress and achievement. Check out some of our favorite “Not average toys!” 

Examples of Not Your Average Toy:

Water Beads: 

What sets water beads apart? Water beads stand out for their fun way of developmental skills. They offer an enjoyable sensory and messy play while enhancing color recognition and sorting abilities. These beads serve as a tool for reaching milestones. Children can play by using a spoon for scooping into a cup, counting exercises, and even hiding items like toy fish or other objects within the beads to engage both hands in a tactile search. These toys facilitate various developmental goals, from color recognition and sorting to refining fine motor skills, in-hand manipulation, bilateral coordination, and sensory play. They also stimulate counting skills and engage in figure-ground activities.


Building Blocks: 

Building blocks are known for making a tower and watching it fall, but did you know that they offer various developmental opportunities? These square toys build structures with two hands, allowing a child to work towards bilateral coordination, midline crossing, and fine motor skills. Playing with blocks can also help with color recognition, shape learning, spatial orientation, and teaching concepts through block positions. 

Building blocks can also help with emotional regulation. If a task is challenging or the tower does not stay quite the way intended, this is an excellent opportunity to discuss the feelings raised and allow your child to have a voice.   



Puzzles are a fun, versatile learning tool for children. They can help children learn about shapes and colors, expand their vocabulary, and identify different types of animals. Puzzles also help children learn to act like put in and take out. You can add a multi-step direction to make a puzzle more challenging, like putting the cow and horse puzzle pieces together in their correct spot. For more engaging questions, ask your child, “What does a cow say?” or “Where is the cow?” Puzzle helps achieve milestones that involve enhancing visual perceptual skills, grasping technique, mastering multi-step directions, and developing problem-solving abilities. 


How can Carolina Therapy Connection Help? 

At CTC, we are committed to supporting our families and the child’s developmental journey and helping them achieve these goals at home. Please explore our website ( or our Amazon Storefront ( These are not your average toys; they are carefully innovative toys that can help foster growth and development. To further understand these toys’ impact, ask your therapist if you can sit in during a session. By watching the interaction between the child playing and the therapist, parents can gain insights into how effective these tools can be and bring these Not Your Average Toys into their home.


By: Lauren Hodges, COTA/L, and Allison Hicks

What is AAC?

AAC stands for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. It encompasses all of the ways in which an individual may communicate outside of speaking verbally. Augmentative communication means to add to someone’s existing speech skills, and alternative means to be used in place of verbal speech. There are many different kinds of AAC including, but not limited to: gestures, facial expressions, writing, pictures symbols (e.g., picture exchange communication system/ PECS), drawing, sign language, high-tech speech generating devices, communication boards, etc. Some people may use one of these modalities, and some may use multiple modalities depending on the way in which they can most quickly and clearly communicate the topic.

Who Needs AAC?

Many different people use AAC throughout their lifetime. It can be used across the lifespan by any age, at any time, and for a variety of different reasons. Some people use AAC for their entire life, and some use it for only a short period of time. AAC can help any person who has difficulty fully or partially meeting their daily communication needs such as expressing wants and needs, socializing, asking questions, and a variety of other functions.



How can AAC help your child?

AAC may be able to help your child if they have difficulty being understood by others, have a limited vocabulary, demonstrate limited spontaneous speech, are non-speaking, and a variety of other different reasons. There are no prerequisite skills to your child beginning to use AAC. One common misconception is that AAC will hinder language development or cause your child to become dependent on it for communication. While some children may have minimal to no verbal speech throughout their lifetime, there is research to show that AAC can actually help children to develop language. Using AAC can also help to reduce frustration surrounding communication attempts, and help your child to communicate their needs more clearly, quickly, and effectively.



