Author: Emily McNeil MS CCC SLP

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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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. […]

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Keeping Your Voice Healthy

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 […]

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Fun and Enriching Spring Outings for Kids around Chicago

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 […]

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Sesame Street Theme Park for Kids with Autism

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 […]

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5 Reasons to Use Books for Practically Any Speech Language Skill

  For parents who are wondering how they can work on their child’s speech and language goals at home, Shari Robertson, PhD, CCC-SLP from the ASHA Leader has identified five reasons that books are all you need! The reasons cited are: 1)    Books provide a natural context for learning vocabulary: Research has found that children’s books contain approximately twice as many infrequently used or rare words than in conversation and also provide a model of more advanced grammatical structures. 2)    Books are efficient: A single book can target multiple communication skills. 3)    Books are convenient: Children’s books are portable and typically low-cost. 4)    Books are fun: Choosing a story that a child is interested in and motivated to read can […]

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