Activities to Encourage Speech and Language at Home

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Get ready for a heartwarming journey into the world of activities to encourage speech and language at home. In this blog post, I’m thrilled to share with you some simple yet incredibly effective activities that helped my son transition from being nonverbal and language delayed to finding his voice and expressing himself. These activities are not just about learning new words—they’re about igniting a spark of curiosity, fostering communication, and celebrating every little milestone along the way. So, grab your kiddos, a sprinkle of patience, and a whole lot of love as we dive into these magical moments that will leave you both smiling and talking up a storm in no time!

Angela of Grassfed Mama shares healthy tips for busy moms.
Angela of Grassfed Mama shares healthy tips for busy moms.

What is considered language delayed?

When we talk about language delay, we’re referring to a situation where a child’s speech and language skills are developing at a slower pace than expected for their age. It’s completely normal for kids to reach milestones at different times, but if you notice that your little one is struggling to communicate or use words in a way that seems behind their peers, it might be a sign of language delay.

This can manifest in various ways, from difficulty understanding or following instructions to limited vocabulary or trouble forming sentences. Remember, every child is unique, and there’s no one-size-fits-all timeline for development. If you have any concerns about your child’s language skills, it’s always a good idea to chat with their pediatrician or a speech-language pathologist to explore ways to support their growth and development.

For my son, at first we just thought he was language delayed. Because all of this was happening during 2020 and 2021, all the therapy centers and appointments to get evaluated had very long waitlist. That’s one reason why we started working on some skills at home. I also used to work as a speech language pathologist and had some experience working with children with language delays.

Who diagnoses a language delay?

When it comes to diagnosing a language delay, there are a couple of experts who can lend a helping hand. Typically, pediatricians and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are the go-to professionals for evaluating and diagnosing language delays in kiddos. During routine check-ups, pediatricians keep an eye on your child’s developmental milestones and may raise flags if they notice any concerns about speech and language development. If further assessment is needed, they might refer you to an SLP—a super skilled specialist in all things speech and language—who can conduct a thorough evaluation and provide personalized support and guidance for your little one.

Autism and Language Delays

Let’s chat about autism and language delays with a big dose of love and understanding. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is as unique as each of our kiddos, and language delays are just one piece of the colorful puzzle. For some kiddos with autism, communication can be a bit of a journey, with speech and language skills developing at their own pace. Some might start talking a bit later than expected, while others might use alternative forms of communication, like gestures or picture boards, to express themselves. It’s all about meeting our kiddos where they’re at and supporting them every step of the way with patience, love, and lots of cuddles.

With my son, he was later diagnosed with Level 3 Autism and Nonverbal (not just language delayed), so our journey may look a little different than most. I do believe that all kids will benefit from lots of exposure to language and using many different modalities.

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s communication journey, remember that you’re not alone—there’s a whole tribe of moms and professionals ready to cheer you on and lend a helping hand!

Tips to Increase Communication

Here are some tips that I learned as a speech therapist to increase communication in language-delayed children:

  1. Create a Communication-Rich Environment: Surround your child with opportunities to communicate throughout the day. Label objects, narrate activities, and engage in conversation to provide plenty of language input.
  2. Use Visual Aids: Incorporate visual supports such as picture cards, communication boards, or sign language to supplement verbal communication and help children understand and express themselves.
  3. Follow Your Child’s Lead: Pay attention to your child’s interests and cues, and use them as opportunities to engage in meaningful communication. Follow their lead in play and conversation to foster engagement and motivation.
  4. Simplify Language: Use simple and concrete language when speaking to your child, and break instructions or concepts down into small, manageable steps to support comprehension.
  5. Provide Wait Time: Allow your child extra time to process information and formulate a response. Use pauses and wait time to encourage them to initiate communication and express themselves.
  6. Offer Choices: Give your child choices to empower them and encourage decision-making. Present options for activities, snacks, or toys to promote communication and expression of preferences.
  7. Use Repetition and Reinforcement: Repeat key words or phrases frequently and consistently to reinforce learning and support memory. Use positive reinforcement, such as praise or rewards, to encourage communication attempts.
  8. Model Language: Model correct grammar and language structures during interactions with your child. Repeat their utterances using correct language and expand on their vocabulary to provide rich language input.
  9. Encourage Turn-Taking: Teach and model turn-taking skills during conversations and interactions. Encourage your child to take turns speaking and listening to promote reciprocal communication.
  10. Seek Professional Support: Consult with a speech-language pathologist for individualized assessment and therapy. A speech therapist can provide targeted strategies and interventions to address your child’s specific communication needs and support their language development journey.

Remember, progress takes time and patience, so celebrate small victories along the way and continue to provide love and support to your child as they learn and grow!


#answer to @john316br Here are some things that have helped my son #autistictoddler #nonverbalcommunication

♬ Graceful Bridge – DJ BAI

Word Book for Toddlers

One of the initial visual tools I introduced to my son was a personalized photo album complete with labeled images. It resembled a simple picture book but featured real-life photos of familiar items from his surroundings—his bed, his shoes, his mom—rather than generic images. This straightforward activity can be easily implemented at home to strengthen the recognition and naming of everyday people and objects in your child’s environment.


