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Games to develop speech and language of children with special needs

Parents and professionals across the globe seem to have embraced remote therapy, overcoming any initial hesitation or apprehensions. For children with special needs, however, it may have taken longer to get used to seeing their teachers or therpaists on their screens. It may also take a while to get accustomed to focussing on lessons with none of their peers around. Although these can be truly challenging circumstances, parents have also expressed how remote therapy has turned out to be beneficial for the family. Parents are now able to actively participate in the children’s speech and language therapy sessions which allows them to apply the strategies they learnt in everyday scenarios. 

While parental involvement is a major factor in a child’s progress, the mode of learning can also play an instrumental role. Children may be more interested to learn if it was fun. This is why most therapists use games to teach social skills and academic concepts.  Most of these games can be played with things lying around the house and don’t require extensive setup or planning. Here are a few such games that you can try at home for developing your child’s cognitive and literacy skills.

1. What’s in the bag?

How to Play:

  • Children can reach into the bag and try to guess the item they have picked
  • Encourage them to describe the item – how it feels, the size, shape, etc.
  • Prompt by asking questions such as ‘Is it hard or soft?’
  • Children can also pick an item from the bag and find any other item in the room that belongs to the same category.  For example, if they picked a pencil, they can be encouraged to find a related item such as an eraser or sharpener.
  • AAC users can use communication boards or apps such as Avaz AAC app to describe the item. 

2I Spy

I Spy Game
I Spy Game Goals
I Spy Game vocabulary
I Spy Game Materials

How to Play

  • Say, ‘I spy something green’, or ‘I see something green’, and encourage the child to find a green object from the room
  • Use ‘I Spy’ worksheets where children can be encouraged to identify animals, birds, and other categories.
  • While reading a storybook, you can get the child to focus on the details of the story by pointing out to objects, facial expressions or characters in the story. For example, ‘I see something round’ to get to child to focus on a ball.
  • You can mention shape, colour, size, and other attributes of the object to develop descriptive language
  • You can also help in developing phonics by saying, ‘I spy something starting with b’

3. Snakes & Ladders

Snakes & Ladders Image
Snakes & Ladders Game Goals
Snakes & Ladders Game Goals
Snakes & Ladders Game Materials

This ancient Indian game can be a fun way to teach young children how to deal with disappointments and surprises in life. This is also an exciting game that can be used for speech and language development.

How to Play

  • Get a Snakes & Ladders board game, download a printable, or make your own board by drawing a 10×10 array of squares with snakes and ladders connecting a few squares
  • Personalize the DIY board by including rewards and reinforcers in a few squares. 
  • Explain turn taking to the child by saying ‘My turn’ and ‘Your turn’ during the game. AAC users can have the relevant vocabulary included in their apps or communication boards.
  • As the children roll the dice, encourage them to count the number of squares to move their tokens
  • For children who understand addition, you can ask them to perform the addition first before moving their token to the right square.
  • Explain to the child how it’s alright if the snake brings them down a few rows. They can always find their way back to the ned goal if they kept trying. 
  • You can also teach direction words such as ‘up’, down’, left’, and right’ using this game.

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