Category: Parenting


Child Tantrums

   When a child becomes overwhelmed or is experiencing sensory overload, they will often have tantrums. As a result, they will lose control of their behavior. In these situations, it is important to know ahead of time how to respond. These situations can be very stressful, and knowing de-escalation techniques can help. With that in mind, let us take a look at these five tips for dealing with child tantrums.


Do Not Yell Or Try To Be Louder Than Them

   During these tantrums, the child’s fight-or-flight system is activated. This means that anything that can be perceived as a threat is registered as one. Incidentally, this includes your own yelling. Although you may mean well and are attempting to say calming things, they are not registered as calming. In fact, it is registered as more noise and potential harm to them. Instead, wait until you are able to speak and then do so calmingly. 

Validate Their Feelings

   Shaming your child for having feelings is guaranteed to backfire. Instead, you want to show that you understand why they are upset. Show them you understand and validate their feelings. For example, saying, “It makes sense that you are upset. Not getting your way can be very frustrating.” This lets them know they are understood. Essentially, you are giving words to how they are feeling.

Give Them Space

   Respecting a child’s personal space is vital. Their personal bubble is going to be especially sensitive during a tantrum. Unless your child asks or they are in danger, back up at least three feet away. Secondly, do not try to touch, hug, or pick them up. Since they are no longer thinking logically, this could add to sensory overload and be perceived as a threat. One way to do this is to use a calming corner.

Meet Them At Their Level

Essentially, you want to be as calming as possible. This means in every area you are able to. One way to do that is by kneeling to your child’s level, or, if they are willing, to sit with them. Refrain from standing above them, which can give off a sense of superiority which is unhelpful. 

Use Healthy Boundaries Without Saying ‘No’

The word “no” can be a trigger word in the middle of a tantrum. Keep your responses concise, empathetic, and open-ended. This does not mean simply saying “yes” to everything your child says. Instead, use open-ended answers to establish healthy boundaries. For example, saying, “Let’s plan a time to do that” or “This is something we can talk about later when everyone is calm” helps deescalate the current situation. Additionally, it lets them know that you are providing a healthy response without telling them “no.” This lets the child know they are heard, understood, and in time those conversations or plans can happen.

The Best For Your Child

Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center is here to help your children blossom! We help integrate them back into society in a fun, healthy, and effective way. No child should be overlooked, so our compassionate care and ABA Therapy services give them the attention they deserve. Ready to learn more? Contact us today!

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As winter fades into spring, families start looking ahead to the summer months with great anticipation!  Children are longing to get out in the beautiful Michigan weather, and parents start thinking about family-friendly activities to keep their kids entertained throughout the summer.  Many families include children with special needs and choosing activities that all can enjoy together might be a challenge.  If your family includes a child with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), planning for the summer can include some surprisingly simple activities your whole family can enjoy together.

1. Excavate Frozen Family-Friendly Treasure

Everyone can enjoy excavating toy dinosaurs and other plastic toys from a block of ice!  Fill a bowl with water and place small, plastic animals and other toys in the bowl.  Place the bowl in the freezer overnight.  By morning, you will have an exciting frozen display of tiny treasure waiting to be excavated and identified.  Using spray water bottles, paintbrushes, salt, and spoons, kids can work their way through the landscape of little animals and other toys.  As the ice melts in the Michigan sun, kids keep cool and comfortable for hours of entertainment.


2. Create a Family-Friendly Garden

Summer is a great time to start a garden!  Whether as a group activity or one-on-one, kids getting their hands in the dirt is a healthy idea.  If you are looking to keep things simple, start your family-friendly garden in a large pot.  After filling the pot with dirt, kids can plant seeds or small plants.  Gardening offers a tactile experience – planting, watering, weeding, and harvesting.  Vegetable plants can produce a tangible (and edible!) result which can be very satisfying for individuals with ASD.  To add a field trip to the gardening experience, consider Tollgate Farm and Education Center.  Located in Novi, Michigan, Tollgate Farm offers a hands-on experience that will delight kids of any age!


3. Design Sensory Bins and Bottles

All children love bins of toys, but those with ASD can find these collections particularly soothing.  Fill a bin with colored aquarium gravel, shredded paper, Easter grass, or buttons and beads, and let your kids dig in!  You can place plastic animals or other little “treasures” in the bin to be discovered during play for an added bit of fun.

Sensory bottles are particularly popular right now because they are customizable and portable.  They’re simple to create! Just fill a bottle with water, glitter, and a little hair gel.  Add small objects such as plastic letters or numbers to create an educational bottle or add paper clips and safety pins to allow your child to move the items in the bottle around with a magnet.  Sensory bottles with just water, gel, and glitter are eye-catching, but the addition of small objects gives them greater visual appeal and provides a soothing distraction.


4. It is Okay to Act Like an Animal!

Is a trip to the zoo out of the question?  Create your own family-friendly zoo!  First, on little scraps of paper, write down the names of as many zoo animals as your family can name.  Put all the slips of paper in a jar and, pulling out one at a time, call out the animal’s name written on the paper.  Everyone can act out the animal at the same time, or you can all take turns.  Be a silly monkey or a serious turtle!

If acting out an animal presents a challenge, try Follow the Leader or Simon Says and act out:

–  Jump like a frog

–  Walk like an elephant

–  Bark like a dog

–  Waddle like a duck

–  Wiggle your tail like a white-tailed deer (Michigan state animal)


Taking cues from other family members may help a child with ASD feel more secure and encourage participation.


5. Create Art with Torn Paper

Tearing paper can be very appealing for someone with sensory sensitivities.  Feeling the tearing paper, hearing the paper tear, and seeing the result can be a soothing and satisfactory experience.  Art can come from this torn paper in the form of paper flower bouquets.  Using the torn paper in strips or pieces, kids glue the pieces to a sheet of paper, paper plate, or another surface to create a torn paper bouquet.  For an added challenge, ask the kids to create something specific like the Michigan State Flower, the apple blossom.  There is no limit to creativity and keeping activities short helps keep frustration levels low.


