The Most Honest Q&A About Speech Therapy

Speech therapy used to be seen as a service primarily for children who had a lisp, stuttered or had special needs. Recently however, speech therapy has become a form of language and cognitive enhancement for many children without a specific speech or language impairment.

 

As a matter of fact, most of my friend’s children, who attend top tier schools, are enrolled in speech therapy for extra support, so they often ask me the questions that they don’t want to ask their speech therapist. Down below are a few of the questions my friends have had over the years, and my most honest answers.

 1.    How do I know if my speech therapist is a good one?

 

Ok, so, your child’s speech therapist is just like their pediatrician or their teacher, there really aren’t “good ones” or “bad ones”. What makes some seem more effective that others is the rapport that they have with your kid. Children perform better with people they enjoy being around. I would also say, a speech therapist who is able to combine their expectations with your child’s needs is someone you want to stick with. If you feel as though the speech therapist has expectations of your child that do not fit with who they are (they expect your son to sit at a table and complete written work for a full session, despite knowing that he’s an active kid) then you may want to discuss this with them or find someone else. Above all, a “good” speech therapist, or really a good pediatric anything, is a person who collaborates with you to create and carry out goals that you feel will be the most beneficial for your child. 

 2.    What should a speech therapy session look like?

 

This depends on the age, needs and personality of your child. For very young kids (5 and under) I would expect for the sessions to involve a lot of play. You may see toys and games out for the entire session. For slightly older children (6-10) it may involve fewer toys and more games which allow the therapist to take turns and model the speech or language that they want to hear. Also in this age range, a session may be a bit more academic with the therapist and client completing written or verbal work and playing a fun game at the end. In general, the goal of the session should be very clear to anyone listening.

3.    My daughter was acting cray cray during her session, should I go sit in on the sessions when she’s like this or wait for the therapist to say something?

This is common, kids are people and people have bad days. I prefer for parents to wait until I call them into the session instead of coming in on their own. When you come in at the first sound of your child being upset, it takes authority away from the therapist. The child begins to see that she can end the session by screaming. I know some parents feel bad that their child is screaming, kicking, spitting or doing all three, but it’s alright. If you hear your child having a rough session and the speech therapist hasn’t called you in, it’s most likely because they feel like they are in control of the situation. I’m not shy, if I feel like I can’t figure out what your child’s needs are and I’ve tried every trick in my toolbox, I’ll ask you to come in. I suggested to my friend, who had this issue, that she talk with the speech therapist about the best way to handle this. They decided that if her daughter is having a tough day (crying or refusing to work) my friend will pop in quickly and ask the therapist if everything’s ok, not the child. If my friend receives the thumbs up, she leaves. If not, she stays and helps her daughter readjust.

4.    My son has been in speech therapy forever, but I don’t feel like it’s really working. Should I switch to a new person?

 

What may seem like one issue to a parent (my daughter isn’t talking enough/ my son isn’t speaking clearly) is typically many different problems that present at the same time. So although the overall problem doesn’t seem to be getting better, know that parts of it that are more subtle are probably improving.  What speech therapists know is that changes are made slowly, at times very slowly, and after lots and lots and lots of repetition. Hang in there, and speak with your speech therapist about trying a new approach. The only time I would suggest switching to a new therapist, is if you feel that your child doesn’t have a good rapport with the current one.

5.    How much does speech therapy typically cost? I want to make sure I’m not paying too much.

 

This depends on where you live. In New York City, rates can range from $80 for a half hour to $150 for an hour. I’ve even heard of some rates as high as $200 for an hour, wow. In the Jersey City/ Hoboken area speech therapy will range between $55 for a half hour to about $120 for an hour in clinic. At home therapy rates vary as each therapist sets their own rate, however they should generally be about the same or slightly more than an hour session at the clinic.

 

I hope this helped answer any questions you may have had about speech therapy. If not, feel free to email me so we can chat.

 

 

What I’m into….

 

Books: Right now I’m reading, Lamb by Christopher Moore. It’s a funny account of the preteen/teenage life of Jesus, as told by his best friend Biff. I’m enjoying it, it’s a nice light read, and I like the fact that so many people have read it and give me a knowing smile on the subway.

 

Internet: Readers, I’m addicted to Playbuzz quizzes. I take these ridiculous quizzes All. The. Time. You know the ones, with titles like, which city are you really supposed to live in? or can you identify this Halloween candy without the wrapper? I love them. I take them while I’m waiting on line anywhere or during commercial breaks. I torture my boyfriend by making him take them during car rides (just tell me what your favorite topping is so I can see which pizza best describes your personality!). I know to some people this seems like a total waste of time, but I couldn’t disagree more. I consider these quizzes to be an investment in getting to know myself better. Now excuse me while I go find out which Disney princess I am.

 

 

 

Briana Evans, CCC-SLP is a licensed, certified speech language pathologist and owner of Speech Quest Speech and Language Therapy. She specializes in articulation, reading skills and early language development. She graduated from Columbia University with a Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology. In addition, she is working toward certification in PROMPT therapy, a kinesthetic articulation technique. She currently provides in-home or at-school services for children and teens. She believes in a lifestyle approach to speech therapy, which includes embedding support throughout the client’s daily life.

