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A Blog Entry for Fellow S-LPs

Happy New Year! We have had a busy year and, unfortunately, have neglected our blog for a while. I decided to begin this year with a bit of humor – this list was created for all of the S-LPs that work in early intervention – thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to making a difference in the lives of children with communication challenges. You might be a Speech-Language Pathologist in Early Intervention if… The thought of incorporating an ipad into therapy activities gives you a panic attack You have several stashes of bubbles in various locations – there is no time to lose when they are needed You cry when one of your favourite games breaks (but in secret of course, around the parents and child it’s no biggie…) You can design a whole therapy session in 5 minutes or less You will be able to withstand the plague as you have been exposed to every virus/bacteria imaginable You treat OWLing as important as breathing You have calculated chronological age way too many times – it’s really not funny You strongly feel that a good language sample is more powerful than the speeding bullet of a…

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Reflections from 2014

Happy New Year! We had a very exciting and busy year in 2014. With moving our office location and continuing our work on the front lines, we have enjoyed meeting many new families. We hope that we have made a difference in the lives of our clients, but cannot undermine or ignore the difference our clients have made in our lives. It is through our relationships with children and families that we, too, continue to grow as clinicians in our understanding and appreciation of the development of communication. Language development cannot occur in an isolated or decontextualized manner, but can only advance in the context of relationships and meaningful activities and experiences. We feel so grateful and humbled to be a part of this process. Thank you to all of our families and we look forward to the year ahead!

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The Power of Play

“It is a happy talent to know how to play.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson As a speech-language pathologist, I often get asked which iPad apps, DVDs, and flashcards are the “must have tools” to help young children learn language.  The short answer?  None. The long answer?  The single most effective way to help children learn about their world, including learning language, is through PLAY.   The benefits of play are wide-ranging, covering physical, emotional and cognitive domains.  When children play, they are learning new concepts, learning how objects feel and move, and building their imagination.  Play also allows for learning crucial pre-language skills such as joint attention, eye contact, turn-taking, and referencing.   When we play, read books, or sing with our children, adding simple language to the play that is going on, we are providing them with the key to learning language in a fun and interactive way. Creative, imaginative play also builds children’s self-regulation skills.  Self-regulation is the ability to control our impulses, either by stopping an action that we want to do, (e.g. not reaching for that second serving of dessert), or by starting an action even if we don’t want to (e.g. going for a run).  A child’s self-regulation…

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Articulation versus Phonology – Let’s Articulate the Difference

There are several reasons why children’s speech may be unclear, or why they cannot produce all of the sounds in the English language. It can be cumbersome explaining these reasons to parents, who may look at me blankly when I say that their child has a phonological delay or disorder. Broadly speaking, phonology refers to the study of speech sounds and the rules that govern how sounds are combined in meaningful ways (to create words, sentences, and conversations). When looking at the speech of typically developing children, we see that many speech errors can be grouped or classified in particular ways as they acquire more adult-like speech forms. Here is an example of an error you may see in a 2-3 year old child: Adult: “Spider!” Child: “Pidew” The child cannot yet produce the more complex adult form and simplifies it by deleting a consonant at the beginning and changing the ‘r’ at the end to a vowel sound. SLPs use knowledge of common phonological patterns to help determine whether or not a child is following a typical developmental path. There are also some phonological patterns that are not usually seen in children; therefore, when these are observed in a…

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Blooming Jack-o-lanterns

Fall is in the air and many children will be visiting pumpkin patches in the next few weeks – either for a class field trip or as a family excursion. The following is a list of questions that parents/teachers can use as a guide while carving pumpkins. The questions are organized into different Thinking Skills, as proposed by Benjamin Bloom, a well-respected researcher in the field of education. I have written a few questions under each section. It is not necessary to use every question before proceeding to the next level. Rather, encourage your child to explain their answers as much as possible, providing support and guidance as needed. These questions may best be suited for children in the primary school years (ages 5 to 8) but can be used for older children who are experiencing language delays. Knowledge: What materials do we need to carve a pumpkin? (e.g., newspaper, marker, knife/carving tool, spoon) What is inside of the pumpkin? (e.g., seeds, pulp) Comprehension: What are the steps to carving a pumpkin? (Encourage any logical sequence) How do we scoop out the seeds/pulp (e.g., with our hands/spoon) Application: What would happen if we used a plastic knife? (e.g., knife would…

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Slow and steady wins the race

I decided to begin this blog with some reflections on how this phrase has proven true time and time again in my own life as well as in the lives of the families that I work with. It seems that we are always battling time. If you are the parent of a child with a speech delay, it can feel like there are so many sounds to tackle. If you are the parent of a child with autism, it can feel like there are so many areas to develop, that a sense of urgency and panic can overwhelm you. If you are the parent of a child who is not yet talking or has limited language, it can feel uncertain as you constantly wonder whether you will ever be able to have a normal conversation. Even as a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), I often feel overwhelmed. When a child sees me for the first time and is completely unintelligible, I see a clock ticking. Where do we begin? Can we make enough progress? Will this child be ready for kindergarten? How fast can we move? And the list goes on and on. So, I am learning to put the brakes on….

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More is not necessarily more

A recent article by Lauren Lowry from Then Hanen Centre® got me thinking about the concept of more.
http://www.hanen.org/Helpful-Info/Articles/Build-your-childs-vocabulary.aspx

With regards to child development, many parents and professionals often view more as a good thing when trying to expand their child’s language. More therapy, more books, more extracurricular activities, more play dates, more of anything language related should in theory result in a child having a larger vocabulary, as well as a better head start for school. But, this article suggests that while parents should repeat common words frequently during the toddler years (quantity), it is important that they move towards quality during the preschool years. During the preschool years, children have learned many common words and are ready for more sophisticated words. Here are some ways to improve the quality of language input when communicating with your child:

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Is two the new ten?

I have spoken to several parents of young children with speech/language delays who are getting mixed messages about the nature of language development. Our culture seems to be placing more and more emphasis on academic readiness and static learning – such as letter naming, matching, reading, and labelling flash cards. While teaching these skills is not inherently ‘bad’, we need to be cognizant of the fact that children learn language best when they see it function in the moment, particularly during the early years (toddlers, preschoolers). Language is itself a social construct that helps people build conversation, share ideas and emotions, and direct the attention of others. Toddlers, for example, are beginning to build conversation when they point out things in their environment to direct a caregiver’s attention.

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What our clients say

Alex was my daughter’s speech therapist for 2 years. I feel that Alex’s vast knowledge combined with her warm and caring personality greatly helped my daughter. Alex has many fun ways to teach and was very sensitive to my daughter’s moods and personality. Continue Reading

Parent of preschooler

We were extremely fortunate to have Alexandra as our son’s speech therapist. Alex was very knowledgeable about speech development and giving us strategies that we could use at home to help him improve his speech. Our son always looked forward to speech sessions, which were fun, playful and very productive... Continue Reading

Parent of preschooler