6. Use Sidewalk Chalk to Draw Family-Friendly Games

While enjoying a lovely Michigan evening outdoors, Hopscotch and Tic-Tac-Toe are games that are easily drawn onto the sidewalk or driveway with chalk.  For those children that prefer a solitary or one-on-one experience, these games are incredibly simple to set up and require minimal verbal interaction.  Hopscotch provides some side benefits, including physical coordination, balance, and cognitive development.  While traditionally drawn with numbers, the hopscotch board can be created using different colors in each square to focus on learning colors.

Also, you can break down the skills of hopscotch to focus on one at a time:

–  Hand/Eye Coordination (Aim):  focus on just throwing the marker to specific squares

 Balance; hopping on just one foot from number to number

–  Physical coordination; leaning over to pick up the marker

–  Body control; not stepping on lines


Tic-Tac-Toe helps reinforce logical thinking and taking turns.  It requires minimal verbal interaction and can be quickly re-drawn for numerous games in a row.  Depending on the learning stage, a child may focus just on getting three in a row, not recognizing that there is a diagonal option or that they “must” be the first to get three in a row.  As logical thinking develops, a child can learn to see the diagonal, execute moves that block, and start to strategize.


7. Paint with Ice Cubes

Painting with ice cubes is another family-friendly way to cool off during a warm Michigan summer day.  Mix non-toxic watercolor paint with water and freeze in ice cube trays overnight.  Your kids can use the colored ice cubes to paint on paper or fabric and create beautiful pieces of art while remaining cool and comfortable.  Out in the yard or on picnic tables in the park, this super cool, family-friendly activity is sure to be a winner with all the kids in your household.

Creating a summer activity plan for your children does not have to be a struggle.  The professionals at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center in Novi, Michigan, can work with you to create a successful strategy to meet your family’s needs.

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Child plays on tablet.

The first three years of a child’s life are filled with lots of ups and downs. Diaper changes, giggles, sleepless nights, and first steps—it’s all so exciting! One of the biggest things that come with being a parent is the stress of just wanting to make sure your baby is okay.

It’s hard to tell if your child is behind developmentally or if you’re just over-stressing after reading one too many mom blogs. If you’re worried about your little one’s development, early intervention services can help you address those concerns and allow your child to thrive. It can be hard to figure out what your kiddo needs between occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and ABA therapy. We’ve got it all covered! Getting your child help doesn’t need to be so anxiety-inducing.


What is Early Intervention?

Early intervention is the term for the support and service that little ones with developmental disabilities and delays can receive. It’s like special education, but for babies and younger children. It can significantly impact your child’s ability to learn new skills and take on challenges that they may face. It can also increase success when it comes time for them to enter school and the real world. Some parts of early intervention include speech and language therapy, ABA therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and other services depending on the needs of your child and family.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires early intervention to be available in every state and territory by law. Early intervention is sometimes referred to as part C since that’s the part of IDEA that addresses it. IDEA was also the reason that special education for school-aged kids came to light.


What Services Does Early Intervention Provide?

Early intervention’s main goal is to help babies and toddlers learn basic and new skills they normally develop by the time they’re turning three. The five major milestones for young children three and under are:

  • Cognitive: learning and thinking
  • Physical: crawling, walking, rolling
  • Self-help: eating, getting dressed
  • Emotional: playing, feeling happy
  • Communication: listening, understanding, talking

If you’re concerned about your child’s development in those areas, early intervention services could help them get on the right track. It can provide hearing devices, speech and language therapy, counseling for family, medical and nursing services, occupational therapy, and more. Family services assist family members with understanding their child’s special needs and how to enhance their development. Children eligible for services like ABA therapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy can receive them from birth through their third birthday.

Child crawling.


Speech and Language Therapy

Since communication is such an essential part of life, speech and language therapy is a major part of early intervention. Along with ABA therapy and occupational therapy, it plays a significant role in the early years of a child’s life and development. When little ones can’t communicate their thoughts and feelings effectively, it can be frustrating for them. Not to mention, the worst feeling as a parent is knowing your child is upset but not knowing what’s wrong. Speech and language therapy allows them to work with therapists to address those issues. When you can tackle those issues at the source with speech and language therapy, you will start to see a positive difference in the child. Early intervention will help strengthen speech and language therapy results because the earlier you start, the better.


Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is another helpful service that early intervention can provide. It uses assessment and intervention to maintain, develop, and recover important skills. Occupational therapy, in addition to speech and language therapy and ABA therapy, is one of the vast numbers of early intervention services. Using occupational therapy can improve your child’s motor, cognitive, communication, sensory processing, and play skills.

While it’s beneficial for kids with certain conditions, like autism or down syndrome, it can also help those who don’t have a precise diagnosis. The goal of occupational therapy is to enhance development, minimize potential developmental delay, and help families meet their children’s needs.


Early Intervention with ABA Therapy

Children with autism, as well as other developmental disorders, will reap major benefits from participating in early intervention ABA therapy. Applied Behavioral Analysis, or ABA therapy, is a collection of techniques that can help kids with autism overcome their challenges. It can be combined with speech and language therapy and occupational therapy for maximum results for your child. ABA therapy is backed by lots of research and is versatile, so you can accommodate the practice to fit your family’s needs.

Mindfulness is a big part of dealing with autism, and ABA therapy can help them become more mindful and at peace. This therapy practice is the most popular option offered in early childhood since it’s so effective. It is most beneficial when kids start it as early as possible; that’s why it’s so important to get an evaluation for early intervention!


How Do You Know If Your Child Is Eligible?

As parents, it’s totally normal to worry about your child’s development. So, how do you know if your concern is valid or just too much parent anxiety? There are steps you can take to figure out exactly what your child needs, whether it’s occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, ABA therapy, or a different type of service.


How Developmental Disabilities are Defined

The exact definition of a developmental delay can vary across states because each state defines the term for itself. The state’s definition of the term describes the evaluation and assessment procedures that will be used to measure childrens’ development in each of the five areas (cognitive, physical, self-help, emotional, and communication). It also assesses the level of disability that constitutes a developmental delay and the need for things like speech and language therapy in each of the five areas. Check out this site to find out what your state’s rules and regulations are.


How to Address Concerns About Your Child’s Development

If you’re concerned about your child’s development, you should ask their pediatrician about it first, but you can also get them evaluated at an early intervention center. The evaluation looks at all your child’s basic skill sets. Even though it’s recommended to talk to a doctor first, you don’t need their referral to receive help from early intervention services.

