What Exactly is ASHA?

As a parent, do you ever wonder what all those letters mean after your therapist’s name? To a speech-language pathologist, these letters represent years and years of hard work and ultimately they confirm certification to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA). blog-asha-main-landscape

So, what exactly is ASHA?

ASHA is the national organization and governing body for speech-language pathologists, audiologists and speech/language/hearing scientists. In 1926, ASHA became the first organization to initiate the development of national standards for these two professions. Today, ASHA represents more than 181,000+ professionals; 148,105 of which are certified speech-language pathologists (SLP’s), 31,964 of which are certified audiologists and 931 of which hold dual certification as both audiologists and SLPs. These two rewarding professions have shown immense growth over the years and continue to require a governing body to further detail professional standards.

ASHA has been certifying both speech-language pathologists and audiologists since 1952. These standards are established by audiologists and speech-language pathologists, respectively, who are members of ASHA’s Council for Clinical Certification in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CFCC). ASHA’s certification standards are based on assessment of academic knowledge, professional and clinical skills by professors, employers and leaders in the discipline of communication sciences and disorders. This certification requires graduate level coursework and clinical practicum within a variety of settings and populations.

These populations span the lifetime and can include:

  • Early Childhood
  • School-Aged Children
  • Adolescents
  • Adults
  • Geriatrics/Elderly

Clinical Practicum explores various settings for an SLP to work including:

  • Schools
  • Private clinics
  • Outpatient Facilities
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities
  • Hospitals

In addition, ASHA collaborates with the Educational Testing Service (ETS) in developing national examinations for both professions. Both speech-language pathologists and audiologists must obtain a passing score on the Praxis examination.

Now, back to the letters after your child’s therapist’s name. Being “certified” from ASHA means holding a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC). This is a nationally recognized professional credential that represents a level of excellence in the field of Audiology (CCC-A) or Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP). Individuals who have achieved the CCC-ASHA certification have voluntarily met academic and professional standards, typically going beyond the minimum requirements for state licensure. In order to maintain their knowledge, skills and expertise to provide high quality clinical service, individuals who are certified with ASHA are required to engage in ongoing professional development courses.

North Shore Pediatric Therapy requires all speech-language pathologists to hold and maintain ASHA’s CCC Certification. This is a crucial aspect of ensuring that all our therapists continue to uphold high standards of clinical service to the clients we serve.

As an organization, ASHA provides an abundant amount of resources. Each year, ASHA holds a nationwide convention and invites professionals to come, attend lectures, network and earn CEU course hours. In addition, the ASHA website contains insightful resources, such as the Practice Portal. This online resource offers one-stop access to guide evidence-based decision-making on a variety of both clinical and professional issues. This resource contains direct research articles and resources on a variety of clinical topics and disorders, as well as professional practice issues.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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Play Based Therapy – 5 Things to Consider When Playing at Home

  1. Choose toys and activities a child likes.blog-play-therapy-main-landscape
    • Use toys or objects the child enjoys to increase the likelihood that they will pay attention.
    • Read the child’s cues to determine when or if the attention is waning and provide them with options of other preferred items.
    • It is okay to have them complete “one more turn” before having them clean up.
    • Create a regular clean up routine after play time. Create or use a fun clean up song!
  2. Allow a child to take the lead in choosing toys- but this doesn’t mean you need to give them free rein all the time!
    • Offer acceptable choices- this is a happy medium between letting the child do what they want all the time and the adult determining what the child plays.
    • By providing choices, it gives an opportunity for the child to respond and communicate (and they feel like they are in control!).
    • If possible, choose activities that the child is able to move and does not have to sit still or at a table the whole time moving helps the child to be more attentive or focused!
  3. Imitate a child’s actions and use specific labels to address what the child is doing or attending to at the moment.
    • Over time, it is hoped that the child enjoys the repetition of the words and actions, then will begin to repeat an action he sees you complete (i.e. “Jump, Jump!” “You are jumping!)- Make sure you are face-to-face with the child, so that they know that you are talking about exactly what they are doing.
    • Simply state an object or an event name during the child’s play (i.e. “Ball” or “You found a ball”).
    • Try to stay away from talking too much or narrating too much information (i.e. It looks like you found something. What are you going to do with it? Are you going to bounce or throw it?) Depending on the child’s age, this kind of narration is likely above the language-level for the child.
    • Try to avoid asking the child questions!
  4. Use prompts to elicit attention with verbal visual cues (i.e. Look!)
    • Point to where you want the child to attend or focus.
    • Gaining the child’s attention is the first thing that needs to occur before they are expected to learn anything.
  5. Reinforce attention either naturally or artificially.
    • Pick reinforcements that are motivating for your child!
    • Reinforcing a child’s communicative attempts may include allowing them to play with a toy or finish eating a snack that he/she requested.
    • Depending on the child, stickers or suckers may be just the perfect reinforcement as well!