Parent’s Role in AAC

When introducing AAC to your child, it is important for family members/ caregivers to make the commitment to help the child succeed with the chosen AAC device. Your input is crucial in helping to choose and develop an appropriate AAC system, and using the device at home and in the community is a vital step to help both you and the child continue to learn the system. According to Jane Korsten, SLP, the average 18-month-old has been exposed to 4,380 hours of oral language at a rate of 8 hours/ day from birth. A child who has a communication system (AAC) and receives speech/language therapy 2 times/week for 20-30 minutes will reach the same amount of language exposure (in their AAC language) in 84 years. It is our role as professionals and caregivers to help minimize the communication gap between oral language users and AAC users. 

Modeling:  Modeling is an awesome way to both learn your child’s AAC system, and teach them an example of how they can use it. The best way to model is to speak and use the system at the same time, although you do not always have to select an icon for every word you say. For example, you may verbally say “time to go to school” while modeling “go” and “school” on the AAC system. A general rule of thumb is to model the number of icons your child is currently using, plus one. If your child uses 1 icon at a time, you may choose to model 1-2 icons at this time. It is important to model without expectation, meaning that you use the AAC system without expecting or requiring the child to respond, withholding items or activities, or “testing” their skills. The goal is to provide an example to the AAC learner, which they will then learn by watching and listening to what you do/say.


How can CTC help you and your child?

Whether your child is already receiving speech/language therapy services at our clinic or not, CTC is ready to help support both parents and children through their own individual journey with Augmentative and Alternative Communication. If you believe that your child may benefit from the use of AAC, talk to one of our many incredible speech-language pathologists to begin the process of figuring out what type of system (no tech, low-tech, mid-tech, high-tech) will work best. This process can take time, but with your support and the support of your SLP, it is possible to find the right system for your child! 

Your Baby’s Communication: Prelinguistic Vocalization

What can I expect before my baby begins talking?

Your baby’s first form of communication will be nonverbal and happens soon after birth. Your may baby grimace, cry, or squirm to express a range of emotions and physical needs, from fear and hunger to frustration and sensory overload. Oftentimes, parents learn to listen and interpret their baby’s different cries, coos and babbles. Many parents wonder when their baby will begin using words, imitate them, laugh and form a variety of other communication methods to express how they are feeling. A very important part of language development is the prelinguistic stage, which is the stage that is characterized by vocalizations before language begins. So for starters, what is language? How does it develop during a baby’s first year of life?

Language is when we use and organize sounds and words to convey meaning. Language development is considered a continuum, and there is not an abrupt shift from babbling to talking. There is an overlap between all stages of language development. Every child is different in the way they learn and grow; however there are many exciting milestones to watch for as your baby explores their environment in the first few months of life. Continue reading to learn more about the prelinguistic stage, how you can interact with your child during this stage, and how Carolina Therapy Connection can help your child reach their full potential!

What can I expect from my baby during the prelinguistic vocalizations stage?

Carolina Therapy Connection Prelinguistic Behaviors


1: Reflexive and Vegetative

  • Occurs birth – 2 months
  • Reflexive sounds (crying, coughs, burps)
  • Cries that mean different things (hunger, pain, etc.)

2: Cooing and Laughter

  • Occurs 2 – 4 months
  • Vowel like sounds
  • Squeals

3: Vocal Play

  • Occurs 4 – 6 months
  • Longer vowel like sounds
  • Some consonant sounds
  • Changes in pitch and loudness

4: Canonical Babbling

This stage is when babies may start to imitate what they hear! This is a fun time to sit and play with your babies and babble to them and see if they imitate!

  • Occurs around 6 months – until first words
  • Reduplicated or strings of identical syllables: “mamamama” “babababa”
  • Variegated or strings of varying consonants and vowels: “madagama”

5: Jargon

During this stage, it will seem like your baby is trying to tell you a story. They may look at you and make facial expressions and use hand movements. This is a fun time to encourage them and engage with them in conversation. Check out this awesome resource from Reading Rockets for Tips and Activities to Encourage Speech & Language Development!

  • Occurs around 10 months or older
  • This stage overlaps with first words
  • Strings of babbling
  • Paired with eye contact, gestures, and adult like intonation

Why does the prelinguistic stage matter?