For some babies, parents and medical professionals know from the time they are born that early intervention services will be crucial in helping them develop. This is normally the case for babies diagnosed with specific conditions or illnesses at birth, born with low weight, or significantly premature. The parents of these babies might receive a referral to their local early intervention office before even leaving the hospital. If that sounds like your family’s situation, you most likely won’t need an evaluation for your child to receive services. Other kids might have a relatively normal entry into the world. Still, they might experience setbacks later, develop slower than other kids, or develop in ways that are different from other children their age, causing them to need speech and language therapy or other services.

Once you have gotten a referral from a doctor or think early intervention ABA therapy, occupational therapy, or speech and language therapy is the right fit for your family, you will be paired up with a service coordinator. They will explain everything that’s involved in your child’s assessment and evaluation process. The service coordinator will serve as your single point of contact with the early intervention system. Then, they will ask for your permission to proceed. Family involvement is such an important part of early intervention; you need to have a say in everything. Therefore, you must provide your written consent for any screenings to take place.

Grandmother reading to child.

What Happens During the Early Intervention Evaluation?

Once they have gotten your approval to proceed with the evaluation process, qualified people with different areas of expertise will evaluate your child. They may evaluate him or her altogether or individually. These people are experts on all things children: speech and language therapy and skills, physical abilities, hearing and vision, and more. With an advanced skill set, these professionals can decipher whether your child needs ABA therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, or a different approach. They will observe your child in their environment as well as talk to them and ask them to do things. They will also be talking to you during the evaluation.

With your family’s approval, the family members closely involved in the child’s life will also be assessed. This identifies the family’s:

  • concerns
  • priorities
  • resources


Delving into these things will help enhance your child’s development. As much as therapists and experts are willing to help, your family is who will be around your little one the most, so knowing how to help them is vital.

After the evaluation, your family will meet with the team involved in assessing your child. Together, you will review all of the data and results to see if you can get a clear diagnosis and figure out the next steps. Suppose your child meets the criteria under the IDEA and state policies for having a developmental delay, diagnosis of a mental or physical condition, or being at risk for having a substantial delay. In that case, they can start receiving ABA therapy, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, or other early intervention services.


Creating an Early Intervention Plan

Now that the family and child have gone through an evaluation, it’s time to figure out how to take action. Is your child going to enter speech and language therapy or occupational therapy? The early intervention system must complete an evaluation, initial assessments of the child, and write the IFSP within forty-five days of getting your referral. It’s important that this process moves quickly since our kids can change in the blink of an eye!


What Is an IFSP?

You will sit down with the early intervention team to create the Individualized Family Service Plan or IFSP. The IFSP is a written document outlining the early intervention services, like occupational therapy, that your family and child will receive. Parents are a huge part of creating it, so don’t be afraid to voice your opinion! Each state has certain guidelines for the IFSP, and your service coordinator will explain those to you in-depth. The IFSP includes:

  • your child’s current cognitive, physical, self-help, emotional, and communication development levels and their needs
  • family information: resources, concerns, and priorities of close family members
  • outcomes expected from the early intervention
  • specific services the child will receive
  • when and where the treatment will take place
  • more info about raising a child with a disability
  • who will pay for the services
  • financial aid (if needed)


That might all seem like a lot, but your service coordinator and the rest of the early intervention team will be there to guide you along every step of the way. They’ll consider your suggestions and make sure you’re on board with each part of the plan. If you don’t give your clear consent in writing for a service, like speech and language therapy, your child won’t receive that specific service.

The IFSP is reviewed every six months to make sure it’s still meeting the needs of everyone involved. At least once a year, you will update the plan. Maybe ABA therapy was perfect for your child last year, but now, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy are exactly what they need. Kids grow and learn at such a fast pace; we just need to keep up!


Where Does Early Intervention Take Place?

It is best if your child receives services in their natural environment. Their natural environment could be at home, at a park, or somewhere in the community—wherever they will feel most comfortable. This will make the ABA therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, or whatever type of service your child is receiving, more beneficial to them. Anywhere can be a natural environment as long as your kiddo and family can play, learn, and live comfortably. It should incorporate the activities, toys, and people that make your child happy! If you will not receive your services in a natural environment, the IFSP must justify why not.


Is Early Intervention Going to Break the Bank?

Don’t worry, early intervention services are there to help you, not add more stress to your life! Under part C of IDEA, some services must be provided at no cost, like:

  • childcare services
  • evaluations and assessment
  • service coordination
  • creation and review of the IFSP

The entire evaluation process is completely free of charge. Depending on the state’s policies, certain things might not be free. You could be charged a “sliding-scale” fee, which means the fees are based on your income. However, there are publicly funded programs in each state that provide free or reduced costs for any child eligible.

If you have health insurance or Medicaid, they could help cover some of the services. The part C system might ask for your permission for access to your public or private insurance to pay for early intervention services. In most situations, the system won’t use your health care insurance for things like ABA therapy and occupational therapy without your written consent.


What Happens After Your Child Turns Three?

Before you know it, your little one will be reaching the big three. Wipe your tears, mom and dad. Once they turn three, your family’s service coordinator will meet with you to discuss moving your child from early intervention to special education under IDEA. It will be like picking up right where they left off. When the time comes to make those plans, the team will be there for support and guidance while you figure out what’s next. A member from the local school district can meet with you as well.

Even if your kiddo has already passed the three-year mark, the first step to getting them help is still an evaluation. They can still participate in early intervention ABA therapy, occupational therapy, or speech and language therapy to improve their skills. If professionals find any developmental delays, you can meet with your child’s preschool to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for them.

Now that you know all the ins and outs of early intervention, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and ABA therapy, you’re on the right track to keeping your child thriving. Research your local system, and set a plan in motion and improve the lives of your child and family.

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Mother holding her daughters hand.

Choosing a therapist is an important decision, especially when it comes to the care of your child. Finding the right specialists to conduct Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy requires research and can feel overwhelming. This guide will help serve as an outline of what to ask behavioral centers to choose an ABA therapy location.


Important ABA Therapy Considerations:

  • Counseling service offerings
  • Cost and insurance
  • Communicating clearly
  • Setting goals and expectations


Using these topics as the start of your checklist, you can feel sure your therapist is answering all of your concerns. If you’re searching for ABA therapy in Michigan or elsewhere, we can help you get started in your search.


