I am a speech-language pathologist whose work experience in this industry spans over thirty years in a variety of settings and ages from infants through geriatrics. I also provide training to students on the graduate level, preparing them for entry into the field of speech-language pathology.
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Specialized training and clinical interests include that of working with children on the autism spectrum, those with feeding difficulties, poor oral motor function, those with neurological deficits and/or complex medical problems.
PROMPT trained Levels 1 and 2
Autism Spectrum Disorders with the use of the concepts of sensory integration.
Feel free to contact me and refer patients to me if you think that I can be of assistance to families within their homes or outside. Thank you!
“”Thinking About it and Being Deliberate”
The title of this blog sums up the concepts that go alongwith theh fundamental nature of the SPEKOUT! program. It was developed by speech language pathologists at the parkinson voice project in richmond, texas as one to aid those with Parkinson’s Disease and related disorders. In my experience, using this has been marvelous for so many, not necessarily with a neurological disorder concept of living mindfully has been around for awhile. If you have ever meditated, it’s using that kind of awareness. The idea that this can translate to communication, eating and drinking is something that I never quite thought about. The evidence-based program called SPEAKOUT! brings this concept to life.
Today, I really wanted to get further along on my walk than 59th street and 5th avenue. Ten blocks more and I would have been able to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. However, I looked downtown from my view in Grand Army Plaza (at 59th street and 5th Avenue) in New York City. It was just too crowded. I turned around and headed home. Before doing so, I took this photo and sent it to family members with whom I was planning to spend the evening. Sadly, we could not be together because of the pandemic.
Well, maybe taking a photo and sending it is not an idea way to say hello, especially on a holiday such as this; but, it was a way to share a moment and perhaps mark the day.
What Can You Do To Connect?
It’s dark out now, so maybe you wont be sharing that walk like I did a few hours ago; but perhaps you have the same board game at each other’s home and can play together virtually -just like you might in a multiplayer video game. Have a bit to eat together- hot cocoa and gingerbread cookies perhaps. If turning on the switch to nighttime lights around your holiday tree at home are a part of a shared tradition do so…. together. If you have a loved one who may not be with you this year, perhaps add a special ornament – a picture of them and put that on the tree or nearby. How would they have wanted you to observe the day and upcoming week? Talk about that.
It may be a different type of observance this year; but one thing is the same… it is a holiday season of sorts and even virtually we can connect and wish each other a healthier and happy new year! I hope you have one…
Will children who are three years old on December 31st enter pre-kindergarten programs?
The rule in Early Intervention is that children are about to age out. Given that COVID19 is here and that the “aged-out” age group of toddlers have no current vaccine of which to take advantage at the writing of this blog post, there are some parents who will be opting to keep them home. They will not have their children in school and remote treatment options may not be available. If you are a parent of a disabled child who may be in this position there is something that you can and should be doing, Research shows that 90% of the brain develops in the first five years of life.
What Can Be Done????
The whole basis of the early intervention, no matter where you are located is that activities can be embedded into daily routines. Hopefully, if your child was enrolled in the program you came to understand that you as an adult are your child’s first teacher. You have learned the “tools” for how to teach language within the context of daily routines.
Toys! These are the tools for children to learn from so if you have blocks, balls, boxes, unisex doll houses, mini brooms and dusters, babies or action figures, teach your children how to use them in imaginative ways.
I personally loved blocks, as a child. You can learn so much from them (and don’t forget the wooden family figures too!!) Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs and blocks teach children counting, balancing, colors, size concepts, prepositions so they know where things are in space
Board games can teach basic concepts
Guess Who teaches children to use descriptive terms and answer/ask questions. It facilitates problem solving and reasoning.
Hi Ho Cheerio teaches preschoolers (three years and up) turn taking, counting, following directions.
Chutes and Ladders: When playing this game, your child is working on counting, prepositions, turn-taking, social skills, and following directions.