Research indicates that babbling correlates to later language development. Greater babbling complexity and a variety of sounds used positively indicate greater language growth. Delayed babbling may be an indicator for speech/language delays. If you notice that your child is not babbling by 10 months of age, it may be beneficial to consult with a Speech Language Pathologist. While this is not the only factor, it can be helpful when looking at your child’s overall development.

How can Carolina Therapy Connection help?

There is so much new information and research these days that can be overwhelming for a parent. At Carolina Therapy Connection, our team of pediatric speech therapists are licensed professionals who are trained to help children with any communication difficulties. We know that developing strong communication skills is one of the most important elements to socializing and creating relationships.

Our knowledgable and experienced team of SLP’s provide screenings, assessments, consultations, and treatment to children birth through 21 years old. If you have any questions about your child’s development or would like to set up a FREE screening with one of our speech language pathologists to determine the need for an evaluation, call our clinic at 252-341-9944 to speak with one of our staff members. 

Meet the Author

Kayla Hudson Prelinguistic Communication Carolina Therapy Connection Speech Therapist

Carolina Therapy Connection Prelinguistic Communication Blog Greenville, New Bern, Goldsboro North Carolina Speech Therapy

Should My Child Be Using a Visual Schedule?

What is a visual schedule?

As adults, many of us live by our planners. We gain satisfaction from marking off our to-do lists and being organized with our daily activities. Children are better able to learn, grow and adapt to changes using this same strategy! Although there are many types of visual schedules, they all typically contain images, symbols, photos and/or words to better communicate a task or activity. Depending on your child’s age and specific needs, their visual schedule may contain activities by the minute, hour, day or week. For example, if your child requires more structure, they may use a visual schedule that uses “first, next, then” language to communicate activities for the next few minutes. If your child requires less structure with their daily activities, their visual schedule may list tasks by hour for an entire day. Check out these examples below!


Carolina Therapy Connection Visual Schedule Example Autism

Carolina Therapy Connection Visual Schedule Example

What are the benefits of a visual schedule?

Visual schedules are a powerful tool that can help kids perform complex tasks, organize their day, or follow a routine. Here are a list of benefits that result from using visual schedules:

  • Visual schedules provide structure and predictability. Has your child ever become upset because they didn’t want to complete a task or weren’t expecting an upcoming activity? Visual schedules provide a consistent reminder of what activity is next and can show a reward that follows a non-preferred activity. For example, if your child doesn’t like bath time, they can use their visual schedule to understand they will get to watch their favorite TV show following their bath.
  • Visual schedules encourage independence. Once your child becomes comfortable with using their schedule, they can help create it and plan for each day. It will also allow them to select preferred activities or rewards between non-preferred activities. When a child helps create their own schedule, the sense of independence promotes completing activities without being asked to do so.
  • Visual schedules reduce negative behaviors and meltdowns. When kids know in advance what’s happening, it can help them feel more in control and at ease. If there is a change in their routine, they can plan and prepare themselves for that change.
  • Visual schedules work with your child’s visual strengths. Although visual schedules can use words, pictures and symbols often times create ease for reading a visual schedule. You can also use pictures that are specific to your child’s household or routine. For example, you can use a picture of their favorite book using your phone camera instead of a generic or cartoon book.
  • Visual schedules teach a variety of skills during childhood development. Visual supports open the doors of communication, increasing your child’s ability to interact with his or her surroundings. Creating and utilizing visual schedules promote visual motor skills, fine motor skills, organization, positive self-esteem, decision making, and a wide variety of executive functioning skills.
  • Visual schedules can be used for more than just sequencing activities. You can use visual prompts similar to visual schedules to break down one task into steps. For example, if your child has difficulty with sequencing the steps of toileting, they can use a chart similar to the one below provided by A Day In Our Shoes.