Reference

Mize, L. (2011). Teach Me To Talk! Shelbyville, KY: Teachmetotalk.com

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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Pragmatic Language: An Introduction

Social communication with others requires a complex integration of skills in three areas:blog-pragmatic language-main-landscape

  1. Social interaction
  2. Social cognition
  3. Pragmatic language skills

A social worker often addresses social interaction skills (e.g., understanding social rules, such as how to be polite) and social cognition skills (e.g., understanding the emotions of oneself and others). A speech-language pathologist often targets pragmatic language skills, which are the verbal and nonverbal behaviors used in social interactions.

A social interaction typically requires the ability to understand and use the following pragmatic language skills:

  1. Expression of a variety of communicative functions. Does the child communicate for a variety of reasons, such as attempting to control the actions of others, asking questions, exchanging facts, or expressing feelings?
  2. Use of appropriate frequency of communication. Does the child use an equal number of messages as his or her communication partner?
  3. Discourse (conversation) skills. Can the child initiate conversation, take turns, maintain and shift topics, and repair communication breakdowns?
  4. Flexible modification of language based on the social situation. Can the child switch between informal vs. formal language based on the setting and listeners?
  5. Narrative storytelling. Can the child tell coherent and informative stories?
  6. Nonverbal language. Can the child understand and use body language, gestures, facial expressions, and eye contact?
  7. Nonliteral language skills. Does the child understand figurative language, jokes, words with multiple meanings, and inferences?

A child with a social communication disorder, also known as a pragmatic language impairment, may present with difficulties using language to participate in conversations. Impairments in pragmatic language can impact a child’s ability to make and keep friends. It is important that social language skills are viewed within the context of an individual child’s cultural background. A speech-language pathologist can identify and treat pragmatic language difficulties in children.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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Red Flags for Dyslexia

Dyslexia is the most common learning disability in the United States, impacting 20 percent of the country’s population. If a child is not diagnosed by the second grade, there is a significant chanceblog-dyslexia-main-landscape he or she will remain undiagnosed until they reach adulthood. By educating yourself on the red flags of this learning disability, you can avoid misconceptions as well as delayed identification of this disability. Early identification of any disorder correlates with improved outcome and prognosis.

Preschool-Aged Red Flags for Dyslexia:

Difficulties with phonemic awareness or the ability to identify and manipulate individual sounds in words are beginning signs that your child may have dyslexia. Examples of phonemic awareness skills are:

  • Segmenting syllables (e.g., “how many syllables do you hear in butterfly?”)
  • Rhyming (e.g., “which word rhymes with mat; star or hat”?)
  • Phoneme isolation (e.g., “in the word sun, is the /s/ at the beginning, middle or end of the word?”)
  • Sound deletion (e.g., “say cup without the /k/.”)

Other signs include:

  • Trouble reading single words
  • Trouble generating rhyming words or identifying which words don’t belong
  • Reversing letters and words (e.g., tab/bat)
  • Difficulty identifying sounds at the beginning or end of a word (e.g., “what word begins with /t/; toad or boat?”)

Elementary-Aged Red Flags for Dyslexia:

Once children enter elementary school, the expectations for reading and writing abilities increase significantly. Children not previously identified as being at-risk may begin to exhibit signs as school work becomes more challenging. These children often have average or above average IQ, but demonstrate below grade-level reading and writing abilities.

Red flags include:

  • Trouble sequencing (e.g., steps, alphabet, naming months)
  • Continued trouble with rhyming
  • Difficulty with word finding (e.g., relying on “stuff,” “things” or other generic words)
  • Difficulty with organization and studying
  • Trouble with story telling
  • Avoidance or dislike of reading

Should an individual demonstrate some of these signs, it is not necessarily indicative of dyslexia. Other reading or language disorders may play a factor. However, if these difficulties persist through childhood, it may negatively impact that child’s academic success.

