Helping or Hurting?
My nephew is almost 3 and undergoing speech therapy several times per week, for speech delay attributed to hearing problems (frequent/severe ear infections).
My sister gives me specific instructions on how to play with him like the speech therapist does, and gets upset when I stack the play food like blocks or have the zoo animals fight and slide off the table.
She wants me to stick to the prescribed pretend play like "Does the giraffe wants some grapes? Yes he does, yum yum yum."
She thinks my less structured play is not helping his speech at all, and may even hold him back, but I am always very careful to talk and interact with him one-on-one, reading together, asking him questions, encouraging him to tell me what he wants to do in words etc.
He always seeks out my company, seems to enjoy my rowdy play (which my sister dislikes) and is talking more.
Last time, I had him up on my shoulders and was bouncing around clucking like a chicken -- then I would say "Tell me another animal" and he would make a different animal sound and I would bounce him around mooing like a cow, and so on.
I think my sister is just anxious to help him progress quickly, but I am not convinced that my style of play is unhelpful or even harmful.
I would appreciate your feedback!
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