Reading Skills – preschool aged children learn phonics. Phonics is essential for children to become successful readers and spellers/writers in the early years of schooling and beyond. Introductions to phonics through engaging learning experiences can start fromthe ages of 3 and 4.
I hope that these suggestions are helpful. The situation we are faced with due to the pandemic is nobody’s fault; but it has its consequences. I hope that this blog will empower you and leave you with knowledge of some ideas for helping your child grow. If you have any questions or additional ideas that may be helpful to share, please leave them in the comments section below. Stay well!
Thinking back on my own life experiences with passive or classic toys was different because for the most part, until we were older they did not typically include batteries. Toys were passive and it was my job to activate them. I had to make them move and use my voice to create sounds. One particular example that I recall is my significant collection of dolls, as a little girl and the tea parties I would share with them, in pretend play. I have no recollection of what we said; but as a child it felt like I was a part of that party.
One Day the Batteries Were There:
Then the Batteries were not:
True story – one day I asked a parent to take all of the batteries out of the toys and see what her triplets would do. They all were delayed in language development. The toys had to move. A train could not just move on a a train track when a button was pushed; but the boys used their bodies to push the train on the track. They had to pick up the train, figure out how to put it on a train track so that it balanced, They had to focus ondirecting the train to go somewhere and figure out how to get it there. When you asked what the train sound said. They had to use their voice to tell me and did!. They created a sequence of events. They problem solved and reasoned out how their game should proceed.
You probably are quite familiar with battery operated toys so let’s think about suggestions of passive or classic toys for the holiday, or not.
Toys can teach the gross motor skills like walking running or throwing like you might learn in sports. The game Twister is a nice one as the weather gets colder and the mesh tunnels that you can crawl through. If you have a “crawler” aged toddler – even add to the game by blowing bubbles and have them “pop” these. If you have a toddler age child play One Little Finger song melody and instead of “tap-at-tap” substitute “pop-pop-pop point your finger up, point you’re finger down and then ask for “more bubbles””. Some of the mesh toys have basketball hoops. Others have at one end a house which for a sensory – highly stimulated child who needs to calm will be helpful.
Toys can teach higher level language skills: reasoning can be learned with games such as Risk, Guess Who and Charades. These help with problem solving focusing attention recall of attributes that have been described.
Blocks, dollhouses, farm houses, cooking centers for pretend play, dolls or action figures with spoons, cups, forks, knives, plates, wash clothes etc. for pretend play. Actions games like twister, balls, bats, basketball hoops, the mesh tunnels that you can crawl through (and for those with small apartments the ability to squash these up and push them under your furniture or behind a sofa for storage. Turn taking games like “Hi Ho Cheerio”. If you have time Monopoly is good as well as Risk for higher level reasoning and for phonic awareness: either Scrabble or Scrabble Junior.
Literacy Skills – Don’t forget the old fashioned book!
Reading can literally expand your brain function and help it develop. There is an actually there is a “. When we sit with a tangible book with non electronic pages we typically can do so at a slower rate. At least, it is easier to do so then with an e-book where you skim quite quickly. Here is a “ that talks about it and may help you consider buying one for someone as a holiday gift this year
This past week, I made my first video “Language in Boxes” and I encourage you to view it. It is posted at www.betterspeech.com and relates to how we can incorporate language learning into routine activities . They help your children learn language and don’t involve anything beyond just “living”. A part of the video relates to cooking and how it can be used in this way. In mine when we were kids, as I am sure others in homes, meals were an intrinsic part of daily life. As my older brother says – cooking is chemistry. We did a lot of that and really started from scratch,
The video below, talks about making rainbow popsicles (below) starts with a catchy tune and is a great illustration of how you can step by step make popsicles. Perhaps without intentional purpose, the song and visual images illustrates how much fun this can be and some children relate to it because they may have learned to enjoy cooking and have built memories that you can talk about, or even write about when you are done.