Carolina Therapy Connection Visual Schedules Autism Greenville NC

Tips For Implementing a Visual Schedule With Your Child

  • Before using the visual schedule, ensure that your child understands the purpose of it and how to use it.
  • The schedule needs to be manageable. Start with a small schedule that only contains a few tasks and uses language such as “first, then” or “first, next, then.”
  • Mix preferred activities with non-preferred ones. This helps to motivate children to persevere through non-preferred activities.
  • Personalize the schedule with their favorite characters or colors. Use pictures of your child’s specific toys or items in the household. If your child is able, let them help create it!
  • Cue your child to use the schedule or ask them to check it when they begin an activity. Repetition is key!
  • If your child gets satisfaction from marking off completed activities, place a check box beside each task.
  • Use these instructions for tips on creating your own visual schedule at home.
  • This awesome resource from A Day In Our Shoes has plenty of FREE visual schedules you can print from the comfort of your home.

How can Carolina Therapy Connection help?

At Carolina Therapy Connection, we offer pediatric occupational therapy to addresses concerns with things such as self-care skills, including feeding, bathing, and dressing; fine motor skills, including writing, tying shoes, and picking up small objects; neuromotor development; and sensory integration. Our occupational therapists can work with your child and family to ensure they are using the right type of visual schedule for their routine and help them create the perfect one just for them! Our experienced therapists can help your child use a visual schedule in the clinic, as well as carryover of using them in the home or school. As our team of specialists work to help your child reach their goals, you will begin to see remarkable changes in their skills and abilities. More importantly, you will see the happiness, confidence and sense of independence this brings to your child, and the peace of mind this brings to your family.

If you have any questions regarding visual schedules or your child’s development, call Carolina Therapy Connection at 252-341-9944 to speak with one of our occupational therapists! We currently offer occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy in Greenville, Goldsboro and New Bern, NC. 


Carolina Therapy Connection Autism Visual Schedule Greenville NC

Let’s Get Real About Screen Time

Screen Time and Childhood Development

Screens and technology use are becoming more and more common for children. According to the CDC, children ages 8-10 spend an average of 6 hours per day in front of a screen. This increased time spent starring into a screen can have significant effects on a child’s health and development. Young children learn about the world by exploring their environment and watching and modeling others’ behaviors. They learn to foster their imagination and creativity by interacting with toys and others. Increased screen use can have significant effects on this aspect of their development. A new study from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center published in JAMA Pediatrics showed concerning evidence that brain structure may be altered in kids with more screen use. Researchers looked at brain MRIs in 47 preschoolers and found that screen time over the American Academy of Pediatric’s recommendations was associated with differences in brain structure in areas related to language and literacy development. Below is a chart with suggested screen time use by age by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Screen Time

Screen Time and Behavior

While screens can be beneficial teaching tools, great for reward and even better for making those long car rides more bearable, their growing presence means parenting around them has become increasingly challenging. The exciting nature of screen time can trigger the release of dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter that makes us associate screens with pleasure and therefore something we want to spend more time with. These dopamine releases make it physically and mentally challenging for kids to put down technology. As a parent, think back to your childhood and how often you were watching a screen. It may have been for about an hour after dinner right? Let’s also think about what you were watching. It was most likely an hour long show that you had to wait until the following week to find out what happened next! Kids today are watching short-lived Youtube videos, 1-3 minute Tik-Toks, scrolling through social media, or binge watching a show with 10 episodes readily available. Research shows that these short clips of fast-paced programming have an immediate, measurable, negative impact on sustained attention and self-regulation. When screens displace activities like outdoor time, play, independent work and social interactions it can result in a kid missing out on valuable caregiver interactions that model and teach emotional regulation. Without those skills, a child might be quicker to anger, become frustrated or shut down.

