Diagnostic Therapy at TALK
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Has your child completed an initial speech therapy assessment at TALK and is your child starting speech therapy services?

The next step for your child is diagnostic therapy! Diagnostic therapy looks a lot like a regular therapy session except that different areas of speech and language and different therapy techniques are tried each session. We use a combination of standardized and non-standardized assessment tools, drill-based work, unstructured play, conversation, and parent input all throughout this process.

What is assessed?

During diagnostic therapy, your child is assessed in all areas of speech and language, including receptive and expressive language, oral motor function, feeding, motor speech, articulation, fluency, voice, phonological awareness, literacy, academics, and social communication. The team of therapists will use informal assessment tasks and dynamic assessment to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses.

Will my child also receive therapy services?

In addition to assessing all areas of speech and language, therapists also use Response-to-Intervention methods for the areas that present as a challenge for your child. We use evidenced based therapy techniques to elicit effective strategies in order to teach your child new skills. The team collects qualitative and quantitative data and a plan begins to form. Long-term goals and short-term objectives are created, based on your child’s areas of strength and current areas of need, to develop a plan that is functional and tailored to your child and that takes into account your child’s true skills and learning style.  


Will I receive a written report?

Once diagnostic therapy is completed, parents and therapists will attend an initial goal meeting in which a comprehensive speech and therapy evaluation report and treatment plan are presented and discussed.

To find out more about our diagnostic process or if you have any questions, please contact our office at (650) 344-9961.

What is Autism?

What is Autism?

A questions we encounter all the time! Well, according to Autism Speaks, “Autism Spectrum Disorder refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.”

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In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association combined four separate Autism diagnoses into one larger spectrum. These diagnoses included Autistic Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified and Asperger Syndrome. There is not one type of Autism, but rather many different subtypes. Every child with Autism presents with various challenges and strengths across all domains of speech and language, social communication, daily function, and feeding. That’s why here it at TALK we make sure we build plans around each child on the spectrum based on their unique needs and abilities.

Additionally, many children with Autism also present with gastrointestinal disorders, seizures, and sleep disturbances. Children with Autism also tend to have difficulty with sensory modulation, which can be observed through sight, sound and tactile sensitivities. Some describe it as a “sensory overload” to be in crowded places, around buzzing lights, or anywhere with too much stimulation.

What are the red flags of Autism?

If you have concerns with your child’s speech and language development, it is essential to learn the typical developmental milestones as well as the early signs of Autism. Signs of symptoms usually appear between ages two and three; however, Autism can be diagnosed as early as eighteen months. The following are red flag signs of Autism that can present at any age.

  • Decreased or lack of babbling

  • Decreased or lack of response to name

  • Regression of previously acquired speech

  • Delayed language development

  • Limited or no eye contact

  • Difficulty understanding emotions

  • Difficulty with changes to daily routine

  • Repetition of words and/or phrases (echolalia)

  • Restricted and perseverative interests

  • Repetitive behaviors (flapping, rocking, spinning)

  • Hyper/Hyposensitivity to sounds, tastes, textures, lights, smells, and/or colors

What are the next steps?

If your child exhibits any combination of the previously listed red flag signs of Autism, the next step is a development evaluation. A pediatric psychologist or developmental pediatrician will complete a developmental evaluation in order to diagnose a child with Autism. Remember, some children with Autism don’t present with all of the red flag signs and some children without Autism tend to show a few red flag signs.

If you have concerns or questions, contact your pediatrician for a referral for a developmental evaluation. Also, contact your school district or speech therapy clinic to begin speech and language services! Early treatment will greatly improve your child’s development. At TALK, we offer individual therapy services to target language development, social groups to improve early social competencies and communication, and feeding groups to expand food repertoires and oral motor skills.

Alexia Mazzone
Story Grammar Marker®

Does your child struggle with telling stories?

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The Story Grammar Marker® is our favorite tool for helping children tell their own stories. Developed by MindWing Concepts, Inc., the Story Grammar Marker is a hands-on, kinesthetic tool designed with fun icons to represent each part of a story (e.g., character, setting, initiating event). The child-friendly icons guide your child to formulate an organized and clear narrative. We love using the Story Grammar Marker for narrative development of fictional and personal narratives, comprehension, modeling appropriate grammar and sentence structure, social communication, and eventually, written narratives.

One of our clinicians most recently used this tool with an early-elementary client who has an expressive language delay. Before using the Story Grammar Marker, the client told stories that were difficult to follow and lacked organization and details. After introducing and using the tool in therapy, the client began to formulate organized narratives with clear transitions. Our client loved playing with the story icons as his story unfolded, which increased the amount of required elements used to tell his narrative. We definitely recommend using this fun and helpful tool for your child!


