Look who’s talking

• Karen Nitsche with her one-year-old daughter Chloe. Photo by Jenny D’anger

THREE years after speech pathologist Karen Nitsche came up with the idea for an app to help toddlers develop their speech, it’s been released online.

The Bateman local was concerned about the growing number of youngsters who are late to talk, but it took a friend’s three-year-old daughter to provide the inspiration for her Talkable Toddlers app.

The youngster had struck up a conversation with Nitsche’s daughter Ella, who was six-months-old at the time, while visiting.

“Ella was watching, listening and babbling back,” Nitsche says.

“Lucy turned to me and said ‘She’s very talkable, isn’t she’

“Lucy was using her amazing grasp on the English language to express a complex idea. Not only was Ella very talkable but Lucy was too.

“I thought to myself, this is what it’s all about; talking with babies and little ones to help them learn language so they can relate to others and express themselves, even making up words to do so.”

Research shows one-in-five two year olds are late to talk, and the app has tutorials on how to encourage speech through book sharing, key-word signing and fun exercises.

“You talk to your baby, you read to your baby, you have fun with your baby.”

Private speech therapy is expensive and there can be an 18-month wait to get an appointment in the public sector, but thanks to funding from Melville council’s Project Robin Hood grant scheme, Nitshce’s app is only $4.49 to download: “For the cost of a cup of coffee you get 10 weeks of speech interaction,” she says.

Talkable Toddlers, a collaboration with Curtin University, allows parents, and grandparents to access the program at home, giving dads better access: “Usually it’s the mums coming in to speech pathology because dad is at work,” Nitsche says.

“The quantity and quality of words our boys have now, compared to the start of the course, is amazing,” says Barny Ainsworth, father of 22-month-old-twins Harvey and William. “In a matter of weeks Karen turned our twin boys into book worms with her weekly reading tips.”

For more information go to talkable.org.au or email Karen Nitsche at karen@talkable.org.au

by JENNY D’ANGER

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