All You Need To Know About Learning Disabilities

How common are Learning Disabilities?

LD Boy

Learning concerns are one the most common neurological issues that children and adolescents present with. It has been estimated that approximately 20% of the general population in the prevalence rates indicate that 6% of the general population meet the necessary diagnostic criteria for a diagnosis of a specific learning disorder.

How are Learning Disabilities Defined?

There is great debate regarding how to accurate define, classify, and diagnosis learning disorders. Traditionally, it was assumed that a specific learning disorder exists when there is a significant discrepancy between a child’s ability (IQ, cognitive functioning) and achievement (performance on standardized reading, mathematics, and written expression tasks). However, there have been recent changes within the USA regarding how to classify and diagnosis learning disabilities. Currently, categorization of a child’s learning disability is based upon a multi-tiered process involving early identification and intervention. This multi-tiered process based approach is labeled Response to Intervention (RTI).

What are the Pros and Cons of RTI?

Researchers who are in favor of the RTI Model of learning disabilities argue that a combination of interviewing and behavioral observations are sufficient for identification of problems as well as to determine appropriate interventions. The RTI Model is most beneficial for children who have emotional or behavioral disorders that result secondary from a defined environmental factor, such as: inappropriate or inconsistent reinforcement or punishment. Read more

11 Ways to Increase Your Child’s Speech Fluency

Parents play key roles in modeling healthy ways to communicate in everyday situations. By knowing what to do inBoy on phone your own talking during certain scenarios, you can transition highly disfluent times to be more successful conversations. In doing this, you will be teaching and reinforcing healthy conversational skills during daily activities. The following conversational suggestions are not meant to replace therapy, but to compliment your child’s individual treatment plan.

11 Tips to Increase Speech in Your Child

  1. Use eye contact. Eye contact is a great conversational tool for many reasons. When you are modeling eye contact while your child is talking, you are communicating that you are listening. By using eye contact when you are talking, you are showing your child that watching someone’s face when they talk is important. In a peer situation, your child will be better able to hold his conversational turn with sustained eye contact (especially if he “gets stuck”) because other children are less likely to jump in and finish for him. The best way to elicit eye contact from your child is to model it yourself and to reinforce it when you notice it (“Great job watching my face while you told me about that!”) as compared to asking the child to “look at you.” Read more

How to Get Your Child Interested In Reading

Sitting in a cozy spot, sipping hot chocolate, and reading a good book sounds like a perfect January activity to me. On the other hand, children who do not like to read might find this idea rather boring. While it can be intimidating for a child to sit down with a book, there are many alternative activities that are fun and enticing while still offering reading practice.

Fun Reading Activities:

• Many kids love playing on their parents’ electronic devices. Educational apps that enforce reading skills exist at a low cost:

A Great App for Beginning Readers: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/abc-pocketphonics-letter-sounds/id299342927?mt=8

A Sight Word App: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/see-read-say/id322313775?mt=8

• Have a family game night with board games that require reading to play (e.g. the cards in Sorry, Outburst Jr., etc.)

• Read simple instructions to cook a fun item or assemble a toy. You may need to create step-by-step instructions at your child’s reading level for them to read. Read more

Encouraging your child’s speech and language development through the holiday season

You’ve got shopping to do, parties to attend and checklists to conquer. Yes, the holidays have arrived! Amidst the busy schedules and high demands of the season, keeping up with your child’s developmental needs can sometimes feel overwhelming. Worry no more, because the holiday season is filled with natural and enriching opportunities to encourage your child’s speech and language development. So instead of postponing that family getaway or neighborhood potluck, enjoy these parent tips to keep your child learning through the holidays.

Tips to Encourage Speech in Children

Holiday Baby• Take digital pictures during special family events. Whether you’re building a snowman, baking cookies, or packing your suitcases for a getaway, document the adventures! Afterwards, print out pictures and create a construction paper book. Guide your child as you put each picture in order and glue them onto the pages. Talk about what happened. Who was there? Where did you go? What happened first? Encourage your child to share their book with family and friends! Read more

7 Activities To Keep Your Baby Active During The Winter

Active BabyThe leaves are changing, Thanksgiving is right along the corner, and the temperatures are dropping!  It is so important to keep your entire family active during the winter months, including your infants.  Many area community centers have “Mommy and Me” and “Gym and Swim” classes that encourage fine and gross motor activities.  Local music centers also have specialty classes just for the little ones.  There are still plenty of great activities that you can do indoors with babies to keep them active and achieve those gross motor milestones along the way.

Below are some fun activities to do with your little ones outdoors and indoors as the weather turns colder.

1)      After a diaper change when your baby is still on the changing table, ‘bicycle’ their legs in a rotating movement from their hips and knees.  This reciprocal motion is great for learning to crawl and walk!

2)      If you have a dog, include your babies in the daily dog-walking.  Quick, ten- to fifteen-minute walks with your kiddos that can walk or be pushed in the stroller get them (and you!) out into the fresh air.  As you are walking, talk to your children about the nature around them and how the seasons change the trees, grass and temperatures.  As a rule of thumb, dress your babies in one layer heavier then you would yourself. Read more

Auditory Processing and Language Processing: What’s the Difference?

Understanding Language Processing

Boy in Speech Therapy

Language comprehension…language processing…auditory processing… what does it all mean? The various terminology used to describe a child’s difficulty with listening can be overwhelming to say the least. A first encounter with these terms might feel perplexing as parents search for the best possible help to meet their child’s needs.

A recent surge in public awareness of auditory processing disorders has led to many misconceptions about what this disorder really is (and what it is not). The term “auditory processing disorder” is frequently applied loosely, and often incorrectly, to any individuals having trouble with listening and processing spoken language. However, there are several possible underlying causes for listening difficulty. Read more

Child Development: Is My Child Normal?

