How To Manage Your Child’s Speech Challenges While On A School Waiting List

Expert Corner Parents' Corner Special Needs Speech delay Speech Therapy for Kids

The Covid pandemic brought an unprecedented staffing challenge across the entire American healthcare system. From hospitals, to outpatient private practices to schools, there aren’t enough speech pathologists to serve the demand for services that further exploded because of lockdowns.

We are seeing research studies come out now that confirm how lockdowns and remote learning set children back in their speech development.

While this might explain why your child hasn’t been receiving the school-based or clinic-based services, it does nothing to allay your concerns as a parent.

But with the help of Speech Buddies®, you can take your child’s speech development into your own hands.

Let me explain.

Speech Buddies are a set of patented, clinically proven hand-held devices that help a child feel correct tongue placement for those most difficult speech sounds that typically develop in late pre-school and early school years.

Since 2007? thousands of speech pathologists and tens of thousands of parents and children have successfully used them. See our testimonials here. Speech Buddies takes the guesswork out of eliciting speech sounds and speed up a child’s acquisitions of these often difficult-to-learn speech sounds.

The elegance of Speech Buddies as a speech therapy solution lies both in its efficacy and flexibility.

We always recommend having your child evaluated and treated by a licensed speech pathologist for a diagnosed speech challenge, especially if you believe your child’s speech challenge may be more than just of mild severity.

But, Speech Buddies may provide a critical bridge to expedited care amid this staffing situation. You may have an “ah ha moment” within the first few minutes of using the device and our extensive library of training videos and lesson plans will give you a head start on your child’s treatment regimen.

Because we specifically designed Speech Buddies tools for each speech sound (please see descriptions of each device: R, S, SH, L, CH), you only need to purchase the device(s) that apply to your child’s situation. So, when you’re finally moved off the waiting list for services, you could be farther along in the therapy process.

Depending on the speech therapy staffing predicament in your local area, Speech Buddies may also offer a fantastic option for those who would opt for out-of-network services, resources permitting, while potentially reducing the overall cost of those services.

Out-of-network providers almost never have extensive waiting lists given very limited or unavailable funding coverage.

You should be able to get in for an evaluation and services without being placed on a waiting list. If Speech Buddies work for your child’s speech treatment regimen, our tools are proven to reduce the time in therapy for certain speech sound disorders. By accessing a key sensory modality in learning, the sense of touch, Speech Buddies can help achieve a quicker learning breakthrough.

Speech Buddies hand-held tool empowers both the parent and child to recreate the speech therapy session in your own home while building confidence and enabling critical parent involvement in therapy. We also offer a free directory, Speech Buddies Connect, of SLP’s on our website.

Parents are powerless over staffing challenges across healthcare services but, you have access the clinically proven options.

Your child’s speech development is important and can be complex. If you ever have questions about Speech Buddies as a specific solution for your child’s situation, please contact us today!

We’re happy to hear your child’s situation and point you toward actionable solutions.

Meet Lauren Jackson: SLP Highlight

Speech Therapy for Kids

1. What inspired you to become a speech therapist?  My grandmother was the matriarch of the family. In 1991 she fell ill due to a stroke and I saw how therapists, especially a speech language pathologist, came to improve her quality of life.

2. What do you love about being an SLP? I love helping children find their voices.

3. What is your SLP superpower? Patience. Not all clients I work with are happy to see me. I have found that when you take the time to find out what your client likes it makes a difference in the service provided.

4. Who do you find the most rewarding to work with? The majority of my most rewarding clients to work with are under the age of 10. They usually make the most improvement in shorter periods of time. Though parents might be excited to her their child speak for the first time, I find it to be a honor to hear a child who was completely nonverbal, now talk: all from a strategy I used.

5. What would you say to parents who have a child with a speech challenge? Offering developmental norms helps tremendously. It helps the parent understand what should be addressed as well as why. The idea for me is to keep your child within the expected milestones for communication skills.

