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The Whole Child, Issue #082 Developmental Delays
June 21, 2011


The Whole Child e-zine brings you free preschool activities each week to maximize your child's potential, build skills and parent-child relationships in just a few minutes per day. Useful tips, quotes, resources, opportunities and articles will be added for extra value!

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Developmental Delays: Speech and Muscle Tone

A mom recently emailed me about her child that seems slow to talk. Below are some tips I've picked up from remedial and occupational therapists I know and from witnessing these issues in children I know.

Low Muscle Tone

Children with low muscle tone may appear 'limp' in the way they move and hold their bodies. They often seem clumsy and less agile than other children at the same level of development. Their shoulders may droop, the tummy hangs out and lower back may be arched or their posture just seems 'sloppy'.

Often the symptoms are not that obvious to an untrained eye.

The following could be causes of low muscle tone:

  • Prematurity
  • Difficult birth or birth by caesarean section
  • Acquired after birth due to infections, traumatic brain injury, auto-immunity disorders, metabolic disorders or neurological factors
  • Extended periods in baby chair during babyhood - not enough physical activity
  • Lack of physical activity (family lifestyle, too much 'screen time' etc.)
  • Genetics

Most children can improve their muscle tone by regular physical exercise. However, when there are delays in a child's gross motor or fine motor skills, the child should be assessed by an occupational therapist.

The sooner a problem is identified, the sooner a plan of action to remedy it can be followed to get the child back on track and avoid any further related complications or learning difficulties.

Speech delays

Some children just take longer to talk than others...but keep an eye your child's progress. Don't ignore any warning signs that persist.

Signs and symptoms of delay in linguistic progress:

  • not babbling by 12 to 15 months of age
  • not comprehending simple commands by 18 months of age
  • not talking by age 2
  • not constructing sentences by age 3
  • not able to tell a simple story by age 4-5 years

If a child is in an environment where he is hearing more than one language (like a bilingual home) then he may progress slower than average initially, but later he will have the advantage of speaking two languages.

If he has been sick in any way that caused him to have ear infections, which would hinder his hearing, then that would cause language delays - he can't produce output if there was no input.

The language section of the brain starts developing while in utero, as the baby hears the sounds of his mother's voice and the language used in the environment, so a child with any hearing delays will also have speech delays.

Following on from that - to ensure that a child has a rich store of language data in his brain from which to draw and produce his own communication, make sure you read aloud often, read rhymes and poems and talk and interact with your child a lot so that he is forced to produce language.

If after some time, a child still shows signs of speech delays that cannot be explained, then don't hesitate to get him professionally assessed. If there is a problem, the sooner it gets the right treatment the better.

Children with auditory problems may struggle with learning to read and with spelling, which can have devastating effects on their school careers and self-esteem, so it is crucial to sort out any problems as early as possible.

It would also be wise to limit the amount of time spent in front of electronic media - TV, DVDs, electronic games etc.

Real life communication is far better. get ACTIVE and get INTERACTIVE with your children and they will be flourish in their all round development.

Research shows that it's interacting with YOU that develops their brains.

Check my website

I am hard at work at giving my website a much needed MAKE-OVER.

Basically, its just a new look, but each of the nearly 300 pages has to be rebuilt manually, so while doing that, I am updating and improving where I can.

All the same information is still there, its just revised and renovated!

I hope it will be finished by the end of August, but no promises - my 'real' life responsibilities are my first priority!

At this time of the year, depending where you live, you may want to check out the following pages:

4th of July - American Preschool Theme

Winter Preschool Theme - winter preschool crafts, a snow ice-cream recipe, free printables, winter theme nursery ryhmes and free winter clipart.

If you're enjoying Summer, you might like the Preschool Ocean Theme

You are also invited to SHARE YOUR PRESCHOOL ACTIVITIES ONLINE or see what others have shared.


My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, "You're tearing up the grass."

"We're not raising grass," Dad would reply. "We're raising boys."

~ Harmon Killebrew

Readiness Activities

The following activities are aimed at ages 3-5. For older or younger children, adapt the activities according to their ability. To download the activities in a printable pdf, click here.

You will need to have Adobe Reader installed. It's a free download. Repeat these activities often - with your own variations too!

1. Gross motor skills

Give your child a scarf to play 'ball' with. He must scrunch it up and throw it up and catch it again. He can also try rolling it up and then throwing and catching it.

2. Fine motor skills

Teach your child the names of her fingers: thumb, index finger, middle finger, ring finger and little finger. Trace her hand onto paper and ask her to name the fingers on the drawing. Find some fingerplay rhymes and enjoy learning them and singing them together

3. Visual skills

Play a sequencing game with your child. Take 4 shapes and place them in a row, pointing out which one is in each position: first, second, third, fourth. Now cover those shapes and give your child four identical ones to arrange in the same sequence.

4. Auditory Skills

Let your child listen to this piece of piano music, Dolly's Dream and Awakening, by Theodore Oesten. After listening to it, ask her to tell you what story it told or let your child act it out to the music.

5. Mathematical skills

Create a 'board game' along the sidewalk with some chalk. Draw about 20 large blocks in a row or curved pattern. Hold a tray and let your child throw the dice on it. Your child must be the playing piece and hop along as many blocks as are shown on the dice.

6. Language and thinking skills

Enjoy learning to recite the poem below. Repeat it every day until your child has mastered it.

I'm Glad

I'm glad the sky is painted blue,
And the earth is painted green,
With such a lot of nice fresh air
All sandwiched in between.

~Author unknown

7. Faith Building

Read the story about the fives loaves and two fish that fed a large crowd. You can find it in Luke 9:10-17.

Notice that Jesus said to the disciples, "You give them something to eat."He seemed to believe that they could do it.

On another day, read the story of Peter, climbing out the boat and walking on water to Jesus (Matthew 14:20-35) Jesus believed in Peter's ability to do it. "Come", He said.

In John 14:12 Jesus said: "Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father."

When Jesus tells us to do something, He believes in us. He believes we can do it. We should not doubt ourselves.

Talk about this with your children.

Regards Shirley

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