Importance of Fingerplays

Fingerplays are a great way to engage your toddler or preschooler in language learning. Lisa Erwin, M.S., CCC-SLP discusses 5 ways using fingerplays are beneficial to young children. Fingerplays help develop literacy skills because the songs contain rhyme and rhythm and it introduces story grammar (character, setting, problem, solution) as the songs tell a story. Fingerplays help develop interactions with parents and caregivers because it is an activity that is done together and it helps young children develop motor skills by isolating finger movements. Finally, fingerplays don’t require any toys or batteries so they can be done anytime!

Erwin, Lisa. Getting Back to Basics: 5 Reasons to Use Fingerplays in Sessions. ASHA Leader Live.December 7, 2018. https://blog.asha.org/2018/12/07/getting-back-to-basics-5-reasons-to-use-fingerplays-in-sessions/

Behavioral Strategies for Young Kids with Developmental Delays

Jessie L. Ginsburg, MS, CCC-SLP has identified a problem many teachers, parents and professionals face when trying to facilitate a child’s transition from one activity to the next.

Counting down is a widely used strategy, where the adult sets a time frame and counts the final seconds before the transition will take place. Example: “It’s time to clean up and move on to our next activity in 2 minutes. (2 minutes passes) “We will clean up in 10 seconds…5…4…3…2…1. It’s time to clean up!”

Ginsburg points out that this count-down strategy can be dysregulating for children with communication disorders, autism, or sensory processing issues, who often have difficulty with transitions. She suggests a new approach, which lets the children feel in control by identifying their own time frame and answering questions about what will happen next.

Instead, the adult should ask what, who, where, when and how questions (e.g., “It’s been two minutes. What are we going to do now? Where are we going?) to help the child feel in control of the situation. Give choices for the child when asking these questions (e.g., How much longer would you like to play with cars, 1 or 2 minutes?”). Simply changing the language from commands to questions may help the child feel more in control and regulated during a necessary transition.

For more suggestions on this topic, check out Jessie L. Ginsburg’s post on ASHA Leader:

https://blog.asha.org/2018/10/10/replacing-the-countdown-for-young-kids-with-autism/

Listening to Audiobooks with your Child

Audiobooks are a fun and engaging way for your child to practice their listening comprehension and literacy skills. Find a book that is of interest to your child and listen to the book together. You can stop the book a few times to ask your child questions about what has happened, make predictions for what will happen next, and to summarize what has happened so far. After finishing the book, your child can retell the story to someone who did not listen to it, illustrate the story, or act it out.

https://gravitybread.com/books-and-mealtime/benefits-of-audio-books-for-children-with-special-needs/

Using Picture Books to Develop Vocabulary

November is National Picture Book Month, and the perfect time to introduce some new stories or well-loved classics to your child.

A 2016 study by Dominic Massaro, psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, suggests that while the amount of spoken language parents use with their children can increase their vocabulary, reading to them is even more effective.

Picture books contain richer language and less common vocabulary than we use in our everyday speech.  Giving a simple definition for unfamiliar words found in a story and pointing to the illustrations will help your child understand what the word means and help to build their vocabulary.  You can make learning new words even more fun by acting out or demonstrating what a word means. Make shared picture book reading part of your daily routine.  If you have older children, they can share books with their younger siblings-or you can all read together. Taking turns, listening and asking questions are all skills that will help your child when he starts learning to read.

The Books4All Blog has great book recommendations and suggestions for how to use them to promote language development.  Check out their website here:  http://all4mychild.com/books/

Rapport in a clinic-based setting

Some speech therapists may define ‘rapport’ as being well-liked by the clients they serve. According to Webster’s International Dictionary, rapport is defined as a transient “relationship characterized by harmony, accord, and affinity.” Three qualities have consistently been identified which help establish rapport in the therapy setting- empathy, respect, and warmth.

