8 Ways to Encourage Speech and Language in Young Children

1. Read, read, read! Find age appropriate books that have lots of pictures that your child can look at while you read, label objects and actions, etc.

2. Expose your child to new situations. This will provide you with an opportunity to introduce new vocabulary in novel situations such as, a trip to the zoo or a bike ride through a park.

3. Expand on what your child says, Ex. if your child says “doggie” then you could say “Yes, the dog is running,” or something within the context.

4. Provide choices in order to create opportunities for your child to vocalize their wants/needs. Ex. ” Do you want crackers or pretzels?”.

5. Put desired objects in out of reach places to encourage your child to request, and ask for help.

6. Use fill in the blanks statements. Set up a familiar phrase, and leave off the last word. Ex. “ready, set, …..”

7. Self talk. Talk about what you are doing, seeing, thinking, etc. “I’m washing my hands so I can make you a snack”.

8. Feign lack of understanding. Pretend like you aren’t sure what your child wants. Ex. If your child points to their juice on a high counter, but doesn’t vocalize the request, you can act like you don’t understand. I.e.  “I’m not sure what you want? Do you want your juice or this paper?” Wait till a vocalization is made even if it doesn’t sound perfect, then reward their efforts.

Blog By: Mary Williams-Anderson

For further information contact us 941-360-0200 or visit us at www.pediatrictherapysolution.com

Book Review: How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

Communicating with children is an art form, especially when it comes to eliciting desired behaviors.  That’s what the book How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk is all about.  The book is written by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, experts on communication between adults and children who studied under expert child psychologist, Dr. Haim Ginott. They have written other New York Times bestsellers such as Siblings without Rivalry, and have also created several books designed to help children with communication skills. 

How to Talk so Kids will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk is an easy and enjoyable read filled with stories, anecdotes, assignments to help you apply the suggestions, and even comic strips illustrating the principles outlined in the book.  Whether you are a parent, teacher, or therapist, this book provides wonderful ideas on how to communicate with children, divided into sections about how to deal with children’s feelings, engaging cooperation, alternatives to punishment, encouraging autonomy, praise, freeing children from playing roles, and putting it all together.  Each chapter focuses on specific communication situations between adults and children, providing examples of typical exchanges and how those exchanges can be altered to encourage the child to communicate more appropriately or cooperate more fully.

 I really enjoyed the way the authors outlined “instead of…try…” suggestions, which helps us see how we have been communicating, and how we can change the way we communicate to be more successful.  Additionally, each chapter provides comments, questions, and parent stories which are an excellent way to see how the communication strategies can work in real life situations.  One of my favorite aspects of the book were the “quick reminder” pages which provide an overview of the strategies, and can even be copied and kept to help remind ourselves of the things we can be doing throughout the day when communicating with our little ones.  An example of the “quick reminder” page for Engaging Cooperation includes:

  1. Describe what you see, or describe the problem – “There’s a wet towel on the bed”
  2. Give information – “The towel is getting my blanket wet”
  3. Say it with one word – “Towel”
  4. Describe what you feel – “I don’t like sleeping in a wet bed!”
  5. Write a note – (above towel rack) “Please put me back so I can dry”

I personally made copies of these quick reminder pages for myself, to easily reference in the future.  My favorite part of the suggestions and strategies is that they are simple, straightforward, and they make sense.  Children of all abilities need to have their feelings acknowledged, and they need to know they have some autonomy.  By communicating more directly and concisely with children with communication difficulties, we can help lessen frustrations and help them become more successful (and that makes everyone happier!)

 Whether you work with children or have children of your own, this book will resonate and you will find yourself thinking back to the strategies in a variety of situations.  Since reading the book, I have even found myself using some of the communication strategies with other adults! 

In my opinion, this book is 5 stars.  If you want an easy read that will immediately help you gain a new perspective on the way you communicate with children, this is the book for you!

Blog By: Rebekah Greer, MS, CCC-SLP

For further information contact us at 941-360-0200 or visit us at www.pediatrictherapysolution.com

Make Halloween Spooktacular

Halloween can be an exciting time of year with spooky cobwebs, glowing pumpkins, haunting ghosts and treats galore.  Many children and adults enjoy taking part in the fun, and “sensational” activities that come along with such a spirited holiday.  For others, especially children who have a harder time with sensory processing, it can become quite an overwhelming experience.

With a little extra preparation, Halloween can be an enjoyable experience for the whole family.  The following are a few tips* to make this Halloween a great one.

