Five Common Myths about Language Development
 
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  1. “Using sign language will make my child talk later.”

    Using signs before a child can talk actually promotes language!

  2. “Late-talkers always catch up.”

    Some late-talkers catch up, but many do not! We’d rather see kids earlier so they can catch up sooner rather than later.

  3. “Learning two languages at the same time causes language delays.”

    There are so many benefits to bilingualism! When we evaluate bilingual kids, we look at their combined language skills.

  4. “He’s not talking much, but he’s a boy.”

    Girls and boys actually develop language at the same rate. But boys have a higher risk of language delays/disorders.

  5. “I should use flashcards to help build my child’s vocabulary.”

    Kids learn new words best when they hear them multiple times in natural environments.

For more information, please check out asha.org.


Alexia Mazzone
Expanding Language

 Can you tell me more? EET To The Rescue!

 One therapy tool that gets a lot of use around the TALK clinic is the Expanding Expression Tool (EET).  The Expanding Expression Tool (EET) is a multi-sensory tool that helps children organize and retrieve information when providing oral and written descriptions or definitions. It was developed by Sarah Smith, a Speech-Language Pathologist.  The EET consists of a rope with seven large colored beads. Each bead provides a reminder for the type of information that can be included in a description. It is considered a multi-sensory tool because the child is simultaneously using their sense of touch, sight, and hearing while using the EET. This makes the EET a powerful teaching tool for children with various learning styles.

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The parts of the EET are:

Green bead (Group) – What category does the object belong to?

Blue bead (Do) – What does the object do? What can you do with the object?

Eyeball bead (Look like):  - What does it look like? (e.g., shape, size, color)

Wooden bead (Made of) - What is it made of (or come from)?

Pink (Parts) - What are its parts? What parts go with it?

White (Where) - Where do you find it? Where does it come from?

Question Mark - What else do I know? What is the child’s prior knowledge?

This simple strand of beads has magical powers when it comes to teaching clients to understand and expand their knowledge of categories, function, and important features of everyday objects.

Alexia Mazzone
Guess Who Is Improving Their Speech and Language?!

Movement, crafts, themed activities and games are just a few ways we like to make our therapy session FUN and MOTIVATING. Apart from the obvious fun, games are used in session for several important reasons that targets a range of skills in the areas of: receptive and expressive language, articulation, phonology, motor speech, fluency, voice, and social communication skills. One of our favorite games at TALK is Guess Who, which is an engaging game that incorporates a range of concepts.

Guess Who is a great way to reward our kids while practicing their skills. The game itself targets a wide range of speech and language development goals. Let’s break it down by some areas:

Receptive/Expressive Language:

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·       Basic concepts (e.g., boy/girl, colors, etc.)

·       Following directions

·       Reasoning and processing

·       Comprehension skills by responding to questions to put down the correct people in order to narrow down the choices

·       Using descriptive vocabulary to gain specific information

·       Forming yes/no questions (e.g., “Is your person a woman?”)

·       Understanding and using negation (e.g., “My person doesn’t have glasses.”)

You can also create your own visuals to assist in asking questions, such as a visual aid for carrier phrases (e.g., “Does your person have ______?” or “He/she is wearing _______.”).

Articulation:

·       Target speech sound errors at the structured conversation level

·       The phonemes /s/ and /z/ are sounds that come up frequently in the game (e.g., “Does your person have a mustache?)

·       The phoneme /r/ (e.g., “Is your person wearing a hat?”)

·       Monitor in conversation when your child is not paying attention to their articulation

Fluency:

·       Praise/reinforce smooth speech in the moment when asking questions

·       Video tape your child during the game and watch it together after the game. Have him/her identify when smooth or bumpy speech was used

·       Practice using smooth speech with learned stuttering modification and strategies (e.g., easy onset, pull out, cancellations, light articulatory contact, etc.)

Voice:

·       Practice speaking rate, pitch and volume when asking and answering questions 

Social Communication:

·       Elicit turn-taking

·       Encourage help and self-advocacy skills by reminding your child to ask for a repetition of the question or ask for clarification

Fortunately, Guess Who is very adaptable for specific goals. For example, create your own cards for each window to target verbs, places and nouns. You can even glue family members’ pictures on the back, and have your child ask social questions by formulating questions associated to their likes and dislikes (e.g., “Does your person like to play basketball?”). Games can easily be modified in therapy or at home to increase engagement. Modify the rules, instruction length or match concepts to what is most appropriate. The sky is the limit! The reward of playing games can help to encourage ongoing progress for overall success!

Alexia Mazzone
Understanding Social Communication

What exactly is Social Communication?

Social communication is the use of language (including nonverbal) in social situations. Social communication can be intuitive, but for some of us, these social competencies don’t come naturally! They need to be learned.

 

Did you know there are “hidden rules” of conversation and play?

There are! We are constantly using our social competencies at school, work, and home to interact with others, share experiences, and build relationships.

 

Does your child have difficulty with social communication? Here are some skills to keep an eye out for:

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·      Participating in group settings

·      Developing and maintaining friendships

·      Playing with others

·      Having balanced conversations

·      Interpreting body language

·      Understanding and using figurative or ambiguous language

·      Understanding and using sarcasm, jokes, emotions, and inferencing

 

What can I do?