Speechquestjcny.com

Twitter: @speech_quest

Email: [email protected]

 

 

 

 

10 Restaurant Waiting Games That Encourage Communication

Newark ave seems to be buzzing with new restaurants! Has anyone been to Porta yet? I’ve been there for wine and music but haven’t had the food. I’ve heard the pizza and pasta are delicious! Some of you may be thinking, I would love to go but what am I going to do with the kids?!  Waiting for a table, then waiting for a meal, is like asking, no begging, my kids to have a meltdown. No worries, I’ve got you covered. Below are 10 verbal games to play with your kids before and during the meal that make going out to eat with your family, even more enjoyable.

I’m Going on a Picnic

You remember this childhood game. The first player says, “ I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing _________.” The next player repeats what the first player said and adds an item beginning with the next letter of the alphabet. Players are out when they can’t name an item for the basket.

Language enhanced version: Each player must name an item to add to the picnic basket and explain what they would do with the item (I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing apples to eat, a basket to hold the food etc.)

20 Questions
Another classic childhood game. One player thinks of a person, place or thing and the remaining players have to ask questions to figure out what the first player is thinking. All questions should be yes or no questions (is it something that’s alive? Do I use it in the bathroom?)
Language enhanced version: Instead of yes or no questions, ask questions which require your child to describe the functions and appearance of the object (what do I use it for? What color is it? What sound does it make?) requiring more than a yes or no from your child will push them to search for and use more descriptive language.

Pits and Cherries

(adapted from morethanmommies.net)

Invite your kids to have a discussion with you by playing pits and cherries. Each person takes turns talking about the best (the cherries) part of their day and the worst (the pits). This game is perfect to fill the wait time before dinner and may even start a conversation that lasts through the meal! There is no language enhanced version of this game, it’s simply a fun way to get your children to communicate during the pre-meal downtime.

Guess Who

The opposite of 20 questions. Have your child use traits to describe someone in your family, or a character from a book or movie (this person is powerful and has long hair etc.). have fun figuring out who they’re describing, before you know it, your food will be at the table!

Language enhanced version: Once you figure out who the person is, discuss with your child why they chose that person.

Story Starter Hot Potato

Pick an item from the table to represent the hot potato (i.e. salt shaker, sugar packet). Someone at the table begins a story with one sentence and hands the “hot potato” to the person to their left, that person adds a sentence to the story and continues the passing of the hot potato to the left. The person who struggles to think of a sentence is out and the game then begins again with the remaining players, until one person wins. This game is pretty language intensive so there’s no enhanced version.

Would You Rather?

Take turns asking each other would you rather questions (would you rather pet a snake or a spider?). Don’t forget to ask your little one why they made their choice. It’s a great way to get a conversation going and see how your child thinks.

Language enhanced version: If your child has a specific articulation goal, try to make sure all questions include the target sound (for the ‘r’ sound, would you rather race a rabbit or race a reindeer?). You could also use this with older kids who may be struggling in a school subject (history: would you rather be friends with Paul Revere or Samuel Adams? Why?)

Telephone

This classic communication game is great for restaurants because it’s quiet and entertaining. How often do those two attributes come together? Whisper a message to the person next to you and have that person pass the message along. The last person to hear the message announces it in its new funny form!

Language enhanced version: Amp up the language factor by asking your child to correct the silly message (that doesn’t make sense! How can we make that sentence make sense?)

I Spy

I spy is a pretty common game, I love it because it’s fun and can be adapted to fit players of different ages. The classic version requires a player to describe something that they see in order for the other players to guess the item. Try playing this next time you’re waiting for dinner, or play my language enhanced version.

Language enhanced version: Have kids who are working on pre-literacy skills? Instead of describing what you spy, use the sounds in the object’s name as the hint (I spy something with the sounds h-a-t…..). This version helps kids learn to blend sounds, a skill that is vital for reading. It’s practice through play.

What’s Better?

This is a quick little game that’s fun and helps start conversation. What’s better pancakes or waffles? What’s better milk or juice? Don’t forget to take turns and not just bombard your kids with questions. Taking turns is super important, it allows time for some of the pressure to be off of the child, and allows you to model correct language.

Language enhanced version: Add an opinion. After your child makes their choice and explains why they chose that item, agree or disagree with them and give them a reason. Require your child to do that same after you’ve answered your question. This will help your child learn to form and support their opinions, and also to agree or disagree with someone in a mature way.

What Would You Do If?

Get your kids talking by asking what they would do in outrageous situations and then let them take the lead and question you! ….What would you do if our server turned into a dragon and started spitting fire everywhere?! This game is based on listening and answering questions, skills that are the fundamentals of communication, therefore there is no language enhanced version.

What I’m into…

The Kitchen at Grove Station- I went here for New Year’s Eve and had a great time! They’re BYOB (however our meal came with a champagne toast at midnight) and the food is really good. I can’t wait to go back on a regular night. Based on my NYE experience, I’d highly recommend it!

Beauty– White nail polish. I know white nails are usually reserved for the summer, but they look sooooo good in the winter as well, especially against all of the darker winter fashion. The color I have on right now is called Blanc by Essie, It’s a bright white that’s bold and chic. If this color is too bright for you I’d suggest the color Amazing Grace by Deborah Lippmann. It’s still a pure white but not as bright as the Essie Blanc. Try this out and let me know what you think!

If you enjoyed this topic, hit the like button below, or leave me a comment!

