I have had the pleasure of working with Justina Heintz, M.S. CCC-SLP, an SLP with Northside Independent School District (NISD) in San Antonio, Texas. This school district is not only one of the largest in Texas but is one of the top thirty largest school districts in the United States. They approached Speech Buddies with the primary aim of reducing caseloads. And in order to justify a large-scale adoption of Speech Buddies Tools, the district, under the supervision of Ms. Heintz, undertook a pilot study to determine the effect of Speech Buddies Tools on the districts’ caseloads. Ms. Heintz presented her findings at the 2015 annual convention of the Texas Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at length with her about this study. She shared some updates: about how the first year of Northside’s district-wide Speech Buddies Tools adoption program progressed, about the impact that Speech Buddies Tools are already having on reducing clinician caseloads, and about how Northside SLPs are improving the lives of the children of NISD.
From birth, children’s developmental capacities are constantly growing and maturing. Speech provides all of us with imperative tools for learning and interacting with others. Uncovering speech issues early on in children can be beneficial for future emotional development. For some parents it may be difficult to decipher emotional signs, as opposed to physical signs correlated with speech or language complications. I spoke with child and adolescent psychotherapist, Irena Kenny about the importance of speech in a child’s everyday life, as well as emotional and social obstacles, which might arise if a child is struggling with self expression.
Q: How important are speech, language and communication skills for a child’s social and emotional development?
A: Speech and language are vital for the development of emotional and social skills in children. Communication is one of the most important developmental tasks, which takes place during early childhood development. It is then, children begin to form their initial understanding of the world. Difficulty in the realm of language and communication during childhood can hinder a child’s ability to confidently express their ideas and observations of the world around them. Some younger children, who do not have a well developed fund of language have all of these ideas and observations of the world in their minds, but feel unable to make themselves understood to others. Older children who suffer from speech issues such as poor annunciation, stuttering, and other unclear speech patterns may isolate themselves, withdraw from peers, and avoid situations such as speaking out loud, or minimize verbal interactions with others. A few symptoms of difficulty to express one’s thoughts clearly at earlier stages of development are low frustration tolerance, emotional outbursts, and excessive shyness. However, there are also children whose speech might appear less advanced than that of their peers, but they seem unbothered and confident.
Q: How do speech and language challenges affect academic progress?
A: Speech or some forms of linguistic expression are important for academic success; this is because, reading, writing and verbal apprehensions are essential elements of the entire learning process. When a child begins school they start to observe their surroundings and socialize predominantly with kids their own age. At this point they begin to notice a difference in their own speech compared to their classmates. For children with speech issues, it may seem majority of their peers have the ability to express themselves in a more articulate, more easily understood fashion. This realization of sounding different can have an emotional effect, ultimately leading to lower confidence, potentially causing lower class performance. But again, while some children become overly frustrated, others may not have any awareness of their speech issue. However, for some of the more self- conscious kids, rejection and teasing by peers may cause all energy to be expended on dealing with the social aspect of functioning and little energy is left to be put toward academic growth . For others, the need to avoid dealing with uncomfortable interpersonal situations can lead to isolation and possibly focusing heavily on the academic growth whilst inadvertently neglecting the social growth and development.
Q: When should speech and language enrichment take priority over other enrichment activities?
A: If you ever feel that either speech or language (either receptive or expressive) seem to negatively affect your child’s ability to fully enjoy and participate in daily life, you should consider contacting a specialist. If a child is constantly struggling, due to speech related issues and does not seem to be making any progress, it is important to intervene and find the appropriate help best suited for you and your child. As a parent, I feel it is important to remember there is a range within each and every age group, and anxiously comparing your child to those of your peers does not always provide a clear cut sign of an issue. If you are uncertain or concerned, speak to your child’s teacher or pediatricians, who are qualified to advise you about what is and isn’t developmentally appropriate and together you can explore your concerns. If necessary they will help with making a referral to a Speech Therapist/Speech Language Pathologist, who will be able to determine the exact nature of your child’s speech related issue.