Negative effects of increased technology use:

  • Decreased attention span and/or social interaction skills due to lack of peer interaction and engagement
  • Deficits in language and communication skills due to lack of reciprocal dialogue and social interaction
  • Difficulty sleeping: The blue light that screens omit, inhibits melatonin; our body’s sleep hormone
  • Risk factor for obesity: Engaging in a sedentary activity for extended periods of time increases this risk

Ways to Decrease Screen Time

Tips/ strategies to set boundaries and decrease screen time:

  • Keep certain times screen-free (i.e. during mealtimes, bed-time, and family time)
  • Set restrictions on the content/ apps that can be accessed 
  • Co-watch with your child so that the content is educational and appropriate. The parent can also help the child understand what they are watching 
  • Download games, apps, and YouTube content that are only educational
  • Parents can model healthy screen usage by decreasing the amount of time spent on their screens in front of their child
  • Set a family curfew for screen-usage (i.e. after 6:00pm, no more screens) 

Ways to take movement breaks:

Nowadays increased screen time is more common because of virtual learning and adults working from home. Here are some ways to take a break from the screen and get your body up and moving.   

  • 5 senses walk pointing out 5 things that you can see, 4 things that you can hear, 3 things that you can touch, 2 things that you can smell, and 1 thing that you can taste
  • Wheelbarrow walks across the room
  • Animal walks: Bear walks or crab walks 
  • Jumping jacks 
  • Crashing or jumping onto couch, mattress, or cushions 

Screen-free activities for families:

  • Make a fort out of pillows, blankets, chairs, furniture, etc. 
  • Get outside! There are so many fun activities that can take place outside; go for a walk, ride bikes, sidewalk chalk, water play with a hose or sprinkler, hide and seek
  • Karaoke or dance party 
  • Create a scavenger hunt around the house 
  • Have a game night

Screen-Free Toys under $22 that promote imaginative play and exploration:


Screen Time Carolina Therapy Connection

Better Speech and Hearing Month

What is Better Speech and Hearing Month?

Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM) was founded in 1927, by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). The aim of Better Speech and Hearing Month is to raise awareness around both speech and hearing problems while encouraging people to take a look at their own speech and hearing and to make a change if there is a problem. Developing strong communication skills is one of the most important elements to socializing and creating relationships. Communicating can be difficult for children with speech and/or language disorders, causing frustration and isolation. A Speech-Language Pathologist helps children overcome communication obstacles, and this month we are giving a huge shout out to our amazing Speech-Language Pathologists at Carolina Therapy Connection!

How can I be involved in Better Speech and Hearing Month?

According to the Center for Hearing and Communication (CHC), hearing loss affects 48 million Americans. Nearly 1 in 12 (7.7 percent) U.S. children ages 3-17 has had a disorder related to voice, speech, language, or swallowing. Considering these statistics, millions more family members and friends are also impacted. Better Hearing and Speech Month offers an opportunity for everyone to come together and bring awareness to hearing and speech related issues, educate themselves, and enthusiastically promote hearing and speech health. Anyone can celebrate Better Hearing and Speech Month, so we encourage you to get involved in your own community! In order to do your part this month, you simply can shine a spotlight on hearing health or speech issues. You could do this by sharing educational materials, encouraging your loved ones to be aware of their speech and hearing needs, telling your personal journey on social media, or simply just reading this blog to become more aware!

What are the areas of Speech-Language Pathology?

In light of Better Speech and Hearing Month, we want to provide resources for a better understanding of speech-language pathology and the roles of SLPs! The graphic below was created by Allison Fors, a speech-language resource author that creates speech therapy tools and educational resources for the public and all SLPs. View her blog here to learn more about each area of speech language pathology.

Areas of SLP

Recognize the Early Signs of Communication Disorders

As a parent, the early stages of communication disorders are easier to spot when you know the signs. Early detection and treatment of speech, language, and hearing issues is absolutely critical to improving the quality of life.

Here is a list of examples that are commonly known signs of communication disorders in children birth to 4 years old:

  • Does not smile or interact with others using verbal and nonverbal communication
  • Makes only a few sounds or gestures, resulting in using mostly nonverbal communication only
  • Words are not easily understood or language is unclear (12-18 months)
  • Has trouble with reading and writing skills (2.5 – 3 years)
  • Has trouble interacting with other children
  • Stretches out or repeats the first sounds of words: “f-f-f-f-farm”
  • Uses a nasal sounding voice
  • Uses a horse or breathy voice (frequent pauses or breathing between words)

