How To Be Your Therapy Client’s Best Advocate

As a speech-language pathologist working in an outpatient clinic you are offered a unique and wonderful opportunity to become a major influence in a child’s life. Attending therapy on a weekly basis can be challenging for families, as schedules quickly get filled with work responsibilities or extracurricular activities. The time that any therapist gets with their clients is precious and important, and you want to cram in as much work and practice as possible. Within a busy work day, full of children and therapy sessions, it is important to remember that your responsibility to your clients goes far beyond your 45 minute session. As a speech-language pathologist you are not only a child’s therapist and hopefully new friend, but you are also your therapy client’s best advocate in helping them to succeed.

How to Advocate for Your Therapy Client:how to be your therapy client's best advocate

  • Understand your client. The first step to helping your client succeed is to gain a thorough understanding of that child’s development and his or her background – How does this child learn best? What is your family’s goal with therapy?, etc. A child is much more than a single diagnosis. By getting to know your client as an individual you will have a better understanding of how to help them reach their goals.
  • Understand the treatment plan. Just as it is important for you to understand your client’s background, it is equally important for you to help parents in fully understanding your treatment plan. In the health care field there is an alphabet soup of acronyms and vocabulary. By educating your client’s family, they can be better involved in treatment and will also be more equip to advocate for their child’s needs in other environments.
  • Get familiar with a child’s Individual’s Education Program (IEP) Document. This is a document required for children who are deemed eligible for special services within the school system, and will outline a child’s current level of performance, as well as direct the services and supports that are necessary for that student to succeed. Evaluate the IEP to see if it accurately reflects the needs of your client. You can act as a second pair of eyes for your families to help them ensure that their child is receiving the services and support that is necessary.

When being an advocate for your client, focus on his or her strengths. Often health care professionals rely too heavily on diagnoses that outline deficits rather than abilities. When writing reports or giving feedback, let parents know what their child is doing well at. Create a therapy plan that will build upon a child’s strengths, rather than simple focus on his or her weaknesses. Imagine how draining it would be to hear week to week what you are doing poorly at. By adding positivity into a treatment plan you are recognizing that your client has the potential to succeed and that he or she will reach their goals.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. 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 today!

Make the Most of Pediatric Therapy Sessions

Parents often ask how they can help their child make optimal progress while in therapy.  Attending therapy once or multiple times a week is a large commitment, both financially and time-wise.  Therefore, it’s important to make the most of your child’s time in therapy and to ensure you optimize your resources to help your child progress as much as possible.

5 Things parents can do to make the most of pediatric therapy sessions:

  1. Communicate with your child’s therapist.  If you don’t know what your child is working on in therapy, then there is a problem.  Your therapist should continually inform you what specific goals your child is working on and why.  Your therapist should also give you specific ways to address these goals at home.  If you feel unsatisfied with the communication between you and your therapist, talk to him or her about it.  Troubleshoot ideas to open the lines of communication, whether it’s talking at the end of treatment sessions, planning periodic phone meetings, or receiving e-mail updates.
  2. Check-in about the big picture.  In addition to weekly communication with your child’s therapist, schedule time every so often for a more thorough “check-in” meeting about your child’s progress and to collaborate on a plan moving forward.  This might be a face-to-face meeting or a phone conference.  These are best done without the distraction of your child or other siblings present.  Discuss your child’s progress, ask your questions, and get an idea of where things are going from here.  Is your child making progress?  If not, why?  Should therapy be increased to twice a week?  Will your child benefit from additional support from another therapeutic discipline? Read more

What is Pairing? Advice for Pediatric Therapists

Pairing is a very important part of starting a therapy program with a child.  It helps you, as a therapist, build rapport with the child and establish a pairingrelationship.  When working with a child, one of the main things you want to do is pair yourself with fun and reinforcing items.  You want the child to find you, and the environment, exciting and pleasing.  If the child is having fun and likes being with you, then he will be more motivated to come to therapy to work and play.