Q: What steps should be taken to find the right SLP?
A: It is a joint effort when looking for a Speech Language Pathologist best suited for parent and child. Speaking with your child’s pediatrician for an initial evaluation may help determine whether there is an overall need for therapy. Your physician will be able to provide names of SLP’s they have worked with before. Another helpful tip is to speak to friends, family members, or parenting networks, such as Park Slope Parents about recommendations for clinicians who may have previously helped their child. Ultimately, you want to find an SLP who is knowledgeable, plus able to work comfortably and safely with your child in order to promote the mastery and fine tuning of new and existing speech and language tools.
Guest post by Samantha Cardinali
There are many wonderful, publicly funded options for your family’s speech therapy services. These could come in the form of speech and language therapy provided by your local Early Intervention (EI) program, the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) administered by your local school district, or from services provided directly to your child in his or her public school or via something called a Related Service Authorization (RSA). You may also have access to services funded in whole or in part by your health insurance plan. No matter who is providing your school speech therapy, you may want to consider supplementing those services, where possible. Here are 4 reasons that these extra services may have a profound impact on your child’s development, and could be a smart investment in your child’s future.
School speech therapy services, or those provided by other public pay sources are invaluable to your child, your family, to society in general. But because of budgetary pressures, school districts and other public payers do not allow for parents to choose which speech-language pathologist their child can see. This is of course unfortunate as so much of any therapy relationship is based on a “good fit” between your child and the speech therapist. Private speech therapy services have the added benefit of allowing you maximum choice. Speech Buddies Connect gives you choice based on many different therapists in your local area so you can decide what is most important to you. Is it the speech therapist’s level of experience or qualifications with a particular speech or language challenge? Is it convenience in terms of schedule or location? No matter your priorities, you have your choice in finding the best speech-language pathologist (SLP) for your family.
In the case of school speech therapy in kindergarten and elementary school, services are most often provided in groups of 3
students, and sometimes up to 5 or more students. Again, this is primarily due to strains on the resources of the public school system; there are simply too many students in need of speech and language therapy for the number of speech therapists on staff.
This of course means that for every 30-minute session your child receives, he or she is only really getting 10 minutes of direct intervention that is specifically tailored to your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals but is still missing that full 30 minutes of class time. I have had clients who have preferred to decline school speech therapy to work privately instead because of this very issue. Now I wouldn’t necessarily recommend you decline school-based services, particularly if your child is working on overcoming a language-based learning challenge. But private speech therapy does provide undivided attention which may provide a stronger learning environment for your child.
Public payers of speech therapy services also tend to offer reduced convenience in terms of where services take place. In the case of EI, services are almost always performed in the child’s home or day care facility. Very rarely do they approve services in the provider’s office. In the case of school-funded preschool speech and language therapy, there is more flexibility but in many cases, the school administrator will dictate whether services are conducted in the provider’s place of business. Depending on how contracts with the provider agencies and the local school district are structured, they may ask you to travel sometimes long distances to your speech therapy lessons. Private therapy allows you to choose your speech therapist for maximum personal convenience. And with our lives often so hectic these days, this benefit is not to be underestimated!
Another Hand on Deck
Speech and language development is incredibly important to a child’s whole course of life – there simply is no other way to put it. The sheer weight of this importance can be enough for parents to seek additional support for their children. Also, for many children, having another professional communication partner can be invaluable. You will also have another member of your team: someone who you can bounce ideas off of and someone whose experience could be a powerful complement to the team you already have in place. So if you feel that your child could you a boost and you already have public speech therapy services in place, it may be time to consider finding a local speech therapist through Speech Buddies Connect.
Like so many professionals within the health care/education world, speech-language pathologists (a.k.a. speech therapists) do so much more than their job description would entail. Sure, they have specific training and often years of experience treating a variety of communication challenges; they can be counted upon to deliver powerful results. Yes, the main thing a therapist does is to directly treat speech and language challenges in a strongly goal-oriented and intensely focused manner. However, what many people don’t realize is that speech therapists often take on many additional roles to support your child and your family. It can leave anyone wondering, “what does a speech and language therapist do?” This post is dedicated to revealing some of these roles and explaining how parents can take advantage of these inclinations to further improve the life your child.
