Episode 2 Live Q&A : Gillian Fong (Speech Pathologist)

Gillian Fong, speech pathologist, has provided answers to questions asked by our Huggies Baby Club members about their childs speech and language as part of the Live Q&A sessions that followed Episode 2, Communication and Discipline on Tuesday 1st May.

The Live Q&A session with Gillian Fong has had an overwhelming response from our Huggies Club members. Unfortunately Gillian has been unable to answer all the questions submitted. If you have any concerns about your child’s speech, language or communication development , contact a Paediatric Speech Pathologist via your local Community Health Centre, look in the yellow pages under “Speech Pathologist – paediatric”, or look on the Speech Pathology Australia website.

Both my children had lisps when they started saying words. Its really cute. My eldest grew out of it by the age of 2, but my youngest hasnt as yet. ARe there any speech/mouth exercises we can do together or will she have a lisp forever?

It depends on the age of your child. Most younger toddlers tend to have a forward tongue placement which can result in a lisp. This can be affected by factors like if they suck their thumb, or still use a dummy. Speech pathologists don’t tend to work on lisps in younger children until the age of 4 plus, mainly because they are still growing so much, and their mouth changes. Some lisps do “disappear” naturally, but if it hangs around and has a big impact on how clear their speech is, it’s best to have a Speech pathologist look at your child and they can demonstrate appropriate exercises to do.

At what age should babies start saying words on their own, and then combining them to make short sentences?

There is a wide range of what is considered “within the normal range”. Some children start talking around 18 months (first words) if not before, some children may not start talking until they are over 2. If children aren’t quite using their words to communicate yet – they may not be ready – we look at other areas like how well they are understanding, what sounds they ARE making, etc. Once children start using single words, if they are encouraged, and provided with appropriate models (slow down and simplify), they will start combining the words they have been using in short sentences.

My son gets frustrated when I don’t understand what he’s saying, do you have any tips on how we can learn to communicate better (sorry, this is a silly question).

Try slowing down and simplifying what YOU are saying, even if he is understanding everything you are saying when you talk normally. Children will tend to copy what they’re adults are saying using the same number of words, and speak at the speed that their parents are, even if they aren’t quite able to. If you meet your child’s talking more at their level, they are more likely to have success.
You can also trying getting your child to SHOW you what they are talking about, then model back what they were trying to say and let them have another go at what they were trying to say.

My boy has just turned 2 and a half last mth and he is still having trouble with some of his pronunciation. ‘Chocolate’ is ‘Choc-cake’, ‘Joshua’ is ‘Shua-shua’, ‘Drink’ is ‘Krink’, etc.. I have tried to help him by repeating the words many times and he still says the same thing. We speak to him in more than one language at home, so apart fr English, we speak in a chinese dialect as well. Is this normal? When will he start to pronounce correctly?

Re: speaking more than one language at home, it’s great that you can expose your child to another language other than English. One important thing to remember is NOT to mix the language, e.g. speak