Author: Margaret Morris MS CCC SLP

Soft Skills: What Are They and Why Are They Important?

Soft skills are personal attributes that influence how well you can work or interact with others. These are the “people skills” that can affect our relationships and interpersonal interactions. The term covers a wide range of skills and includes communication, a positive attitude and politeness, professionalism, teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking and time management. As we prepare middle and high school students for the workplace, the traditional focus is on academic and technical/hard skills. But soft skills are also critical to students’ future success at work.  Developing soft skills can be especially difficult for students with social-pragmatic and communication challenges. Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) are in a position to help by targeting what will eventually become workplace soft skills. We can […]

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CDC Report Shows 1 in 6 Children Has a Developmental Disability

Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) found that about 1 in 6 children aged 3–17 years were diagnosed with a developmental disability, and that this percentage increased from 16.2% in 2009–2011 to 17.8% in 2015–2017. Investigators examined data collected from 2009 to 2017 by the National Health Interview Survey, which surveyed parents of more than 88,000 children.  Specifically, data showed an increase in the prevalence of autism, intellectual disability, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The reasons for these increases were not investigated in this study, but previous research has shown that improved awareness, screening, and diagnosis may contribute to the increased incidence. These findings can be used […]

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NATIONAL SAFE TOYS AND GIFTS MONTH

December is the biggest gift-giving month in the world! It is also Safe Toys and Gifts Month. Here are some tips to help you to keep safety in mind as you’re shopping for the little people in your life: Make sure the age and skill level marked on the toy matches the age and skill level of the child you’re buying for; even a child who seems advanced for their age should not use toys meant for older children; the recommended age levels are determined by safety factors, not intelligence or maturity Check labels! Toys should have a label for ATSM (American Society for Testing and Materials) to show they have passed safety standards. Use the following guidelines for choosing […]

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The Dyslexia-Stress-Anxiety Connection

It is not uncommon for children who have difficulties in school to experience stress and anxiety.  While stress and anxiety might cause some of the same physical reactions in the brain and body, they are not the same thing.  Generally, stress is a response to external factors that we’re having difficulty coping with, such as a big test or an argument with a friend.  Symptoms of stress will  typically disappear once the situation is over. Anxiety is a reaction to stress. Anxiety focuses on worries or fears about things that might happen, as well as anxiety about the anxiety itself. It is a feeling that is often out of proportion to the real or imagined “threat”. Children with dyslexia can […]

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Playing Music Leads to Higher Test Scores

Dust off that piano or the trumpet you’ve had in the closet- playing music can benefit your child in more ways than one! Students who learned to play a musical instrument in elementary school and continued playing in high school scored about one academic year ahead of their non-music peers in their English, math, and science skills, regardless of their socioeconomic background, ethnicity, prior learning or gender, according to a recent study from researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC). The study, which was published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, analyzed the performance of more than 112,000 students (grades 7–12). They examined the test scores (mathematics and science achievement in grade 10 and English achievement in grades 10 […]

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Have a Happy (Sensory Friendly) Halloween!

Halloween can be stressful for kids with sensory issues, but following a few tips can help make the holiday fun for everyone. Give a preview Talk to your child about what happens on Halloween. You might read a book where a character celebrates Halloween, find a video on YouTube of children trick-or-treating, or create a picture story that explains in detail what they might see and do. If your child knows what to expect,  they’re less likely to have a negative reaction. Find sensory-friendly costumes Getting any child into a Halloween costume can be tricky, and for those with sensory sensitivities, it could be even trickier. Use comfortable clothes as a base for their costume or even create a costume […]

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The Benefits of Sensory Rooms

For children with sensory processing disorders (conditions which affect how the brain receives and responds to sensory information), the everyday sights and sounds of school can be overwhelming. Loud noises, bright lights, motion and other experiences can cause a child to have negative reactions and trigger behaviors that negatively impact their ability to pay attention and participate in the classroom. Many schools are starting to recognize the particular challenges that these children face by creating “sensory rooms”. Rooms typically have sections, or stations, with active areas, calming areas, and various types of sensory activities.  Some students have designated times which they spend in the sensory rooms while others come to the rooms as needed. The many benefits of sensory rooms […]

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Conversation and Brain Development

By now, you may have seen the viral video of comedian D.J. Pryor and his 18-month old son sitting on their couch having a little chat.  If not, check out the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AY35eXTKVLY While the father-son duo is adorable and the video is good for a laugh, it is also an example of parent-child interaction that is beneficial to a child’s brain development.  Really!  A recent study from York University showed that infants who are exposed to adult conversation have greater cognitive abilities.  The study found a link between children who heard higher quantities of adult speech and their nonverbal reasoning and linguistic development.  The researchers also found that children who interacted with adults who used a diverse vocabulary knew […]

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Summer Language Learning

With summer comes barbecues, beaches and family road trips!  You’ll be surprised at how many ways you can incorporate language learning into your vacation. Ask your child to help you make a packing list.  Brainstorm the items you will need along the way, and at your destination; you can group items together, to work on word retrieval and categorization skills. Help your child use the internet to find out more about the places you will visit; you can even print out pictures and help them make an itinerary. Take a break from electronic devices and play some old-fashioned car games.  Some classics include: “I Spy”, “20 Questions”, “I’m Going on a Picnic”, and “Car Bingo”. Your child will be working […]

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May is Better Hearing and Speech Month!

May is Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM).  It is a great time to spotlight the importance of early detection and treatment of communication disorders. Speech-language pathologists assess and treat difficulties in: speech (pronunciation) language (understanding and using words and sentences) stuttering literacy (reading and writing) social skills listening and auditory processing voice feeding and swallowing How do you know if your child should see a speech-language pathologist? Some potential warning signs of speech and language problems include: you or other people are having difficulty understanding your child (by age 3, a familiar listener should understand at least 75% of what your child says; by age 5, children should be able to say most speech sounds.) people think your child […]

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