Prepare your child for the holiday by helping them to understand the tradition

  • Tell stories about Halloween or read Halloween themed books
  • Discuss the rules and boundaries of the holiday and your expectations
  • Role play and pretend so they know how to handle situations that may arise while at a party, having visitors or visiting others during Halloween activities
  • Let them know exactly what to expect and avoid any surprises (the good, bad and scary of it all)

Get the costume right

  • Try out some inexpensive “practice costumes” to help them to get used to wearing one.  Make your own and do some pretend play.  You could make a cape out of an old T-shirt, or cut a paper plate into a crown/mask (just add some elastic or string)
  • Make sure that the costume that you purchase for Halloween events is right for your child.  Have them try it on to be sure that it fits and feels right. It won’t be too “scratchy” or uncomfortable, and will be cool or warm enough depending on what activities you plan on participating in.  Also consider whether face paint or a mask is right for your child.

Prevent the dreaded meltdown

  • Try to limit the duration of events, and to know what to expect if you will be attending a gathering.  This way you can have a plan, allow your child to know the structure of events and give them a chance to make choices and feel in control of the situation and thus themselves.
  • Allow your child to explore the fun that Halloween has to offer, but keep a close eye on them and stay tuned in to how they may be feeling.  If they begin crying, looking fatigued, too hyperactive or combative it may be time for a break.  Find somewhere less stimulating and take them for a break from the sensory overload they may be experiencing.

Plan ahead and consider which activities would best suit your child

  • Try trick-or-treating in a controlled environment.  Some local organizations arrange trick-or-treat experiences that may be more your child’s speed.  Also, many nursing homes and hospitals set up special times for children to visit with the patients or residents.  It is a great opportunity to participate in a Halloween event while brightening someone’s day!
  • If trick-or-treating isn’t for you, that is OK!!  There are many other ways you can enjoy the season and get in the spirit of Halloween.  Make some Halloween crafts, decorate pumpkins with paint or stickers, experiment with Halloween food recipes, roast pumpkin seeds or try out some structured sensory play.

 

Blog by: Ashley Yankanich, MS, OTR/L, IMC

For further information please contact us at 941-360-0200 or visit us at www.pediatrictherapysolution.com

Please follow my NEW Pinterest board for some fun ideas for Halloween and every other day!! Search for Miss Ashley the OT

REFERENCE

*Halloween tips were adapted from:

American Occupational Therapy Association (2011). American Occupational Therapy Association tip sheet.

The complete document can be found at:

http://www.aota.org/-/media/Corporate/Files/AboutOT/consumers/Youth/Halloween%20tip%20sheet.pdf

Frontal Lisp: From Cute to Concern

A frontal lisp is when the tongue protrudes through the front teeth, typically during the production of /s/ and /z/. This causes air to escape out, resulting in a sound distortion. Production of /s/ and /z/ will sound like the /th/ sound, ex. sun/thun. This articulation error is cute initially, but is no longer developmentally appropriate after 4 1/2 years old.

A child should receive a formal speech evaluation around the age of 4 1/2 years old if this error persists. Intervention should include awareness activities, strategies/techniques to elicit /s/ and /z/ sounds without tongue protrusion, drill activities, and self-monitoring skills.

Techniques that can be used in therapy and in the home environment include:
1) Ask child to close teeth, smile, and blow air out. This technique will teach child correct tongue placement.
2) Have the child use a mirror during practice to visually show child correct tongue placement
3) Ask child to produce /t/ sound and then hold the sound while blowing out air. This technique will elicit appropriate tongue placement.
4) Once the child is able to produce /s/ and /z/ correctly, drill and structured activities will be used so the child is given many opportunities to practice. The more the child practices the sooner the skill will be carried over into conversational speech.

Blog by: Mary Williams Anderson

For further information contact us at 941-360-0200 or visit us at www.pediatrictherapysolution.com

 

 

Personalized Books

Manasota BUDS recently hosted a workshop with guest speaker Natalie Hale, founder of Special Reads for Special Needs.  Manasota BUDS is a volunteer organization based in Bradenton Florida that provides networking and support for families and helps promote understanding and acceptance of Down syndrome.  Natalie was an excellent speaker, with so much information to share.  Her program Special Reads for Special Needs provides specialized reading materials for learners with Down Syndrome, Autism, and other developmental delays and Natalie has so many wonderful suggestions for making reading more fun and effective.  One of her recommendations for helping children learn to read is making personal books.  So, how do we do this?

Materials you will need:

A “hot topic” list of at least 9 of your child’s favorite people, family members, pets, foods, toys, activities, sports, character, etc.