Research shows that the outcomes of treatment tend to be predicted by the quality of a therapist and client relationship. Positive relationships between therapists and their clients often yield positive outcomes and progress within therapy. For speech therapists, relationships with clients matter just as much as the actual purposes of therapy. Research into therapist-client relationships suggests that children are often more able to remember their therapist’s personality rather than the tasks they completed in a given session. In a study of therapist-client relationships, parents rated overall rapport in the school setting as lower than in a more private, individualized setting. Research shows that the key to developing rapport especially with young children is to integrate play with work and to make therapy as child-oriented as possible. Rapport is often established in the earliest parts of therapy but is what ensues throughout the duration of therapy. Research shows that rapport must not just be established at the very beginning, but must also be maintained over time. As therapists at Wee Speech, P.C, we are as intentional in developing rapport as we are in providing treatment to our clients because the attitude clients have about therapy sets the stage for what they can achieve.

 

Sources:

Establishing Rapport with Young Children During Speech and Language Diagnostic Evaluation (Geraldine Pattison, Thomas Powell)-National Student Speech Language Association Journal, Volume 17, 77-80 (1989-1990)

Importance of Making Inferences While Reading

For children with language and learning differences, reading comprehension can be a significant challenge. Reading comprehension skills can be an indicator of academic and psychosocial outcomes for school aged children. Children with language disorders often demonstrate difficulty answering inferential questions compared to typically developing peers. Inferencing abilities often are associated with vocabulary knowledge, single word reading accuracy, grammatical skill, and verbal working memory. There are two main types of inferences that are important to target in speech-language therapy: cohesive inferences and elaborative inferences. Cohesive inferences are conclusions drawn by establishing links between story elements within the text, whereas elaborative inferences are conclusions drawn by adding in background knowledge to the information provided in the text. When reading with your child, try to discuss how to “fill in the gaps”, make connections between story elements, and try to find relationships between words!

Gough Kenyon, S. M., Palikara, O., & Lucas, R. M. (2018). Explaining Reading Comprehension in Children With Developmental Language Disorder: The Importance of Elaborative Inferencing. J Speech Lang Hear Res, [Advance online publication], 1-15. doi: 10.1044/2018_JSLHR-L-17-0416

Activities for Older Students

It can be difficult to get your middle or high school student to practice their speech and language skills. Kim, author of the Activity Tailor blog, has provided some great activities to engage your older student and make practicing their speech and language skills fun. She has suggested creating stories, playing card games, using song lyrics, and using Siri or Alexa to help your student practice their speech and language skills. Check out her blog to learn more!

http://www.activitytailor.com/6-ideas-engaging-older-speech-students/

The Link Between Football and Traumatic Brain Injury

Another football-filled fall is here, and many fans and non-fans alike are prompted to think about this beloved national sport and its affect on the millions of kids and adults that play. For many who study the brain and how injuries affect its functioning, football clearly poses risks with all of the impact the head sustains over the course of a career.

The Concussion Foundation defines CTE as: “A degenerative brain disease found in athletes, military veterans and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma. In CTE, a protein called Tau forms clumps that slowly spread throughout the brain, killing brain cells.” CTE is essentially a degenerative brain disorder associated with repeated head trauma.

As more research in this area is conducted, the link between football and traumatic brain injury continues to strengthen. Now, one of the largest studies on the subject to date finds that 110 out of 111 deceased NFL players had CTE. A new study by Mez, Daneshvar, and Kiernan 2017 published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2017examined the brains of 202 deceased people who had played football at various levels, from high school to the NFL. Results revealed that CTE existed in 87% of all the players and 99% of the NFL players.

Many people who have CTE were reported to have behavioral or mood symptoms, as well as well as issues with memory, executive functioning, and attention. It has also been reported that conversational skills can be negatively impacted. A study by Berisha et al. (2017) “tracked a steeper decline in vocabulary size and other verbal skills in 10 players who spoke at news conferences over an eight-year period, compared with 18 coaches and executives who never played professional football and who also spoke in news conferences during the same period.” While more research needs to be done in this area, evidence seems to suggest we need to consider the effect of high-impact sports on communication.

Encourage Curiosity

 

Research has explored the connection between a child’s level of curiosity and their academic success. Researchers from University of Michigan’s Mott Children’s Hospital and the Center for Human Growth and Development found that kindergarteners who were described as curious demonstrated increased success in reading and math. This supports the need to encourage children to be curious about the world around them. There are many things you can do as a parent to cultivate curiosity in your child. The best place to start is to find something that is of interest to your child. Then, provide ways to explore and learn more about this topic. If your child shows an interest in building with blocks/Legos, you can find books that explain how buildings are constructed. You can also look for “blueprints” your child can follow to build a specific structure. While your child is engaged in these activities, you can highlight new vocabulary words, focus on following directions, have your child summarize what they learned, and work on problem solving skills. You will be promoting their curiosity and targeting speech and language skills all while engaging in an activity your child enjoys.

