Voice is so important to our ability to communicate and express ourselves. Many people don’t realize that there are behaviors that can help or hurt normal vocal functioning. The National Institute of Health provide a list of helpful vocal hygiene tips to prevent voice problems:
o Drink water: The vocal folds move best when the body is well-hydrated,
o Limit caffeine: Caffeine is drying to the entire body. Cutting back on these drinks can help keep your vocal folds hydrated.
o Don’t overuse your voice:Doing a lot of talking, especially in noisy situations (sporting events, restaurants, bars, parties, social gatherings, industrial settings) can be tiring for your vocal folds. Give yourself voice breaks or moments when you don’t use your voice for a while to let your voice rest.
o Avoid extremes: Try not to use extremes of your vocal range, such as screaming or whispering. Both can put stress on your voice.
o Avoid throat-clearing: Throat clearing and coughing are traumatic to the vocal folds and can contribute to a vocal injury.
o Use a humidifier: This is particularly important for the winter months when the air is dry. Generally inhaling or breathing steam helps the voice box stay moist and can be very soothing to irritated vocal folds.
o Practice good breathing: Take deep breaths from the chest to support talking or singing. Don’t rely on the throat alone to avoid straining the voice.
o Consider the effects of medication: Many medications, such as cold and allergy medications, are drying to the body. Try to avoid these medications to help your body stay hydrated or drink extra water while taking them.
A variety of gestures have been shown to be a predictor for later language development in children with autism, children with Down Syndrome, and typically developing children. Gestures are described as actions produced with the intent to communicate and are usually expressed using the fingers, hands, arms, and facial features. Early use of gestures has been linked to increased language production, language comprehension, and object naming. A child’s joint attention skills, such as giving or showing objects may also predict later language skills. Lack of joint attention behaviors between the ages of 2 and 3 years old may be an indication of developmental deficits.
The frequency of gesture use as a form of intentional communication is an important factor when identifying children with communication deficits. Typically developing children use gestures to communicate about one time per minute by 12-months, 18-month-olds about two times per minute, and 24-month-olds about five times per minute. The amount of gestures used by infants is related to later verbal development.
Playing familiar games, singing songs, and performing routines can encourage children to utilize gestures as a form of early communication. Songs such as “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” or using hand gestures to signal bubbles popping can become interactive opportunities for children. Communicative gestures in these familiar contexts can later be generalized to new contexts.
Research has shown that children given phonological awareness instruction in their first year of school have increased literacy skills. This was shown to be true for children with and without language disorders. After 10 weeks of phonological awareness instruction, these 5-year old children demonstrated greater gains in phonological awareness, reading, and spelling tasks compared to 5-year-olds that only received phonics-based literacy instruction. This study found that only 6% of the children who received phonological awareness instruction continued to demonstrate decoding difficulties. In contrast, 26% of the children who received phonics-based literacy instruction continued to have difficulty decoding following the 10 weeks of instruction. This research highlights the importance of understanding the sounds associated with letters and words for reading success.
Classroom Phonological Awareness Instruction Improved Literacy Outcomes. The ASHA Leader, August 2013, Vol. 18, 36. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB1.18082013.36.
Do SLPs work on reading comprehension?
Yes, SLPs are responsible for oral language (comprehension and expression) and literacy (reading, writing, and spelling). We can offer relevant skills for reading comprehension because we have knowledge of language subsystems (syntax, semantics, morphology, pragmatics) and development. SLPs understand how oral language skills transfer to reading.
What is reading comprehension?
Reading comprehension is a complex and active process where the reader applies meaning to what they read.
What skills are involved in reading comprehension?
- Background/world knowledge
- Word/vocabulary knowledge
What strategies can help develop reading comprehension abilities?
There are many evidenced-based strategies that can support children with reading comprehension difficulties. The type of text (narrative or expository) can influence which type of strategies to use, as well as, the area of deficit.
- Active-prior/background knowledge – making connections between existing knowledge and new information. Use a Know/Want to Know/Learned (KWL) organizer which helps children think about their own experiences and make relevant connections to new information.
- Questioning answering – teaches children to ask questions about the text prior to reading and answer them after reading.
- Comprehension monitoring – Used with expository texts primarily. Helps children determine if they are/are not understanding the text. When children are not understanding, they need to utilize “fix up” strategies. The therapist models the process, teaches the child to look back in the text, re-read, question answering, and look up words.
- Mental Image/Visualize – In this technique you ask the reader build images in their mind of the text.
- Story/text structure – This strategy can be used with both expository and narrative story structure but the way it is taught differs.
o Expository – helps kids look for the language used in different expository text structures (sequence, compare/contrast, problem solving, procedural, enumeration, classification).
o Narrative – teaching kids to look for the setting, characters, problem, and solution.
Many young children go through a stage between the ages of 2-5 years when they may exhibit some stuttering. The first signs of stuttering tend to appear when a child is about18-24 months old as there is a burst in vocabulary and kids are starting to put words together to form longer utterances. In many cases, stuttering goes away on its own by age 5; in others, it lasts longer. Whether or not your child exhibits stuttering behaviors, here are some great tips to think about when you’re talking with him/her.