·      If you are concerned your child has difficulty with social communication, the next step is to contact your school district or a Speech-Language Pathologist for an evaluation.

·      Early treatment greatly improves prognosis and success!

·      At TALK, we provide therapy for children with a variety of speech and language difficulties, including social communication disorders. We offer the following services to teach, practice, and generalize social communication

  • Individual therapy

  • Group therapy

  • Summer camps

Alexia Mazzone
The Role of an SLP in Reading Intervention
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When you think of a speech-language pathologist (SLP), a few buzzwords probably come to mind; terms like articulation, language, or fluency. Most people don’t think of reading when they think of SLPs. However, it is well within our scope of practice to diagnose and treat reading and written language disorders. SLPs have extensive knowledge in language development and understand the foundational building blocks required to become a fluent reader.  Additionally, SLPs are efficient in morphology, syntax, phonology, semantics, and pragmatics, which are crucial for fluent reading, reading comprehension, and written expression.

Pre-Reading Skills

Before a child can decode, or read, they must have an understanding that words are composed of smaller units and how these units operate separately and together. This skill is referred to as phonological awareness. Research has shown that children who have strong phonological awareness skills learn to read more quickly (Dickson, D.  and Neuman S. (2007). Handbook of early literacy research). Strengthening these skills can help children who are at-risk for reading delays or those struggling with reading be more prepared for the complex and linguistic demands of reading.

The following skills are some examples of phonological awareness:

·       Rhyming (e.g., “flag and stag”)

·       Syllable segmenting (e.g., “student: stu/dent”)

·       Syllable deletion (e.g., “student without the ‘stu’ is ‘dent’”)

·       Blending sounds into words (e.g., “sh/i/p says ‘ship’”)

·       Segmenting words into their sounds (e.g., “leg: l/e/g”)

·       Deleting sounds in words (e.g., “cup without the c is up”)

·       Substituting sounds in words (e.g., “change the ‘B’ in bat to an ‘M’”)

Kids at Risk

Certain populations with speech and language disorders may be more at risk for reading challenges than others. A diagnosis of any of the following does not cause a reading delay, but it is important to note and be aware of. Some at-risk groups include individuals with Apraxia of Speech, Autism, phonological disorders, auditory processing disorder, and language delays.

My Child Has a Hard Time Reading- Now What?

An SLP can find the strengths and weaknesses in your child’s phonological awareness and reading skills and develop a plan tailored to your child’s specific needs. In addition to providing dynamic assessments, SLPs can help with prevention of reading and writing disorders by educating teachers and parents on the importance of pre-literacy skills and red flags to look for. Once your child has been assessed and a reading delay has been detected, a treatment plan unique to your child should be developed. At TALK, we use fun, evidence-based multisensory programs to teach reading and spelling through multiple modalities. If you have concerns about your child’s pre-literacy or literacy skills, give us a call or visit our website to schedule an evaluation. 

Alexia Mazzone
TALK Summer Camp

TALK SUMMMER CAMP

 Summer is just around the corner and the team at TALK is excitedly gearing up for our annual summer camps! TALK is proud to offer a variety of inclusive summer camps for children with social, language, or literacy needs. Each program is thoughtfully created and managed by licensed Speech Language Pathologists. Read on for more info on each camp and check out our website for your registration needs.

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TALK PALS JR (ages 4-7)

Making friends is an early skill that shapes our lives into adulthood. TALK PALS Jr gives kids a chance to create and cultivate the necessary tools to befriend their peers and maintain those relationships through engaging activities. We sing, dance, paint, and play our way into becoming social stars!

TALK PALS (ages 8-13)

This camp is geared towards older children and the more nuanced sides of social skills. We take a good hard look at non-verbal cues, hidden social rules, and how to think about other people’s thoughts and feelings. Our campers take regular outings to the local parks to practice newly learned skills in structured games (Who’s ready for Red Light, Green Light?) and in free play. Under the summer sun, the kids show off their talents for making and maintaining new friendships!

KINDERGARTEN EXPRESS (ages 4-5)

We love summer, but we can’t forget school! If you are getting ready for Kindergarten or if you just finished and miss it already (and maybe you’re a little worried about First Grade) then come join us for Kindergarten Express! We will work on getting little learners ready to roll with silly sounds and fun phonetics. Each day is filled with exciting activities geared towards school readiness and foundation literacy skills. Confidently start the school year with Kindergarten Express!

LISTENING DETECTIVES (ages 6-10)

Do you hear what we hear? Listening Detectives are great at picking up the littlest details in stories, lessons, and conversations. Our detectives practice honing their listening and memory skills so that they can remember and recall all sorts of things! They learn it all while still having fun! At Listening Detective camp we follow silly directions, create works of art, and complete scavenger hunt by using strategies for memory, auditory comprehension, and critical thinking.

 

 

Alexia Mazzone
TALK’s Team Approach
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Why does TALK have a Team Approach to therapy?