Briana Evans, CCC-SLP is a licensed, certified speech language pathologist and owner of Speech Quest Speech and Language Therapy. She specializes in articulation, reading skills and early language development. She graduated from Columbia University with a Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology. In addition, she is working toward certification in PROMPT therapy, a kinesthetic articulation technique. She currently provides in-home or at-school services for children and teens. She believes in a lifestyle approach to speech therapy, which includes embedding support throughout the client’s daily life.

Speechquestjcny.com

Twitter: @speech_quest

Email: [email protected]

Mini Blog: A Peek at What’s Coming up in January

Hello all, I haven’t blogged in quite a while because I’ve had so much going on (multiple holiday parties, Christmas, which I celebrate with 2 sides of my family over 2 days, my birthday, life…) so I figured I’d put out a mini blog to say hello to everyone and to give you a taste of some topics that are coming up in the new year. So, without further adieu, here are some topics that I will cover for the month of January:

 

-10 Restaurant Waiting Games that Encourage Communication

– Teach Your Kids how to Make Their Own Book (and learn new vocabulary in the process!)

– Answers to the Top 5 Speech & Language Questions I Get From Parents

-10 Winter Break Language & Communication Activities for kids

 

If you have any suggestions for topics leave them in the comment box below. Happy New Year Everyone!!

 

 

 

Briana Evans, CCC-SLP is a licensed, certified speech language pathologist and owner of Speech Quest Speech and Language Therapy. She specializes in articulation, reading skills and early language development. She graduated from Columbia University with a Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology. In addition, she is working toward certification in PROMPT therapy, a kinesthetic articulation technique. She currently provides in-home or at-school services for children and teens. She believes in a lifestyle approach to speech therapy, which includes embedding support throughout the client’s daily life.

Speechquestjcny.com

Twitter: @speech_quest

10 Gift Ideas for Children 4-9 That Encourage Language Acquisition

 

Happy Hump Day! The week is halfway over, but this also means we’re getting closer to the holidays. Here are few gift suggestions for kids 4-9 that will enhance language and be fun in the process!

 

 

 1.    Melissa and Doug Flip to Win Memory Game

Amazon.com- 12.99 Recommended age: 5+

 

Memory games are great because they’re repetitive. Kids see and say the same pictures, which helps them learn new vocabulary. This game in particular is great because you can customize it by printing cards with photos of family members, sight words or new vocabulary that you want your child to learn.

 2.    Books

You all know how I feel about books, I love them. They are great at any age. Here are a few of my favorites for this age range:

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears by Verna Aardema; Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans; James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl; The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster; The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

 

 3.    Goldie Blox and the Spinning Machine

Amazon.com -29.99              Recommended age: 6-9

 

A young female engineer created this toy. She felt that construction toys were geared mainly towards boys and decided to make this to “inspire the next generation of female engineers.” This gift can be a way to get kids to learn new and useful vocabulary (sketch, prototype etc.). I will warn you, Goldie Blox has mixed reviews, most complaints were that the child was bored with it after one use. Take a look at the website and see if this would be suitable for your kid. www.goldieblox.com

 4.    Phineas and Ferb Quest for Cool Stuff

Amazon.com- 24.99              Recommended age: 4-7

 

Have a little video gamer in your family? Try this game for Nintendo Wii. Kids build their vocabulary and learn new concepts (Atlantis, hieroglyph etc.) while helping Phineas and Ferb collect items to fill their Museum of Cool stuff.

5.    Robot Turtles Game

Amazon.com- 24.99              Recommended age: 4-15

Robot Turtles teaches computer programming fundamentals to kids 4+ in a way that just seems like fun. In this game, kids are the robot masters, so they do a lot of the directing however they need help to write the program. It’s great for teaching interaction skills (i.e. asking appropriately for what you need).

 

 

6. Memorex MKS-SS2 SingStand 2 Home Karaoke System

Amazon- 79.99                      Recommended age: 5+

 

Karaoke is great on so many levels. You can motivate kids who don’t like reading, to read and learn lyrics of their favorite songs so they can have their own concert. You can also help children who are learning to write and rhyme come up with their own songs to serenade the family! Honestly, kids will learn anything if it means they can repeat it into a microphone.

 

 7.    Create your own 3 Bitty Books

Amazon.com- 10.00              Recommended age: 5-9

 

 

Creating a book inspires kids to read, motivates them to write, introduces story language (once upon a time, one day, etc), teaches sequencing and a host of other concepts. With this gift, a child can add personal books to their library.

 

 8.    Lego Duplo Deluxe Box of Fun

Toys R Us- 39.99             Recommended age: 4+

I hate stepping on these things, but they’re really great for building language, imagination and play skills. They also come in many different themes I saw Lego beach house, Lego Minecraft characters etc.

 

 

9.    Oakwood Home

Kidding Around- 74.99              Recommended age: 3-8

 

Any kind of doll home is great for language expansion. I chose this one because it’s a fixer upper (it doesn’t come with furniture) and would require your child to use more language to request the furniture that they want. Look online and shop for doll furniture while labeling all of the different furniture you see. Kids can also imitate what they see in the house to practice language skills. Does your child have trouble listening at the dinner table? Have the characters eat dinner at the table and listen to their parents, later have the child do the same thing. It’s like practicing, without having all of the pressure on them. I think that play homes are great for boys and girls and this one is good because you can decorate the rooms with stickers of what your child likes, instead of it coming preloaded with hearts or car pictures.

