Author: Emily McNeil MS CCC SLP

The Link Between Protein and ADHD

L Children need to be able to attend, focus and control their impulses throughout the day in order to learn. Studies have shown that children with ADHD are at higher risk for deficits in expressive, receptive, and social language as a result of ADHD-related symptoms. For parents and professionals working with children with ADHD, it is important to understand how diet could affect those symptoms. A study of children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder has identified a deficiency in levels of protein within the brain. The study looked at 14 boys, ages 6-12, and found almost 50 percent lower levels of an amino acid called tryptophan, a protein which aids in the production of dopamine, noradrenaline, and serotonin. This protein is […]

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Speech and Language Benefits of Creative Writing

Writing is an important part of later speech and language development. For educators, parents, and SLPS, creative writing is a wonderful tool to impact widespread speech and language development. Jim Cartwright, MS, CCC-SLP, makes an excellent argument for why creative writing activities help students with a variety of goals, both related to speech and language and beyond. This more open-ended approach to written expression can also promote a positive attitude about writing and help to bridge the gap between oral and written language. Creative writing can be used in the following ways to address speech and language goals: Speech: Have the child write their own books or poems with their target sounds featured in the initial, medial, and final position […]

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Traditional vs. Electronic Toys 

T It’s the holiday season! That means many parents are taking notes on what toys might make their child light up. There are plenty of electronic toys that excite kids with sounds, music, buttons and flashing lights. From a speech and language perspective, these toys may not be the top choice for increasing verbal output and facilitating language and play development. A study from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) which compared traditional toys to electronic toys found that traditional toys result in better child-caregiver interactions and thus lead to increased communication-learning opportunities. Traditional toys provide opportunities for imagination. Children are able to create play schemes which they can change the next time they play. The buttons, sounds and switches […]

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Use of Pain Relievers During Pregnancy Linked to Autism, ADHD

A recent study at Johns Hopkins University examined the effects of taking pain medication containing acetaminophen during pregnancy. Results indicate that exposure to acetaminophen in the womb may increase the child’s risk for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Researchers examined data from the Boston Birth Cohort and found that children whose umbilical cord blood samples contained the highest levels of acetaminophen were approximately 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD or ASD later in childhood, compared to children with the lowest levels of acetaminophen in their umbilical cord blood. Although additional research is needed to support this finding, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration urges careful consideration before using any pain-relieving medication during […]

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Later School Start, Better Student Engagement

A study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that a delay in school start times – 50 minutes for middle school and 70 minutes for high school – resulted in positive changes. The study found that when starting school later, a higher amount of both middle school and high school students reported getting sufficient sleep each night (8-9 hours). Additionally, less students reported feeling too sleepy to do their homework by a significant percentage. The fact is that adolescents and teenagers need more sleep than they often get. Biological changes during puberty prevent teens from falling asleep early enough to get the sufficient amount of sleep with an early school start. Therefore, a later school start time could […]

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Joint Attention and ASD

Joint Attention and ASD Joint attention, or “shared attention,” refers to when two people focus on the same thing. Joint attention is a skill that begins to emerge around 9 months and is typically established by around 18 months. It serves as a referencing tool that helps individuals communicate, but it also helps develop crucial social skills such as bonding and perspective taking. While more research needs to be done on this correlation, initiation of joint attention could be an important factor in identifying the need for early assessment and treatment for children with ASD. The ASHA Leader highlighted new research which suggests that the rate at which infants seek to initiate joint attention at 10 months can be linked […]

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Healthy Hearing Habits

H It’s a very noisy world, and children are at risk for developing hearing damage due to loud and repeated sound exposure. Dr. Frank Wartinger, Audiologist at Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia, outlines several tips in his article (link below) for parents to help protect their children’s hearing: Teach children to respect their hearing: Talk to your kids about how important hearing is to everyday life. They will be more likely to protect their hearing if they understand and appreciate it. Dr. Wartinger suggested having your child identify his or her favorite sound and share how they would feel if they could no longer hear it. Know when a sound is dangerously loud: When your child is listening to music or […]

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Bilingual Language Development

Some parents who speak multiple languages wonder whether teaching more than one language to their child will confuse their child or delay speech and language development. The fact is that children can learn two languages with practice, and learning another language will not cause or worsen speech or language problems. The American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) states that children who are bilingual follow a similar language development trajectory as monolingual children, but there are some normal deviations during bilingual language development: The child may not talk as much, or go through a “silent period,” when they start using a second language. This can last several months. The child may mix grammar rules of both languages in the same utterance. […]

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Print Books vs. E-Books

The ASHA Leader highlighted recent evidence that suggests an advantage of traditional books over electronic books. A study conducted at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital (Munzer TG, et al. Pediatrics. March 25, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2018-2012) found that parents and toddlers verbalized and interacted more while reading traditional print books as opposed to e-books. The interactions noted included commenting on the illustrations, asking and answering questions, and discussing life experiences that related to the story. While families also interacted when reading enhanced e-books (with sound effects and animation), it was significantly less collaborative than with traditional print books. In fact, the conversation while reading e-books often revolved around the device itself and the associated effects as opposed to the […]

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Autism Awareness Month

April is Autism Awareness Month! What better time to learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder? Here is a selection of fiction and non-fiction books which touch on the perspectives of people with autism or their family members. Consider picking one of these up for your next book club read: Fiction books: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon: This New York Times Best seller tells the story of a man with autism who investigates the suspicious death of a neighborhood dog. House Rules by Jodi Picoult: This is a story about Jacob Hunt, a teen with Asperger’s syndrome. Although he’s hopeless when it comes to reading social cues or expressing his thoughts and ideas, he […]

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