I was researching my new virtual collegue Mindy Hudon. I haven't met her (virtually) or had spoken to her yet. I was amazed at her achievements and am proud to say...''Hey, I work with her!''. These are yet one of the many advantages of working with Telepractice. Bless TinyEYE's Greg Sutton and Marnee Brick (with whom I work with) for making Telepractice happen. I am enjoying the new games the tech guys have introduced and enjoying figuring its possibilities with my speech therapy kids.
Coming back to Mindy Hudon, I found this article she wrote and not stress more than she has about the importance of language enrichment and importance of reading to toddlers (not to forget and stress more.. during pregnancy and to new borns as well). Enjoy reading her article and benefiting from her insights and experience!
Twin Language: Talking the Same Talk
By Mindy Hudon, M.S., CCC-SLP
When I visit a shopping or grocery store with my twin boys, well-intentioned people often ask, "Do they have their own language?"
"Yes," I say. "English!"
Idioglossia or "twin language" has been the focus of many research studies and has interested the public for years. It was once believed that twins could develop their own language unrecognizable by others. Today, research indicates that twin language is actually one twin modeling the immature or disordered speech pattern of their co-twin, which results in the incorrect use of speech sounds and grammar by both twins. If you've ever heard two children talking with delayed speech and language, you too may think they're talking in a foreign language.
Why do twins have trouble developing sounds and words? Well, research has suggested that twins are at greater risk for speech and language delays because of higher incidence of prematurity, low birth weight or limited individual communication with their parents.
If your twins are demonstrating delayed speech and language skills, then you know what I'm talking about. It's hard enough trying to communicate with twins, but when one or both are experiencing speech delays, your job gets even harder. "We knew at 18 months old that one of our twins' speech wasn't developing like his brother," says Maria Revell of Dallas, Texas, mother of twin boys. "His brother was talking in words and a few sentences. He was still putting words together and labeling things."
What's a Parent to Do?
As parents of twins, it is our role to help reduce their risk by providing a language-rich environment. Parents have a critical role in their twins' speech and language development. "We do everything we can. We let our son lead, find out what he is interested in and try to initiate language that way," says Revell. "These are the most important years, and we are trying to take advantage of that."
There are many things that you can do on a daily basis to encourage your twins' language development. First, you are in the best situation to help your twins. Because there are two children involved, you have a ready-made language group, and your twins always have a great communication partner! Also, they have an invested speech coach you! "Almost everything we do is play," says Revell. "Anything that we use (to encourage language) with one, we use with the other."
As a parent, you're the most important guide to language enrichment. What you say and how you say it will directly impact your twins' development of speech sounds and sentence length. Here are some suggestions:
- You can never talk enough when you are with your twins. Talk about what you're doing and why you're doing it. Also, talk about everything your twins are doing. If you're pouring a glass of milk say, "Mommy is pouring some milk for you. You are thirsty. Here is your milk." When your twins are drinking the milk say, "Mmm, that milk tastes good. The milk is cold. Oh, you are drinking the cold milk." When you're talking to two children like this all day, you may find yourself sounding like a broken record. Rest assured, your efforts will pay off in the long run. Talking to each of your twins is one of the best ways to encourage language.
- Avoid using "baby talk." If your twins say a word that is pronounced incorrectly, repeat it back to them the correct way, emphasizing the sounds in the words. Don't expect them to repeat it correcty back to you at that moment. However, praise any attempts they make to say the word. Your job is to provide them with the correct pronunciation of words. If you repeat baby talk, that's what your twins will use. Remember, even though baby talk may sound cute now, it won't when they're 3 or 4 years old.
- Encourage your twins to talk! If your twins shake an empty cup at you and grunt, hold back the urge to take the cup and fill it. Instead, ask questions to encourage words, "What do you want? Tell Mommy, use your words." In the early stages of language development, it is important to praise any verbal attempts. If your twins say "oo," reinforce their attempt and say "juice." Expand on the word and say "I want juice." If your twins are using words and short sentences, then it is important they use words rather than gestures or grunts to communicate their needs. "Tell Mommy, 'I want juice.'" In the busy life of a parent of multiples, grabbing the cup and filling it is much easier than encouraging language. However, by taking the extra time to encourage language, you're helping your twins learn to be effective communicators and to learn that words are often more important than actions.
- Take time to sit down on the floor with your twins and play with their toys. Children love to play, and it's a great way to build vocabulary, expand language and teach social communication skills like turn-taking, facial expressions, emotions and greetings. Make the toys come alive! For example, a stuffed teddy bear can walk, sleep, eat, ask for help, feel sad or happy and say "hi" and "bye." It is amazing what a teddy can do! Your twins will love the interaction time with you, and you can encourage so much wonderful language by just using puzzles, stuffed animals or even a ball.
Read, Read, Read
It's never too early to start reading to your twins. Research has indicated that even infants can benefit from being read to. As your twins grow, make reading a daily part of their routine. Finding the time to sit down and read a book after a long day can be difficult. Sometimes it feels easier to tuck them in bed than to take the time to read. I encourage you to spend a few minutes reading a book because the benefits will last your twins a lifetime. Reading to your twins will improve their language, vocabulary, attention and future reading success.
Here are some helpful tips when reading to your twins:
- When you read to your twins, try to limit distractions with other books or toys.
- Reading time should be "together time" with Mommy or Daddy and books.
- Read with animation in your voice to gain their attention.
- Talk about other pictures in the books that may be unrelated to the actual story.
- Once your twins are familiar with the books, encourage their participation.
- Allow them to finish a line in the story or point and name pictures in the book.
- Ask them to find pictures in the book, and ask questions about the book as you read.