Saturday, February 18, 2017

Finding a Speech-Language Pathologist


In my last post I talked about finding a Speech-Language Pathologist if you were concerned about your child's speech or language development.  I thought it might be helpful to dedicate an entire post about the different programs that are available. 

Infants & Toddlers:
Many people are not aware that every state in the United States has an Infant-Toddler Program that provides home based therapy services to children 0-3 years of age.  These services are often provided at no charge to the family. However, more and more states are implementing a sliding fee scale for some families, or billing insurances if the family has private insurance.  Each state is different, so it is best to ask about how services are covered when you call to refer your child.  There are a range of therapies that are available to your child depending on their area of concern, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, developmental therapy, clinical  services for parents and families, service coordination, etc.  You can talk with your child's pediatrician about making a referral, or you yourself can call.  Just go to this website, click on your state, and call the number provided.  They will take down your information and a service coordinator will call you back to start the intake process. 

Preschoolers:
If your child is 3 years or older you can call your local school district.  Each district is different, but some have screening days throughout the year.  Others will have you schedule directly with the Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP).  Either way, they will do a quick screening on your child and determine whether or not a full assessment is needed.  If your child qualifies for services through the school district, you would take them to the school, usually once a week, where they would be seen directly by the SLP.  Sometimes children are seen in pairs or small groups in the schools.  If your child has other areas of concerns, a full developmental assessment may be done to determine whether they would benefit from attending a special education preschool.  If they qualified, children usually attend 2-4 days per week, again depending on the district.  More and more of these programs have typical peer models that attend as well.  Speech therapy is usually provided in the preschool classroom if your child attends, but some pull-out services may be provided as well.*

School-Aged:
Once again, if your child is already attending school and you become concerned about their speech or language skills, the school district is one option for seeking out speech services.  You can talk with your child's teacher about your concerns and ask if he/she can make a referral to the school SLP.  Or you can contact the SLP at your child's school directly.  If your child qualifies for services, they would see the school Speech Therapist once or twice a week, most likely in a small group.*

* More and more states are using Speech-Language Pathology Assistants (SLPA) to provide direct speech therapy to your child in the schools.  This means they have a bachelors degree in speech-language pathology, but have not completed their masters degree, which is required to become a certified speech-language pathologist.  The Speech-Language Pathologist would supervise the SLPA, and would most likely see your child occasionally.  For more information about SLPA's, ASHA has a great FAQ section you can check out.

All Ages:
  • Private Clinics: If your child does not qualify for services through the Infant-Toddler Program or the school district you can still seek out services privately.  You would need to talk with your child's pediatrician about making a referral if going through your insurance.  Or if you are paying out of pocket you can contact a clinic directly.  Sometimes a quick google search will bring up several clinics in your area, or the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (AHSA) has a section where you can search for certified SLPs in your area.  If your child is evaluated and demonstrates delays in their speech or language skills and speech therapy is recommended, they would see a Speech-Language Pathologist 1-2 times a week.  This would be at the clinic and your child would be seen in a one on one setting with the SLP.  
  • Hospitals: Hospitals provide outpatient services either at the hospital or at different locations throughout your area. Again, talk to your pediatrician about making a referral to the hospital.  An evaluation would be completed to determine whether speech therapy services are needed.  If recommended, your child would be seen 1-2 times a week at the outpatient clinic closest to you. 
  • State Agencies for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing:  If your child has a hearing loss, speech therapy services are sometimes provided by your local agency for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.  SLPs working for these agencies specialize in working with children with hearing loss and are often fluent is ASL.  For more information, here is a list of agencies in each state.
  • Universities: If you live in a city close to a university, you may want to check to see if they offer a speech-language pathology program. If they do, they will have a clinic where graduate students provide speech therapy at a reduced cost.  The graduate students are supervised by a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist.
  • Scottish Rite Masons: Some cities have Scottish Rite Speech Therapy Centers that offer speech therapy services free of charge.  There is an application process and if your child is chosen, services are provided 1-2 times a week.  You would have to do a search (Scottish Rite Speech Therapy City, State) to see if there is a program available in your area.
Sometimes clinics or agencies have waitlists, which means that your child's services will be delayed until a SLP has an opening.  If this happens, I encourage you to check out different agencies or clinics in your area to see if they have immediate openings or if their waitlist is smaller. 

