5 Games to Improve Speech and Language Disorders in Children
Games are a great way to improve skills for kids in all areas of development – and they are fun! I like to play games with my family and friends, but I also love to play games at work with my clients who have developmental disorders or speech and language disorders. Children with speech delays, language processing problems, reading comprehension challenges, and any other type of speech and language issue can benefit from playing games in therapy sessions and at home to build skills.
I use games on a daily basis with my clients because they support communication development while making it enjoyable. Most games also help improve social skills and support relationship development, as they allow kids to practice with turn taking, joint attention, shared emotions, and more. This is especially helpful for children with autism spectrum disorders, pragmatic language disorder, or other social and relational impairments.
While games can be played according to the rules, it is also easy to adapt most games to meet the needs of children at various developmental levels. Switching up the rules also helps children become more flexible and learn to cope with change. Many of the parents I work with have also found that, with a little tweaking, many games they have at home can be used to work on the specific communication skills their child needs to practice.
I’ve been a speech language pathologist for over 20 years, and have developed a long list of games that I like to use in my speech and language therapy sessions. Here are some of my favorites, which I often recommend to parents:
- Roll and Play and Hello Sunshine by ThinkFun – These games were designed with the toddler/preschooler in mind, but I have also used them with early elementary age clients. I love these games because they work on vocabulary, following directions, making sounds, categorization, and prepositions. The best part about these games is that they are super simple to play, and can be adapted to fit the needs of most any child.
- Pick and Draw by Rich Davis – This is a great game for early elementary age through the early teen years. In this game you choose a series of cards with various features needed to draw a face. The face is just the jumping off point for a variety of communication goals. The act of picking and drawing elicits a lot of talking, laughing and discussing, but the game also allows for creativity and further communication development. I have used the game to write/tell stories about the character that has been created, which allows for practice with vocabulary, grammar, sequencing, clarity of thought, language processing and so much more. Kids love creating a series of characters that can go on adventures together.
- Hedbanz by Spin Master – I often use this game with elementary age children, but it can be used with middle schoolers as well. It is a guessing game based on asking questions, but there is a lot of hilarity involved as well! This game is great for developing vocabulary, the ability to describe things in detail, learning to ask and answer questions, and processing communication to hold it in short-term memory.
- Guess Who (by Hasbro) and Where Are You? (by Little Treasures) – These games are great for kids in mid to late elementary. They both focus on descriptive words, process of elimination, working memory, auditory processing, asking and answering questions, prepositions, and grammar. I also like how easily the games can be adapted to make them less challenging. Children at a younger developmental level can play on a team with an adult for additional support.
- Blurt by Educational Insights – Kids in the mid-elementary years through middle school enjoy this game. This is an excellent option for working on vocabulary and language processing. This game provides the player with a definition and s/he has to guess what word is being described. There are differing levels of difficulty, which is great when you are playing with people of different skill levels.
These are just a few of my favorite games that support communication development. The next time you find yourself in the game aisle at the store (or browsing online), take a few minutes to think about how a game might further your child’s growing speech and language skills. I would love to hear how games have helped foster communication development in your home or practice. What games do you and your kids love for improving speech and language skills? Pass along your favorites in the comments below so we can all benefit!
*Written by Erin Roon, MA CCC-SLP