Speech-Language Pathology at Carolina Therapy Connection

Our SLP’s at Carolina Therapy Connection design each therapy session with your child’s specific needs in mind. Our approach not only helps your child with their speech, but it also helps with communication, comprehension, social skills, expanding vocabulary, articulation, and many other areas. If your child is in need of therapy, it is best to begin as soon as possible. Children enrolled in therapy early (before they’re 5 years old) tend to have better outcomes than those who begin therapy later. Older kids may progress at a slower rate, because they often have learned patterns that need to be changed. Your child may need speech therapy if they have difficulty with speech/articulation (pronouncing sounds or words) or using words to communicate. Because the muscles and structures used for speech (such as lips, tongue, teeth, palate and throat) are also used in eating, a speech and language pathologist may also help with feeding and swallowing difficulties, also known as dysphagia. Our team of pediatric speech therapists provide screening, assessment, consultation, and treatment in the following areas:

If your child is experiencing any difficulty with communication, call our clinic for a FREE screening. A screening is a 10-15 minute conversation between an SLP and the family regarding the need for a clinical evaluation. Our focus is the wellness of the child. All of our therapists work together to insure they are receiving all the help they need to reach their highest potential!



better speech and hearing month Carolina therapy connection

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

What is AAC?

AAC stands for augmentative and alternative communication. So, what exactly does this mean? In short, it is any type of communication that replaces or aides natural/verbal speech. Most often people think of AAC as a big fancy communication device with voice output, but it is so much more than that! We all use forms of augmentative and alternative communication everyday including gestures, body language, or facial expressions. On top of that, it can also include (but is not limited to) sign language, pictures, writing (even with simple pen and paper), pointing to letters or pictures on a picture board, or communication devices.

How do we use AAC at Carolina Therapy Connection?

Here at Carolina Therapy Connection, our kiddos and their SLPs (speech-language pathologists) use a wide variety of AAC daily. This includes sign language, picture symbols and picture symbol books, and communication devices. After we evaluate your child’s speech-language skills, including comprehension of language, we can help find a system that will fit your child’s communication needs. We are very excited for some of our kiddos (and their families!) who have gone through the therapy and funding process to get their own communication devices! Here’s a look at some of our happy kiddos below!

AAC Device

Common Misunderstandings

As a speech-language pathologist, most often the first question I hear from parents is “Will using augmentative and alternative communication impact my child’s ability to produce verbal speech?” This is a very common misconception with AAC. Actually, research shows that AAC can have positive effects on speech-language development when the therapist in using it in a multimodal approach (using both alternative communication systems and working on verbal speech at the same time).

Another misconception is that a child may be too young for AAC. Again, research debunks this misconception. Instead, the research shows that early implementation of AAC can aid in the development of natural speech and language skills.

As a parent or guardian, if you are interested in seeing this research on one or both of these topics, one of our SLPs will be happy to get that information to you!

At Carolina Therapy Connection, learn more about AAC and how it can help your child from our awesome speech therapists! Please call us at (252) 341-9944 to set up an evaluation. 

—Written by: Laurel Wilsen, MS, CCC-SLP, CAS

AAC Device

Developing Speech Language Skills at Home

Developing Speech and Language Skills at Home


Home with your child more?… Now is a perfect time to work on developing speech and language skills!  Incorporating certain activities into your child’s daily routine is simple, easy and very effective!  Some parents feel as if developing speech and language skills must be a formal process of providing worksheets or setting aside a specific time each day to directly address certain skills. However, there are easy ways that are more successful in developing language and understanding when you engage your child during already established routines (such as mealtime, bedtime, bath time, play, etc.).  No matter the age of your child, these activities can be adapted for all skill levels.  Just remember to have FUN!

1.  Describe what you see


  • Verbalize and talk more often and with greater depth, describing what’s going on around you, and wondering out loud.
  • Instead of asking your child a bunch of questions try making comments and describe what you see.


  • Say: “We’re dumping sand into this big, green bucket.”
  • Instead of saying: “Are you pouring sand?”