6 tips to help with pairing:

  1. Play!  When you first meet a child show him the different toys, games, and activities that are available.  Allow him to play with the different items to familiarize himself. Read more

Summer Training for Fall Gaining

As summer begins, summer plans take shape.  Hopefully these plans involve lots of fun and sunshine.  Summer should be an enjoyable and exciting time for all children and their families, but it is important to remember to also focus on children’s growth and development.  Sometimes during the break from school, skills gained in an educational or summer therapytherapeutic setting can be lost.  It is important to remember that summer is a great time to keep working on skill development, therapeutic goals, and preparing each child for the challenges of the upcoming school year.

Research continues to show that consistent and high intensity therapy (two or three times per week) results in faster and better functional outcomes for daily skills.  With a more relaxed schedule, summer is a perfect time to increase therapy intensity and have fun building the skills children will need for the new school year.

Specific areas of focus in the summer to prepare for school:

North Shore Pediatric Therapy wants to help your child gain the confidence and independence to conquer all age appropriate tasks! Summer spots are limited. Call us at 877-486-4140 and let us know how we can best support you and your child!

What is Prader-Willi Syndrome

Prader-Willi Syndrome is a congenital disorder that is caused by a missing gene on part of chromosome 15. These children are found to prader willi syndrome have cognitive skills in the below average to mild mental retardation range.

Physical symptoms associated with Prader-Willi include:

  • Newborns often present with low tone
  • Almond shaped eyes
  • Delayed motor development
  • Short stature
  • Very small hands and feet

The main symptom associated with Prader-Willi is a very strong interest in food with a lack of sensitivity to the physiological sensation of satiation. This means that the child will continue to eat with no sense of feeling full. Research has found that these children are at a very high risk to develop obesity and diabetes.

The main intervention that should be offered to these children is that the child works with a behaviorally trained therapist (psychologist or social worker) and a dietitian in order to develop healthier eating habits as well as behavioral incentives to decrease eating.

Click here to meet with a neuropsychologist for solution based therapy!

Speech and Language for the Adopted Child

The number of foreign adoptions in the US continues to grow every year. Children who are adopted may be at greater risk for speech and/or language difficulties. Occasionally, this is secondary to a congenital disorder and, at times, the difficulties are secondary to the abrupt change in the child’s primary language. It is important to be aware and know what to expect with an adopted child.  

When Should An Adopted Child Start Speaking? adoption and speech

Speech/language should be closely monitored for the first 12 months. This is approximately enough time for a child to “catch-up” with their native speaking peers if adopted before age 2-2 ½. Adopted children that are older than 2 ½ will often catch up quickly as well; however, it may take a longer period of time to acquire the language.

How “Age” At Adoption Makes An Impact On Speech:

The orphanage conditions have an impact on the exposure and quality of language and interaction that your child received during these very important years, therefore, the longer the child was exposed, the longer amount of time the child may require to readjust. Unfortunately, some research by Gunnar & Quevedo (2007 ) indicates that prolonged exposure in these orphanages may have permanent effects on stress that can impact the memory storage and retrieval areas of the brain associated with language. The younger the child is when adopted, the better outcomes predicted.

Children adopted during the preschool years have minds that are uniquely prepared  to absorb language, regardless of their birth language. In other Read more

Fragile X Syndrome

Fragile X Syndrome is one of the most common forms of inherited intellectual disability in children.  This condition arises by a mutation in a single gene on the X chromosome.  Both males and females can have Fragile X; however, as males have only one X chromosome, they are usually affected more severely and show poorer functioning.

Physical Features Associated with Children who have Fragile X:fragile x syndrome

  • Long faces and prominent ears
  • Flat feet
  • Flexible joints and low muscle tone
  • Large body size
  • Soft skin

Cognitive Features Associated with Children who have Fragile X:

  • Median IQ in moderate impaired range for males
  • Median IQ in low average range for females
  • Articulation and speech difficulties
  • Pragmatic (Social) language difficulties
    • Understanding idioms and non-literal languag
    • Inferring meaning from contex
    • Echolalia (repeating what others state)
  • Poor motor movements
  • Difficulties with visual spatial functioning
  • Poor mathematics and abstract reasoning
  • Difficulties with executive functioning
  • Difficulties with socialization

Research has demonstrated that children with Fragile X Syndrome often benefit from a multi-faceted treatment approach which might include:

  • Sign language if there are significant deficits with language functioning
  • Minimization of visual and auditory distractions in the classroom
  • Academic intervention focused on an individual level versus a group level
  • Stimulant medication for difficulties with attention
  • Speech/language therapy for language development
  • Occupational Therapy for motor and visual spatial development.