THE BRAIN AND COOKING
See that lit up area of the brain below? Cooking helps to develop that lit up area called the frontal lobe. That is the area that involves reasoning (i.e. “what do i need to make i.e. apple pie?” problem solving (“how much should I make?”) attention and drawing inferences.
A SEQUENCE IN PREPARING TO WORK:
Growing up there was a garden in my backyard, every summer. It would start with trips to the farm where dad bought milk for us at home and also manure. Awful combination! However, we learned that manure was good for growing the tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, carrots and string beans. Sometimes lettuce was mixed in. My job was to weed the garden as dad fertilized the plants in the hot summer months. At summer’s end, all of the vegetable garden would wind up in a pile to be transformed into fertilizer for the following year when we would start again.
Dad taught me the language of gardening and perhaps you can as well.
Nouns: Plants, manure, soil, the names of the vegetables, slugs, beer, fertilizer and weeds
Verbs: weeding, fertilizing, growing, pulling (out carrots when you could see the orange part of the carrot popping up), digging, burying
Animals that Can Be Harmful to Plants: Then we learned all about how slugs were not good for plants..or flowers in the plot of earth that was doled out to me in the backyard. I learned how to bury cat food containers (we had two) and pour beer in them. Voila – the next morning after these were buried were a handful of slugs in each container.
Descriptive terms: colors of vegetables, ripe vegetables vs those that needed to do so.
Sequencing the Steps for Preparing to Cook: My job was to go outside and pick the ripened vegetables and I learned how to distinguish those that were or were not. Mom would give me a bag and tell me “go get some string beans and carrots for dinner!”.
Pride: Even if it was next to the garbage pail in the backyard, my marigolds were my own contribution every summer!
Cooking Helps Those With Sensory Aversions
I will talk more to you about SOS Therapy in another post; but to share with you briefly, there is a sequential hierarchy in which we learn to eat and breaking the steps up helps children learn to participate in meals. It is a sensory approach, especially helpful for those on the autism spectrum and or those with sensory challenges.
I mention it, because the feeling of the textures of ingredients for “Grandma Rose’s Oatmeal Cookies” are a very salient memory and I can still smell them.
Tasting: Go to a garden stand or farm this fall. It’s a great time of year to learn more about the appearance of fresh vegetables and fruits. There is nothing like them! You can’t forget licking the spoon after stirring the batter when a cake is made!
Tactile: Experience washing, slicing, putting food into a pan, oven or baking
Seeing: Cook with foods and enjoy the visual component of seeing them.
Smelling: After everything is in the oven or on the stove and it is cooking!
To attend or not go to school/get help for your family through home-based services. What are the ethics?? Who should decide and what to do when you consider options? To me, it’s not a one size fits all answer. I feel for some families where remote schooling would be potentially harmful to their health and the consequences that the decision may have. Each possible scenario has pluses and minutes with the Delta variant amidst us, The potential impact on language is something that we may be dealing with for quite some time Potential Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Communication and Language Skills in Children – PubMed (nih.gov)
Regardless of the research, I am concerned about this ethically. Should states allow parents to have the option of in-home schooling available to them? There are considerations.
One parent told me that she would rather have her son (who has ADHD) have services in speech therapy unmasked virtually vs. masked and in person. Interesting statement to ponder. Those with a social communication disorder or an autism spectrum disorder in which social interaction difficulties, problems in verbal and nonverbal communication may be prevalent. Sensory challenges may also play a role with these people and some will undoubtedly have trouble wearing masks. How do you deal with that? There are children who have never been in school – “started”; but never in a school building!
I’m not envious of those needing to make this decision now. There is a lot to think about.
If you are concerned about the Delta variant and may be keeping a child home from school – or preschool know that there are options for your child to learn communication skills at home by infusing, or embedding teaching moments into your day – your daily routines.
To embed involves “learning by doing”. For example, here are some examples of ways that you can help your son or daughter to develop speech and language at home by DOING to give you food for thought so you can consider how aspects of your routines, when we are or are not socially distanced can become teachable ones. At the bottom of this post are some additional insights for how to teach language in the below stated areas of daily life.