Mom and Baby The number one reason that parents contact myself and the various therapists at North Shore Pediatric Therapy is to find out whether or not their children are developing and progressing at a normal rate. When should my child crawl? When should she start speaking? At what age should he be walking? These are all questions that we find ourselves answering on a daily basis. Parents often are not privy to this information. If only children would come with an instruction manual. Each child develops at a different rate, which is found to be dependent upon several factors including environmental influence (exposure to a variety of experiences) to genetic predisposition. That being said, there are stages of development that every child will reach in a hierarchical order. The main areas of development include a child’s motor ability and his or her language functioning. Language functioning can then be broken down into two main areas: receptive language, which is the child’s ability to listen to and follow auditory demands, and expressive language, which is the ability to provide comprehensive responses. Below is a chart for the major stages of motor and language development along with typical ages in which the child should reach the stage. Read more

Promoting Speech and Language Development During Summertime Fun

Making the most of Summer vacation    

ScrapbookPlay-dates, pool parties and trips to the beach – it’s summer vacation! Sure, we delight in seeing our kids enjoy the leisurely bliss of summer break, but will all the fun come at the expense of our children learning? How can we help our kids make developmental progress and stay on target for school in the fall?  In spite of all the relaxation and play, summertime has potential to be an incredibly enriching opportunity. After all, who ever said that learning can’t be entertaining? In fact, fun experiences are often the very best occasions for your child to learn.

Here are a few tips to keep your child learning throughout the summer:

Plan family outings!  Talk about where you will go, and what you will see there. Whether you visit a museum, the zoo, or a scenic park, a family outing will provide a multisensory experience to enrich your child’s development. Describe what you see during the outing, and introduce your child to new vocabulary words in the process. Read more

Encouraging Speech & Language Development in Infants and Toddlers

Mom reading to babyInfants immediately begin to learn from the environment around them after entering into our unfamiliar yet exciting world. The experiences they are exposed to and the people they encounter will ultimately help to shape them into the intelligent and independent children their parents hoped for. The importance of facilitating speech and language in young children is significant, and research has shown that early exposure is crucial to their development. Many parents therefore wonder what they can do to help elicit speech and language development at home, in order to help give their children every advantage possible.

Below are some simple suggestions and activities that can be easily incorporated throughout the day to help focus on these areas:

Reinforce communication by looking directly at your child when speaking and imitating them when they communicate, even if it is jargon!

• Teach animal and environmental sounds using motivating toys such as farm sets and cars.

• Talk about an activity while you are engaged in it (e.g. When cooking, talk about all of the steps and describe the ingredients).

• Point out everyday objects in the environment by expanding upon your language (e.g. When walking through the neighborhood, explain what is around you: “I see a tree. The tree is tall. The tree has green leaves.”, etc).

• Be a role model by using simple but grammatically correct speech for your child’s age.

• Associate sounds with objects around the house, as this is a precursor to phonics (e.g. The vacuum says “vvvvvv”.)

• Expand on your child’s speech and reiterate what they’ve said by modeling more complex sentences (e.g. If your child says “red car”, respond to them by saying, “You’re right, there is a big red car outside”.)

• Read books to increase comprehension and point to objects when named.

• Use preferred items to help promote language (e.g. If they have a favorite stuffed animal, use it to demonstrate brushing, dressing, bedtime routine etc).

• Use picture schedules and songs to facilitate smooth transitions (e.g. The “clean-up” song).

• Find time to communicate with your child without using technology.

• Provide choices throughout the day and reinforce successful communication.

• Have your older child expand on their utterances by having them tell you about their day (e.g. “Tell me what you did at camp today.” or “Tell me 3 things you saw at the park.”).

• Stay away from using only yes or no questions, as they do not always allow your child to formulate more descriptive sentences. Ask more specific questions when you can.

• Show your child that you are interested by listening attentively and engaging them during structured activities.

• Model appropriate behavior in social situations.

• Reinforce pretend play (e.g. cooking/kitchen sets, etc.).

• Participate in sensory-motor play (e.g. musical instruments).

• Supervise your child during play groups and encourage play-dates.

• Encourage sharing and turn taking during games and other structured activities.

• Allow your child to lead during motivating activities to give them a sense of independence.

• Expand social communication and story telling by participating in dramatic or symbolic play by “acting out” scenarios (e.g. feeding their dolls).

 

While the initial task may appear daunting and you may feel overwhelmed with trying to incorporate all of the activities into your daily routine, remember to start out slowly. Keep in mind that you may already be doing many of these activities without formally addressing them, so it may be simple to quickly add a few new behaviors to your routine. The key is to make these activities fun, so remember to expose your child to as much communicative interaction as possible throughout the day.

While parents know their children best, if something does not seem quite right, it may be advantageous to speak with a Speech-Language Pathologist about more specific activities that can further help your child. Just remember that every child is unique, and many variables may impact their own speech and language development. Follow typical developmental norms and milestones, and seek help if your child does not seem to be progressing at an appropriate rate.

Bilingual Homes: Do they delay a child’s speech and language skills or enhance them?

Language in the Home, School and Work:

In the fast-paced world of technology and communication, parents are continuing to seek out all opportunities for getting their child ahead of the game.  Most schools believe that it is advantageous to introduce their young students to an additional language in order to facilitate early acquisition of a second language.  As these children grow and enter the workforce, their value becomes increasingly more apparent.  Many families throughout the country currently speak multiple languages within the home and parents continuously weigh the benefits of teaching their child another language.  However, other parents may wonder if they are doing their child a disservice by introducing another language when their child is so young.  While it has been widely proven that children significantly benefit from early exposure to a second language, parents often question whether the acquisition of a second language will hinder their child’s fluency in their first language. Read more