Frequently Asked Questions
What happens when a child does not speak or refuses to speak at school, with friends, with family members, but does speak at home with his parents?
First of all, it is important that you visit a speech therapist. A Speech therapist is the professional who will guide you and give you solutions. When a child chooses not to talk to anyone outside his home, it is because something is wrong. It may be related to emotions, stress or frustration, and that is why the speech therapist will recommend that you also visit a psychologist. The work is done as a team, and the speech therapist is in charge of planning the therapeutic plan that includes individual sessions, sessions with parents and external speech therapy support sessions at school. Meanwhile, constant communication with the psychologist is carried out. There can be many causes, and it is necessary to assess and rule out beforehand to know exactly what is happening behind a behaviour like this.
The answer is yes! A bilingual child can learn the languages you want, as long as the language is taught in a functional and constant way. Children have linguistic capacities that allow them to learn any language quickly, much faster when they are exposed to a new language in an environment such as school, where they go every day. Don´t forget, though, that it is recommended that native languages are learned in a very effective and productive way. That allows children to learn with ease other added languages.
If a child who is bilingual is slow to speak both native languages, could this be caused by bilingualism?
No. Bilingualism is not the cause of a child’s language delay. The causes of a language delay are different. What is important is the correct exposure to the native languages and continuous stimulation to prevent this delay that may exist from extending for a longer time. That is why it is recommended to go to a speech therapist who is an expert in bilingualism and who can guide you. You, parents, are the ones who can help the most, but if you don’t have the tools, you need to ask for them.
Of course! Parents are essential; without your help, it will be difficult to see the results of what a therapist does. In our case, the speech therapist is responsible for giving you all the tools and solutions so that you can complement the work at home.
As children grow, around the age of two, they begin interacting socially with more people. They have a need to interact through oral communication and this makes them want to improve their speech (making constant adjustments in search of greater intelligibility). That is where parents help, encourage and make themselves examples and role models for their children to follow.
It is needed in cases where language and speech appear later, and parents and schools are usually concerned. External speech therapy support is needed when the stimulation in the language of a child from two to five years old presents limitations and the teachers present few resources to help him.
It is also needed when children with ASD need support in their day-to-day activities at school. In this case, a system of alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) is recommended. Schools learn about it and the subjects are adapted according to the children´s needs.
Other times, external speech therapy support is needed and recommended when there is a lack of speech, when speech is absent and both the child and the school need help from an expert professional.
Communication and collaboration with the school help results happen faster.
The activities are usually recreational and playful and through them, you achieve objectives.
Consulting sessions, counseling for parents, in other words, serve all parents who do not know what they can do to help their children with the difficulties they may have related to language, speech or communication at home. It is also a method carried out and created by me and by all of you. Consulting sessions are there for those of you who need a hand, the hand of an expert and a professional.
Literacy methods, which we´ll talk about a lot in the consulting sessions, vary. They depend on the age of the child, the exact learning difficulty and the school itself, since our way of working on literacy has to match with the school in terms of its content.
When a child at an early age is exposed to multicultural environments, with many languages and is slow to speak, in what language should the language stimulation work begin?
It is important that the work of language stimulation is done in the language the child can handle the best. That means in the language that the child expresses himself in and comes most naturally. This may be due to the native or acquired bilingualism. Start with a language that is used at home, at least one and then little by little you can add other languages. So, the speech therapist must handle the language in which the stimulation work has to be carried out. You must be able to speak and work in the language that the child handles and dominates best. Over time and with the advances that are expected, other languages will be added in the sessions, when the speech therapist considers that it is the right moment. Or you can do it yourselves at home by using the personalised guidelines from the speech language therapist.
As soon as possible! The brain of a small child grows fast and needs all the correct stimuli to be able to do so. The child needs our help. When there is a gap in this process, when the child has a blockage and does not start to speak, it is advisable that the sooner you ask for help the better.
What are the symptoms that most attract the attention of parents to suspect a language-related problem in their children?
Some of them are:
Around fifteen months, they do not babble.
They do not say words at two years old.
They have trouble expressing sentences when they are around three years old.
They do not understand instructions.
They do not react when are asked to.
What happens when languages at home are mixed and are not used properly? What does a proper use of the languages mean exactly?
This a very common question, especially from parents who themselves are bilingual, or not, or just want to use lots of languages at home with their children. In this case I´d have to have much more information and explain to you firstly that languages must exist harmoniously. Children need to be orientated by you and understand the verbal messages at the right moments. At least during their first years. Then automatically, once they acquire the linguistic abilities and processes, they can mix the languages themselves and they can answer in the proper language and change them fast, or even faster than you think!