Defining ABA Therapy

Before you begin researching ABA therapists in Michigan or local to your area, let’s define ABA therapy.  ABA therapy focuses on the learning and behavior of children with autism or other behavioral disorders.  ABA therapy uses a variety of programs and methods to improve many aspects of an individual’s everyday life:

  • Motor skills
  • Speech
  • Language
  • Communication
  • Cognitive skills
  • Independence


There are even more benefits that ABA therapy can provide to children or adults with behavioral disorders. If your child shows early signs of autism disorder, intervening early on with ABA therapy is critical. By being a keen observer of your child’s behavior, you can learn to spot early symptoms of behavioral issues such as childhood developmental delays.

Mother decorating cookies with children.

ABA Therapy Service Offerings

One of the most critical parts of finding a new therapist is making sure they offer the specific type of care you are looking for. You may be searching for a behavioral therapist specializing in ABA therapy, which will narrow down your search results. The Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center offers ABA therapy to Michigan residents, as well as multiple therapy options.



  • Occupational therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Speech and language therapy
  • General counseling
  • Support services


These therapy services may be used for treatment individually or in combination with ABA therapy. An ABA therapist or Board Certified Behavioral Analyst ( BCBA) will develop an individualized and comprehensive ABA therapy plan for each patient.


Cost and Insurance

If you have medical insurance, you may need a primary doctor’s referral to seek ABA therapy so check with your health care provider first. Your insurance can filter and recommend therapy services that are in your network. With insurance, you will want to make sure you know any co-pay or out of pocket costs for each visit. If you seek ABA therapy at our Novi office, you can give us a call or provide your insurance information in the online consultation form to check your coverage with our center.

Understanding the coverage and cost of therapy services is critical, especially when long-term care is likely on the table. Whether it’s your insurance provider or a therapist’s office, there are plenty of ABA therapy resources to help you learn if your insurance is accepted and if the out-of-pocket is suitable for you.


Communicating Clearly with Your Therapist

It’s essential to have an open communication line with your child’s ABA therapist, especially from the start. This open communication will stem from a clear understanding of the behavioral challenges your child has been facing. From your first phone call or consultation, be prepared to discuss the challenges your child may be facing in detail.

To better prepare, take some time to jot down a list of key talking points – you can even start by including your child’s daily routine as this is an integral part of improving behavior. You can also keep a list of any challenges or inappropriate behavior such as outbursts. Be sure also to note any areas of delays like speech and communication. This way, your ABA therapist has a full view of the extent of your child’s behavioral disorder and can come up with a personalized therapy program.



Setting Goals and Expectations of your Therapist

Once a clear understanding of your child’s needs is established, you can request a follow-up meeting where the ABA therapist can present goal setting and a program plan. You don’t have to commit a therapist after the first meeting – instead, work with them to set expectations of the type of therapy your child may expect under their care. Review these examples of types of questions to ask your ABA therapist to help guide the conversation.

You can brief yourself on some counseling approaches to better understand what your therapist might suggest. Check out the ten most common counseling approaches you may encounter here.


ABA Therapy in Michigan

When it comes to finding a therapy center, location also plays a large factor. Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center is an ABA therapy center based in Michigan that also offers various specialized therapy services. Our office is optimally located in Novi to serve patients seeking ABA therapy in Southeast Michigan. Finding an office local to you can also offer support in terms of nearby events that your child may find beneficial or entertaining.

Our team comprises occupational therapists, behavior analysts, speech and language pathologists, and other highly-trained professionals with the common goal of improving behavior to enhance lives. If you are interested in finding ABA therapy in Michigan, learn more about our team and therapy services to get started, or give us a call at our Novi office to ask any questions you may have.


Finding the Right Fit for ABA Therapy

On the journey to finding the right ABA therapist, you may not find the perfect match right away. Be cautious that introducing a therapist to your child will be an adjustment but take comfort in knowing that your therapist will be working tirelessly to make the transition smooth. Don’t be afraid to ask any and every question of your ABA therapist.

Living with autism disorder can be taxing for the individuals or their support group. Children and parents need to understand the connection between mindfulness and autism disorder to help ease life stresses with autism disorder. We don’t want finding the right therapist to be another strain in your life, so let us help you answer any questions you may have about ABA therapy.

Visit our Novi office or schedule a consultation with the Michigan ABA experts at Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center to get started.

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Mother working out with child near by.

Whether you suffer from anxiety, depression, or have autism, you’ve likely found yourself feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated, which can happen far too often, even when we are in the comfort of our own homes. Many adults and children show symptoms of stress and fatigue and can positively benefit from a variety of calming strategies. No matter what you’re going through, you can find relief, whether that be in the office of a licensed therapist or by practicing therapy at home.

We will focus on learning calming strategies and therapy at home techniques for children with autism. We will learn several ways to help your child with autism find peace at home, including:

  • How to create a calming environment at home
  • Learning everyday stressors for children with autism
  • Calming strategies for children with autism


The daily stressors of having a child with autism can take a toll on parents, too – we will guide you to some mindfulness techniques that parents can utilize as well. Let’s get started in understanding the benefit of learning coping skills and calming strategies for us in the home.


Learning Coping Skills at Home

Implementing therapy at home with a variety of calming strategies can help both children and adults. There are so many reasons that contribute to a feeling of uneasiness, discomfort, or overload. Some of these contributing factors may include feelings of stress and anxiety or living with autism.

Teaching these coping skills and strategies can be a great help for children, especially for children with autism. Teaching calming strategies can help children manage and deal with their feelings and outbursts. When your child is learning different ABA therapy skills, it’s essential to apply and incorporate these therapeutic techniques in practice at home. We will cover several calming strategies that benefit children with autism.


Creating a Calming Environment at Home

Being at home can be the most calming place for many people, but when a lot is going on, you can still become overwhelmed at home. In conjunction with practicing therapy at home and calming strategies, you can adjust your home to be a calmer environment.


