Calling All Parents!

Parents' Corner

Graduate students at Rush University in Chicago are conducting research and need your help! Collaborative relationships between speech-language pathologists, children receiving treatment, and parents are important aspects of the treatment process. Help Rush students learn more about these relationships by filling out this brief survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FKJC8GW

Thank you for helping us continue to learn and improve speech services!

Bilingual Households and Speech Delays in Children

Bilingual Households and Speech Delays in Children

Language Development Parents' Corner Speech delay

Does growing up in a bilingual household create speech delays in children? The answer in the short term appears to be yes. Over the long term, however, children from bilingual homes tend to bounce back and may even derive special advantages from growing up in a household where both English and another language are spoken.

Tips For Raising a Bilingual Child

The key to raising a bilingual child is early exposure. The first few years of a child’s life represent the most rapid period in the growth of language pathways for speech development. Researchers say that a child’s brain in this critical period are like giant file cabinets that store up huge libraries of phonetic knowledge.

Scientists at Cornell University describe the acquisition of language as one of the greatest feats in human development. Their research indicates that an initial deficit in word learning or vocabulary was followed by “a fast pace of development,” ultimately reaching the same rate as children raised in monolingual homes. While many teachers and parents may be concerned that raising a child in a multilingual or bilingual household could be confusing, the scientific evidence indicates that bilingual children do not suffer from “language confusion, language delay or cognitive deficit.”

The Advantages of Raising a Bilingual Child

The cognitive advantages that your child will reap from bilingualism or multilingualism will likely aid his or her academic achievements later in life. In fact, far from causing problems in a child’s intellectual development, bilingual or multilingual kids enjoy special advantages over their monolingual peers, including easier access to other languages and cultures in ways that their peers often do not share. Moreover, exposure from birth to more than one language may yield the best results in achieving native-like proficiency.

Perhaps best of all, the children of bilingual or multilingual parents do not need to be “taught” a second language in order to get it right. Language learning is a complex process that children work through on a step-by-step basis, according to the sounds that they hear from their parents and overhear in other settings. So while exposure from birth to different languages is essential, moms and dads do not need to drill their children if they are developing normally. They can simply allow their kids to “discover” other languages on their own.

At the same time, however, parents can take concrete steps to facilitate multilanguage development that will enrich understanding and mastery, including:

  • Surrounding the child with conversations and social groups that utilize more than one language.
  • Exposing children to different languages through multilingual play groups.
  • Reading to and telling your child stories in different languages.

Another tip for parents raising the bilingual or multilingual child is for each parent to stick to his or her native tongue. This is known as the OPOL — “one parent, one language” — strategy for nurturing multilingual speech development. It’s based on the idea that kids will have an easier time if moms and dads consistently speak their own native tongues.

Of course, parents with children who have diagnosed language difficulties have special concerns regarding the effects of bilingualism. But research shows that, even among kids with language development challenges, it is possible for them to achieve bilingualism. According to one researcher, the evidence “suggests that…these children can acquire functional competence in two languages at the same time, within the limits of their impairment. Therefore, children with specific language impairment living in families where knowing two, or more, languages are useful and important, should be given every opportunity to acquire two languages.”

Parents who are unsure or have doubts should make sure that their children’s hearing has been tested; they should also consult an expert and remember that language development is a complex process that takes time and that some children will simply develop these skills at different rates.

Earth Day Activities for Children – Reading and Craft Ideas

Earth Day Activities for Children – Reading and Craft Ideas

Games and Activities Parents' Corner

Earth Day is almost here! Teaching your child to be eco-friendly can help them become aware of their environment and how they can make a difference in the world. Below are some fun suggestions for Earth Day activities for children for you to consider at home or at school. There are many children’s books that help children understand what it means to be eco-friendly and what Earth Day is all about. The Lorax by Dr. Seuss is a great children’s book that address environmental issues in a creative way. Other books to consider are The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and The Earth Book by Todd Parr. PBS Kids has several other “green” reading ideas to share with your kids.

If you do end up reading The Lorax with your kids, follow it up with an art activity about planting a new tree! You can make your own tree, either through cutting out then gluing the pieces together, or drawing all the parts of the tree, from root to trunk to leaves & fruit or flowers. It’s a fun activity both you and your little one can do together and let your imagination run.

Reading list for Earth Day

Another fun craft idea from Powerful Mothering is making a feather and pom pom tree. This activity is good for fine motor skill development in youngsters. Using piper cleaners and pom poms, your child can make their own truffula trees! The steps are simple and easy to follow.

And if your child is interested in getting down and dirty and planting a real tree, check out MillionTrees NYC. Here you can sign up to plant trees all over NYC or request a tree to be panted in your neighborhood. This is great way to get the whole family involved and discuss how trees are important to our environment, both locally and globally.

Additional Earth Day theme activities your child may enjoy include:

Super Simple Nature Prints: For this next activity, taking a nature walk or short hike with your child will be very helpful. While walking through the park, have your child gather and collect flowers, acorns, twigs, leaves, tree bark etc. Once you have gather all those things, you and your child can make nature prints using clay or play-doh.

Another eco-friendly activity that your child will love is building with recyclables. The possibilities are endless in what your little one can make by using egg cartons, plastic bottles, etc. Let your child build robots out of paper towel rolls or spaceships out of milk cartons. Want to be more creative try doing this activity- Fine Motor Play from Recyclables.