Expanding Expression Tool

One of our favorite therapy tools is the Expanding Expression Tool (EET), which was developed by Sarah L. Smith, M.S. CCC-SLP. It has seven color-coded beads that help children build skills in their expressive and written language.  More specifically, the EET can be used to assist in comparing and contrasting, describing objects, categorizing, making associations, stating functions of objects, and understanding new vocabulary.

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We love using the EET with our clients because it can be used to target a wide variety of goals, and the multi-sensory aspect makes it easy for my clients to remember and use. Plus, our clients love it and don’t see it as work!. One of our clinicians recently used the EET to target written language with one of her clients. Before teaching the EET components, the client’s expositions were short and lacked detail and complexity. After teaching the EET for just one session, her written summary of a favorite vacation was three times longer than before and included details, feelings, and specific examples. The visual elements of the EET aided her in independently including more detail in her writings. We highly recommend checking out this tool if your child is struggling with an expressive language delay!

Alyssa Winn
Effective Ways to Praise a Child
Our words matter! And they can have lasting impacts on children’s development and self-esteem.

Our words matter! And they can have lasting impacts on children’s development and self-esteem.

How often do our children’s positive behaviors go unnoticed? How often do we focus our praise on innate abilities (“You’re so smart!”) and the goal (“You finished all your dinner!”) instead of the effort or attempts? How often do our children hear vague and disingenuous praise like “Good job?”

Our words matter! And they can have lasting impacts on children’s development and self-esteem. Research tells us that genuine, specific, and effort-based praise increases children’s innate motivation, confidence, and self-esteem.

Take a moment and think about the difference between “You have to put away your toys” and “I love how you cleaned up all your Legos.” Which will make your child more likely to put away his or her toys faster and more independently next time?

How about: “You’re so smart” versus “I love how much time and thought you put into writing that book report.” Which will encourage your child to work hard and independently when a difficult project is assigned next week?

Kids become more self-motivated when their attempts and curiosity are supported. They start trying and doing things simply because they enjoy trying and doing them. What’s more, self-motivated kids tend to have better mental health and wellbeing down the line.

Children with speech and language or any type of learning difficulty need to be reminded that the process of working towards a goal can be just as impressive as reaching it.

This being said, we do not need to praise our children each time they do something well or try something new. Praise needs to be genuine. Research tells us that inflated praise can make kids lose trust in your praise and make them less likely to take on new challenges. Inflated praise can also make kids have inaccurate senses of their own strengths, become overconfident, and act cocky.

Next time your child does something well, think about using sincere, specific, and effort-based praise like “I love how you tried eating your green beans” or “I’m proud you took the time to do self-edits on that assignment.” Encouraging others to do the same might very well help us build more independent, self-assured, and curious children.

ASHA - The SLP Place to be

Over the past month or two, maybe you have overheard your speech therapists mention something that sounded like "Asha" and wondered if that was a real word, some strange speech term, or just another sneeze during the cold and flu season.

ASHA stands for the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA), which is our national, professional, accreditation association.  Every year in late November, tens of thousands of speech therapists (and audiologists) convene to connect and learn about new research, products, and interventions to best serve our communities at the annual convention.  Since 2009, one or all of our directors have attended every ASHA Convention and always look forward to meeting up with a colleague who owns a speech therapy practice in Arizona.  This year the convention was held in Boston, Massachusetts and our directors, Alexia, Sarah, and Mari were in attendance. They had a fantastic time, attending seminars and events, braving the exhibit hall to score new therapy tools and swag, and even getting caught in the snow!  

Mari enjoyed learning about a new way to use a familiar tool (the Story Grammar Marker) and was excited to learn that the benefits extend beyond improving narrative skills, but also improve working memory and comprehension in the most functional way.

Tongue ties have been an area of interest for Alexia since all three of her children had them when they were born. She learned more about the active role an SLP can play in diagnosis, revision, aftercare, and treatment. She is excited to collaborate with other local professionals to assist our clients who may have undiagnosed tongue ties. Revision can help not only their speech, but also feeding difficulties and headaches!


Sarah loved learning about a new behavior mapping tool that can be used to help clients who may not respond as positively with the more traditional social behavior map. She is looking forward to returning to TALK after her maternity leave and collaborating with our therapists about clients who might benefit from these tools.


Our mission at TALK is to provide the best therapy. By attending ASHA and learning the newest research, therapy methodologies, and connecting with other professionals, we are able to do just that!

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TALKing about Your Day
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“How was school?”

“Good.”

“Well, what did you do today?”

“Nothing.” 

Does this conversation seem familiar to you? You're not alone! After school everyday, parents face the same challenge of pulling even a modicum of information from their children about their days at school. This can be compounded even further if your child has any language disorder or learning disability, making it harder for him or her to create a concise or detailed narrative. Not to worry though, we've recruited ideas from every member of our highly qualified team to combat the dreaded follow-up to Tell me about your day. 

