Speech & Language Support for parents during COVID-19

As we obviously aren’t running face-to-face sessions at the moment,  those of you who usually meet with Erica, our Speech & Language Therapist will be contacted over the next couple of weeks and offered ideas for work at home.

Keeping a routine

Our young people need stability and security and the best way to do this is try to get into some kind of routine. This may be hard at first, as things are so different but try to include as much of your usual routine as possible –  same bedtime and getting up routines and try to have some structure in your day.  I know many of you have got a plan for the days so that similar things happen at similar times. Your child or young person may be struggling to adapt to the change but remember that visuals will always help.  Make your own visual timetable with pictures of what will happen in the day e.g. breakfast – exercise – play with toys – look at books – snack – do numbers – look at iPad – lunch etc.

How to explain COVID-19?

They may be asking questions and something as complicated as this is hard to explain, particularly if you have difficulty understanding language.  You need to try to explain but in a way that won’t frighten or confuse.  There are lots of visual support ideas to help with the explanation. For some of you it will be better just to use the pictures and simplify the explanation.

My story about the Pandemic and the Coronavirus
Mencap Easy Read Guide

Ideas and resources

There are loads of educational and specialist sites offering ideas and resources (most for free). Here are some you might like to try:

Speech and language and many other SEND resources for families.
A great video from DSE which shows activities for pre-schoolers and early school age children for language and reading.
Resources and packs for parents to use during school closures.
The BBC Bitesize website has loads of suitable videos – educational and fun.
Our own local SALT website has further ideas and useful links.

Look for other videos you can watch together and talk about – are they learning animal names? – wildlife programmes; emotion words? – any suitable soap; re-telling stories will help work on tenses and linking sentences.

Almost any programme suitable for their interests and age group, if watched together, will give you opportunities for conversation.

Supporting their development

Please remember most of all that you are the very best person to help you child or young person’s further development.  Just interacting with you every day and being part of conversations will develop their skills. Play, exercise, eat, look at books and enjoy activities together and just use language with them at the level you know they will understand.  

You don’t need to be talking all the time – give them time and see if they want to add something either by talking or by gesturing or signing or just responding. 

  • If their attention isn’t great, then change what you are doing with them quite often and try to mix up sitting and more active activities. 
  • Think about what they are most interested in and try to comment on that or join in with them.  

Time for you

You still have to run your life too! If they can’t be left to amuse themselves for a while then think of ways you can include them in the washing, the washing up, the shopping (even just choosing online!), the cleaning.  Think about what language you could be using at those times to help them develop to the next stage; e.g. doing the  washing could be used for various levels of ability

  • Learning names: clothes; in/out; actions – wash, put, fold, dry
  • Joining words: socks in, shirt out, shut door
  • Longer sentences and joining sentences: put in socks and pants, my socks are wet
  • Using language to work things out: why do we need to wash your socks? What will they be like when they come out? How do we know which ones we’ve washed? 

Respond to what they tell you

Most important – respond to what they “tell” you (verbally or non-verbally) and show an interest – people need to feel that someone is listening to make communicating worthwhile. Every time you respond you’re saying “you’re worth listening to, I’m interested in you”.

Swindon Down's Syndrome Group