If you’re dealing with anxiety, sensory-overload, or other issues, consider making these adjustments to your home:

  • Use warm, dimmable lighting
  • Place items that bring you comfort and joy around the home
  • Create a dedicated space for therapy at home


Sensory overload is a common issue for children and adults with autism. You can equip your home with options or ways to lessen sensory overload, like installing a light dimmer. These simple steps can go a long way in relieving any tensions, stresses, or anxiety experienced at home. Additionally, keeping items around your home that bring you peace or comfort, like a favorite blanket or stuffed animal, can help make you feel calmer.


If you have space or can create the space, try to have a dedicated area where you can practice and apply calming strategies from your therapist in the form of therapy at home. At home therapy techniques can be done at home. Aim to have a safe, quiet, and calm space to lessen distractions. This space can also be used to reach out externally if you’re seeking comfort from a friend, family member, or therapist. Creating a calming environment is deeper than perfecting a home’s physical space.


Creating an optimal home, especially for children with autism, involves a family effort. All household members should strive to create an atmosphere that is comfortable by reducing any stress levels. This type of environmental change could mean something as simple as reducing excess noise when possible. A child’s home environment and the ABA therapy environment should feel warm, secure, and safe.


Use the above checklist when you’re feeling overwhelmed to bring immediate relief to your environment. Placing yourself in a calm, relaxing environment can help you or your child practice calming strategies more efficiently.

Mother and daughter meditating together.

Everyday Stressors for Children with Autism

If you have a child with autism, ABA therapy will provide an excellent and customized program to teach your child a variety of necessary skills, including self-soothing. These skills are learned in the office to be applied in social settings and at home. If you are looking for ways to help create a calming environment for your child with autism, keep a lookout for these everyday stressors for children with autism:

  • Sensory issues
  • Visual overstimulation
  • Changes in routine


Having a sense of what can be causing your child stress can help you be proactive in mitigating these contributing factors. These outbursts are stressful for parents too. We recommend parents practice understanding the link between mindfulness and autism to help cope with the daily stressors of having a child with autism. With mindfulness techniques, both children and parents can find ways to cope with feelings of being overwhelmed.


Calming Strategies for Children with Autism

In ABA therapy, your therapist will specialize the sessions to your child’s individual needs. These special techniques can be translated into therapy at home, where parents help their children practice and apply learned skills and behaviors.

In ABA therapy and other therapy programs, you may learn these common calming strategies:

  • Take deep breaths
  • Count to 10
  • Distraction
  • Physical exercise


A good practice for teaching calming strategies or other ABA therapy skills or at home therapy is to avoid reinforcing challenging behavior. When working with a child with autism, the best way to encourage their practice of calming skills is by using positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is also used in ABA therapy and translates to therapy at home.


Learn more about how you can teach or support a person with autism using these calming strategies.


ABA Therapy

Therapy at home is an excellent methodology to use but is not a substitute for ABA therapy. ABA therapy is an excellent option if you are working to help and improve the quality of life for your child with autism. By using a collaborative approach to meet all areas of a child’s development, ABA therapy programs focus on learning and behavior specific to children with autism.

Early intervention is critical when dealing with childhood development delays, so reach out to a therapist and find out if ABA therapy is right for your child. ABA therapy will give your child with autism a structured environment to learn skills such as language development, calming strategies, social skills, and more.

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A child in speech therapy.

Language and speech development plays an essential role in your child’s growth and development. While many disorders and incidents can lead to speech issues, it is not uncommon for non-disordered children to seek speech therapy to improve how they speak, understand, or even read. When it comes to speech development, early intervention is best for combatting any speech issues.

In this guide, we’ll learn about tracking your child’s speech development, when to intervene with speech therapy, and what conditions may lead to speech development issues. By knowing the speech and language milestones your child should be hitting, you will be a more-equipped parent to spot issues early on and take action with speech therapy.

The Importance of Speech and Language Development

Early childhood is such a critical time for a child’s speech and language development. Children are regularly exposed to speech, language, sights, and sounds from infancy to three-year-old ages. These exposures play a crucial role in their own speech development as they move from cooing babies to echoing their parents’ sounds.

Without proper exposure to language during this critical period, children will have difficulty developing their speech, especially as they age past three years old. Take note of how changing your daily routines can positively impact your child’s speech and language development.

Early Signs of Speech and Language Issues

Spotting and mitigating speech and language issues early on is vital in repairing these developmental communication tools. Speaking and language issues in young children will only worsen if left unattended. As children enter preschool, communicating, and interacting with teachers and other children will prove difficult. This communication gap can be challenging and frustrating for children. If your child has ASD (autism spectrum disorder) or another speaking disorder or condition preventing their speech and language development, you can take action by seeking the counsel of a speech therapist.

If your child is exhibiting any of these signs, it may be time to talk to a speech pathologist:

● Stuttering
● Unclear speech
● Difficulty with pronunciation
● Only speaking a select few words
● Unintelligible words

If your child is hearing impaired or has ASD, they are more likely to experience speech and language development issues. Learn how speech and language therapy intervention can aid speech disordered or ASD children with their speech and language developmental issues.

Seeking Speech Therapy for Your Child

Your child doesn’t need to have overt speech issues for you to seek speech therapy. Speech therapy can assist in better articulation, fluency, and resonance when speaking. If your child is experiencing any range of speech processing, it may be time to seek the counsel of a speech and language pathologist in ABA therapy. Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center offers speech therapy to encourage language and speech development in young children.

Early childhood development plays such a critical role in your child’s speech and language understanding and development. Whether your child has a disorder or is neurotypical, spotting the signs of speech issues early on is critical in an intervention. A speech therapist can also help answer any speech and language questions you might have relating to your child’s development.

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Children in ABA play therapy.

Learning how to deal with stress and regulate emotion is a part of every person’s mental health journey. When it comes to those with neurotypical or autism spectrum disorder, the lack of these tolerances can be especially harmful. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental and neurological disorder that affects how individuals interact, learn, and communicate. These stress and emotional responses are significant for people with mental illnesses or ASD. These responses may be so exaggerated that they can lead to self-harm or other dangerous situations.

Whether or not you have an underlying disorder contributing to ineffective stress and emotional response, you can hone these skills through ABA therapy and other treatments. By defining distress tolerance and emotional regulation, we can learn more about keeping these feelings in check, whether you suffer from a mental illness or disorder or are neurotypical.


