Category: blog

The Importance of Self-Care for Parents

Most parents experience some sort of stress as a normal part of the parenting experience.  For parents of children with special needs, the intensity of stress can be amplified. The impact of chronic stress related to caring for children with more intense needs has been documented.  Studies show that parents of children with developmental, psychiatric or learning disorders are more likely than others to experience anxiety, depression and insomnia.  Being under chronic stress also puts these parents at higher risk for a variety of medical issues. You can read an article from the Child Mind Institute on ways to avoid parenting burnout and take care of your own physical, emotional and social health here.  It’s important that, as parents of […]

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Parenting Strategies during COVID-19

As adults struggle to cope with and understand the COVID-19 climate, parents are increasingly looking for support on how to help their children cope with and understand life during a pandemic. Research shows there are a number of different strategies that can be implemented within the home to assist families in managing the stressors and uncertainty COVID-19 brings. Recognize how stress can manifest in children at home; During COVID-19, children are reportedly demonstrating stress in a variety of ways including having trouble eating/sleeping, seeking out added physical contact/touch, or demonstrating attention-seeking patterns. Regularly talking about emotions with children and maintaining outlets for relaxation and stress management is shown to largely assist children during challenges. Reassure their safety; Regularly emphasize that […]

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How to have a conversation with an AAC user

A BIG part of communication revolves around sharing ideas, making comments, and enjoyment! Requesting is only a small part of communication, but many AAC users get stuck at this stage. Conversational turn-taking should be worked on at the same time as requesting. Here are four tips for encouraging conversational turn-taking with an AAC user:  •      Wait time: get comfortable with waiting. AAC is not as fast as speech and requires the communication partner practice patience. •      Understand the AAC user’s pre-communication signals. Every AAC user’s pre-communication signals are different. It is essential for parents, teachers, SLPS, and other frequent communication partners to know the user’s signals. Common pre-communication signals are gesturing toward the device, glancing at the device, and picking […]

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How Can I Promote Making Choices for My Toddler in the Home?

In speech therapy, I often work on the skill of making choices with my clients. This skill enables children to feel more independent, and allows them to demonstrate their likes and dislikes. When we consider the skill of making choices, there’s various components at hand: building vocabulary, establishing attention and strengthening verbal skills. If a child is not yet at the verbalization stage, gesturing or pointing still facilitates communication. When offering choices, I often also see a decrease in negative behaviors such as inattention or crying/yelling. So how do I promote this skill? Through repeated practice, of course! Parents often ask how they can be facilitating this skill in the home environment — there are many ways to target making […]

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Mask Practice

Is your child heading back to school? Consider having your child practice wearing a mask for extended periods of time for the last few weeks of summer in order to make the transition easier. Start off by having your child wear a mask during highly preferred activities and increase the length of time in a mask per day. Once your child is comfortable wearing a mask during preferred tasks, incorporate mask wearing into non-preferred activities as well. This will allow your child to slowly ease in to the transition of wearing a mask for a significant portion of the day. Wear a mask with your child during practice time as well!  Wearing a mask can be tiring, especially for kids. […]

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Balancing Screen Time

Even in normal times, it can be easy to let screens and technology dominate our lives, and right now, it’s even easier.  During the coronavirus pandemic, as our daily lives have become more digital, kids not only need to use technology for schoolwork, therapy, or camps and classes,  it’s also often their means for social connection with family members and friends. A number of studies have demonstrated that increased screen time can negatively affect children’s mood, sleep and concentration.  Now more than ever, it is important that families balance screen time with non-tech, screen-free activities. Here’s a few ideas for some low-tech family time: Have a weekly game night: Pull out some classic board or card games, or try no-cost […]

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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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Completing Speech Homework Leads to Increased Gains

ASHA has shed light on key data surrounding the completion of home programming and its effect on speech and language gains. The results were conclusive: children who completed all of their assigned speech homework demonstrated the greatest improvements toward their goals.  See the figure below: The data referenced came from NOMS, the national data registry specifically for speech-language pathology services. Improvements in pre-k children were seen across the three most commonly treated areas: articulation, language comprehension, and language production.The evidence supports the fact that children should continue to work toward their goals via home programming with a parent or caregiver. The benefits to speech and language are clear! To find out more, visit: https://leader.pubs.asha.org/doi/10.1044/leader.NOMS.25032020.28

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An Alternative Way to Process Language

Did you know that some children and adults learn language in large units (sentences) rather than in small units (words)? When children acquire language in larger units, it is called Gestalt Language Acquisition.  When gestalt language processors start to develop language, it is difficult to determine if they are babbling or if they are using words. It can be challenging for parents to determine because talking in larger units (sentences) decreases speech clarity. Gestalt language processing occurs in children with and without disabilities. It is often seen in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Echolalia is common in children who are gestalt language processors.  Why do some gestalt processors need speech therapy? It can be difficult for children who are gestalt […]

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Communication Challenges with Face Masks

As face masks are required in most public spaces now, individuals with communication difficulties are challenged in new ways. Face masks alter speech loudness, block facial expressions, and reduce the overall quality of speech. Consider using gestures with your whole body instead of relying on facial expressions to ensure a clear message is conveyed. Also, try to use louder, clear speech whenever possible. Transparent face masks are becoming increasingly more available and are a great option as well. Individuals often rely on lip-reading to aid in their comprehension, so try to supplement this the best you can by using an alternative face mask, visual supports, and reducing background noise. Please visit asha.org for more support regarding face masks.

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