  • Say: “Wow! That’s a big, blue circle!”
  • Instead of saying: “What color is that circle?”


2.  Describe the activity

  • “Your car is so fast! My car is slow. My car can beep the horn and go under the bridge. Let’s have a race with our cars.”


  • Your child will learn many words and concepts/ideas when you describe your shared experiences.


  • For younger kids, pointing is an important part of communicating. You can model pointing anywhere. It’s helpful to pair the pointing with a verbal label.
  • “Look! A big dog!”
  • “Police car! It’s so loud! Wee-ooh-wee-ooh!”


2.  Give choices


  • Giving choices empowers children but also allows you to maintain control of the tasks.


  • “You can wear your boots or your sneakers. Which pair of shoes would you like to wear?”


  • “Would you like some strawberries or blueberries?”


  • “We can go outside and play on your bike or play with chalk?”


3.  Talk about, describe and compare objects


  • Watermelons are so much bigger than oranges! Watermelons are heavy and round. We have to peel this orange before we can eat it.


  • Give the child a banana unpeeled. Wait and look at your child expectantly. “Oh, you want me to peel it? You say, ‘peel banana.’ I’m peeling the banana!”


4.  Self-Talk


  • Talk your inner monologue out loud.


  • Let your child hear your process. This will help them to develop logic, reasoning, problem solving and more advanced language skills.


  • “I wonder how we will get all of these bags of groceries from the car into our house. They are too heavy to carry all at once. Let’s get a wagon.”


5.  Make connections from the books you read together to compare what is going on in your own life


  • Talk about similarities and differences when you can.


6.  Parallel-Talk


  • Become a play-by-play announcer


  • Talk about what your child is doing in the moment:
  • “You’re building a tall tall tower!”
  • “You’re mixing blue and red paint. Hey, that looks like purple! Red and blue mixed together make purple!”


  • When engaging in parallel-talk, you can interpret your child’s actions:
  • “You’re pointing to the bookshelf. I see the truck up there! Do you want the truck? Tell me, ‘truck.’ You say, ‘truck.’ ‘truck.’”


7.  Repetition, repetition, repetition is the way to learn and hold on to new words.


  • For example, if your child is working on his/her use of the word “is,” then incorporate that into their play and during daily routines:
  • “Let’s introduce our babies to one another. Here is Rosie. Rosie is a girl. Casper is a boy. Here is Rascal.  Rascal is a dog.“


  • Cue your child to finish your sentence. Repeat it several times… repetition is key!


8.  Imitation


  • All children learn by imitating! Imitation is an important part of teaching and learning. For many children, mutual imitation (i.e., going back and forth imitating each other’s sounds, facial expressions, movements) is the most significant form of sustained social-interaction that they can achieve. When you imitate your child, for example, following his/her lead with a toy they are playing with, you are demonstrating focused attention on your child. By reflecting his/her actions, you can experience a wow moment of connectedness and fun! The next time your child picks up a musical toy and bangs on it, join in and imitate his/her sounds and rhythms. Remember to pause and wait for your child to continue.


  • For many parents, letting go of your own control and allowing your child to lead can be a new and difficult concept. But don’t forget — practice makes perfect! You do not need to be the director of your child at every moment, especially during play. Take a step back and see what your child can show you. When you imitate your child, you are showing them that “I’m doing what you’re doing” and this sets the stage for him/her to then imitate you.


9.  Have FUN!


  • Don’t forget to be playful and imaginative with your kids.  Kids love it when adults act silly and make mistakes. So how about next time you head out of the house with your child, leave your shoes behind and walk a few steps out the door…
  • “Oh silly me, I walked out of the house without my shoes!”


  • See if they even notice! If they don’t, try this again another day and see if you can prompt them to pay attention to your mistake. By mixing up a routine, you’re allowing your child to notice and make a comment. Give your child a fork with ice cream, wait, while looking at your child to see if and how they respond to this scenario?
  • “OH my goodness, I gave you a fork instead of a spoon. Oops, silly me!  It is hard to eat ice cream with a fork isn’t it?”