Good luck with your search, and let me know if I missed any agencies or resources for seeking out speech therapy!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Free App Friday

Yay, it's Friday!  Which mean lots of free apps to choose from.  Smart Apps for Kids has a list of 15 apps that are completely free today! Go check it out!


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Ideas to Encourage Speech & Language Development in Toddlers

Children develop speech and language skills at their own rate, which means some children are perfectly on schedule with what textbooks and websites say, some are a little slow to talk, and some demonstrate advanced skills.  Regardless of where a child is with their speech or language, I am often asked, "I think my child might be delayed, what can I do to help him talk more?"  Well, this post is dedicated to answering that question.  I've put together a list of ideas and activities to do with your toddler to encourage more language production and work on age-appropriate speech sounds.   

For a child who is around 2 years of age, the sounds they should be starting to master are the ones they produce mainly with their lips:  /b/ /p/ /m/ /w/, as well as /n/ & /h/.  Focus on these sounds while doing language stimulation activities with your child:

1. Play around with these sounds in the mirror.  Make silly sounds, simple words, or animal sounds and see if your child will imitate (ba, be, bo, bye, bay, bob, beep, boom, etc.).  For example: Mom says, "baba" while pointing to her mouth, then point to child's mouth and say, "Your turn."  Wait at least 5 seconds, then repeat if the child didn't imitate.  Children also like videos, so you can even do this while recording this activity on your phone or tablet, then watch it with your little one when you are done.  Oftentimes children imitate sounds/words a second time when watching the video.  If your child doesn't respond well to direct activities like this, just model these silly sounds during play.

2. Use simple 1-2 word phrases when talking with your child, get down at their level so they can see mouth movements and the way sounds are produced.  

3. Speak slowly.  I feel like I am always saying, "We need to hurry!"  As I am rattling off a list of things for my daughter to do so we can leave the house.  We get so caught up in the hustle of everyday life that we often push our little ones to "hurry hurry!"  all while throwing tons of language at them, spoken at a very fast rate.  All children benefit when we slow our rate of speech & model good conversational turn-taking skills (eye contact, getting down at their level, body directed towards your listener, wait for child to respond, etc.).

3.  If your child says something and it sounds like gibberish,  but you understand what they want based on context, model the words you think they are trying to say. Example:  Child: "Bbash tisad"  while pointing to the milk, Mom: "Want milk? Okay. Here's milk. Milk. Yummy Milk."  Then hand them the milk, "Mmm milk!"

3. Sing simple nursery rhymes and children's songs with your child, as the lyrics have many of the early developing sounds a toddler should be starting to master.

4. During play, model environmental sounds like car sounds, silly sounds, and animal sounds and see if your child will imitate.

5.  When trying to get your child to imitate a word (stick to 1-word phrases), give them the model, wait 5 seconds, prompt one time for them to say it, wait 5 seconds, then move on.

6. Bubbles are great a great way to work on language, because most all kids LOVE bubbles.  Have your child request "more" or "bubble."  Talk about popping the bubbles, "pop!" or where the bubbles are, "up" "down."  Even things like, "Uh oh," "all gone."  "bye bye." Etc. 

7. Offer a choice of 2 items.  Even when you know your child just wants milk, offer milk or water--label each one, "Milk? Water?"  Wait the 5 seconds, if your child points to milk, label "Milk, want milk?"  Wait 5 seconds, then label it a few more times, "Milk, yummy milk."  and give them the milk, even if they didn't imitate.

8.  If your child is struggling to produce words, baby sign language can be a nice bridge to verbal communication.  I like to focus on one sign at a time and start with one handed signs like "milk," "eat" or "drink."  Chose something that will be rewarding to your child and model the sign as close to your face/mouth as possible.  Always say the verbal production of the word while modeling the sign as well.  Baby Sign Language is a great resource.  You can look up a sign, watch a video, and even print off a picture of the sign to color with your child.  I tell parents to hang it on the fridge or a high traffic area so both you and your child will see if often.

Biggest things to remember:

  1. Label label label and repeat repeat repeat.  The more your child hears it, the better!

  2. WAIT.  Too often we tell a child, "Say milk, milk. Do you want milk? Say milk?"  All without even pausing to give the child a chance to say it. It can be hard, so I tell parents to literally count to 5 in their head.

