Lauren Franke, Psy.D., CCC-SP
Scottish Rite Clinic for Childhood Language Disorders
Long Beach, California

“Talking time” is essential at home, school, and in therapy to develop communication in children.

"Jimmy," a lively two-and-a-half year old, and his mother had just completed almost two hours of language testing at the Long Beach Scottish Rite Clinic. The assessment consisted of structured play activities with his mother and the therapist, labeling pictures, and a checklist of words Jimmy’s mother felt he understood and said.

The evaluation indicated Jimmy’s ability to understand language was six to eight months delayed, and his expressive language skills were about a full year delayed. Jimmy’s vocabulary consisted of four words, and he did not attempt to say new words or imitate his mother or the therapist. His mother was alarmed and wanted to know what the family could do to help. “How do children learn to talk?” she asked.

Simply put, children learn to talk by listening and by trying to figure out how to sound like the people around them. Babies need to hear the sounds people make. This happens during everyday interactions. But adults need to make the effort to talk to their children. Thinking about this, Jimmy’s mother identified several changes she could immediately make at home. Jimmy has two older sisters and was at daycare during the day as both parents worked. She decided Jimmy was not exposed to enough language and started changing her work schedule so she could spend more time with him. She also instructed the other adults in Jimmy’s life to talk to him more frequently and to encourage responses from him. Jimmy was also enrolled in language therapy at the Long Beach Scottish Rite Clinic.

After four months of increased “talking time” at home and in language therapy, his skills began to increase. Jimmy now has a vocabulary of over a hundred words. The solution to Jimmy’s problem was simple. But had it not been for evaluation and therapy by the Scottish Rite, that problem could have become a major obstacle to his development as a happy, active young man.