Try these tips for asking your child about their day at school:

 Be proactive

  • Get a copy of your child’s schedule from their teacher so you know details about the school day.

  • Ask questions you already know the answer to so you can breakdown and scaffold the answers if help is needed.

  • Ask your speech therapist for visual supports to use while eliciting information.

Share about your own day

  • Children learn from adult models. Share about your own day using appropriate story elements, transitions, and sentence structure.

  • Provide the desired amount of details and specifics within your narrative to demonstrate an appropriate relay of information.

  • After your child relays any information from their own day, retell what you heard as a coherent narrative with appropriate grammar, syntax, and vocabulary.  

Get more information

  • Often children are vague with their responses, so make sure to ask your child more directed and specific questions.

  • Avoid asking questions that elicit one-word responses (e.g., yes/no, names)

  • Have your child draw a picture of something that happened at school and then ask them to describe their picture.

  • Ask concrete questions (who, what, where) and provide multiple answer options (e.g., Where did you eat lunch today? On the blacktop or the cafeteria?)

Alternative questions to “How was your day?”

  • Who did you enjoy playing with the most today?

  • What was the funniest thing that happened today?

  • If you had the chance to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you teach your class?

  • Did anyone push your buttons?

  • When did you feel most proud of yourself?

We hope these tips and tricks help facilitate new stories from your kids! if you have any further concerns about their language development, feel free to contact us here.

Alyssa Winn
Speech and Language Evaluations Aren’t So Bad!
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Are you concerned about your child’s speech, language, feeding, reading, or social skills?

Have others (family, friends, teachers, or Pediatricians) expressed concern about your child’s development?

Has your child received speech and language therapy in the past and you want to make sure they are on track?

Is your child struggling in school?

We understand that getting your child evaluated for speech and language therapy can be a stressful and scary experience! That’s why we at TALK have created a family friendly three-part evaluation system:

1.     You will first talk with one of our directors or coordinators over the phone. She will try to answer all your questions as well as explain TALK’s evaluation and therapy approach.

2.     If you decide to schedule an evaluation with us, we’ll email you a client history form for you to fill out and bring with you to the evaluation. At the evaluation, we’ll spend about forty minutes screening your child in all areas of speech and language. Your child will simply play and chat with us as we do a few structured tasks. The more comfortable and relaxed your child is, the more we get to see!

3.     Right after the evaluation, we spend at least half an hour discussing our observations with you. We’ll answer all your questions and provide recommendations regarding ongoing therapy. From there, we’re happy to try to put you on our schedule or have you go home, think about next steps, and discuss our findings with your family, friends, and teachers.

If you would like to schedule an evaluation or just have questions, please contact our office at (650) 344-9961.

Alexia Mazzone
Common Language Problems Affecting School-Aged Children

Does your child: 

·  Have difficulty following multi-step directions?

·  Problems answering simple questions when put on the spot? 

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·  Often hear information incorrectly? 

·  Use the wrong word when telling a story or describing something? 

 

Parents and teachers often overlook a valuable resource that is available to children who are having trouble both in the classroom and socially. Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) play an important role in strengthening the language foundation of children who are struggling with auditory processing, literacy, social/pragmatic communication, and understanding and using language. Parents of children who could be identified as having specific language needs often become frustrated during homework time because of the difficulties their children experience. Teachers feel as though these students aren’t paying attention in the classroom, when in fact they may be having difficulties processing. During play and conversation with peers that is verbally based, these students may become frustrated or remove themselves from the group. 

 

Below are some common areas of need and warning signs of specific language needs in school-aged children:

 

Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)

·  Difficulty following multi-step directions

·  Trouble remembering verbal information

·  Difficulty recognizing subtle differences between the sounds in words, even though the sounds themselves are loud and clear

 

Literacy and Writing Delays

·  Difficulty learning to read and write

·  Difficulty using language to communicate, think and learn

·  Problems spelling phonetically

 

Social and Pragmatic Disorders

·  Trouble using language socially in ways that are appropriate for children of their age

·  Difficulty playing with other children

·  Difficulty having a conversation with peers and adults, including excessive interrupting, not staying on topic and decreased eye contact

 

Receptive and Expressive Language Delays

·  Difficulty understanding what is said to them

·  Problems understanding figurative language

·  Decreased ability to identify the “main idea” or other inferred concepts

·  Limited vocabulary and grammar

·  Difficulty retelling and creating stories

 

If you are at all concerned about your child’s language development, you may contact your school SLP or a private practice that provides speech services and they can determine whether your child qualifies for services.

Contact us here for an initial assessment!

 

 

Alyssa Winn