My son has a severe language delay. He is three-and-a-half now and only has a handful of words and word approximations. His twin sister, on the other hand, talks up a storm. In fact, all the verbal prompting I do all day for him has had the unintended effect of turning her into a very verbal kid. As you can probably imagine, co-viewing with my children can be a very interesting experience. Most commercial television out there appeals to my daughter, while my son seems to attend for a shorter time span and mostly loves songs and dancing on-screen.
All that changed recently, when I purchased a new DVD for him called “Baby Babble“. Marketed as a “speech enhancing DVD” for children between the ages of 3-30 months, I was skeptical. I forgot how I learned about this DVD, but I do remember that the reviews on Amazon were like no other speech development product I have ever researched. I bought it with a bunch of other speech toys I was looking at on Amazon, however, and hoped for the best.
The results are astounding.
First, I should mention that my son occasionally does interact with the TV. I will sometimes hear him say, “No!” to Steve of “Blue’s Clues” when prompted with the wrong choice, or mutter something to Kai Lan when she asks a question of him. While I love seeing him interact like this, it is often only for a brief moment and I’m not entirely sure if his understanding is really true. (It is possible that he just learned that when a voice modulates to a higher pitch at the end of a sentence that this is a question, and he knows a response is expected.) With “Baby Babble,” all that changed.
Upon our first viewing, I did not think much of it. My son mostly watched and interacted only a little. The imagery changes from close-ups of toys with words being said about them (“ball… down… ball goes down!”) to faces making funny sounds (clicks or repetitive vowel sounds), to sign language words. With every change in scene there is a new audio prompt (song or sound). To an adult eye, it seems rather boring and almost unwatchable, as there is no plot. For the first viewing with my son, I tried to repeat everything that was said. He responded here and there, but I was more amazed by his attention to the screen. He seemed to be transfixed.
The DVD was put away and not watched again until this winter break. He had found the box, and indicated he wanted to watch. I put the DVD in and was amazed at how he interacted! For anyone who knows how non-verbal my son really is, they would be amazed, too. He talks constantly throughout watching! He imitates all actions, including things like spinning around with tops, sleeping when he sees a doll sleeping, all the sign language signs, and every little utterance. While his participation is impressive, it’s even more fascinating that he simply wants to watch this video over and over again. Every day, he now regularly “requests” this DVD by putting it in my hand and pulling me over to the television. (Even his non-verbal communication has increased with this!)
While the DVD has a “Parent Tutorial” at the end, it is mostly about how to interact with your child to increase language during the day. This is great, and indeed very helpful… but what about what to do while co-viewing the video with your child? What are you supposed to do? I really wish the creators had included a section on what to do and say while you are watching the video with your child to increase language. My own advice is to talk as much as you can during it. Imitate the sign language and verbal prompts. As I participated along with him, my son enjoyed the video more and attended longer.
I normally don’t like to promote products on this blog (and please, don’t send me a request to do so for your product) – but in this case, I feel obligated to. This video is improving my son’s life. If you have a young child struggling with language, I urge you to consider buying this DVD.