To find out more how your child may benefit from treatment, click here to contact us.

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month! Many children may have difficulties with one or more aspect of speech and/or language, andBHSM according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), early detection and intervention can often be the most effective.

Below are some helpful tips parents can use to promote speech and language skills at home:

  • Communicative temptation: create situations where a child needs to gesture, vocalize, or verbalize to have his or her needs met before giving desired object (e.g., puzzle pieces)
  • Imitation: having a child imitate you helps him or her to produce words and sounds at appropriate times (e.g., saying “hi” to animal toys as you take them out of the box)
  • Expanding: using a child’s language and expanding it to make it more complex (e.g., child says “ball,” adult can say, “that is your ball!”)
  • Build vocabulary: target and explain relevant new words (e.g., seasonal words ) to help build vocabulary Read more

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an empirically supported psychotherapy approach that focuses on altering an individual’s negative cbt tHERAPYthoughts, beliefs and emotions.  The therapeutic technique stems from a combination of behavioral therapy (in which the focus is to develop behavioral regulation strategies in order to increase the frequency of positive behaviors while extinguishing negative behaviors) and cognitive therapy (in which the entire focus of therapy is on an individual’s thinking and mental beliefs).  Research has indicated that CBT is an appropriate and effective intervention for a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression/mood concerns, tic disorders and eating disorders.

History of Cognitive Behavior Therapy:

Aaron Beck, MD, whom is considered to be the founder of CBT, created the therapy in the 1960’s after conducting extensive research on the limitations of psychodynamic therapy. Dr. Beck developed this strategy as a means for patients to be able to develop appropriate solutions for a variety of obstacles that they may face.

What is the Focus of Cognitive Behavior Therapy:

The focus of CBT is on the therapist being a guide in order to help the patient identify an appropriate response to specific situations.  The premise of the therapy is that the way someone thinks may lead to the way that person feels, which ultimately leads to how the person will act.  The point of change is not on the individual’s actions or feelings, but rather on how the individual thinks about a specific situation.  Essentially, the therapist works with the individual to help identify that there are multiple ways to think about a situation. As a result, this would lead to multiple ways to think and finally act on the situation.

Speech-Language Screening vs. Evaluation

When there are concerns regarding your child’s speech and language skills, we have a few options available that will help to assess your  speech screenchild’s needs: a screening or a full evaluation. A screening is a brief meeting with your child that will determine your child’s strengths and weaknesses through informal measures. An evaluation is a formal, more comprehensive approach that provides more information. Below are more contrasts of these two assessments:

Speech-Language Screening:

• Completed at a school or in one of our clinics
• 15 minutes when completed a school; 15-minute screen with 10-15 minutes parent follow-up when completed in clinic
• No formal testing completed- screening protocols may be used depending upon concerns, but no standard scores comparing your child to same-age peers will be obtained
• Speech therapist informally obtains child’s articulation, language and social skills through conversation or play-based activities
• No formal written report
• School screenings- a written summary of the screening’s findings with recommendations that may include a full evaluation, referral to another discipline or monitoring of skills with a follow-up in 3 months. In clinic screenings- a wrap-up at the end of the screening with similar recommendations to the school screening

Speech-Language Evaluation:

• Approval from insurance and information of benefits required
• Physician referral or prescription required
• One 1-hour diagnostic session- if additional time is needed, this can take place during the first scheduled therapy session
• Parents complete history intake form prior to evaluation
• Parent interview will be completed at the beginning of the evaluation to learn more information and clarify any information on parent intake form
• Formal testing completed to obtain standard scores that are compared to same-age peers
• Full report composed, including background information, results of testing, impressions, additional recommendations and therapy goals
• A separate follow-up meeting will be scheduled with parents to discuss the evaluation, report and recommendations

 To find out more on how your child may benefit from a screen or evaluation, contact us here