I just made this word book for my toddler and I was so excited how it turned out 😍 #toddlermom #toddleractivitiesathome #toddlerbooks #learnontiktok


Shoebox Word Building Activity

I stumbled upon this shoebox word building activity while watching a YouTube video on fostering speech development in autism. It seemed like such a simple yet engaging idea, so I decided to give it a try with my son—and let me tell you, he absolutely loved it! In the video below, I’ll walk you through how to set up and use the shoebox activity. All you need is a shoebox and a few pictures of familiar items. Simply show and say each picture three times to reinforce its name, then give your child a chance to repeat after you. It’s a fun and interactive way to practice words together!

Picture Communication Ideas

Check out the video below, where I chat about some picture communication ideas that we tried out with my son. He was super into visuals, so we experimented with various picture cards. Although he didn’t use them consistently to communicate, I found that picture cards can be an awesome tool for kiddos who need a little extra support with expressing themselves. It’s all about finding what works best for your child’s unique communication style!


Here are some picture commication ideas we are using with my son 🥰 #nonverbalautism #autistictoddler #nonverbalcommunication #boostofhope #autismfamily @lovevery

♬ Simplicity – Jon Steinmeier

Word Stickers Around the House

I stumbled upon these awesome English Learning stickers on Amazon and thought they’d be perfect for labeling items around our house to help reinforce word recognition. Since my son was beginning to read, I figured it’d be a fun way to boost his skills. These stickers are designed for English learners, featuring common household items. All you have to do is peel and stick them wherever you want to label! Let me tell you, my son absolutely adored them!


English Language Learning Stickers to help with learning more common words around the house #autismawareness #autismfamily

♬ original sound – Angela | Grassfed Mama

Singing Songs as a Language Tool

Singing songs isn’t just a blast—it’s also an amazing learning tool! When you sing, you repeat words over and over, making them super easy to learn and repeat back. At first, we noticed my son humming along to the tunes of his favorite songs. Then, he started babbling almost in sync with the melodies. Soon enough, I began pausing during his favorite songs, giving him a chance to fill in the next word. He was especially fond of “Old McDonald Had a Farm.” I’d pause, and he’d eagerly chime in with the next animal. It was incredible to see these moments become some of his very first words! We had a blast doing this with tons of songs.


Anderson does the motions for “Itsy Bitsy Spider!” He loves us singing different songs and I noticed one day him doing the motions in the back of the van. He was too cute! 🥰🎶 #autismawareness #autismacceptance #autismfamily

♬ original sound – Angela | Grassfed Mama

Using Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Next I want to chat a bit about Augmentative and Alternative Communication—and how it’s making a world of difference for language delayed kiddos.

AAC is like a superpower for those who may struggle with spoken language. It’s all about finding creative ways to communicate using tools and techniques beyond traditional speech. And let me tell you, it was a game-changer for my son!

Many parents may be reluctant to jump to using a AAC device. We bought an iPad with an AAC app called LAMP Words for Life. Our speech therapist recommended it since our son was almost turning 4 and still not talking.

Did you know that research has shown that using an AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) device can actually support spoken communication in children with language delays?

It’s true! AAC devices provide a valuable bridge to spoken language by offering visual and auditory cues that reinforce vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure. By engaging with AAC systems, children are exposed to a rich and diverse range of language input, which helps strengthen their spoken language abilities over time.

Plus, AAC devices empower children to express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas in meaningful ways, boosting confidence and motivation. So, whether it’s through spoken words, signs, or AAC systems, every child deserves the chance to communicate and be heard. AAC devices are just one of the many tools helping make that possible!

Benefits to Using AAC with Language Delays

Breaking Down Barriers: AAC opens up a whole new world of communication possibilities for language delayed children. Whether it’s using picture cards, communication boards, sign language, or high-tech devices, AAC empowers kids to express themselves, share their thoughts, and connect with others in meaningful ways.

Finding Your Voice: For kiddos who may find spoken language challenging, AAC provides a voice when words alone may not come easily. It’s like having a magic wand that transforms frustration into empowerment, giving children the confidence to communicate on their own terms.

Personalized Support: AAC isn’t one-size-fits-all—it’s all about finding the right tools and strategies that work best for each individual child. From low-tech to high-tech options, there’s a wide range of AAC solutions available to cater to every child’s unique needs and preferences.

Celebrating Progress: Every step forward in AAC communication is a cause for celebration! Whether it’s mastering a new sign, using a picture card to request a favorite toy, or typing out a message on a speech-generating device, every milestone is a testament to your child’s resilience and determination.

Embracing AAC as a Team: As parents, caregivers, and advocates, we play a crucial role in supporting our children on their AAC journey. By embracing AAC as a team and providing love, encouragement, and patience every step of the way, we can help our language delayed kiddos thrive and reach their full potential.

So here’s to embracing AAC, unlocking communication, and celebrating the unique voices of every language delayed child. Together, we’re making waves, breaking barriers, and shining a spotlight on the power of AAC to transform lives.


October is Augmentative and Alternative Communication Month (AAC)! Let’s celebrate the different ways individuals communicate 🎉 #autismacceptance #AAC

♬ Soft and minimal instrumental music(1259336) – MaxRecStudio

From Nonverbal to First Words

In the last half year or so, we’ve seen incredible progress—our son has begun to talk! I want to share a message of hope with you all: never give up on your children and their amazing potential. Even if they need a communication device for the long haul, that doesn’t mean they can’t reach for the stars and achieve success beyond measure. Keep believing, keep supporting, and keep celebrating every little victory along the way!


Anderson’s first words!!! 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 #autismawareness

♬ original sound – Angela | Grassfed Mama

More Posts to check out

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Our Journey Through a Nonverbal Autism Diagnosis at 2.5 years

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Angela Parker
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