6. What is the most challenging thing about being a kid with a speech challenge? I think children become frustrated when they do not make progress. This can be especially hard as they mature.

7. What is one question you get most often from clients and parents? Most parents ask, in various ways, “How old are you?”, since I look much younger than I am. My work experience as a Speech Language Pathologist began in 2010.

8. What advice would you like to give to families considering seeking speech services? My best advice is seek evidence based information about your child’s needs before you reach out to any service provider. The best resource for a parent seeking a Speech Language Pathologist is the American Speech-Language & Hearing Association, ASHA. There are many sources that give information that is false or not proven. It can make it hard to work with your therapist (of any training) if you come in expecting one thing and what is realistic is what your therapist is offering you.

9. I’m sure you’ve had many, but what is one of your most memorable or rewarding cases and why? My most memorable case was one where the client was completely noncompliant during an evaluation. The client I am referring to stood up on the table at home and would not allow me to complete the assessment I attempted to administer. This client’s parent was determined to have the evaluation complete and I did my very best. This client is almost a completely different child now. The client is able to combine words, sits to attends tasks, and is making good progress towards mastering speech goals.

10. What can clients expect from virtual therapy? What is different or beneficial about virtual therapy? Virtual therapy is an option for patients in areas where a Speech Language Pathologist might not be accessible. It is an ASHA approved way to provide services. The expectation should be the same as face to face speech therapy. Some considerations for virtual speech therapy are that your internet connection should be supplemented with a USB cable. It is difficult, but not extremely impossible to offer PROMPT over virtual speech therapy: some patients pick up visual cues well. An e-helper is often needed for younger patients to receive the service.

11. What is your favorite part of being a Speech Buddies Connect therapist? My favorite part of working with Speech Buddies Connect is that I am not paperwork driven. There is time that I am able to sit with parents to go over progress then offer carryover.

Pragmatics: Unspoken Rules of Communication

Speech Therapy for Kids

The Role of Pragmatics in Communication

As children grow and their language develops, they learn more than just words. They learn about the world around them and how to socialize with different people in different contexts. They learn how to adapt their behavior depending on their conversation and social environment. These rules of communication are called pragmatics, and will vary depending on the development and culture of the child. Kindergartners will behave very differently on the playground than in the classroom. Likewise, preschoolers in Japan and France may have different social communication expectations placed on them. While the United States remains a melting pot of many different cultures, research shows some common benchmarks in the development of social communication. And while it’s important to remember that all children may develop at their own pace, growth of these social skills is important for both social and academic success.

Our eyes can reveal a lot about us and our social use of eye contact is a vital act of communication. They can reveal whether we are interested or distracted, whether we are telling the truth or a lie and suggest how confidence we feel. This is why it is important for children to develop a communicative competence through appropriate eye contact  in order to become better engaged with others. Children begin learning pragmatics at birth and continue to develop these skills throughout life. Within the first year, typically developing children will show social communication with eye contact, vocal turn taking, and facial expression and recognition. As they develop, children will continue to learn from their environment, and begin to understand pragmatic rules and social clues. Children with disorders like autism tend to have significantly reduced eye contact than is considered socially accepted. This may lead communication partners to misinterpret their reduced eye contact as a lack of interest; often, the “rules” of eye contact in a social context are difficult to master for this population. Understanding social thinking, as well as the inherent challenges certain children may face here, can help build meaningful relationships.

