Parents of late-talking children face one common problem. They often don’t play well with others, and they have interests and sensory needs that are not typical of other kids their age. So, it can be challenging for parents to find activities and toys for late talkers.
The good news is, with a little analysis, parents can introduce infinite play-based activities that their late-talker will both enjoy and learn from, regardless of their diagnosis. If an activity or toy involves something they find interesting or enjoyable, a child will be happy to choose it over and over.
Parents can find the right experiences by analyzing their child’s preferences strategically. Start by offering and encouraging a variety of play options while you observe your late-talking child.
This analysis will help you identify sensory and environmental experiences that your child is interested in.
There are five categories of toys that I recommend to create amazing play experiences.
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1. Gross motor movement toys
Most late-talkers love to move. Bouncing and swinging actually help the brain develop neurological language processing skills. That’s why it’s common for all kids to start talking more when playing with these types of toys.
Trampolines, tunnels, swings, skates, bikes, and anything involving balance and using muscles are all great for facilitating natural verbal language.
2. Pretend play toys
This is my favorite type of play and the most amazing for language facilitation. Playing with cars, baby dolls, and play kitchens provides interactive play experiences that give parents tons of opportunities to show their children the social language they will need.
3. Hands-on, problem-solving toys
This group includes anything that utilizes some type of nonverbal construction or problem-solving. Examples of these toys include shape sorters, Legos, puzzles, and even play with reading and math concepts if the child enjoys such activities.
Problem-solving play helps late talkers access their logical intelligence and learn how to turn inefficient behaviors into more effective speech. Observing your child in problem-solving play can help you understand what and how they are thinking. Once you identify your child’s ideas, you’ll be able to demonstrate the words needed to share and discuss them with you and others.
4. Non-toy play (real-life exploration)
Try replacing tech time with experiences. Tons of language exposure happens when you explore your everyday environment together, both inside and outside. Household items, boxes, sticks, mud puddles, and even the weather are readily available non-toys you can use to play with your child.
In fact, every activity you do together from morning till night can be playtime when you make it fun along the way. Watch how your child chooses to play with everyday objects, and you will learn a lot about their preferences.
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5. Soothing, comfort, feelings-based toys
These toys can be absolutely anything as long as it makes your child feel good. Think of the experiences or objects that you introduce to calm your child when they are upset. The toy could trigger any type of sensory experience.
Some examples are:
- squishing putty,
- cuddling with a soft toy or blanket,
- listening to sounds by playing an instrument or tapping to a rhythm, and
- watching or feeling water fall down.
Explore sensory experiences with your child and observe what makes them happy. You don’t even need to know why your child likes it. Just trust that they do and talk about the experience so your child will be excited to share more good feelings with you.
Toys for late talkers should be fun
Parents know their kids best. It’s important to trust that they will learn from whatever activity they love and enjoy focusing on.
You may want to buy your child the coolest new toys, encourage your favorite sport or hobby, or choose amazing toys that your therapist used. However, these options will cause frustration unless you somehow incorporate your child’s obsession with running around, waving sticks, or pouring liquids.
Kids will happily try and expand their learning to new areas with the same type of activities they have shown preference for previously. Smart parents choose toys that are easy and related to experiences that their kids find fun.
Plus, when an activity or a toy is simple, it is much easier to model the types of words your child wants to use while playing with that toy. If there is a struggle around a toy or activity, it’s probably not a good choice.
That’s why my ultimate advice for choosing toys for your late talker is: If it isn’t fun, it isn’t fun. When you explore what your child loves to do and choose toys accordingly, you’ll never be stumped at the toy store or frustrated with unused toys again.
Q: How do you help late talkers?
A: Late talkers can benefit from speech therapy, which focuses on improving communication skills and language development. Additionally, creating a language-rich environment at home, encouraging verbal interactions, and using visual aids can support their language acquisition.
Q: What toys encourage talking?
A: Toys with interactive features such as dolls, action figures, or playsets that prompt imaginative storytelling and role-playing can encourage talking in children. Additionally, educational toys like board games or those with speech recognition technology can also improve verbal communication skills through engaging activities.
Q: How do you play with a toddler with speech delay?
A: Engage in activities that encourage communication, such as playing with interactive toys, using simple gestures, and reading books together. Be patient, provide positive reinforcement, and create a supportive environment to foster the development of their speech skills.
Q: Do most late talkers catch up?
A: Yes, many late talkers do catch up with their peers in language development, especially if there are no underlying developmental issues. However, some may require intervention or support to facilitate language skills.