Through early identification, children with dyslexia can begin treatment in phonics-based programs, such as Orton-Gillingham or Wilson. These programs are unique in that the relationships between sounds and letters are explicitly and systematically taught. With consistent treatment, children with dyslexia can learn to compensate for their disorder, as well as begin to enjoy reading and writing.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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How Multidisciplinary Treatment Helps Children with Autism

There are many benefits to providing children with Autism a collaboration of different therapies in addition to Applied Behavior Analysis services. blog-autism-main-landscape

  • Occupational therapy (OT) provides children with skills to help regulate themselves. These skills may help decrease inappropriate stims and help provide children with more socially acceptable skills for regulation.
    • OT can provide children with strategies to help with motor skills.
    • OT can have a different perspective on activities of daily living and as such can provide different and alternative interventions to increase independence on self-care activities.
    • OT improves children independent living skills, such as self-care.
  • Speech therapy can help children with functional communication skills. Speech and Language Pathologists (SLPs) can provide additional support to the children to develop communication skills.
    • SLPs may also provide education and the introduction of alternatives to vocal communication in the form of augmentative devices or picture exchange communication system (PECS).
  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) develops personal one-on-one interventions for children to develop functional skills.
    • ABA focuses on helping children with social, academic, and behavioral concerns.
    • ABA will also focus on providing children with skills for functional communication.
  • Physical therapy (PT) can help provide children with additional motor function and can help with children who have low muscle town or balance issues.
    • PT can also help with coordination for children.
  • Collaboration of all therapies can help ensure that the most effective treatment is provided to the child in all settings.

Fusion of all therapies will provide children exposure to different strategies and interventions in different settings to help with day-to-day life.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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Beyond the ABCs: How to Promote Reading Success Through Phonological Awareness

Parents are often eager to teach and practice the good old ABCs with their children. However, there are other ways that parents can support pre-literacy development, such as fostering blog-phonological-awareness-main-landscapephonological awareness skills, too! Phonological awareness is the understanding that sentences/words are made up of smaller units, as well as the ability to identify and manipulate these units. Research has found that strong phonological awareness skills are predictors of early reading success. One way to understand phonological awareness is to divide it into different levels: word, syllable, and sound. Check out NSPT’s blog ­Phonemic Awareness Skills to learn more about when these skills are acquired.

Each level of phonological awareness is described below, with activities you can do at home!

Word: The concept of a “word” is an important first step in understanding language. Children are constantly building their vocabulary and using these new words in a variety of ways. There are many ways to begin bringing attention to how words work.

  • Clap out the words of a favorite song (e.g. Old – McDonald – had – a – farm) to help children learn that sentences contain separate words. You can also use musical instruments, tapping on the floor or jumping. This is especially important for “function” words that are more abstract, such as “the,” “and,” “do,” etc.
  • Read books that rhyme as a fun and silly way to teach children to recognize that words have patterns. Check out NSPT’s blog Rhyme Time: 10 Books To Teach Your Child Phonological Awareness for children’s books that contain great stories with rhymes.
  • Enjoy tongue twisters to begin thinking about alliteration (e.g. Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. What sound do all of these words start with?). Alliteration, or when every word of a sentence starts with the same sound, is another way to bring attention to patterns in words.

Syllable: Words can be broken down into smaller units, one of which is syllables. Children learn to separate these chunks in a similar manner as they do for words in sentences. Knowing how to do this will help when a child is reading and comes across a multi-syllabic word they are unfamiliar with.

  • Make a bean bag toss in which you provide a multi-syllabic word, and the child has to throw a bean bag into a bucket while saying one syllable at a time.
  • Write the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 on a piece of paper and place them in separate areas of a room. Then give the child a multi-syllabic word and have them run to the number that represents the number of syllables in that word.
  • Sort objects found around the house into groups by how many syllables they have.

Sound: Words can also be broken down to their individual sounds. There are several ways we can manipulate sounds, including identifying (e.g. what is the first sound in “bat?”), segmenting (e.g. what 3 sounds do you hear in “bat”?), blending (e.g. what do the sounds /b/ /a/ /t/ make?) deleting (e.g. what’s “bat” without the /b/?), and substituting (e.g. if you change the /b/ in “bat” to /m/, what word is it?). Here are a few ways to begin prating these in an interactive, multi-sensory way.