  • Generalization. We so often have children who learn a skill with one therapist in one specific way. The hard part is the carryover, or generalization, of that skill to home and school.  At TALK, we promote generalization of skills right from the beginning by having your child see more than one therapist in a variety of therapy rooms.

  • Collaboration. The team approach also promotes sharing of ideas, strategies, and observations amongst our staff. This helps ensure your child progresses in innovative and creative ways.

How many therapists are on my child’s team?

  • You get at least three Speech Pathologists on your team! Each child is assigned a Lead Director, Lead SLP, and Alternate SLP.

  • Lead Director: The Director’s job is to oversee your child’s case. She is a consistent, seasoned therapist who meets often with the Lead SLP to discuss the Treatment Plan and progress. The director is present in parent meetings, school and home visits, and IEPs, along with the Lead SLP.

  • Lead SLP: The Lead SLP is in charge of your child’s Treatment Plan and progress. He or she makes and monitors all goals and sees your child the most often. He/she knows your child well and is often your best point of contact for questions about progress, concerns, or accolades.

  • Alternate SLP: The Alternate SLP’s job is to carry out your child’s plan as the Lead Therapist has written it. We try to keep alternate therapists fairly consistent, but alternates may change to improve generalization or due to scheduling. Alternates provide a fresh set of experienced eyes on your child’s case.


You can learn more about our directors and therapists on the “Meet our Administration” and “Meet our Therapists” tabs.



Alexia Mazzone
Connecting Toys to Language
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Not every therapy tool has to be a therapy tool. Classic games are fantastic for motivation, exploring language, and more! One of our favorite reasons to use every day toys in our sessions is that they promote generalization across environments and children are already comfortable with the materials. It’s easy to build new skills into these old routines without even letting the kids know they are doing therapy. A personal favorite is Connect 4. Let’s explore all the language this one toy provides!

 Numbers

How many do you have in a row? Let’s count…one, two, three, four!

Spatial Skills

I have three horizontally and you have four vertically.

Prepositions

You put your piece next to my piece. I will put one on top.

Descriptions

Red piece, yellow piece, empty circle, full circle.

Pronouns

My pieces are yellow, your pieces are red. This one is mine. That one is yours.

Verbs tenses

Who will win? Look, you won.

Take some time to see what language the classic games in your house can provide!

Alexia Mazzone
Navigating Picky Eaters with S.O.S.
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Why won’t my child eat?

 We hear that question all the time! And there’s no easy answer. According to the SOS (Sequential-Oral-Sensory) Approach to Feeding, which was developed by Dr. Kay Toomey and is used worldwide to treat feeding issues in infants, children, and adolescents, eating is the most complex thing we do. Eating involves all our organs, muscles, and senses; it also relies heavily on our development, prior experiences with food, nutritional status, and environment. With so many factors to consider, it’s no wonder eating and mealtimes can be difficult!

My child doesn’t eat vegetables. Does he need feeding therapy?

 There are a variety of red flags that help determine whether a child is a “picky eater” or a “problem feeder.” Some of the factors to examine are:

·      The number of foods a child has in their repertoire, including the texture and nutritional groups

·      The child’s history with eating and his/her behaviors around new foods

·      The impact the feeding difficulties have on the family

·      The nutritional status, weight gain, and medical status of the child

·      The oral motor and sensory challenges of the child

 For a full list of red flags, visit the Toomey & Associates – SOS Approach to Feeding website.

 How does feeding therapy work?

The SOS Approach to Feeding uses food hierarchies to work on oral motor skills and sensory desensitization to help children shift slowly into accepting new foods. Children are presented with a variety of preselected foods in a specific order to both challenge and put them at ease. Natural reinforcers (e.g., verbal praise), social modeling, food play, and conversation are used throughout the session to make trying new foods a fun learning experience. Please visit the SOS website for more information.

Why do Speech-Language Pathologists work on feeding?

 As experts on oral motor movements, speech-language pathologists are one of the many disciplines that can work on feeding. Other professionals who work on feeding include occupational therapists, nutritionists, psychologists, and many others!

 What should I do?

If you have any questions or concerns, check out the Toomey & Associates – SOS Approach to Feeding or contact us!

 

How TALK Uses Kaufman Cards
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Kaufman Cards were developed by Nancy Kaufman to help children with motor-speech difficulties, such as Apraxia of Speech, approximate functional, real words. The cards colorfully depict early target words and are hierarchically divided. We start with a simple consonant-vowel combination like “baa” and slowly progress to harder combinations like “banana.” Each card also has shaping suggestions to ensure kids are successful and feel good about their speech. Saying, “bottle” might be too hard, but saying, “bah–o,” or “bah-do” may be a “just-right” challenge.

We love using Kaufman Cards because they’re great for helping kids feel good about their speech and because they provide a clear hierarchy to help kids move closer and closer to real words. One of our SLPs recently used this tool with a child with severe motor-speech difficulties. When he started, he could only imitate a few consonants and vowels and was frustrated by his speech. Using Kaufman Cards, we taught him to combine consonants and vowels to say functional words like, “me,” “up,” “out.” He now loves using his voice to communicate his wants and needs with his family! We highly recommend this fun and useful tool if your child is struggling with early speech.