Author: Margaret Morris MS CCC SLP

Encouraging Communication at Home

During speech therapy, your speech pathologist will teach your child new speech and language skills needed to further develop their ability to communicate effectively.  It is really important that your child gets many opportunities to practice these new skills outside of the treatment room. It can be difficult to come up with ideas for incorporating your child’s speech goals into their everyday activities.  Here are a few ways you can use daily routines to help your child practice using their verbal skills.  These suggestions focus on increasing intentional communication, requesting, labeling and expanding utterances.  First, make sure your child wants or needs the object or action. Then, he must request it in order to receive it.  This can be at […]

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The Benefits of “Belly Breathing”

Diaphragmatic breathing, sometimes called abdominal or belly breathing, is a deep breathing technique that engages your diaphragm, which is the large, dome-shaped muscle that runs horizontally across your abdomen, under your ribcage. Our natural breathing patterns should engage our diaphragm, but many people actually don’t breathe properly. When you breathe in, your belly should expand. When you breathe out, your belly should contract, or move inward. Belly breathing has been shown to be highly effective both as a calming strategy and for a variety of health reasons. Breathing is one of the most sensitive indicators or warning signs of stress, because it is such a vital link between our minds and bodies. By increasing our awareness about breathing and by […]

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Self Regulation and Literacy

Children’s ability to self-regulate is a crucial component in the development of their language and literacy skills. In young children, self-regulation refers to their ability to manage their thoughts and emotions in order to be calm and alert enough to pay attention to tasks, absorb new information and to inhibit behaviors that might interfere with accomplishing tasks. Michigan State University researchers have found that children who demonstrate self-regulation at an earlier age have higher language and literacy skills throughout preschool to at least the second grade.  Specifically, those children showed earlier and higher development of decoding and reading comprehension and higher levels of vocabulary development. Parents can help children develop better self-regulation by structuring their home environment to include adequate […]

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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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