Local Earth Day activities for children in NYC:

Earth Day in Prospect Park (April 17) – There will be lots of fun interactive activities for the whole family to enjoy.

Earth Day New York 2016 at Union Square (April 17) – An annual event held at Union Square where you can enjoy live performances and interactive displays.

Arbor Fest (April 24) – Visit Queens Botanical Garden and enjoy various activities which include live music, face-painting and much more!

Parents' Guide to Reinforcing Speech Therapy at Home
Should you be concerned about your shy child?

Should you be concerned about your shy child?

Parents' Corner

I have always believed strongly in not “over-pathologizing.” As the term implies, I don’t think it’s helpful to a child or a family to be told that every behavioral quirk in a child is a clear deviation from normal and therefore must be clinically addressed. Speech-language pathologists have research-based evaluation tools to determine with good confidence whether an underlying speech or language challenge is present. If there is something that would need to be addressed, we can reliably determine this. What we’re really trying to do is find a “happy medium” between alarmism and ensuring that we don’t miss anything. This blog post is dedicated to putting a clinical lens on what we can somewhat simplistically term shyness so you, as a parent, can get an idea at various ages if your shy child may need a speech and language evaluation from a trained professional.

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Heartache and Joy: Communication Challenges with Autism

Heartache and Joy: Communication Challenges with Autism

Autism Parents' Corner

Life with a speech-delayed toddler is filled with heartache and joy. Along with the usual toddler demands comes the added difficulty of not being able to easily communicate. In my child’s case, her severe speech delay is due to autism spectrum disorder and motor planning issues. Our days are filled with struggle. My failure to understand her can send her into a rage or meltdown, further fueled by the autism. Yet we do find joys amongst the everyday struggles of communication challenges with autism.

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How to Talk to My Child about Speech Challenges

How to Talk to My Child about Speech Challenges

Parents' Corner

Recently I starting working with a 7 year-old boy who had trouble with his R sound, a very common situation in my practice. After the initial intake session the boy’s mother asked me about any strategies or suggestions for explaining his challenge to the boy’s younger sister, who was able to perfectly articulate R and all other speech sounds. “How do I talk to her about speech challenges?” I think I gave mom a good idea, in an off-the-cuff way, but it did get me thinking about how parents could be better equipped to explain to their kids about the best way for them to think about a speech challenge in a friend or family member. The name of the game here is empathy and the more we can foster this sense of empathy, no matter the severity of that speech challenge, the easier we can make the process of speech therapy. Therapy doesn’t just occur in the clinician’s office or in the school speech room, it also happens among friends and family members.

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4 Ways to Jumpstart Speech Therapy at Home

4 Ways to Jumpstart Speech Therapy at Home

Parents' Corner

With the body awash in insulin to metabolize all that holiday sugar and (if you’re like me) a mildly shocking reading from the scale, the New Year is a time to set new goals—resolutions, we like to say—to make us especially steadfast. While most New Year’s resolutions tend to involve personal disciplines like not eating so much barbecue or to get more exercise, as parents it is important to consider how our resolutions could positively influence our child’s education. Here are four easy-to-implement resolutions to either get your child’s therapy back on track or to further bolster their progress with a little speech therapy at home.

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Move Your Family, Keep Your Speech Services

Move Your Family, Keep Your Speech Services

Parents' Corner

I’ve gotten the following question from clients, friends and friends of friends numerous times over the course of my career:

“we are moving but can we still keep our speech services?”

The answer is actually not so simple. In a given year, almost 20% of Americans families will move, either locally, across state lines or internationally, according to the 2010 US Census. A good number of these families have children and, as I’ve said in previous blog posts, as many as 10% of the total pediatric population presents with a communication challenge. So, this is no trivial issue – it is a source of uncertainty and anxiety for potentially millions of families every year. I will focus on general steps for seamlessly retaining your speech services (i.e. with a minimal hiatus) for: 1) early intervention; 2) pre-school services; 3) school-age services. I will discuss both public and private options as well as considerations for easy, intra-city moves, inter-state moves as well as international moves. With this general information, I hope you, the parent of a child tackling his or her speech challenge, will be more empowered to get started finding a speech therapist as soon as possible whatever the location of your “greener pastures” may be.

Photo courtesy Orange County Archives

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Why Pediatricians are amongst New Parents’ Best Friends

Parents' Corner

Pediatricians & Speech-Language-Hearing Development

Every parenting book you’ve ever read tells you to never, never, never leave your baby unattended while you hunt frantically around your house for a diaper. And on this topic, every parenting book you have ever read is exactly correct. When my daughter was 4 months old, I laid her down on the sofa and went looking for my diaper bag. She’d never rolled over before; what could go wrong? In less than a heartbeat, she’d rolled right off that sofa and smashed her head right onto our hardwood floor. In a cold panic, I rushed her to the pediatrician’s office.

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Helping my Child with Speech Therapy: Private or School-Based

Helping my Child with Speech Therapy: Private or School-Based

Parents' Corner

In a recent blog post, “I Think my Child Needs Speech Therapy – Now What?”, I outlined the process of securing speech and language therapy services for your child. But let’s say your child has just begun or has been in therapy for some time? What then? Do you find yourself wondering, “how should I be helping my child with speech therapy?” This post is dedicated to providing tips for parents on how to maximize the services they are already receiving. Whether your child is receiving school-based or private therapy, there are many things a parent can do to empower themselves and ultimately, to make therapy more efficient.

[Photo: skyseeker, CC]

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