As a parent and a professional who started her career more than 13 years ago as a volunteer for the early intervention program, I have been blessed to come into my own surrounded by great friends and professionals. These blessed people also happen to be Infant and Toddler Development Specialists, speech and language therapists, and more. I have learned so much from them and they have been great supporters in my role of raising my own two children.
Something I have learned from my experience and from the influential people on my journey is that when you have a child with special needs, the power of the natural environment is irreplaceable.
- Children don’t learn simply to please us, they only really learn when they have fun.
- They don’t understand why they have to attend biweekly therapies, and for sure, they are not worried about their futures like we are.
For that, as parents, we must work and trust in capable and empathetic professionals who look at the child first. We hope that in their commitment to helping children become the best possible version of themselves, they empower us to implement easy activities in the everyday routine of our children to keep them stimulated and eager to learn.
As stated in the Pacer Center Information Sheet of 2010 regarding the importance of Natural Environment, “All young children tend to thrive when they’re in familiar surroundings and with the people and objects that are most dear to them. For young children with disabilities, those reassuring surroundings are an essential part of their early intervention services. Called “natural environments,” they’re where children can practice new skills and reap the full benefits of professional intervention services.”
No matter what their challenges are, our children have the right to have fun, to laugh, to do silly things, and to enjoy life like everyone else. For that, these 10 fun activities can help your child strengthen his or her oral muscles while you play with them. Of course, these don’t replace professional advice and may not correct or improve your child’s speech, but they can’t hurt and they are also a good way to connect with your child while having tons of fun together.
1. Playing with your tongues. Stick out your tongue and do silly sounds to help your children learn while he or she practices oral control. Colorful frozen pops can be also tons of fun when you find out that your tongue may have a different color than usual.
2. Paint your lips and imprint kisses all over.
3. Blow bubbles with gum or even the saliva in your mouths, or simply make a “pop” sound with your lips.
4. Have a “mouth closed sound contest”. Try to make a variety of sounds while keeping your lips and mouths closed. First one to open their mouth loses!
5. Straws are super fun and you can suck from or blow into them depending on the activity. You can make funny sounds or even bubbles!
6. Paint your lips with something yummy and lick them all the way around. You can use different textures or palatable liquids or mushy textured foods. It’s a delicious and entertaining activity that can bring the opportunity to take tons of funny pictures. Sugar-free options are always good for this!
7. Make some music! Get ready for the loudest and funniest time of your life. Flutes, whistles, recorders, kazoos… anything you can blow into that makes sound works.
8. Blow, blow, and keep blowing big and small bubbles. An everyday game that is always fun and engaging for children and parents of all ages.
9. Test the power of your blowing and hold a contest to blow small pieces of paper, leaves, or anything else. What about building paper ships to blow on the water.
10. Have you ever been in a funny face contest? If not, you are going to love it! Get ready to laugh a lot while you practice moving and manipulating every big and small muscle of your face.
And just like that, enjoy, have fun, and focus on the moment and the great memories you are building together while you help your child increase control over their oral muscles.