Articulation Station

Is your child working on correctly producing specific sounds to increase intelligibility in connected speech? Typical flashcards and drill activities can become boring very quickly! Fortunately there is a fun, interactive articulation app that kids of all ages love to play.


Articulation Station has 6 engaging activities at the word, sentence and story level. You are able to customize the target sounds, sound placement, and level of difficulty for your child’s needs. If your child is too young to read, picture prompts and auditory reinforcement are included to allow your child to practice by themselves. They are also able to record their responses and play them back to hear how they produced the sounds. This tool is great for self monitoring.

Articulation Station has a “store” within the app. This is where you can purchase the sound(s) your child needs help with. You have the option to purchase all of the sound programs at once for $49.99. The 22 programs included include: p, b, m, h, w, y, d, n, t, k, g, ng, f, v, ch, j, l, r , s, z, ch, and th. Individual sound prices range from $1.99 to $9.99 depending on the sound.  For further information or to purchase, log onto:  http://littlebeespeech.com/

Blog By: Mary Williams-Anderson

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

What Pencil Grip Is Right For My Child?

This is a question we often hear from parents who are concerned with handwriting and the way their child holds a writing utensil. Each child will have an individual preference for how a grip feels in their hands. There is no one grip that is the perfect grip for everyone. Ask your occupational therapist to explore some of the pencil grips that they may have prior to making a purchase.  This will save you time, money, and the possibility that your child’s hand will not be compatible with them.

Some things to look for when fitting a grip to your child are:

  • Proper finger placement,
  • Is the palm in an open and curved shape?
  • Is the wrist turned with slight extension?
  • How is your child responding? Some protest is common. The true test is after they have used it for a few minutes. Have they forgotten it is there? Are they adjusting well to the new finger placements? Do they appear comfortable?
  • Does stability of the writing utensil increase, therefore improving handwriting and drawing techniques?

Below are a few of the grips that we have kid tested and therapist approved.

1. Grotto grip:  “The specialized angles and finger guards promote an open web space and hand and palmer arching. Discourages hyper-mobility at the joints of the thumb and index finger. Once fingers are placed correctly, the Grotto Grip prevents the user from reverting back to immature hand grasps. For both the left and right hands. Latex free.” ~Therapro Grotto Grip

This grip has been a favorite of many for the solid support that it offers without being too firm. Decreases thumb wrap.

2. Crossover Grip: “This is “The Pencil Grip” shape with “wings” which help to maintain the proper tripod, 3-finger, grasp by keeping the index finger and thumb from “crossing over.” For either the right or left hand. The shape, combined with the soft material, offers support, comfort and assistance with finger placement.” ~Therapro

Crossover Grip

This grip is excellent for a child who holds their pencil too tight, however, needs the additional finger placement supports. Decreases thumb wrap.

3. Stetro Pen and Pencil Grip: “Plastic molded with finger indentations. Star indicates thumb placement. Forefinger and middle finger fit comfortably into the other two indentations. For use with both the left and right hand.” ~Therapro

Stetro Pen and Pencil Grip

This grip is perfect for the child who needs fingertip placement support. Small, unobtrusive, and goes unnoticed by other classmates for the child who is concerned about their pencil looking different.

4. Standard Foam Grip:  “Provides a soft cushion for writers. 1-1/2″ long. 1/2″ diameter. Assorted colors.” ~Therapro

Standard Foam Grip

Excellent grip for the child who has a proper functional grasp already but tends to hold their pencil too tight. Holding the utensil too tight can lead to hand cramping and fatiguing quickly during writing tasks.

Blog by: Laney London, COTA/L, IMC, Certified Handwriting Specialist

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

The Tricky “R” Sound

It’s not unusual to hear a 3 year old talk about “wabbits” and “wainbows,” but when does the /r/ sound become an articulation concern?

Speech sound errors can be developmental in nature and, with maturity, some children may grow out of it.  Other children, due to various factors such as oral motor delays, past or present hearing difficulties, or other unknown causes, may keep using these immature speech sound patterns as they get older.

According to Goldman Fristoe Test of Articulation-2, a standardized test commonly used to assess articulation skills, 85% of children master /r/ and /r/ blends by age 6.  As speech language pathologists, we typically wait until this age to determine if errors are developmental in nature or true disorders.  We may choose, however, to address /r/ sound errors at an earlier age, depending on the child’s overall speech intelligibility and other factors.

/R/ is a complicated sound due to the various oral motor structures involved and due to the many ways in which /r/ appears in words.

Unlike earlier developing sounds like “b” or “p”, which are made primarily using our lips and our voice, the “r” sound requires proper placement of the lips and tongue.  The /r/ sound can also vary greatly, depending on where it occurs in the word.  Some children may be able to say prevocalic ‘r’ sounds (those occurring before a vowel, as in “rabbit”) with a correct “r” sound, but have difficulty with r blends (br-, tr-, dr-, etc) or vocalic r sounds.  The vocalic r occurs when r is between vowels (as in cherry) or after a vowel (as in car or teacher). 

Correct oral motor placement is key to /r/ sound production.  Most people make the /r/ sound in one of two ways – with their tongue bunched or retroflexed (curled).  A bunched /r/ sound occurs when the middle of the tongue is bunched in the center of the mouth and a retroflexed /r/ sound requires the tongue tip to be slightly curled up and back in the mouth.  With both methods, the sides of the tongue are lightly touching the back molars. 

Here are some tips and techniques you can use to help your child become more proficient with that tricky /r/ sound:

Demonstrate correct tongue placement – show your child how their tongue should be tight and bunched when making an ‘r’ sound – this can be done using a play dough “tongue” or simply a hand gesture to show that the tongue is bunched and the tongue tip slightly back.  You can also use peanut butter, a lollipop, or other sticky flavorful food on the top back molars, to help your child “find” where the their tongue should be touching.

Work from an /l/ sound – Have your child make an /l/ sound.  Then, instruct him/her to slide the tongue back along the roof of the mouth while vocalizing.  This will help get the tongue into position for the retroflex /r/ sound.

Use silly sounds to encourage /r/ - make the sound of a cat purring (“purrrrrrrrrr”), a tiger growling (“grrrrrrrrrrr”), or a rooster crowing (“rrr rrr rrr rrrrr rrrrrrrrrrr”) to practice the /r/ sound

Silent /k/ - If your child is able to make a /k/ sound, have him/her get the tongue into position for this sound (tight and far back in the mouth), and then growl!

Get rid of that /w/ - If your child is making a /w/ instead of an /r/ sound, ask him/her to smile when making the /r/.  This encourages the lips to be drawn back instead of rounded, getting closer to a good /r/ sound.