Pragmatics and Neurodevelopmental Disorders

It is important to remember that children with neurodevelopmental disorders will display a number of developmental “red flags”, and not every child will have the same presentation. If you are concerned that your child is not meeting these milestones, you may want to consult with your pediatrician. If your child is then diagnosed with a social communication deficit, speech therapy can be an important piece of their intervention plan. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are not only experts on speech and language development, but also nurture the social and emotional growth of their clients. Children who struggle to make eye contact and other social communication challenges often benefit from group therapy, where they can interact with like peers who are working on the same or similar goals in a format moderated by the SLP. SLPs may also use cognitive behavioral therapy to help reduce anxiety and negative thoughts associated with social communication in order to help clients self regulate and process emotions. Additionally, SLPs work collaboratively with other specialists such as occupational therapists and therapists trained in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). There are many different approaches to therapy and it may take time to determine which approach, or combination of approaches, is right for your child. So continuing to educate yourself as a parent will help you make the both informed clinical decisions as well as maximize your effectiveness as a home-based partner in your child’s total therapy program.


Autism Speaks

Social Thinking



The Impact of Speech on Social and Emotional Development

Expert Corner Speech Disorders Speech Therapist Speech Therapy for Kids

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

Your Child Has Multiple Speech Language Goals – What to do!

Your Child Has Multiple Speech Language Goals – What to do!

Speech Therapy for Kids

Once you’ve had your child assessed for a speech or language disorder and you’ve been told of the various goals that need to be targeted, you might find yourself throwing your hands in the air, baffled as to where to begin. It can certainly be overwhelming to wrap your head around a comprehensive treatment plan for your child. What speech language goals should be targeted first? And, how can I, a motivated parent, get involved? This post is dedicated to empowering parents in becoming more active partners in both the selection and implementation of appropriate goals for your child’s treatment plan. By understanding the rationale for as well as tips for how to best target each goal, in terms of overall child language development, you can be better equipped to support your child and help move him or her through these goals more efficiently.

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Stuttering in Children and Toddlers

Stuttering in Children and Toddlers

Language Development Speech Therapy for Kids

I get this question very often in my private practice. Many parents have observed in their young children (birth to age 5) a difficulty in forming fully fluent sentences. The task of forming coherent, perfectly articulated, and fluent language is a tall task and one that can take the whole of childhood to master. So, in many cases, stuttering in children or a disruption in their fluent speech is perfectly normal and not something that would require the attention of a speech therapist. Because stuttering is by far the most common type of speech dysfluency, I will focus today’s post on stuttering. However, there are several factors that parents should consider when faced with speech dysfluencies. These factors can very quickly give you, the parent, an indication of whether you would need to consult with a local speech therapist.

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Tips for Improving Your Toddler’s Speech Clarity

Tips for Improving Your Toddler’s Speech Clarity

Pronunciation & Lisps Speech Therapy for Kids Speech Therapy Techniques

It can take up to about second grade for a child to acquire fluent speech that is free of articulation errors. However, certain patterns of errors can make a child less understandable to his or her communication partners. This also applies to younger children. Today I wanted to highlight some of these patterns and give you, the parent, some suggestions for improving toddler speech clarity.

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How Long Does Speech Therapy Take to Work?

How Long Does Speech Therapy Take to Work?

Speech Therapy for Kids

Let’s dedicate a blog post to a very important and practical question: “how long does speech therapy take to work?” The short answer is, and I must be honest…I don’t know, nor does any speech-language pathologist (SLP). But there are several factors that affect how long you should expect therapy to take:

  • the nature of your child’s speech challenge;
  • the severity of that challenge;
  • whether your child is also working through other learning or behavioral challenges;
  • the competence of your therapist;
  • and how involved you, as a parent, are.

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Summer Speech Therapy Practice: The End of the School Year is Nigh

Summer Speech Therapy Practice: The End of the School Year is Nigh

Speech Therapy for Kids

I am in shock too, but believe or not, we are mere weeks away from the end of the school year. Undoubtedly, your child’s speech services are winding down as well. And although we (and especially our kids) have every right to be very much looking forward to summer, I always recommend at this time of year a series to tips to my families. Whatever the hiatus from therapy is (a week or two or even the whole summer)—now is the best time to plan some summer speech therapy practice to carry over what our kids have learned and, if therapy is slated to continue come the fall, then we can hit the ground running.

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