10.  Fire HD 7 Table

Amazon- 139.00              Recommended age: 5+

Listen, we live in a technological world. Kids are going to have to know how to use a device, if they don’t already. If you’re buying your child their first personal gadget, load it up with some of the apps I mentioned in my blog No More iPad Guilt: 9 Speech Pathologist Recommended Guilt free Apps for Kids. There are tons of educational games out there for tablets and iPad. Don’t forget to load some fun stuff on there too. Learning is fun, but even kids need a mental break sometimes.

 

What I’m into…

 

Books- I’m Currently reading Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson. I find it hilarious. Seriously, I laugh out loud on the train…it’s embarrassing. I would recommend this book if you’re looking for something funny to read. Just a heads up, the language she uses is definitely for adults.

 

Food– Ramen. It’s freezing outside folks. It’s time for something warm and filling, and for me, Ramen hits the spot. When I want some Ramen and a little bit of atmosphere, I go to Ippudo in the East Village. The Ramen is great, the atmosphere is nice and it’s just a nice place to go with some girlfriends or on a date. I honestly haven’t found any great ramen in JC, but if anybody has any suggestions, please let me know!

(P.S. I’ve tried Union Republic)

 

Don’t forget to like this post or say hello in the comment box 🙂

 

Briana Evans, CCC-SLP is a licensed, certified speech language pathologist and owner of Speech Quest Speech and Language Therapy. She specializes in articulation, reading skills and early language development. She graduated from Columbia University with a Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology. In addition, she is working toward certification in PROMPT therapy, a kinesthetic articulation technique. She currently provides in-home or at-school services for children and teens. She believes in a lifestyle approach to speech therapy, which includes embedding support throughout the client’s daily life.

Speechquestjcny.com

Twitter: @speech_quest

10 Gift Ideas for Children 0-3 That Encourage Language Acquisition

At this age children should have toys that encourage interaction with caregivers. This interaction exposes babies and toddlers to the rhythm and sound of language and encourages them to imitate the language models they hear. Here are a few suggestions.

I’ll be recommending toys for kids that encourage language use and are fun too! Each week I will focus on a new age group. I’ll start with 0-3.

  1. Books

Books are great at any age, but for babies and toddlers they provide a language model and their repetition and rhyming pattern encourage little ones to attend to the words and eventually imitate what they hear. Focus on books that are heavy on the rhyming and repetition. Here are a few of my favorites: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle; Is Your Mama a LlAMA? By Deborah Guarino; Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown; Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow

2.    Montessori Phonetic Reading Blocks

These blocks are great for babies and toddlers. Parents can say the sounds of each letter and the word that the letters make. While the kids use the blocks for teething or just have fun moving them around. Encourage toddlers to say the words too!

3.    Mula Shape Sorter

Encourage your little boy or girl to try and say the names of the shapes as you put them in! They’ll want to play with this over and over again, so they’ll have loads of opportunities to label the shapes and colors.

4.    A to Z Uppercase Maganatab

A magnetic stylus pulls the beads up to create solid lines for letters. Say the letters as you draw with your child or watch them draw. Encourage them to say their letters as they have fun “drawing”.

5.    Farm Chunky Puzzle

I haven’t run into a toddler who doesn’t love this animal puzzle. We practice labeling animals and making their sounds. This even helps the shyest of young ones begin to use their voice.

6.    Fisher-Price Little People Happy Sounds Home

This toy is great because it actually makes realistic environmental sounds. Practice labeling household items without walking around your house. You’re going to be surprised when your toddler suddenly labels some furniture after you’ve been playing with this fun toy for a while.

7.    Mozart Magic Cube

Practice listening to and labeling classical instruments. Babies and parents will enjoy humming the tunes while learning about instruments. This will help any baby learn to attend to different sounds, which will eventually help them learn to differentiate speech sounds.

8.    Baby’s First Words in Spanish

This is great for infants and Toddlers. Put the CD on and practice singing to your baby in Spanish. Toddlers will enjoy saying all the new sounds and hearing the different intonation, and infants will benefit from the exposure to a second language. I have to admit that I am a bit biased towards this product because it was developed by my wonderful graduate school professor Erika Levy. Give it a try!

9.    Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Case

Introduce your baby to the language of technology by encouraging them to tap, swipe and push buttons on the phone while they play one of the iPhone/iPod games recommended in my blog post titled, No More iPad Guilt : 9 Speech Pathologist Recommended, Guilt Free Apps for Kids.

10.                  Pearhead Ceramic Piggy Bank

With a piggy bank, parents can practice labeling coins and sticking them in the pig’s belly. I picked this piggy bank because many of the more child friendly ones (made of rubber, electronic etc.) had negative reviews about how hard it was to get the money out. When you’re practicing language you want to be able to repeat the activity many times, which will be hard if you can’t get the coins out easily.

For local shopping in Jersey City, try Pig and Pepper. They have some cute things for babies and toddlers and they’re right in the area. I love supporting local small businesses.

What I’m into…

Musicbox– Musicbox is an app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. It allows you to look up the song that you want to hear and play it…for free! Instead of waiting for your favorite song to come on Pandora, or buying it on itunes. It has thousands of songs so you’re bound to find whatever tune is in your head.