  • Play “Simon Says.” Give the last word of the direction by segmenting it into sounds. For example, Simon Says touch your /l/ /e/ /g/, or Simon says stand /u/ /p/.
  • Play “I spy” to bring attention to particular positions of sounds (beginning/middle/end of word). For example, you could say “I spy something that begins with a sssss sound.”
  • Modify “head shoulders knees and toes” by providing a multi-syllabic word. The child can touch their head, shoulder, knees and toes (one per sound) as they figure out what sounds are in the word. For example, /b/ (touch head), /a/ (touch shoulders), /t/ (touch knees).

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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Is a Lisp Normal in Preschool?

As children begin to develop their speech and language skills, it is important to remember that speech sounds are acquired in specific patterns around approximate age ranges. Therefore, most Blog-Lisp-Main-Landscapechildren go through periods of development where their overall speech intelligibility is reduced.

In order to understand if a lisp is considered normal, one must first understand what a lisp actually is. Lisps can present themselves in a different manner, primarily as lateral and interdental, with misarticulations primarily on /s/ and /z/, though productions of “sh,” “ch,” and “j” are typically impacted as well. In order to accurately produce these speech sounds, airflow needs to be channeled down the middle of the tongue.

A lateral lisp occurs when the airflow passes over the sides of the tongue, which causes significantly distorted production of the targeted speech sounds. The manner of the production will have a “slushy” quality, and lateralized productions of speech sounds can be difficult to correct.

Another common lisp is the interdental lisp, in which the tongue protrudes between the upper and lower teeth distorting the airflow that is forced through the space during speech production. This type of lisp is often heard as a substituted “th” rather than an accurate /s/ or /z/.

In the preschool years, children are expected to have mastery of early speech sounds, and errors on later-developing speech sounds are considered typical. Therefore, distortions of /s/ and /z/ that present themselves as a lisp are often seen in children this age. However, around the age of five when children enter kindergarten, they should be more accurate with their speech sound production skills.

If a child continues to present with difficulty on particular sounds, further assessment may be beneficial. This is particularly true if the child presents with a lateralized lisp, as speech-language therapy is warranted to help re-mediate the place and manner of the errors. Evaluation is also recommended if the child presents with either inconsistent productions of speech sounds, or is significantly difficult to understand, regardless of age.

Read our blog on what to expect in a pediatric speech and language evaluation.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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What Parents Need to Know About Feeding Therapy

There are a variety of reasons why a child may need feeding therapy. To many of us, it would seem like Feeding Therapyeating should be a basic instinct. However, eating is one of the most complex activities we do, especially for the developing, young child. Eating involves several processes in the body, including sensory, oral-motor, muscular, neurological, digestive, and behavioral systems. Feeding problems can arise involving any one of these systems, and often more than one of these is implicated.

The following are reasons why a child may have feeding difficulties:

  • Sensory processing issues
  • Picky eating
  • Food allergies or severe reflux
  • Autism
  • Developmental delays
  • Complex post-op recovery course
  • Transition from feeding tube to oral nutrition

Feeding therapy is usually done with one or more clinicians. Depending on the type of feeding problem, therapy may involve a speech-language pathologist, an occupational therapist, a registered dietitian, a social worker or behavior therapist, and/or a physician.

A speech-language pathologist will approach feeding in a comprehensive manner, looking at the actual physical swallow mechanism as well as the sensory aspect of feeding. Before beginning a more structured feeding treatment approach, it is key to rule out any medical reasons that a child is not safe to be taking food or drink orally. If there are concerns regarding vomiting, choking, gagging, etc. then the family should seek further guidance from their pediatrician who may recommend a modified barium swallow study. This test looks at the actual swallow mechanism in real time using x-ray to determine whether or not food or liquids are being aspirated (i.e., food items may slip into the lungs rather than where it is supposed to go). If a child is aspirating, physical symptoms may or may not include choking, wet/gurgly voice, and refusal to eat. Feeding therapy can move forward once it has been determined that a child is safe to take food by the mouth.

In addition to safety concerns, therapists will also look at the various chewing and swallowing stages to see if there is a breakdown in this complex process, once food is in the mouth. There is a developmental sequence of chewing for a child as well as development of independent feeding, first using hands and then moving to use of utensils. Each child will have different needs and a feeding therapy plan should be developed that is unique to your child. One approach to feeding therapy that has high success and is evidenced based is the Sequential Oral Sensory Approach to Feeding.

