Help for Unclear Speech


I am particularly interested in help for unclear speech. Do you have any ideas? My son is seven-years-old and has Down syndrome. I just know he can speak better, but I don’t know where to begin. He has had speech therapy from several different therapists and goes to one now, but he is still hard to understand. Any leads you can give me would be great.

— Angela A


Thank you Angela for your question. Believe it or not, Down syndrome is quite common (one in 700 births), and speech problems and delays of all kinds are even more prevalent than most people think. While all children are unique and need different kinds of interventions, here is a fun technique that I think you and your child will benefit from a lot.

Go to an office supply or drug store and get a 5″ x 8″ spiral-bound index card notebook. Next title this book My Word Book. You build this one word at a time with your child. Here are the steps:

1.   Ask your child, “What is your favorite word?” Agree on a simple one for this book.

2.   Write his or her word in big letters on the first page.

3.   Then open the book lots and have your child read it to you clearly.

4.   Once you sense that your child recognizes this word and can say it well ask him or her for another word for the second page.

5.   Write this word in big letters on that page.

6.   Add more words little by little. Before adding any new ones, go over all old ones for recognition and clarity.

7.   Pay attention to syllables. Bunching syllables together is often a common problem related to unclear speech.

If any of these instructions are confusing or if you need additional help or guidance, please do not hesitate to write again.

~ Dr. Sally

See Parenting Tips with Dr. Sally daily for more advice and information.

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