Don’t forget… It is NEVER too early to find out if your child could benefit from speech and language services.  The earlier the better!  We encourage you to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have.  We are here for you and your family!

speech and language skills

Speech and Language Development

Speech and Language Development

All children have speech variations during their early language development. Perhaps your child switches different consonants or still mixes words with baby talk. All of these things are normal to a certain age. Some children grow out of these practices or figure out articulation once they have learned to read and see how things are spelled. Many parents wonder is this normal for a child their age, or is there a problem? And if so, what should they do?

Is This Normal?

“Parents should be able to understand at least 50% of what a toddler is saying by their second birthday. By age three, parents should understand most (90%) of what a child is saying. By age four, strangers should understand most (90%) of what a child is saying,” says Laura Mize, a pediatric speech-language pathologist in her blog, Teach Me to Talk.

Thankfully, there are developmental milestones that can help determine if your child needs help with articulation. Teach Me to Talk has a list of first targets for speech intelligibility in toddlers.

What Do I Look For?

The first question to ask yourself is Is my child using the correct number of syllables in a word? 

Even if your child is not saying words perfectly, look for the correct use of syllables. This helps with determining what word they are trying to say, and helps differentiate from other words that may have similar sounds. If your child is having trouble with this, try clapping out syllables to help them hear the difference. This will help with communication before they use full sentences.

Next, Is my child using correct vowel sounds in words? 

If your child has an issue with dropping particular vowels, you can introduce those sounds in play. Using troublesome vowels as sound effects while playing helps your child become familiar with a sound that is difficult for them.

Can my child use two different vowel sounds in words, or does he always copy the first sound for the next syllable?

When a child is learning to speak, repeating vowels, such as “baba” for bottle, are used to simplify words. However, some children do not grow out of this stage, and therefore need help learning how to change the second vowel.

The next question to ask is, Is my child learning consonant sounds in the beginnings of words and syllables? 

Omitting beginning consonant sounds make if very hard to understand what a child is saying, especially when many words are strung together in a full sentence. Speech therapy is a wonderful tool to help a child develop those missing sounds.

And lastly, Is my child using ending consonant sounds? 

Dropping endings, lisping, and ending in vowel sounds instead of the desired consonant are some of the most common reasons for speech therapy. There are many tips and tricks to help a child learn and be aware of those ending sounds.

What Is The Next Step?

If you notice your child is not reaching these milestones, there are options! Speech therapy is a wonderful tool that not only helps your child with their speech, but it also helps with communication, comprehension, social skills, expanding vocabulary, articulation, and many other areas. If your child is in need of therapy, it is best to begin as soon as possible. Children enrolled in therapy early (before they’re 5 years old) tend to have better outcomes than those who begin therapy later. Older kids may progress at a slower rate, because they often have learned patterns that need to be changed.

ASHA describes articulation disorders as the difficulty of producing sounds in syllables or saying words incorrectly to the point that listeners can’t understand what’s being said.

Mommy Speech Therapy gives a great overview of the process of articulation therapy. “First practice the sound in isolation, then in syllables, words, sentences, stories, conversation and finally generalizing the target sound in all contexts of language.”

Where Should My Child Go?

There are various approaches to articulation therapy. Our speech therapists here at Carolina Therapy Connection are specialized in articulation therapy, and each session is designed with your child’s specific needs in mind. They physically show the child how to make certain sounds, and may demonstrate how to move the tongue to produce specific sounds. Not only do our therapists work with your child, but they work with you as a parent to enhance learning in the home.

One of the many strengths of Carolina Therapy Connection is the multi-disciplined aspect of our clinic. Some children with speech needs only need speech therapy, but often, children have a need for other therapy as well. We offer speech therapy, feeding therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and educational assessments. Our therapists are trained to notice any other needs for children they treat, and can help determine if an evaluation is needed. Our focus is the wellness of the child. All of our therapists work together to insure they are receiving all the help they need to reach their highest potential!

speech therapy for kids