The Sequential Oral Sensory Approach to Feeding is a therapeutic intervention developed by Dr. Kay Toomey. Certification by Dr. Toomey and her associates through a training course is required for therapists to utilize this technique. Once certified, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, dieticians, social workers and other health care professionals can intervene using the SOS approach. Under this approach, children are exposed to a variety of foods to increase their comfortability with a range of foods, focusing on exploration of the foods using all the senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste.

Each week, the therapist will send the family a list of 8-14 foods based on sensory characteristics that will help the child experience foods that he/she might never have tried before. The family then brings these foods to the therapy session that week. During the session, the child and therapist (and often the caregiver) engage with the food in a playful manner to move up the “Steps to Eating” with each food, a 32-step process involved in eating developed by Dr. Toomey.  The ultimate goal is for the child to explore a variety of foods and expand the range of foods that he/she tolerates. The goal initially is not for the child to eat the food, rather discover and interact with a variety of foods and develop the skills needed to do so. Parents receive feedback after each session and are given recommendations to continue practicing these techniques at home during the week for ultimate success and generalization across environments. Using this approach, children become more comfortable with and generalize the skills needed to eat a wide variety of foods.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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This blog was co-written with Julie Paskar.

J-PaskarJulie Paskar is a speech-language pathologist, and the Branch Director at the Lincolnwood clinic. She joined North Shore Pediatric Therapy in August of 2012. Julie obtained both her Bachelor of Arts in speech and hearing sciences and her Master of Arts in speech-language pathology at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. She has lived and worked in the Chicago area for the past eleven years. During that time, Julie worked for a pediatric clinic providing Early Intervention services as well as speech-language therapy services to children ages 3-12. She has her Early Intervention credential in speech pathology as both a provider and an evaluator. Julie’s areas of interest include: phonological disorders, motor speech disorders: specifically childhood apraxia of speech, feeding disorders, and expressive language disorders/delays. Julie is a Hanen certified therapist, has also attended both the Introduction to PROMPT and Bridging PROMPT trainings, has attended Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) Level 1 and Level 2 trainings as well as the Kaufman Speech to Language training. She has been trained in the Orton-Gillingham program which is a treatment program for dyslexia. Julie is a member of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association and is licensed to practice in the state of Illinois. Julie is dedicated to working with children and their families to make communication both fun and functional.

Administering Effective Healthcare in ASHA

I attended a graduate school program that took great pride in a multi-disciplinary approach. They ASHAheavily emphasized the importance of working together to obtain the most accurate diagnosis within a medical model that was centered on patient wellness and experience. “It’s the wave of the future!” they said, “Funding in healthcare will be directly related to a patient outcome!”

When I started working at North Shore Pediatric Therapy, I couldn’t believe that the ‘wave of the future’ concept (simply translated to: increased and improved communication between patients and health care providers) was something that had been fundamental to this practice for so many years! They were so ahead of their time because they thought about how they wanted their family, friends, and children to be treated within a healthcare setting. It’s something that I find value in everyday and would like to share more information about in the upcoming paragraphs. *Of note, this blog post is in response to information derived from an article found in The ASHA (the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) Leader (a monthly publication sent to licensed speech-language pathologists) titled What Does the Patient Want? by Sarah W. Blackstone.

This blog post seeks to explain the ways in which the model of care NSPT has implemented for so many years is compliant with the recent changes in health care laws, policies, and regulations for patient-centered, communication-supportive care.

  • Why has the government recently realized this as a need in healthcare? Because, “Successful patient-provider communication correlates positively with patient safety, patient satisfaction, positive health outcomes, adherence to recommended treatment, self-management of disease and lower costs.”At NSPT, we have been working this way since day 1! We’re familiar with the positives of this model and know how to set up the challenges for success. We use these skills to impact our patients and improve our practice every day!
    • NSPT EXAMPLE: A colleague of mine had a client with a speech impediment and an upcoming school play. She reached out to the girl’s teacher (with the permission of her mother of course!) and they worked together to obtain a passage that had fewer of the sounds that were difficult for her. After the performance, all 3 parties rated the experience to review how the collaboration worked for everyone!
  • Participation in interprofessional rounds to generate relevant concerns and questions for our patients!
    • NSPT Example: I am a speech-language pathologist that works with physical therapists, occupational therapists, behavior therapists, social workers, and family child advocates. Some of our more involved kiddos see more than one therapist to address multiple areas of concern. This is where “rounding” is particularly helpful. It is the process of checking in and making sure that everyone is on the same page regarding the plan of care. Rounds are also a place to problem solve new challenges and talk about a client’s recent progress!