Netflix– House of Cards comes back in February! If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, watch a few episodes from the first season. I’m not someone who gets into a popular series (I still haven’t seen an episode of Scandal….yes, seriously. But I plan on watching a few episodes soon, I promise!) however I find this one is really interesting. I guess because I’m always wondering how close to real politics the show is.

Please hit the like button down below if you like this week’s topic. And leave some comments, tell me who are, or just say hello!

Briana Evans, CCC-SLP is a licensed, certified speech language pathologist and owner of Speech Quest Speech and Language Therapy. She specializes in articulation, reading skills and early language development. She graduated from Columbia University with a Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology. In addition, she is working toward certification in PROMPT therapy, a kinesthetic articulation technique. She currently provides in-home or at-school services for children and teens. She believes in a lifestyle approach to speech therapy, which includes embedding support throughout the client’s daily life.

Speechquestjcny.com

Twitter: @speech_quest

5 comments family members make about your child’s language, and how to respond

Thanksgiving is coming up and that usually means your family is coming to town. For many people, this is a joyous occasion, for some of us, it means we have to brace ourselves for unsolicited advice and opinions. The most important thing to remember is that, most people are just trying to be supportive and nice. And most people haven’t a clue how to do that. Below are some things that family members may say about your child’s speech, along with some informative and kind responses. Remember, it’s not your job to change their opinions on what you are doing with your child. Your only job is to accept them for who they are and not fall into the cycle of being offended and defensive.

1. He’ll grow out of itThis is insulting because it makes you feel as though you are overreacting to things that are “normal”. However, this can be turned into an opportunity to become closer to the person rather than being upset with them. Ask them about a time when they grew out of something.

What to say: You’re right, Mathew may grow out of it. How about you? Was there ever anything that you eventually grew out of?

2. You should get her evaluatedThis is the antithesis of #1, now they’re suggesting that something is very wrong with your child’s language and that you’re not making enough of a big deal out of it. The best thing to do here is keep an open mind. You may not have liked the way they phrased the suggestion, but it’s a suggestion that comes from a place of caring. Let them know that you are open to hearing what they have to say and will consider it. Really keep an open mind, don’t just say it to end the conversation. Consider giving a speech therapist, (or whatever professional they suggested) a call. At the very worst you’ll be more informed, at best, the person you called will confirm that your family member was incorrect.

What to say: You know what, I have/haven’t considered that. It’s something I’ll look into. Do you have any recommendations?

3. You have to stop speaking for him, he’ll say the sounds if you make him. – This comment can make a parent feel like it’s all their fault. Fact: there are many components that go into making up a child’s language. Those components are both external (influence from what they heard around them) and internal (a struggle to understand or form words). There really isn’t any way for a parent to single-handedly affect their child’s speech. This is why my speech therapy is focused on involving everyone and everything in the child’s life. When it comes to language it’s very hard to “make” a child say anything. Correct articulation and grammar takes practice, period. It’s not about forcing a child to say something. Let’s remember, your family means well. Here’s the best way to respond to this:

What to say: I know it seems like I’m speaking for him, but what I’m really doing is giving him a language model. On less hectic days I would have Nathan repeat the phrase after me to practice his speech, but today I’m just modeling.

4. “I’ll teach her how to talk. Just say it like this, watch me”You’ve worked hard for months, with or without a speech therapist, just to get your child to say her name in a way that you can slightly understand, and here comes your aunt, who hasn’t seen you in a year, but thinks she is magically going to get Sarah to speak because “all you have to do is…” insert advice that you’ve no doubt tried yourself because, again, you’ve tried e-ver-y-thing. As I mentioned in #3 modeling language is great for kids, but it’s a holiday, let’s give her a break from hyper-speech-vigilance. The great thing about having all of that family around is that your child is indirectly benefiting from auditory bombardment. Typically, this is when a child hears a target sound over and over again in a short period of time, usually while listening to a story or during a speech activity. However, it doesn’t have to be that specific. When a child is around a lot of people talking and laughing, they are being bombarded with speech sounds. If you’ve ever learned a second language, it’s like being in an emersion course, everyone around you is speaking so you’re hearing everything and picking up new sounds and words.

What to say: Aunt Sandy, just you being here and talking to me and the rest of the family, benefits Sarah because she’s hearing all of this language and absorbing it. Besides, I want to give her a break today, she practices her speech all the time, she deserves it.

5. You’re the only person who can understand himThis can be tough to hear, especially if your child has been in speech therapy and you feel that he’s made progress. It’s sometimes harder for people who are not around everyday to be aware of the progress a child has made. In speech therapy, I always bring to the client and parent’s attention any new advances that I’ve seen. I also encourage parents to share these advancements with teachers, friends and family. Difficulty with language is not comparable to having a broken arm. You don’t go somewhere to get it fixed and walk out speaking like a Harvard graduate. Language takes years for us to learn (we should never stop learning language and expanding our vocabulary) and it takes a long time to acquire a new way to say things, especially after a child has had a few years of speaking in their own way. All of the accomplishments along the way make up what will eventually be clear speech, this is not something that happens suddenly and independently. Let your family know about all of the milestones that have occurred in your child’s speech. It’ll help them understand the journey that your family is on and see your child’s speech in a different way.

What to say: Yes, I understand him even more now that he makes eye contact with me/ learned to open his mouth a bit more when he speaks/ speaks a bit slower/ is working on speaking in shorter phrases etc.

Did I forget anything else that families might say? Write back in the comments section and how let us know how you handle it.