  3. Use simple phrases when talking with your child.  1-3 words max.

  4. PLAY! Talk about what you are doing, what he is doing, make silly sounds, and most important have fun!

  5. Reward immediately. If your child requests using real, clear words, or imitates you after you have modeled a word or sign, give them what they asked for as soon as possible!

  6. Slow down while talking with your child.

I usually tell parents to hang this list on the fridge, look at it every morning and pick one thing they are going to focus on that day with their child. Once or twice a day for 5-10 minutes is all it takes! Please remember, however, that this blog and the information I provide is for educational purposes and is NOT meant to be a replacement for therapy provided by a licensed speech-language pathologist. If your toddler demonstrates delayed speech or language skills, I encourage you to seek out a speech-therapist in your area, or contact your local Infant-Toddler Program to see if they qualify for therapy. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Free App Friday!




This week Smart Apps For Kids has a nice list of the top 50 apps that are free on iTunes, so check it out!  Also, Best Apps For Kids has a list of free apps as well as Free App Friday.  Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Apraxia Awareness Day

Today is Apraxia Awareness Day!! Be sure to check out this post to learn more about Apraxia and ways to get involved. Here is an updated list of ways to get involved. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I Am Hiding!

I recently stumbled across "I Am Hiding" by Mercer Mayer and got a little too excited about how perfect it would be for targeting several language concepts.  Each page is very simple, with repetitive text that could be used for working on the pronoun, "I," the be-auxiliary, "I am," action words, and verb+ing.  It could even be used for targeting other pronouns such as "he" and "she" as you describe what the brother/sister is doing.   



Here are some simple ways to work on each of these targets as you read this book with your child, create a group activity for your class, or work with a student in therapy:

Pronouns: 
  • When targeting "I" just have the child repeat the phrase on each page word for word. ("I am sneaking.")
  • If the target is he/she, describe what the brother or sister is doing and have the child repeat the phrase.  Or ask them, "What is he doing?"  ("He is resting."  "She is looking.")
Be-Auxiliary ("I am"):
  • Have the child repeat each phrase in the book. ("I am hopping")
  • After reading each page, have the child act it out and describe what they are doing. ("I am creeping.")
Action words/verb+ing:
  • Label each action for the child and have them repeat it.
  • If they are at the phrase level, have them repeat each sentence after you read it.
  • Again, simply having them act out the action on the page, and then label it is a great way to work on action words.  
Large Group/Small Group:
  • Give each child a copy of the book so they can follow along as you read it. 
  • Act out the actions on each page and have the children repeat the phrase from the book. 
  • Have the children describe what other children are doing to target the pronouns he/she. "What is Sarah doing" "She is jumping."  or "Who is looking" "She is!")
  • Play hide-and-go seek at the end and have the child 'seeking' use the phrase, "I am" as they are looking. ("I am looking."  "I am walking."  "I am stretching")
  • Once they find the child that was hiding, ask the class, "Who did he find?"  Then have the class repeat either "her" or "him" to target those pronouns.  If you were still working on children's names, you could have them say the child's name. 
For additional activities, Speaking of Speech has a great section on targeting verbs, including "I am." 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Summertime, Booktime!

I know I have been very scarce with posts during this summer break, but as I begin my new job I hope to get back in the swing of things. In the meantime, I had to share some great books I have run into that would be wonderful for both therapy and large groups.  The first one was read at my daughter's story time at the library the other day.  It is called, "Jump" by Scott M. Fischer. 

It is a great story that could target animal names and actions.  Each animal "JUMPS" away from the animal they meet, with repetitive text that would be easy for imitation of words and actions while reading it.  I found this fun song that could even go along with it:
I am already planning a fun large group with this one!
The next one is called, "Pepper Picks a Pumpkin" by Linda Bleck.  This one may be a little harder to find, but is a great one for individual therapy focusing on /p/.  Honestly, just reading it word for word provides some great auditory bombardment.  


The last book is another fun one from the library.  It is called "If You See a Kitten" by John Butler.  This is one that could be used for both individual and group therapies.  It has simple text that focuses on simple CV combinations that kids can't help but imitate!  For example, "If you see a snake...say EEEEEEK!"  How cute is that!? After reading this one, you could have the children act out the story and encourage all the children to say the sound/word when they "see" the animal!  

I hope you are all having a relaxing summer!