These are only a few of the ways that NSPT has already incorporated novel health care concepts into the foundation of what we do to convey our appreciation for the wonderful families we work with!

Resources:

Blackstone, S. W. (2016, March). What Does the Patient Want?. The ASHA Leader, 38-44.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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Tips for Teaching Language to Your Toddler During Daily Routines

As a busy parent, hearing that your child needs help talking can be overwhelming. You already have a Teaching Languageto-do list that feels a mile long— When are you supposed to find time to work on teaching language? The good news is there are ways to incorporate language into the routines that you already do every day! One of the tricks to helping your toddler talk is for YOU to do a lot of the talking. Children need to hear words over and over again to understand them. Just like if you’ve ever learned a second language, they want to hear it a lot before trying it out for themselves! The key here is to focus on doing the talking to build up your toddler’s understanding, which will help her to become confident and ready to use the words with less and less help.

Here are a few daily routines that are perfect to work on teaching language:

Bath time:

  • Describe what you are doing during bath time. Remember to keep the language simple so your toddler can focus on the words. As you do this every day, your toddler will remember the routine, and may begin to fill in the blanks (e.g. Dad: “Shirt on! Socks….” Toddler: “On!”). While doing these actions, tell your child:
    • “Shirt off! Socks off! Pants off!”
    • “Diaper on! Socks on! Shirt on!  Pants on!”
    • “Duck in! Boat in!”
    • “Duck out! Boat out!”
  • Use action words while playing in the bath tub
    • A cup can be a great toy for playing. You can show your child how to “pour” the water. If your child is working on requests, she can request for you to “pour,” she can say “my turn” to have a turn pouring (just be careful so she doesn’t try to drink the bath water!), and she can request “all done” when she wants to finish playing with the cup.
    • Describe cleaning actions to your child. Tell her “Wash,” “Rinse,” and “Wipe” while you are giving her a bath. These words are especially important as your little one may be working on washing her hands more independently soon.

Bringing in the groceries:

  • Talk to your child about what you are doing while putting groceries away. This is a great opportunity for your child to practice following directions and to learn food and action vocabulary.
    • “Carry the bag”
    • “Beans! Put the beans in” (while putting a can of beans in the cabinet)
    • “Apples! Put apples in” (while putting apples in a basket)
    • After you have exposed your child to food vocabulary, you can have him identify foods for you. Take out an apple, a banana, and a carrot. Ask your child “Can I have the apple?” He has to find the food and follow directions to give it to you. As your child learns more, you can give him more items to choose from and ask for two items. When he begins naming foods (e.g. “Nana” for “banana”) smile and encourage him. You can expand his language by telling him “Banana! You found the yellow banana!” You may be surprised by how motivating this can be! Children love to be included and help you.

Getting dressed:

  • Have your toddler request which clothes to put on first. You can give him choices to assist with language production. Showing him one item at a time, ask “Do you want PANTS? (show the pants in one hand)  or Do you want SHIRT?” (show the shirt with the other hand). Remember to hold the clothes out of your child’s reach so that he has to communicate to you by pointing or talking. Your child can pick which one to put on first. Watch what he points to and, if he points to shirt, encourage him to say “Shirt.” If your child does not repeat the word, honor his choice and say the word “shirt” for him while putting the shirt on him.
  • Once your child is more familiar with clothing vocabulary, have him find the clothing. Put a shirt, pants, and socks on the floor for him to find. Tell him, “Give me the socks,” and wait for him to find the socks and bring them to you. Remember to say the direction the same way and slowly so that your child can focus on your words. If your child prefers to be more independent, you can lay out two outfits so that he can choose which pants and shirt to put together.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Keep your language simple
  • Speak slowly
  • Talk for them instead of asking questions (e.g. “It’s a duck! Quack quack.” instead of “What is it? Do you see it?  What color is it? What does it say?” –Questions can be overwhelming, and asking too many makes your child unsure of what to answer).
  • WAIT for your child to respond
  • Accept their attempts at saying a word, such as “dah” for “dog”
  • Model the word for them & expand on what they say: “Dog!  You see a dog.”
  • Honor their choice
  • Have fun!

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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