Monday, 12 March 2012

I CAN DO IT with I CAN The Children's Communication Charity

I was asked by I CAN (I love this name, so positive and upbeat) the Children's Communication Charity to review their Activity Packs which help babies and toddlers with their early language development.

Speech and communication is important in my family (See Speech Therapy). My 6yr old DD1 has been diagnosed with a Speech and Language Impairment (SLI) as she struggles to form certain sounds and to find the correct word to use even though she knows the answer. She has been attending Speech Therapy since she was 3 and has made a lot of improvement, although she still has a way to go. My 5yr old DD2 also has speech problems. She has learnt to overcome the Selective Mutism she suffered when she was younger due to her extreme shyness, and in the last few months she has made a great improvement and will now happily talk in front of other people after 3 years of being too shy to say anything. Recently we discovered DD2 was suffering from glue ear and following an operation to have grommets in her ears and her adenoids out (See The Happy Patient) we're hoping that her speech will start to clear quickly now that she can hear the correct pronunciation of sounds.

So when I was offered the chance to try the Toddler Talk Activity pack with the baby aged 2, I jumped at the chance. So far she seems to be following my 8yr old DS rather than her sisters and is quite talkative and not as shy, but I knew these activity cards would help her and reduce the chances of her needing ST even less.

I remember, back before I became a mother and even when DS was young, I used to think that Speech problems were caused by parents not talking enough to their children and that's why they couldn't talk properly. I didn't understand then, like I do now, that Speech problems are common and in fact 1 in 10 children have some sort of communication disorder, that's 2 or 3 children in every class! 

As a mother you find it hard, you want to help your child but are unaware where to start and you can feel overwhelmed and even guilty. Why is my child the one with a SLI? What did I do wrong when I was pregnant? Did I somehow cause this? Is it my fault? Some things might come naturally, like repeating everything your child say, but what next? Speech therapy can and does help, but it’s an hour every week and of course by then they're usually in school.

What if there was something you could do to help your child before they start school, what if there was something you could do to help them before they even start to talk?

I CAN have released two activity packs. One is BABBLING BABIES and is for children aged 0-18 months and TODDLER TALK is for children aged 18-36 months. Each pack contains 30 beautifully illustrated activity cards which give parents different ideas, songs and games to play with their child and some of the activities I recognised from my older daughters' speech therapy sessions and can be adjusted based on a child's level of communication and understand. I've even done some of the suggested games with my 5yr old to help her with her speech.

The beautiful cards are arranged into groups with subtopics of each group, each are linked by a theme and offer you different activities for each topic depending on the Childs age and development. 

The groups in the BABBLING BABY Activity Pack are;
* Playing and Interacting
* Learning to Listen
* Expressing Myself
* Exploring and Developing

The groups in the TODDLER TALK are;
* Attention and Listening
* Understanding What Is Said
* Learning and Using New Words
* Building Sentences
* Talking Socially

You can do these activities whenever and wherever you are. You pick an activity to do each day or whenever you can taking your cue from your child (which means you might find yourself repeating your child's favourite over and over again, but that’s ok as a child learns best by repetition). Just remember that toddlers have short attention spans, so ten or fifteen minutes is long enough as you want them to stay interested and not wander away bored!

But another bonus with these cards is that you can use them as and when you want depending on your toddler’s needs and abilities, there is also a sample programme in the back of the book which can be used as a structured 6 week programme with a short activity for each day. 

I was sent the TODDLER TALK Activity Pack with my 2yr old and we're on Week 2 of the 6 week Program and I'm already noticing a difference in my daughter’s speech and I would recommend this activity pack to anyone. In fact I wish I had had one of these packs with my older daughters as they would have helped them with their speech a lot sooner.  

Each pack is available in hardback (£12.99) or paperback (£7.99) and can be purchased direct from I CAN as well as other I CAN resources here

What I especially like is that all proceeds from the sale of these activity pack's goes towards I CAN's work with the 1.2 million children in the UK who have long-term speech, language and communication difficulties.

To find out more about I CAN the Children's Communication Charity 

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