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.
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.
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
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.
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]
If your child needs to see a speech therapist, there are a ton of great resources to help you through the process. Teachers, pediatricians, ASHA, and the all-knowing Google can guide you through the basics: from what’s an SLP to how to do I understand my IEP? But, there are times when you just want to hear about the experience from another parent. How did they react to the idea of speech therapy? How do they find the time for it? What is Speech Therapy like? What did their other kids think about their big brother having special appointments? Did they ever get a hang of all the acronyms? How do other families go from “I think we need to see someone” to “Speech therapy, yup, that’s a regular part of our family life.”
Shark Week is here! Shark Week is here!! Sure, it’s fun to watch on TV, but what does it have to do with speech and language therapy? Actually, quite a bit. Sure, there is our good friend the Shark Buddy, but what about swimming with dolphins, riding horses or even petting a dog? Animal-assisted therapy has been gaining strength in popularity and recognition as an effective part of a therapy regime for children who have a wide range of social, language and communication disorders.
It’s time to start thinking Back to School! As parents and teachers, we want to give our kids everything they need to succeed, and at this time of year it seems easy: pencils, paper, notebooks, a backpack, maybe a lunchbox — all the tools of their trade. But it’s easy to overlook the most important things: excitement, self-esteem, self-confidence. Are there tools for that? Just like the physical tools our kids use to start their new year, emotional needs should be a priority; we want our children to step through the classroom doors with ease. Speech Buddies has been busy building an easy way to make back to school speech therapy, or anytime speech therapy, as accessible as possible…
Your teen seemingly goes from his laptop, to his tablet, to his smart phone as if it’s a full time job. Sound familiar? Sure, technology today is “essential,” but honestly, at times it seems like teenager technology overload. In this age where our children don’t know a world without technology, families with teenagers are struggling to find out the appropriate balance. Technology is an excellent resource, especially for use in a speech therapy setting, as long as the appropriate rules and limits are followed. As our teenagers have access to more information than ever before, it’s important to realize that their brains may not be able to process it as easily. A study from Loren Frank of the University of California suggested,
Downtime lets the brain go over experiences it’s had, solidify them and turn them into permanent long-term memories.
However when our brains are constantly stimulated, “you prevent this learning process.”
A few weeks ago, we covered methods to help your child correctly pronounce the sound of “TH”. While the most commonly mispronounced sounds are r, l, s, ch, and sh, the sound of “F” as in “Fish” is particularly difficult for a number of people, especially young children. Are you hearing a “p” instead of an “f”? Do your fish live in a “pishbowl” instead of a “fishbowl”? While we don’t have a Speech Buddy Tool designed to treat the mispronunciation of “f,” we do have suggestions to help your child with “f” sound practice. Here are five fabulous facts and features to fix the sound of “f”.