The old saying—that it takes a village to raise a child—really does apply here!
Welcome to the joys (and challenges) of raising kids! If you made it here, you’re probably wondering about some aspect of your child’s speech and language development and wondering how to prepare for your first speech therapy session. With some 1 in 10 kids seeing a speech therapist at some point you should know 1) this is probably a lot more common then you realize and 2) speech therapists are trained to help kids overcome speech challenges…and they will overcome them.
If you’re asking yourself, “how to choose a speech therapist?” Congratulations! This means that you’ve located local speech and language professionals who stand ready to service your family. Rest assured that all of our speech-language pathologists (SLPs) have been screened and vetted and hold State licensure as well as the esteemed Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). So you have the pick of the best but it is still an important choice. As you decide on who you would like to work with, I thought a few tips from an “insider” might be helpful. Ultimately, choosing whom you will be working closely with for weeks and months is a highly personal decision. These tips are meant as a set of guidelines to confirm your instincts.
I am proud to announce that our full-service speech therapy plan is available to parents in Brooklyn, New York, my hometown. We are good at technology: we’ve harnessed the best in medical device technology to really revolutionize the treatment of speech and articulation challenges with Speech Buddies Tools. But recently we have developed a unique means of matching parents in need of services with great local therapists and we’re launching in—fuhgeddaboudit—Brooklyn! The need for private speech services is widespread and covers a variety of speech and language challenges. This post is dedicated to helping you match your family’s unique needs with both the expertise of a local Speech Buddies therapist and your family’s budget. Whether your child is 2 years old and in need of a boost in language skills, or a middle-school student who could use some extra academic support, our plan is the perfect place to start. Below I will walk through several of the most common reasons you, a Brooklyn parent, might be searching for a great Brooklyn Speech Therapist.
I don’t pretend to know everything about the field of speech-language pathology, or every minute element of running a private speech and language therapy practice and always believe I am learning and can learn important lessons from anyone I come into contact with. That said, I have learned some important lessons in my years as a private clinician and I wanted to impart 5 of these core lessons to you. Whether you’re striking out on your own, have recently opened your doors, or have been in practice for many, these tips can be enormously useful to you and should help improve the quality of your speech therapy private practice, your marketing and the overall experience of your clients.
From my office in downtown Brooklyn, I can hear the not-entirely-rhythmic jingling of the Salvation Army workers and it got me thinking: this really is a season of charity. Since I and my wife tend to send a donation to a charity whose mission we strongly support, wouldn’t it make sense to share some information about a handful of really great speech and language charities that I have come across in my career? Here are five great speech and language-focused charitable organizations that are changing the lives of the thousands of children they support. They are, in no particular order: Small Steps in Speech, Smile Train, donorschoose.org, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation, and CASANA (Childhood Apraxia of Speech of Association of North America). Each of these charities has a noble mission and a track record of getting your charity dollars to their stated beneficiaries. As you consider who to give a holiday (or otherwise) charitable donation to, keep these charities in mind; they are helping children and adults all over the world improve their capacities to communicate. What better gift is there that the gift of communication?
Every September, I can’t help but chuckle at that classic commercial from Staples, the office supply retailer. The father in the spot is jubilant and the kids are anything but. We all experience this to a certain extent; when you work with or have your own children (or both!) summer is a time to chill, to vege, to eschew routine and schedules. It’s healthy, even essential to take a break. I love the work I do, but I do admit to feeling a little like the kids in this commercial. Everything these first couple of weeks can seem a little more challenging: from motivating our kids and getting back into the swing of the school routine, to managing schedule sessions and home-based exercises, to tracking down great new educational games and materials. Here are some tips and apps to help with speech therapy, they’ll make this transition back to school and the “work mentality” a little bit easier for everyone.