Teach Vocabulary: food names and actions
Follow Directions by having them “give me the red pepper.” , have the child find and place the red pepper where it goes.
Answer questions by saying “what is this?” as you pick up i.e. a box of their favorite cereal. You could ask them to tell you “where does it go”
Sequencing the steps: You can teach this by modeling what you are doing in the process of unpacking groceries as you do it. For examplel: starting with saying “Thank you” to whomever has delivered your package. Discuss that you need to “pick up” the bag and “bring it to the kitchen” “unpack “(define that), “put the cereal …” etc.
Doing the Laundry:
Teach Vocabulary: clothing and action words
Sorting – all the dark colored clothes in one pile and the light ones in another Have your child help by putting “all the shirts go here. all the pants go in this pile.
Follow Directions: Ask your toddler or school ages child to “put a pod of soap into the machine” with your supervision.
Sequence: You can teach this by modeling or having your child hear/see the steps being performed: “open the door”-washing machine, “put clothes in” “put in the soap” “close the door”
The idea of embedding activities into daily routines so that parents can help to facilitate development in language with their children in the 0-3 age range and actually beyond is widely used. It appears that in an age of a pandemic, social distancing and altered lifestyles that the need for inclusion of embedding activities into daily living has become even more important. You are your child’s first teacher and that job does not end – pandemic or not, 24/7. Hopefully, these suggestions can help.
Teaching Executive Function through daily routines
On youtube or in the library re books that you can read to your child about this and other daily activities. It’s worth taking a look and previewing reading about each activity even before you do it – or at a quiet time of the day.
We learn in school that there is a typical progression of how language develops, a sequential step by step process that begins the day that infants are born regardless of what you speak. It’s fascinating to watch the “blob” that is born and the “person” that develops, especially in very early years. A reduction in social opportunities has changed family dynamics and still does in areas where a “lockdown” is still in effect. How does this or not impact on language acquisition? Are there changes in the sequence?
Consider these factors.
Children learn through interaction with objects and others in the environment. Mirror neurons have an impact on development of social skills and perhaps they have not developed to the extent that we would hope due to reduced opportunities for socialization, especially with those diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.
Children have had less physical activities.
Some may have been home with parents who were working and may or may not have had more opportunity for “quality time”.
Some preschoolers and kindergartners may have been “in school”; but never in a building. Will their learning style be different?
Digging into the research online, i found a scientific study that provides information on what parents did with their children during “lockdown” and documents that actions of parents and caregivers indeed has had an impact. For those still on “lockdown” perhaps it is helpful to think about the results of the research.
Please provide comments about your experiences. How did you interact with each other? With less social opportunity, how have your family members been affected in terms of language? Did communication change in your home and if so, how??
This blog post is short and sweet. I need your thoughts:
How has the pandemic impacted your child’s development of language? Please share in the comments section below
We learn in school that there is a typical progression of how language develops, a sequential step by step process that begins the day that infants are born, It’s fascinating to watch the “blob” that is born and the “person” that develops, especially in very early years. That can be a whole other post. However, for now – a reduction in social opportunities has changed family dynamics and still does in areas where a “lockdown” is still in effect.
I wonder – are there changes in the sequence of developmental steps that are “typical”. Children have had less physical activities. Some may have been home with parents who were working and may or may not have had more opportunity for “quality time”. Some preschoolers and kindergartners may have been “in school”; but never in a building. Will their learning style be different?
Indeed, digging into the research online, i found a scientific study that provides information on what parents did with their children during “lockdown” did indeed have an impact. For others now who still are or may be on “lockdown” perhaps think about the results of the research.
Please provide comments about your experiences. How did you interact with eachother? With less social opportunity, how did your family spend time?. The more that speech language pathologist know about your concerns and about the history of your child’s communication needs, the more we are able to help. Thanks!