Distress Tolerance

Learning how to handle stress is essential for everyone, especially patients who are more at risk of self-harm, such as those suffering from mental illness. Distress tolerance is vital for individuals to learn how to deal with negative feelings and relieve themselves from stressful situations. Individuals who fail to tolerate and positively respond to stress effectively are at risk of depression, anxiety, and self-harm.

No matter your situation, distress tolerance takes consistent work to maintain a healthy and effective mental state. There are several strategies to help individuals cope with emotional stress, such as therapy treatments with healthcare professionals. If you lack distress tolerance, we encourage seeking a trained therapist to begin remedying your stress and learning coping habits to manage the stress in your life. You can lessen the effects of stress in your or your child’s life by trying ABA therapy or other distress tolerance treatments.


Emotion Regulation Skills

Have you ever felt out of control when it comes to how you are feeling? Emotion regulation skills give individuals the ability to control their emotional state and the ability to exert control over their emotional state. Children with ASD may have a more challenging time processing their emotions and can benefit from improving their behaviors with a medical professional’s help using ABA therapy. It may involve behaviors such as rethinking a challenging situation to reduce anger or anxiety, hiding visible signs of sadness or fear, or focusing on reasons to feel happy or calm.

Failure of emotional regulation skills can result in the following:

  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Angry outbursts
  • Sadness

Whether a person has ASD or is neurotypical, poor emotional regulation skills can lead to inappropriate reactions and responses. With emotional regulation, you are effectively managing how your body perceives and processes different emotional states. Emotional regulation skills can be taught through therapeutic techniques such as ABA therapy. With these emotional regulation skills, you will become more aware of your emotional responses and insight into managing your feelings effectively.


Impacts on Neurotypical and ASD

Both distress tolerance and emotional regulation skills impact those with ASD but also neurotypical persons. Children with ASD who lack emotional regulation skills may exhibit behavioral issues. An individual can mitigate these behavior disturbances by using treatments, teaching children how to manage their feelings and emotions effectively, and the same is true for neurotypical persons. Stress coping and emotional regulation skills are not always learned behavior throughout childhood development. They can manifest themselves into broader issues when a neurotypical person enters adulthood and faces far greater stressful scenarios.

Understanding how a lack of stress management and tolerance, and emotional coping skills affect an individual, you will spot the signs of when it is time to seek counsel from a healthcare professional or counselor and try ABA therapy. As you seek therapy for your child, you can learn more about the importance of your role and involvement as a parent in helping your child’s emotional development. The combined efforts of parents and the Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center therapists together can help get your child on the right path.

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A girl in speech language therapy.

Language development begins in the early stages of infancy and helps us communicate with one another. Language encompasses how we create words and how we put them together, their meanings, and how we can apply language in various social situations. Both expressive language and receptive language help us understand the world around us while sharing our wants, needs, thoughts, and feelings. When receptive language or expressive language does not develop correctly in your child, they may experience trouble understanding and reading others, sharing with others, and may develop a language disorder. While language disorders can affect their receptive language or expressive language, it’s essential to know the difference between them to begin addressing their receptive language or expressive language difficulties. Let’s take a look at:

  • The differences between receptive language and expressive language
  • Typically developing language
  • Receptive language and expressive language in children with autism
  • Speech-Language Therapy


What is Expressive Language?

Expressive language is your child’s ability to communicate their thoughts and feelings through the use of:

  • Signs
  • Words
  • Gestures
  • Drawings or symbols

The use of expressive language can be as simple as pointing to a person, food, or toy. While talking is the main form of expressive language, other strategies can be just as effective.

Expressive language utilizes many forms as your child gets older to communicate with family, peers, and caregivers.

  • Sign language
  • Images
  • Speech-generating device
  • Writing

Let’s break it down a step further. Think of expressive language as an output. This output of language is your child’s ability to express their desires and needs through verbal or nonverbal communication. Expressive language use is eventually forming these thoughts into words and sentences that make sense and are grammatically correct.


What is Receptive Language?

Listening is an essential component of receptive language but involves much more than that. Receptive language is the process of understanding information, whether through:


  • Sounds and words
  • Movement and gestures
  • Signs
  • Symbols

Children typically acquire various receptive language elements much faster than expressive language, making their receptive language vocabulary larger than their expressive language.

Think of receptive language as input – your child’s ability to understand and comprehend spoken language and the language they read. Receptive language includes listening and following directions. During typical development, children are beginning to understand language before they can produce it.


Expressive Language and Receptive Language in Typically Developing Children

Understanding how language skills typically develop requires looking into the critical first three years of your child’s life. Meeting milestones helps us understand where a child may begin to have difficulties with their speech and language development.


Speech and Language Development

During your child’s first three years, their brain develops rapidly. This timeframe is the most crucial period for them to acquire vital speech and language skills. These skills develop best when caregivers immerse them in various stimuli, including sounds, sights, and consistent exposure to others’ speech and language.

Crucial periods for speech and language development exist between infancy and early childhood. During these crucial periods, their brain is absorbing language rapidly and effectively. But, if children do not receive proper speech and language exposure during these critical periods, communication learning becomes difficult for them.

Each child’s language development varies but referring to a basic guideline for these milestones will help you monitor their progression:


Language Milestones for Children

0 to 3 months:

  • Smiling at familiar faces
  • Cooing
  • A different cry for different needs
  • Calms or smiles when spoken to


4 to 6 months:

  • Giggling
  • Babbling using different sounds
  • Vocalizes excitement and displeasure
  • Moves eyes in the direction of sounds


6 months to 1 year:

  • Uses speech to get attention
  • Uses small gestures to communicate
  • Imitates various speech sounds
  • Using one or two words appropriately and consistently
  • Enjoys playing games (peek-a-boo)


1 year to 18 months:

  • Shakes head “no”
  • Uses twenty-five words
  • Communicates their needs using single words
  • Points to objects when you name them
  • Follows straightforward one- and two-step commands


18 months to 2 years old:

  • Uses 50-200 words
  • Responds appropriately to “yes/no” questions
  • Asks, “what’s that?”
  • Able to name everyday objects



Language Difficulties in Children with Autism

Children with ASD often struggle with the ability to communicate and interact successfully with others. You may notice your child has difficulty developing introductory speech and language skills and understanding what others are trying to express. Even the simplest of receptive language and expressive language is a challenge for them, including:

  • Hand gestures
  • Making eye contact
  • Reading or conveying facial expressions


Your child’s ability to use speech and language tools effectively may depend on their intellectual and social development. Often, children with autism cannot communicate using speech or language, while others have limited speaking skills. And other children with ASD have extensive vocabularies, ability to communicate about a particular subject extensively.