What I’m into:

Movies: I just watched this documentary called The Internet’s Own Boy it follows programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz. He’s the creator of Reddit, a social networking news website. The movie was outstanding. It showed me how some entities really work hard to monetize knowledge and why knowledge and ideas should be free and accessible to everyone. I highly recommend this doc. I rented it from Amazon Prime.

Thanksgiving: I live by the motto, sometimes I’m fit sometimes I’m fat, and this Thursday, the latter half of that motto will be my mantra. How often do I get to eat stuffing, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes? How often do you get to have multiple carbs on your plate and not feel bad about it? Once a year, that’s how often. So I’m eating whatever looks tasty, besides, if you put one bad thing on your plate with one good thing, they cancel each other out. Mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes? Sweet potatoes are good for you, viola! The mashed potatoes are canceled out. Turkey and gravy? Turkey’s protein, and there’s hardly any fat in protein so it’s like eating nothing at all, viola! Enjoy your thanksgiving everybody, see you next week!

Briana Evans, CCC-SLP is a licensed, certified speech language pathologist and owner of Speech Quest Speech and Language Therapy. She specializes in articulation, reading skills and early language development. She graduated from Columbia University with a Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology. In addition, she is working toward certification in PROMPT therapy, a kinesthetic articulation technique. She currently provides in-home or at-school services for children and teens. She believes in a lifestyle approach to speech therapy, which includes embedding support throughout the client’s daily life.
Speechquestjcny.com
Twitter: @speech_quest

“But I HATE Reading!”: 9 activities to Strengthen Emergent Reading Skills In a Not So Boring Way

For some kids, reading sucks. It’s difficult and boring and it never goes away. What I’ve noticed over the years is that very few children actually hate reading. Most of them just feel a lot of pressure to read at a certain level. Children as young as 2 can feel this kind of pressure when they struggle to understand rhyming, one of the fundamental skills for reading. It’s like almost drowning every time you attempt to learn how to swim. You want to yell at the water and anyone who tries to make you jump in it. The good news is, that once children master the smaller, but important, foundational reading skills, it helps them ease into the bigger more complex skills. So don’t worry if your child isn’t swimming with the rest of the group, meet him at whatever part of the pool he feels comfortable in and start from there. Below are some activities and book suggestions to help develop foundational reading skills at home.

 

*SUPER DUPER IMPORTANT*: These are meant to be short fun activities. Keep them that way. Avoid allowing your child to become frustrated. If you’re not having fun, they’re not having fun, so be silly when engaging in these activities, and if you’re not the silly type, try it! It may be uncomfortable at first, but if your child can struggle to learn a new skill you can struggle to explore a new part of yourself. Have fun!

 

 

Letters and sounds

(helps develop print concepts, specifically, recognizing letters of the alphabet, one of the common core foundational reading skills standards)

 

Alphabet manicure– Trace your hand and draw on some fingernails. Write the target letter on two of the fingers and random letters on the other three fingers. Using nail polish, have your child paint the fingernails of the fingers containing the target letter while saying its sound. For kids who are learning sounds in words, have them paint the fingernails of the fingers containing the word with the target sound, then use that word in a sentence.

 

Alphabet Yoga– Try making letter shapes with your body while saying the letter’s name and sound (i.e. put your back on the floor, legs in the air for the letter ‘L’, while saying “L says /l/”. For those of us who are not as flexible (my knees crack every time I attempt to sit on a floor) try sky writing. Take your pointer finger and draw the letter in the sky while saying its name and sound. Do this sitting next to your child so you’re both drawing the letter in the same direction.

 

Letter Lunch– When you make a PB&J sandwich or a cream cheese and lox, or use just about any kind of spreadable condiment, use a knife to draw a target letter into the condiment of choice. Ask your child to name the letter and its sound, before he/she is allowed to put the sandwich together. You could also use another food to create the letter, for example you could use raisins to form the target letter on top of an English muffin with cream cheese.

 

Rhyming

Rhyming is important because it teaches children that language is rhythmic and helps develop an attention to sounds in words, which will be needed later on for spelling. Here’s how you can introduce rhyming, tell your child that rhyming words sound the same at the end, then look at some pictures in a book with rhymes (Dr. Suess is great for this) and point them out in pairs (here’s a cat and here’s a bat, cat and bat rhyme). This intro doesn’t need to be that long. You can do this for 5 minutes a few times in a week.

 

The Name Game– Use your child’s name as inspiration for rhyming words (relaxin Jackson, busy Lissie). See how many both of you can come up with. You can also use names of family members and pets!

 

The Name Game (song)– You can sing this song using your child’s name or family member’s names (Maria pia bobia, banana fanna fo fia…)

 

Rhyming Aerobics – Tell your child that they must complete an aerobic activity each time you call out a pair of rhyming words (i.e. touch your toes when you hear rhyming words). If they complete the movement when the words don’t rhyme, the game starts all over again. Try taking turns with your child, see if they can come up with rhyming words and make you do all the exercise!

 

Suggested Books: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr; Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Duskey Rinker; There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Pam Adams; I Can’t” Said the Ant by Polly Cameron; Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss

 

Sound Isolation

Sound isolation is the ability to isolate and pronounce all of the phonemes in a word. This is one component of the Common Core Standard for phonological awareness. As with rhyming, and pretty much every new skill, it’s always fun for kids to learn by using their own names or items in their personal life. You can introduce sound isolation by “spelling” your child’s name using the phonemes (bu-eh-t-ee, Betty).