5×8 index cards

110# card stock paper (for printing the book)

Red marker (for making flash cards)

Instructions

Choose a vocabulary list of 10-15 words.  Some of these will be your “hot topic” words, and some will be Dolch Sight words appropriate to your child’s current reading level.  A full list of Dolch words can be found here: http://www.dolchword.net/printables/All220DolchWordsByGradeAlpha.pdf

Write the text for your book.  Keep your sentences short and simple, each one will be on a page by itself.  After each sentence page, the next page will be the sentence plus a picture.  Be sure to end your story with “The End”.  I created a book about the Minions from Despicable me.  I kept it very simple and incorporated numerical words one to ten.  The entire book had 11 vocabulary words.

Create flash cards for all of the words in your story.  You can do this by writing them as large as possible using your red marker, or printing them on your computer in red ink (red has been known to help children learn).

 

Find photos online, cut out pictures from magazines, or take your own photos to go along with your text.

Write the text on your computer and print it, with these guidelines (directly from Natalie Hale’s website):

Use landscape mode

Set font to size 70-100 black, and choose one of the Sans Serif fonts (Arial, Calibri, Tahoma). Almost everything we read on a daily basis (newspapers, internet, books) is in a Sans Serif font.

Type one sentence per page, alternating sentence only and sentence with picture and print using the 110# index paper stock (or use plain paper in a pinch, and laminate to help your book hold up longer)

Assemble your book with the text ONLY on the right hand side.  You can take your book to an office supply store for binding.

Time to Read!

Using Fast Flash, a method of reviewing flashcards at a rapid pace, which helps maintain a child’s attention and helps with instant recall, review the vocabulary with your child.  You can find more detail about the Fast Flash method here: http://specialreads.com/blog/?p=165.  Once you have reviewed the flashcards, it’s time to read the book to your child and enjoy it together!  Finish up by showing/calling out the flash cards again, and you’re done!

You can continue to create new books with the same topic and new sight words, or create books with new topics.  In addition to the Minions book, I also created a book about a baby doll, to help teach some verb vocabulary (Baby Eats, Baby Sleeps, Baby Drinks, Etc).

Once we read the book and review the vocabulary, we get to play with the baby!

I hope you enjoy making your own personalized books!

Blog by: Rebekah Greer

For further information please contact us at 941-360-0200 or visit our website at www.pediatrictherapysolution.com

 

For more information about Manasota BUDS, visit their website: http://www.manasotabuds.org/

For more information about Natalie Hale and Special Reads for Special Needs, visit her website at: http://specialreads.com/

Laugh and Learn Self-Help Series for Ages 8-13

We have recently discovered this amazing series of books that range in topics from disorganization to homework help. They address one specific topic in each book in a relate-able and easily understood manner. The formatting of each book is designed to engage them quickly, and encourage your child to independently begin to use the strategies they offer. With catchy titles and minimal text per page your child should be excited to peek inside and learn some new tricks.

Some of our favorites in the series include:

“How to Do Homework without Throwing Up” By:Trevor Romain

“Get Organized Without Losing It” By: Janet S. Fox

“Stress Can Really Get on Your NERVES!” By: Trevor Romain and Elisabeth Verdick

This Series of books includes titles relating to Bullying, Procrastination, Rudeness, Anger and conflict resolution, and how to deal with siblings.They also carrying some of these in DVD format as well.  Check out this series, as well as, some additional books that address a wide variety of self-help topic for a various age ranges at www.freespirit.com

Blog by: Laney London, COTA/L, IMC

For further information contact us at 941-360-0200 or visit us at www.pediatrictherapysolution.com

Fun and Simple Meal Preparation

A fantastic way to encourage your child to become involved with simple meal preparation is to make it a creative experience. Play with your food! This activity is great for using imagination, a wonderful way to increase communication, and a great self-help skill builder. Involve your child with all the steps, from selecting the meal to cleaning up the dishes. It is never too early to learn to create their own simple meals in a fun and safe way.

1. Gather the fixings for a sandwich, whether it be peanut butter (sun butter, almond butter, nutella), meat and cheese, veggies, fruit, candy toppings, condiments, whatever it may be that will appeal to your child. We used bread, peanut butter, craisins, and chocolate chips for our fun creations. Since it is Valentine’s Day tomorrow we used heart cookie cutters to create our shapes.

2. Use your cookie cutter to cut out your shape from your slice of bread. If you are grain free you can use the cutters to cut your lunch meat or veggie slices too. Be creative!

3. Spread on your condiment of choice.

4. Arrange your toppings to create animals, fun shapes, designs, boarders, etc.

5. Now you are ready to eat your tasty treat. Austin made his into a mouse by adding pretzels for whiskers. So fun!!

*Depending on the age of your child parent supervision may be required. If you have a child who is able to safely prepare their meal independently, have them make something for siblings, family, and themselves. They will be so proud to show off their creation.

Blog by: Laney London, COTA/L, IMC

For further information contact us at 941-360-0200 or visit us at www.pediatrictherapysolution.com