Children with autism tend to struggle with the meanings and rhythms of words and sentences. They have trouble reading and understanding their peers’ and caregivers’ body language and vocal tones, limiting their ability to respond correctly, socially interact, or form connections.

Children with autism tend to exhibit expressive language and receptive language difficulties, such as:

  • Rigid or repetitive language
  • Communicate only about narrow interests
  • Uneven language development

The most common speech and language struggles children with autism experience are:


Producing Sounds

Roughly one in three people with autism struggles producing speech sounds effectively. They may:

  • Babble with word-like sounds
  • Parrot
  • Hum or talk in musical rhythm
  • May use the correct words and sentences, but with an expressionless tone of voice
  • Grunt, shriek, use harsh sounds and use loud cries
  • Be completely nonverbal


Limiting Language Abilities


  • Ability to memorize but lack understanding of words they use
  • Heavy reliance on echolalia to communicate


Helpful Strategies to Develop your Child’s Receptive and Expressive Language Skills: 

  • Develop Daily Routines: Consistent daily routines provide children with autism a predictable schedule. Structure helps them thrive while feeling safe and secure in their environments. A predictable routine allows your child to understand better and use language appropriate for each situation. It exposes them to a consistent set of words in a familiar context, strengthening receptive and expressive language practices.
  • Develop Joint Attention: Joint attention refers to two or more people sharing their attention with one object or activity together. You and your child can practice tuning into each other’s communications and reactions to the object or activity.
  • Social Interaction: Create new opportunities for your child to interact with different people. This additional interaction helps teach them social norms, exposes them to language naturally, and encourages them to communicate with others appropriately.
  • Language Development Through Play: Participating in various play types will help them explore and understand their environments in different ways. During play, encourage and model new ways for them to use their expressive and receptive language skills.



Speech-Language Therapy

Speech therapy helps improve your child’s overall communication skills. This practice dramatically increases your child’s ability to form relationships, respond appropriately in situations, communicate wants and needs, and function to the best of their ability in daily life.

Speech and language delays may be recognizable as early as eighteen months of age. If concerns arise, visit your child’s pediatrician for a referral to a speech therapist. Early intervention will have the most significant impact on your child’s success.


The Speech-Language Process: What to Expect

Speech-language pathologists are essential for your child’s autism treatment team. A speech-language pathologist will administer a comprehensive evaluation of your child’s communication abilities, looking at both receptive language and expressive language skills. Your child’s therapist then determines a course of treatment and individualized goals according to their needs and is often the first therapist to recognize additional concerns and make necessary referrals to other specialists and ABA services.

Your child’s speech-language pathologist will work closely with your family and additional caregivers throughout therapy, ensuring everyone is in tune and working towards your child’s primary goals. Your child’s therapist may recommend strategies and tools, including:

  • Massaging and exercising their lips and facial muscles to improve articulation
  • An array of electronic gadgets and tools to “speak” for your child
  • Sign language
  • Typing devices
  • Picture boards and other image-communication devices


Receptive Language Difficulties

Children who are unable to comprehend language may have receptive language difficulties or a receptive language disorder. During speech and language therapy, receptive language goals might include:

  • Following multistep and straightforward directions
  • Answering basic comprehension questions
  • Understanding basic vocabulary words
  • Making inferences or making predictions based upon a picture or story
  • Articulation of words
  • Communicating verbally and nonverbally
  • Ability to exchange ideas successfully
  • Communicating in ways which form and strengthen relationships
  • Communicating, playing, and interacting with their peers and caregivers
  • Learning to self-regulate
  • Understanding verbal and nonverbal communication
  • Understanding the intentions of others in various settings
  • Initiating communication without prompting from others
  • Understanding and recognizing appropriate times and places to communicate and how to appropriately communicate something
  • Developing adequate conversational skills
  • Respond to your child’s sounds, gestures, and gurgling from infancy
  • Repeat their sounds, words, and attempts at words, continuing the conversation to introduce them to new vocabulary and facial expressions
  • Talk about the world around them, in various environments, pointing to what you see or hear at the store, in the car, or on walks
  • Ask questions often and encourage their responses
  • Sing songs and rhymes often
  • Read to your child often. Select complex books as your child progresses with their language skills. Reading to your child allows them to hear words in different contexts, helping them learn meanings and model tone
  • Relate books to events, people, and objects in your child’s life. For instance, going to a doctor’s appointment or learning about caring for a pet. Encourage your child to point out characters or talk about what may happen next and why they predict it.


Speech-Language Therapy for Receptive Language

SLP is highly effective in improving receptive language skills in children with autism. A speech-language pathologist will use various informal and formal assessments to determine your child’s specific receptive language strengths and deficiencies. They will then create a comprehensive treatment plan for your child. These goals may focus on:

  • Attention
  • Concentration
  • Vocabulary
  • Understanding grammar
  • Figurative language
  • Comprehension strategies
  • Following directions

Speech therapy for receptive language difficulties is specific to each child’s needs, and a course of action is built around them. Improving their receptive language skills will help your child begin to participate in their daily activities independently.


Speech-Language Therapy for Expressive Language

Speech therapy is effective in improving expressive language delays and deficits. Expressive language therapy focuses on giving each child the tools and strategies they need to communicate their needs, thoughts, and ideas to the world.


Expressive Language Disorder

An expressive language disorder occurs when your child has difficulty using words to communicate their needs and thoughts. Children who struggle with an expressive language disorder may:

  • Leave words out of their sentences
  • Mix up word tenses
  • Repeat phrases or portions of a sentence

An expressive language disorder can lead to additional problems in your child’s social settings and later at school. Your child may have expressive language difficulties if they cannot communicate even the most basic needs, including the need to use the bathroom or if they are hungry.