 

Loose Lips– This activity draws your child’s attention to the initial sound in a word and is a great way to introduce sound segmentation. While you are reading a book, ask your child to identify the correct word out of a choice of 3 (pointing to a cat- “is this a /sss/sat? nooooo. Is this a /mmm/ mat? Nooooo. Is this a /ccc/ cat? Yes! Cat starts with the sound /c/).

 

Silly Sentences– Pick your target sound and take turns coming up with sentences using words that begin with that same sound (silly Sarah sat on a slug). Whoever can come up with the most sentences or longest sentence wins!

 

Substitute Letters– Give your child a word, then substitute the first letter of the word for a new letter so that it becomes a new word. Have your child act out the new word (the word is ‘look’, replace the /l/ with a /b/, and show me what the new word is! the child should figure the new word out and pretend to read a book).

 

 

Emergent Reader Book Suggestions: The best emergent reader books have strong visual support, repetitive vocabulary, rhyme and rhythm. Here are a few that I think are good. You can also download some great emergent reader books for free at

http://teachmama.com/tips-and-tricks-for-teaching-emergent-readers/free-emergent-reader-set-teach-mama/

 

  1. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? By Bill Martin Jr.
  2. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Suess
  3. Hop on Pop by Dr. Suess
  4. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  5. Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel

 

 

Things that I’m into:

 

Food: I tried Roman Nose for the first time last night. It’s an Italian restaurant on Newark ave. My boyfriend and I split a pizza. It was pretty good (it would have been better if it was right out of the oven. We had to make a few stops before we could go home and eat it) I want to go back and try one of the pasta dishes, those looked really good. Any suggestions on what to try next time?

 

Makeup: Nude lip gloss has been my thing lately. It just makes your face look effortlessly fresh. The trick is to find the right nude gloss for your complexion. I used this guide to figure out which nude was right for me.

http://www.byrdie.com/best-nude-lipstick-for-skintone-2014/

 

 

Briana Evans, CCC-SLP is a licensed, certified speech language pathologist and owner of Speech Quest Speech and Language Therapy. She specializes in articulation, reading skills and early language development. She graduated from Columbia University with a Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology. In addition, she is working toward certification in PROMPT therapy, a kinesthetic articulation technique. She currently provides in-home or at-school services for children and teens. She believes in a lifestyle approach to speech therapy, which includes embedding support throughout the client’s daily life.

Speechquestjcny.com

Twitter: @speech_quest

No More iPad Guilt: 9 Speech Pathologist Recommended Guilt Free Apps for Kids

The kind of pressure parents are under to create this completely organic, non-technological, enriching environment all the time for their kids is insane. We are human, and it’s ok for our kids, and other parents, to see us as such. As humans, we need a break. At least once a day, realistically, multiple times a day. When you need that break, you may hand your child an iPad. This is fine, you shouldn’t feel guilty, or be made to feel guilty by anyone. You need a break before you have a breakdown, and if anyone says anything about it, you tell them, while I’m taking a break my kid is learning, then you pretend to drop an imaginary bomb while saying “booooom” really slowly. Trust me on this one, it’s effective.

 

To help you feel even better about your break, I have recommended some apps that you can download for your kid while you get things done, or do nothing at all.

 

 

 1.    All about sounds

I’ve used this app for kids working on a variety of different sounds. It’s a matching game. You can pick a phoneme for your child to work on and have them say the names of images out loud while finding the match.

Cost: Free, although the HD version is $2.00

Works offline: Yes

Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch

Recommended ages: 2+

 

 

2.    Preschool and kindergarten learning games free for toddler

I recently downloaded this app, I like it because it’s more like an activity center with all of the options that it offers. It’s great for practicing or introducing phonics and general pre-reading and writing skills. Check out their website for more apps, kindergarten.com.

Cost: Free, although many features are locked until you pay for the upgrade.

Works offline: yes

Compatibility: iPhone and iPad (iPad recommended)

Recommended ages: any child at a preschool/kindergarten reading/writing level

 

 

 

 

3.    Toonware categories for speech and language therapy

This app was recommended by a colleague. It teaches kids how to categorize and is divided into different levels (easy, medium, hard). I haven’t used this with clients yet, but it looks like fun and it’s easy to use. It also comes in Turkish and Spanish.

Cost: $4.99

Works offline: yes

Compatibility: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad

Recommended ages: 3-7 years

 

 

 

4.    Speech with Milo (verbs)

Fun app that teaches kids new verbs and how to use them. The child can go through Milo’s different actions and hear the new verbs used in a phrase. There are two additional versions of this app which teach kids prepositions and sequencing. This is an animation heavy app, so it may take a while to download.

Cost: $2.99

Works offline: yes

Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch

Recommended ages: 1-7 years

 

 

 

 

 

5. Felt Board

An electronic version of a traditional felt board where you arrange cutouts to create different scenes. I like this because it’s a new version of a classic pastime. Let your kids have fun with this and discuss the scenes they’ve created after they done.

Cost: $2.99

Works offline: yes

Compatibility: iPhone, iPad

Recommended ages: 4+

 

 

 

6. Berts Bag

Kids get to shake Berts bag and count the number of items that fall out. The items are random (bottlecaps, marbles etc.), so children learn to label things while counting.