1. Speak in an unhurried way, pausing frequently. Model slow, relaxed speech for your child.
2. Reduce the number of questions you ask. Try commenting on what your child has said.
3. Use your facial expressions and other body language to show that you are listening.
4. Set aside a few minutes at a regular time each day when you can give your undivided attention to your child. During this time, let the child choose and direct you in activities.
5. Help family members learn to take turns talking and listening. Decrease interruptions!
6. Observe the way you interact with your child. Try to increase those times that give your child the message that you are listening to him/her and he/she has plenty of time to talk. Try to decrease criticisms, rapid speech patterns, interruptions, and questions.
7. Above all, convey that you accept your child as he/she is. This support is so important!
Now that the weather has warmed up, you and your children may be eager to get outside and enjoy what the city has to offer. During these outings, you can encourage carry-over of your child’s specific speech and language goals (e.g., expanding vocabulary, formulating sentences, describing interesting objects, retelling events, answering questions, practicing words with certain speech sounds) while having fun with the family!
- For an outing just beyond your front door, take a nature walk with your child and discuss what you see. Take notice of plants growing, bugs crawling, birds chirping, and animal tracks.
- It’s always fun and free to visit Lincoln Park Zoo. Go on Wednesdays and Fridays for free sing-alongs with Mr. Singer.
- Take advantage of free museum days for Illinois residents. Check out Sue the T. Rex at the Field Museum, the mirror maze at MSI or the underwater critters at Shedd for free!
- Visit Old Town School of Folk Music on Saturdays to take part in group singing and instrument-playing. You don’t need to be enrolled in a class to join the fun!
- Kids can learn about animals and pretend to be a variety of forest creatures at Animal Secrets at Kohl Children’s Museum.
These are just some of the ideas, compiled from https://www.mommynearest.com/edition/chicago/article/50-free-things-to-do-with-kids-in-chicago.
Research completed by Anna V. Sosa, has shown that toddlers attempt communication more often and hear more words from their parents when playing with non-electronic toys versus electronic toys. Toys that do the talking for toddlers or parents don’t allow as many opportunities for spontaneous language and interaction. Use of these electronic toys should be limited and more opportunities to play with non-electronic toys with parents should be encouraged. Some examples of non-electronic toys to consider are puzzles, books, blocks, dolls, and race car tracks. When playing with your toddler, use simple sentences (car go fast), ask questions (what is it?), narrate what you and your child are doing (open door), give directions (give me blue), and use repetitive language your toddler can begin to imitate (ready, set, go). Playing with these types of toys will increase the opportunities your toddler has to learn language all while playing with you!
Basic, Non-Electronic Toys May Be Better for Parent-Toddler Communication. The ASHA Leader, March 2016, Vol. 21, 12. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB3.21032016.12. https://leader.pubs.asha.org/article.aspx?articleid=2498630
Speech-Language Pathologists (or SLPs, as they’re often called) are experts in supporting communication. They work with children who present with a wide range of delays and disorders. You may be surprised to learn just how many areas an SLP can help your child with!
1) Articulation Skills/Speech Intelligibility: SLPs teach children how to produce speech sounds and sound patterns, thus improving their ability to be understood by others.
2) Expressive Language Skills: SLPs help children learn new words and teach them how to put words together to form phrases and sentences.
3) Receptive Language/Listening Skills: SLPs help children understand language to improve their ability to follow directions, answer questions, and participate in conversations with others.
4) Speech Fluency/Stuttering: SLPs teach children strategies to control stuttering behaviors to improve the flow of their speech.
5) Voice and Resonance: SLPs work with children to decrease vocally abusive behaviors and improve the quality of their voices.
6) Social/Pragmatic Language: SLPs teach children social language skills so that they can more appropriately participate in conversations with others.
7) Cognitive-Communication Skills: SLPs help children build skills in areas such as attention, memory, abstract reasoning, awareness, and executive functions.
8) Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC): AAC refers to all forms of communication other than oral speech that are used to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas. AAC can be used as a bridge to speech.
9) Swallowing/Feeding Issues: SLPs have knowledge of the structures and functions of the oral cavities and beyond!
10) Educating and Empowering YOU on how to best help your child: SLPs can help you incorporate more communication opportunities into your everyday routines.
For the full article, click the link below!
Is music a useful tool in speech therapy when working with children with ASD? Yes, when using other valuable treatment methods in addition. Music can be used to help establish joint attention, learn words, take turns, imitate, follow-directions, and ask and answer questions. It is a stimulant therefore it helps enhance memory which leads to an increase in attention and alertness. This is extremely valuable when teaching new concepts to children! Read more about it in the links below.
Sesame Place, a “Sesame Street”-themed amusement park in Pennsylvania, is the first theme park to get Certified Autism Center (CAC) designation. The park stated: “It is our goal to provide every family with an enjoyable and memorable visit, and we are proud to offer specialized services to guests with autism and other special needs.”
The theme park provides its staff members with autism sensitivity and awareness training in areas like sensory awareness, motor skills, program development, social skills, communication, environment and emotional awareness. Each ride at Sesame Place is ranked using a special sensory scale (1-10). Additionally, the park offers noise-cancelling headphones, ride accessibility, and quiet rooms and low-sensory areas to accommodate its patrons. This is a very exciting development for families of children with autism, as they now have an opportunity to attend a theme park that caters to their child’s specific needs while offering an interesting and meaningful experience.
View the links below to read more about Sesame Place and visit the website!