 

Curiosity Associated with Higher Academic Achievement, The ASHA Leader, July 2018, Vol. 23, 14. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB4.23072018.14. https://leader.pubs.asha.org/article.aspx?articleid=2687285

Vocabulary Development

Studies show that there are more words in the English Language than could ever be directly taught in a lifetime. Research shows that typically developing kids by age 12 have 50,000 words in their expressive vocabulary. The vocabulary that kids don’t learn at school, they learn in other environments. Research shows that most vocabulary is actually acquired incidentally through indirect exposure rather than direct instruction.

A research study appearing in the ASHA Journal suggests that the size of a child’s oral vocabulary at 2 years of age can be a leading predictor of their readiness for kindergarten and beyond. These findings propose that the vocabulary kids have in early life facilitates what they achieve in later life.

What is vocabulary?

Vocabulary is an umbrella term for words we have heard, words we have seen in print, words we understand, and words we use verbally. It is often said that a person’s vocabulary is never complete; it is always evolving, expanding, and deepening and is very much a by-product of lifelong learning. Developing a child’s vocabulary involves more than just use of a dictionary. Many different strategies and approaches for vocabulary development can be implemented from the comfort of your own home and in other natural environments!

Tips for parents-Developing vocabulary at home:

1. Provide language rich opportunities for learning (kids who have more opportunities to learn naturally have larger vocabularies than kids who have limited experiences. Language-rich opportunities to do as a family could include: going outdoors, taking a trip, going to a museum, building, cooking, playing a sport, attending a performance, etc.)

2. Make screen time educational (the use of technology for educational purposes is endless! Bridging technology with educational purposes ensures kids are using screen time appropriately and meaningfully. Encourage your child to listen to audio books, play word games, solve word puzzles, and watch educational videos.)

3. Label objects in your home and community (verbal or written labels can increase the frequency at which children hear and see new vocabulary concepts in the world around them.)

4. Engage in interactive reading experiences (whether you read to them, they read to you, or you read together, research shows that vocabulary instruction and reading go hand in hand. Children’s books often contain twice as many rarely used words as conversations do. ” Research shows that the best readers read most and the worst readers read least. Encouraging your child to be an avid reader is one of the best gifts you can give for ensuring they have academic success.

5. Apply your child’s interests to teaching moments (when children like what they are learning about, they will want to do more learning. Take your child’s interests of a certain topic and expand upon them by teaching them new words and concepts that relate and further their understanding!)

6. Review school work (children need multiple opportunities and repeated exposure to develop long term memory of concepts and terms they are learning. Reference your child’s spelling lists, school books, and homework to make the connections between what they are learning in school.)

7. Think big picture (as a parent, modeling diverse vocabulary for your child is key! Focus on more than common nouns by discussing lesser known verbs, adjectives, and adverbs to help their inventory of vocabulary grow.)

8. Engage in meaningful conversation.(research shows that parents who are stressed, overburdened, less engaged, may talk, read, and otherwise interact with their children less frequently, resulting in their children acquiring smaller oral vocabularies. Talking to your kids in even the smallest ways can help their word knowledge expand.

9. Teach word learning strategies (making word associations (synonyms/antonyms), analyzing word parts (root words, prefixes, suffixes), and emphasizing different parts of speech can teach kids how to infer the meaning of unknown words on their own. )

10. Make learning visual: (draw pictures for your kids to teach the meaning of words. Having a visual reference like a picture or drawing can help kids make connections between what they hear and see and can help them establish a memory of words. A picture or drawing can provide background knowledge to fall back when they need reminders of word meaning.)

 

References:

ASHA Leader, “There’s a Book for That!”-Shari Robertson, PhD, CCC-SLP December 2017

ASHA Leader, “Big Vocabularies in 2-Year-Olds May Predict Kindergarten Success.”-January 2016

https://www.speechandlanguagekids.com/vocabulary-resource-page/