Cost: $1.99

Works offline: yes

Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch

Recommended ages: 1-5 years

 

 

7. Now Louie

This is a story about a mischievous cat who always does the opposite of what his owner tells him to. Children can turn the pages of the story at their leisure and listen to all of the cat’s naughty behavior. In my experience, kids want to go through this story at least twice by themselves.

Cost: Free

Works offline: yes

Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch

Recommended ages: 2-6 years

 

8.    WHOPPING TRAINS

This isn’t a game so much, it’s short clips of old trains riding down tracks and pulling into stations. I used this as a reward with one of my autistic clients who loved trains. One word of advice if you’re using this with kids who may perseverate on activities, use this in combination with the sand timer (I’ll explain that below). It’ll help ease the perseveration.

 Cost: Free

Works offline: yes

Compatibility: iPhone, iPad,

Recommended ages: 1+

9.    RHYMING WORDS

Kids learn to identify words that sound the same. It’s a great way to introduce rhyming which is important for pre reading skills. I’ve suggested this app to parents and have had good feedback.

Cost: $0.99

Works offline: yes

Compatibility: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch

Recommended ages: anyone learning to read

 

SAND TIMER

This is not an activity, it is a timer that I use to keep track of length of activities. I like it because you can pick different songs to play when time is up. It also works while you’re on other apps. It’s a good way to keep kids on track while playing these games.

 

Things that I’m into…

I didn’t want to only focus on the kids, moms and dads need to relax too! So here are some relaxing activities that I’m into at the moment.

 

Wheel of Fortune App: Yes, playing Wheel of Fortune on my phone conjures up an image of a woman surrounded by cats. That is not me…even though I love cats. However, when I’m home, and have nothing to do, (or when I have 193,295 things to do) I break open my Wheel of Fortune app on my phone and play for big money!…ok it’s pretend money, but it’s still really fun.

 

Books: I am currently reading Without You There is no Us by Suki Kim. It’s a memoir about this woman who taught in an elite North Korean school. It’s good, although I feel like she is dragging some of the content out to create a book out of what could have been a long article. It’s entertaining though, and a quick read.

 

TV: I may lose readers after I say this, but I’m not ashamed, I watch reality TV! The worst kind….The Real Housewives series. Go ahead, close your browser in disgust….and then secretly watch all of the episodes you have saved on your DVR 😉 While I wait for RHOBH to come back on, I’ve been watching this show called Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce on the Fuse network. Take a look at it, it’s heartwarming and interesting, but you will be required to keep an open mind. Tell me what you think after! **this is not a show to watch with your kids.

Briana Evans, CCC-SLP is a licensed, certified speech language pathologist and owner of Speech Quest Speech and Language Therapy. She specializes in articulation, reading skills and early language development. She graduated from Columbia University with a Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology. In addition, she is working toward certification in PROMPT therapy, a kinesthetic articulation technique. She currently provides in-home or at-school services for children and teens. She believes in a lifestyle approach to speech therapy, which includes embedding support throughout the client’s daily life.

Speechquestjcny.com

Twitter: @speech_quest

Does my child need speech therapy?

Being a parent is hard. Being a parent can also be competitive. Your friend’s daughter can sing the national anthem and recite Homer at 10 months old, meanwhile, your precious, sweet natured 2 year old is looking at you and pointing to her soaking wet shirt while innocently stating, “mommy, juice!” You immediately look at the 10 month old and back at your daughter, should she be speaking more? Are two word phrases enough? Does she know Homer? Where did that juice come from?!?! And finally, should we look into speech therapy???

I have been practicing speech therapy for over 5 years and many of my friends and private clients have all had these questions/comparisons run through their minds at some point. I want you to know that speech therapy does not imply that something is wrong with your child. I believe that all children, actually, all people, can benefit from speech correction or enhancement. Below is a list of common reasons why parents seek speech services. If you feel that any of the characteristics below describe your child, or if you’re not sure, call a speech therapist. We are always willing to talk on the phone and many therapists will screen your child for free or at a discounted rate.

Reasons for speech therapy may include:

1. Voice Disorders

-Children who speak too loudly

-Children who speak too softly

-Older children who have maintained a prepubescent voice

2. Articulation disorders

-Children who can’t pronounce a specific sound

-Children who are hard to understand

-Children who stutter

3. language disorders

-Children who have trouble understanding written or verbal language (academically or socially)

-Children who have trouble finding the right words to express themselves.

4. Swallowing disorders

-Children who have difficulty swallowing foods of different textures.

-Children who have food aversions

5. Attention deficit

-Children who require techniques for remaining focused

-Children who struggle with maladaptive daydreaming

There are many more reasons to seek out speech therapy for your child, however, the simplest advice I can give is, if you’re asking yourself the question, does my child need speech therapy, then it’s probably a good idea to call a speech therapist and have a chat. We’re not only here for your children, we’re here for you too!

Briana Evans, CCC-SLP is a licensed, certified speech language pathologist and owner of Speech Quest Speech and Language Therapy. She specializes in articulation, reading skills and early language development. She graduated from Columbia University with a Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology. In addition, she is working toward certification in PROMPT therapy, a kinesthetic articulation technique. She currently provides in-home or at-school services for children and teens. She believes in a lifestyle approach to speech therapy, which includes embedding support throughout the client’s daily life.

Speechquestjcny.com

Twitter: @speech_quest

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