As they continue to grow, it is essential to watch for signs your child has difficulty producing language, including struggling with:

  • Basic vocabulary
  • Making comments
  • Asking questions
  • Naming common objects
  • Using gestures
  • Using facial expressions
  • Proper syntax (grammar rules)
  • Proper semantics (word/sentence meaning)
  • Morphology (the forming of words)


Early intervention methods with a team of ABA and speech therapists can properly diagnose your child’s difficulties and begin proper treatment plans to strengthen their receptive and expressive language abilities. Finding the therapists and programs that suit the needs of your child and family is essential. That’s why we, at Blossom Behavior Wellness Center, believe in providing all-encompassing services and support for the entire family. As a whole-child facility, we believe in providing a team of highly trained professionals who dedicate themselves to the wellbeing of your child and family unit. For more information on our programs, services, and abundance of resources, we invite you to schedule an appointment today.

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Therapy couch.

Starting therapy isn’t always easy to do, and that’s okay. No matter what brought you to therapy, the vital thing to remember is that you deserve to put your mental health first. In this guide, we will discuss the different experiences you may have while starting therapy:

  • How to combat the stigma against therapy
  • What you can expect from a therapy session
  • How to get started in your journey to better mental health

Whether it’s with a counselor or with close friends, it’s so important to have a strong support network that can be there for you when you’re feeling stressed, sad, or angry. Learn how you can overcome the stigma of starting therapy next.


Fighting the Therapy Stigma

Seeking therapy should be normalized, but there is an unfortunate stigma that you may need to fight against before you can allow yourself to start counseling services. Stigmas when starting therapy might stem from wondering what other people will think or thinking you are weak for seeking help. Do not let these stigmas stop you from seeking counseling services and being the best version of yourself.

You can learn to combat the stigma to start therapy by researching and finding out what kind of counseling services are available to you, whether online or locally. Have open communication with your trusted family and friends to speak openly about wanting to start therapy. Fighting the stigma starts with being truthful with yourself. When you can be honest with yourself, you can start to show yourself more compassion. Recognize that you are in power when you decide to seek counseling.


What to Expect from a Therapy Session

Walking into a therapy session for the first time may seem overwhelming. Still, your therapist will work to make sure you are in a comfortable, safe environment before starting your session. In a therapy session, you will need to be honest and vulnerable to have a productive session with your counselor. Remember that not every therapy session will end with butterflies and rainbows, so trust the process and take pride in knowing that you’re working to better yourself with each session.

If you’re starting to feel stressed or anxious about your first therapy session, remember why you sought counseling in the first place. You can always ask your counselor questions if you’re feeling uneasy or unsure of what to expect. With therapy, you should feel strong and empowered that you are actively taking steps to a better you.


Getting Started with Therapy

Therapy helps you learn more about yourself, navigate different situations, and grow and work toward better brain health. If you have been wondering if you should start therapy, start talking to your support network and researching counseling services near you. The sooner you can recognize that you want or need help, the quicker you are on the path to receiving the right mental health services for your life.

If you’re interested in starting therapy at Blossom Behavior Wellness Center for yourself or your child, you can begin your consultation online. We specialize in several individualized services, including Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy.

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While many parents have a long list of questions after receiving their child’s diagnosis of autism, we want to help make your search for answers less stressful. Here are the most frequently asked questions regarding your child’s speech and language therapy:

Question: What are some critical early speech and language milestones for young children?


  • 0 to 3 months:
    • Cooing
    • Smiling at familiar faces
    • Crying differently for different needs
    • Calming or smiling when spoken to


  • 4 to 6 months:
    • Babbling with different sounds (e.g., “mamamama” or “bababa”)
    • Laughing
    • Vocalizing excitement and displeasure
    • Moving eyes in the direction of sounds


  • 6 months to 1 year:
    • Using speech to get your attention
    • Using gestures to communicate (e.g., waving, clapping, pointing)
    • Imitating different speech sounds
    • Using one or two words consistently and appropriately
    • Enjoying games like peek-a-boo


  • 1 year to 18 months:
    • Shaking head “no;”
    • Using 25 words
    • Communicating needs with single words
    • Pointing to objects when named
    • Following simple one- and two-step directions (e.g., get your shoes, sit down, give me, come here)


  • 18 months to 2 years old:
    • Using 50-200 words
    • Responding to “yes/no” questions
    • Asking, “what’s that?”
    • Naming common objects


Question: At what age should my child start speaking?

Answer: All children learn at a different pace. Typical speech and language development begins with cooing and babbling before progressing to the imitation of environmental sounds (e.g., moo, baa, beep beep). Speech and language development then moves on to single words (e.g., eat, ball, more), phrases (e.g., want ball), and sentences (e.g., I want the ball).

Talk with your pediatrician if your child is not making attempts to vocalize. If your child is already receiving ABA therapy services, speak with your team about your concerns. Continue to monitor vital signs of speech and language delays or difficulties may include a lack of making eye contact, smiling, laughing, and engaging socially.

Child video chatting

Question: What are the ways to improve my child’s speech and language skills?

Answer: For children 0-12 months old:

  • Respond to your child’s coos and babbling
  • Keep vocabulary simple and consistent
  • Match your child’s language with activities (e.g., “Shoes on”)
  • Look at and explore with picture books. Label the images, take your child’s hand and point to pictures as you name them, and implement ABA therapy best practices by being consistent as well as repetitive
  • Tell nursery rhymes, sing songs, and play simple games together, such as peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake. Model and repeat to help ensure learning of new skills through your child’s ABA therapy goals


Children ages 12 months-24 months:

  • Reward and encourage efforts to say new words. Utilize positive rewards your child’s ABA therapy team establishes for long-lasting results.
  • Ask your child to “show me” if something is unclear
  • Talk to your child about what you’re doing
  • Encourage play with other children
  • Describe what your child is doing
  • Go on trips (e.g., visit the zoo, go on a walk, start a garden)


Question: What are excellent toys for children working on speech and language skills?

Answer: The best toys to promote speech and language are simple toys that allow them to be creative while playing. Consider using toys that do not make sounds, as these toys encourage children to use their imagination when attempting to make the sounds. Some of our favorite suggestions are:

  • Cars/trucks/trains
  • Play food
  • Farm set
  • Baby doll and dollhouse
  • Potato Head
  • Blocks and legos
  • Bubbles
  • Puzzles

Mr. potato head toys for children working on speech skills.

For additional resources and services for your child and family, visit us today.

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