Children with Speech Production Challenges at Risk for Reading Difficulties

 

Children with persistent speech difficulties beyond 5 years of age are more at risk for later challenges with reading and spelling skills. Children who have difficulty with speech input (identifying differences between sounds), have an imprecise storage of words, or have difficulty producing speech may present with challenges in reading and writing. These children may have difficulty with phonological awareness skills, such as knowing the sequence of sounds in words (beginning, middle, and end of a word) or being able to accurately repeat a word to evaluate its word structure. Children with speech production difficulties may also have difficulties with counting syllables and blending and segmenting sounds. For more information regarding your child’s pre-literacy skills, contact your child’s treating therapist!

https://www.apraxia-kids.org/apraxia_kids_library/children-with-apraxia-and-reading-writing-and-spelling-difficulties/

Parent Hotline for Children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

 

A parent hotline is now available to help parents and caregivers of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. This hotline is available through The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell). This hotline is designed to assist parents of children who have been recently diagnosed as deaf or hard of hearing find the resources and support they need. When calling the hotline, parents/caregivers are connected with other parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Additional information about this hotline can be found on the AG Bell website.

 

https://www.agbell.org/Families/Listen-Learn-Link-New-Parent-Hotline.

https://leader.pubs.asha.org/doi/10.1044/leader.NIB2.23112018.8

Working Memory

We rely on many different forms of memory to function in daily life including short-term and long-term memory. Out of all forms of memory, working memory is oftentimes less understood and less recognized. Working memory is what allows people to process, store, and retrieve information for later use. Working memory relies on the ability to attend to, concentrate on, sequence, and decipher important information. Some have described working memory as a bucket in which content is continually added to over time.

Research shows that in a screening of over 3000 school-aged children, 1 in 10 was identified as having working memory difficulties. Other studies conclude that between 10-15% of all children have working memory deficits, which causes significant under-performance in many areas of learning including math, reading comprehension, problem solving, and test-taking in the academic setting. Reduced working memory impacts children in their early years of preschool and kindergarten up through college and beyond. Working memory deficits can be associated with many more-recognized disabilities including ADHD and Dyslexia.

Working memory is what allows children to successfully follow multiple step directions, count, decode (read), encode (spell), follow mathematical operations, keep their place within text, answer questions, rapidly name basic concepts (e.g. colors, shapes), paraphrase information, and recite early-learned patterns from rote memory (e.g. days of week, months of year.) Understanding the connection between working memory and language is integral for supporting the developmental needs of children. An understanding of working memory is essential for identifying a child’s strengths and weaknesses for learning in the home and school environment.

Facilitating Problem-Solving Skills

 

Does your child struggle with reasoning, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills? Try to incorporate problem solving discussions throughout your day to day activities. Having your child be a part of the problem-solving process, even for small problems throughout the day, will help them develop problem solving skills. Try asking your child questions such as “How else could we have solved that problem?” and “Why did that happen?” to facilitate a conversation.  Check out the link below to find wordless videos that emphasize a character facing a problem!

 

https://speechisbeautiful.com/2017/03/10-wordless-videos-teach-problem-solving/

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/

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)

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

Early ear infections and speech and language development

Ear infections are one of the most common illnesses in young children. Otitis media (OME) is the term for inflammation and fluid build-up within the middle ear. The accumulation of fluid causes the bones in the middle ear to not function properly and conduct sound effectively. Research indicates that OME poses disadvantages on hearing sensitivity and speech perception in children (Cai and McPherson, 2017). Speech sounds that are most affected by mild hearing loss are those high frequency sounds S, F, or SH. For more moderate hearing loss, a child may not be able to hear additional speech sounds or word-endings. It is important to identify and treat ear infections in young children to reduce these lapses in hearing sensitivity.

Your child may not be able to tell you his or her ear hurts, so it’s important to know the signs and symptoms (American Speech and Hearing Association):

  • tugging or pulling at his or her ear
  • fluid draining from his or her ear
  • crying more than usual
  • not responding to sounds
  • fever
  • trouble sleeping

If the cause of the ear infection is unknown, the doctor may decide to monitor the infection for 2-3 days to see if the fluid will drain on its own. Antibiotics can be prescribed for bacterial infections. For repeated ear infections or middle ear fluid that will not go away, it may be necessary for an ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT) to place a tube in the child’s eardrum that will allow for fluid drainage.

If your child’s hearing is compromised by an infection, it is important to facilitate communication by getting your child’s attention beforehand, speaking at eye level, reducing background noise (e.g., TV, music, talking) and using gestures and signs to enhance communication.

 

 

Communication Development and Screen Time

Technology is a part of our everyday lives. It is important to set boundaries and limits to children’s screen time so that their communication skills do not fall behind. In a poll of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologist, the biggest concerns with children’s frequent screen time use include fewer opportunities for social interactions, delays in social development, delays in speech and/or language skills, and academic challenges. These concerns are present because children have fewer opportunities to hear language modeled by parents/peers and to practice their language, articulation, and social skills. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has established screen time guidelines to help parents balance technology and real-world experiences. They recommend no screen time (video chatting excluded) for the first 18 months, joint screen time of learning programs for children 18-24 months of age, 1 hour per day of learning program screen time for children 2-5 years of age, and to set up family guidelines for children 6 years and older that detail the amount and type of screen time allowed per day. In addition, the AAP recommends designating screen free zones and times. Here are a few screen-free activities to do with your child to encourage speech and language skills: go to the library and pick out books to read together, find a recipe your child can help you make, complete an art or science project together, or go to the park. By doing these types of screen-free activities, child will be learning and practicing important language and social skills.

https://leader.pubs.asha.org/article.aspx?articleid=2687251

https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-Announces-New-Recommendations-for-Childrens-Media-Use.aspx