Posts tagged speech therapy
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!


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.

Story Grammar Marker®

Does your child struggle with telling stories?


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!

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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