For about 8 months now I’ve been in a deep rabbit hole looking for ways to help improve Olivia’s speech skills. With the pandemic in full swing, everything here is closed and she hates most online or tablet things. I noticed a few months into the shutdown that Olivia had just stopped progressing in speech. She was well ahead of the milestones and then when socializing stopped she stopped bothering to communicate.
I reached out to her Dr for an evaluation and tips. He agreed something wasn’t right so he sent us to a specialist. Her hearing was fine, and her evaluation came back all clear for any disabilities. So basically I was on my own. They all agreed her speech was delayed but since she wasn’t disabled in any way no one would help us. I turned to the internet for help with toddler speech therapy but that just creeped me out.
Around July/August I found Bumobrain. It was a game-changer for us. While not a speech-focused program or a replacement for speech therapy, the sing-a-long classes helped encourage Olivia to interact and try talking again. We saw instant improvements. Next, I found @talkingwithkatie on TikTok and Instagram. She was a lighthouse in this storm of confusion.
A speech pathologist, specializing in toddlers this girl was a HUGE help. She had simple games and activities to help develop speech patterns. The biggest AH-HA for me was her explaining language development steps. I realized I needed to go all the way back to basics and just work on getting Olivia to imitate me. Enlisting the help of my in-laws and husband we worked on getting Olivia to sing Old McDonald. Mainly because she liked the EIEIO part and to get her to repeat the animal sounds.
I carried these animal cards, books, and figures around everywhere, and if we were at the park or beach or an appointment we worked on our animal sounds. She picked them up in a week and quickly moved on to some of the @talkingwithkatie words from her cards.
In January, we started in-person speech therapy and by then Olivia went from 20ish words to over 100 and a handful of 2 or 3-word utterances. Since starting speech Olivia has grown so fast. She is almost caught up to her age group milestone and is communicating her wants/needs so much better now. It has been a journey for sure and I am so glad we are finally getting some help. Doing it on my own was rough and completely out of my knowledge base!
I’d like to make an important point that my sister is a SPED teacher, my brother-in-law’s wife’s mother is a middle school speech therapist or pathologist. We had access to EVERY resource, and exact steps to take to get help. IT WAS STILL IMPOSSIBLE!!! I turned to our local Monterey County School District. They told me they couldn’t help until she was older or was diagnosed with deafness, autism or even a walking disability but just a speech issue wasn’t enough. She then also emphasized that I really should get a handle on it since delayed speech could effect Olivia’s reading in the future if not handled right away.
I called every speech counselor and therapist in the area. Spent THOUSANDS on evaluations — none of them would use the previous therapist’s evals. Only for them to tell me there was definitely a problem but they weren’t taking clients in the pandemic. Before forking out $1500 each evaluation I started asking about treatment. If they said online only I passed and called the next place. It was a frustrating year. I truly felt alone and defeated.
The steps and tools I mentioned above and below are NOT a replacement for speech therapy. Now that we are in treatment for speech therapy I see how FAST Olivia is picking up new skills. BUT, as a mom, who was beyond frustrated and screaming at the top of my lungs BEGGING for help, I found these tools to be the best place to start in the darkness.
3 Items We Found Helpful For Toddler Speech Therapy
- Bumo I can’t say loud enough how much these classes have helped us. I’m excited now they have a beginning speech class! It is for 1-2 years but we joined and the skills are great enforcement of things we work on in speech therapy! See more of my reviews on Bumo here. We currently use the speech therapy live class and the daily recorded instructions and I buy a Bumobox once every three months.
- Lovevery – The books and toys in these kits have helped us learn new words from GO to SAD to YELLOW! Another great toy was this reading kit from Narrio. We used it to make sounds but it will easily transition to reading when she is ready.
- Talking With Katie activity cards. These were a huge help coming up with a new thing to work on each day. I didn’t have the time to create a curriculum and these cards do that for you.
Please let me know in the comments if you have any other tricks or tips for promoting speech with your toddler or if you have any questions about our journey so far!
Have you ever done toddler speech therapy? What did you find most helpful? Let me know in a comment below!