Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Encouraging Language in Toddlers: Part Six

Encouraging Language: Be Patient

My next tip is simple but sweet.  When you are trying to encourage language, whether it be their first word or whether you are trying to encourage them to put words together: Use wait time.  This means that after you ask your child a question and you want them to respond, give them LOTS of time to answer.  Wait there quietly for a good minute.  You will be able to tell if your child is thinking or formulating a reply.  Sometimes we think that lulls in a conversation are awkward or even incorrect - but they're not!  Especially with younger children.  Some children have slower processing speed and they just need MORE TIME.  Some children might have difficulty coordinating the movement required for speech (such as apraxia).  Some children take time to process what the actual question was.  For these reasons and many more - remember it's okay to wait.

Show them that it's okay for them to think about their answer and that they don't have to answer immediately.  Take off the pressure.  Smile.  Get down on their level.  And wait.  I'm not making any promises, but give it a try!  You might be surprised!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Encouraging Language in Toddlers: Part 5

Encouraging Language: Focus on Power Words

When you're trying to encourage your young one to start saying more words, try focusing on 2-3 specific words for a while.  Good words to use would be 'power words'.  I've also heard them  referred to as 'stereotypical phrases.'  These are words that can stand alone yet still give a clear meaning.  They are used often throughout the day and they are very functional.  There is often a clear action or gesture associated with them as well.  Some examples include: Bye, Go, More, Uh-Oh, or Hi.  Pick one or two of these and then look for ways to fit them in naturally throughout the day. 

One of my favorites is "Go!"  You can make it very exciting by adding suspense before doing anything fun by counting to three, then saying, "Go!"  For example, when playing with a car, you say "One, Two, Three.......GO!"  Then push it across the floor.  You can do it while making lunch.  You need to pour in the milk?  "One, Two, Three,.....GO!"  After you do this a few times, pause for a second before you say "Go!" and then see how your child reacts.  He might lean forward, or bounce, or reach his hand forward.  He might even say "O" which is terrific!  Keep bombarding your child with these words in natural contexts, and they'll start to pick up on it in no time!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Encouraging Language in Toddlers: Part Four

Encouraging Language: Give your Child an Opportunity to Use Words

As parents, sometimes we have to be mind-readers.  Our newborn is crying, and we have to figure out why. Do they want changed?  Are they hungry?  Are they bored?  Eventually we start to learn that different cries mean different things.  We know just what they need, and we want to satisfy that need as soon as possible.  It's part of being a good mom, right?  Right.  Well, there comes a point where you need to stop being such a great mind-reader...or at least your child needs to think that your ability to read minds has suddenly disappeared.  Even though you secretly still know what they need.  What I'm trying to say is, 
Give your child an opportunity to use words.  

Here's an example: Your 14 month old is whining, and you know for a fact that he is hungry and wants a bottle of milk.  Before you just give him the bottle, take a few minutes and give him the chance to actually request it.  Take him into the kitchen and say "What do you want?"  Maybe he will point to the cupboard where you keep the bottles, or maybe to the fridge where the milk is.  Pointing is a good first step!  Encourage a word too.  "You want some milk?  A bottle?"  Pick a key word to use consistently and model it each time your child wants some milk in a bottle.  Or whatever the situation may be.  After you have given him the chance to respond and you have encouraged some communication on his part, then go ahead and give him the bottle.  Don't take so long that he gets really mad or really hungry.  The main point here is to give your child a chance to talk.  They might surprise you!

Monday, November 26, 2012

How to Encourage Language in Toddlers: Part Three

Encouraging Language: Talk to Your Child

Now that you've determined that your child has good hearing, you can rest assured that the language input that you work so hard to give them will be heard.  Now we can focus on the language input itself.  So here is my next tip.  Are you ready?

 Talk to your child.  
Talk about everything you see.  Talk about everything you are doing.  Talk about everything you are eating.  It's never too soon to start introducing your baby to language.  I think most parents are pretty natural at this.  But maybe there are times in which you find yourself  thinking about other things such as errands, what to cook for dinner, what to buy at the store, etc, and so your mind is preoccupied.  Well that's going to happen to an extent, and that's fine.  When you're at the store, be one of those moms who looks like she is talking to herself.  "I'm looking for the ketchup!  Oh here it is! I found the ketchup.  Do you want to hold the ketchup?  Now we need some milk.  Let's go this way.  Over here!  Down this way.  Stop!  There it is!  There's the milk.  Do you see it?"  And so on.  I'm not saying you need to be constantly jabbering away and driving your child (and everyone around you) to craziness.  Certainly the child will need some time to think, process, and absorb.  Try to find a good balance.  Make sure it works for you and you are comfortable with it.  The main point here is that your child learns so much from YOU.  So make sure you are giving them plenty to learn from.  

Friday, November 23, 2012

How to Encourage Language in Toddlers: Part Two

Encouraging Language: Rule out a Hearing Loss
If you are worried about your child's speech and/or language development, here's the first thing you should do: Rule out a hearing loss.  This does NOT mean standing behind your child and clapping your hands or jiggling some keys around to see if they notice.  A hearing loss can be very mild or very severe.  Each and every type of hearing loss can go undetected for one reason or another.

(This is my little guy after he passed his newborn hearing screening - yay!)

Most every newborn nowadays gets their hearing checked at birth - which is a great thing - but sometimes a hearing loss develops as the child grows.  In addition, newborn hearing screenings are conducted at slightly louder levels, which means that they could pass the test but still have a very mild hearing loss.  What all that means is, even if your child passed a newborn screening, they could still have a hearing loss.  I'm not trying to scare you here.  There's a very good chance that your child doesn't have a hearing loss.  But you'll never know unless you get them tested.  Find a local pediatric audiologist who can give your child a quick test.  I always say that nothing is worse than not knowing.  Do you agree?  The key here is to recognize that even a mild hearing loss can cause significant delays in speech and language development.  Once you have a hearing loss ruled out then you can rest easy knowing that your child will have no problems hearing all the language that you model for them.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How to Encourage Language in Toddlers: Part One

Encouraging Language in Toddlers: Introduction and Disclaimer

Lately I've had a few parents of one and two year olds ask me: "My child isn't really talking yet..should I be worried?" followed by "What should I do?"  In moments like this, my role as an SLP requires me to not only give a correct answer, but also make it somewhat short, without using a whole bunch of acronyms or strange vocabulary, give good resources and advice, and also assure Mom that she is doing a good job.  So I told myself, "It's time for Speaking of Kids to do a series on this subject!"

Let me start off with a little disclaimer: This series is not meant to replace a thorough speech/language evaluation.  If you have concerns about your child, you really ought to find a local friendly Speech-Language Pathologist who can evaluate your child's own specific strengths and weaknesses to determine a) what the problem is, b) what to do about it, and c) if there are any other underlying factors to take into account (such as apraxia, autism, syndromes, etc.)  The tips I will share are the tips another SLP would probably give you, so why not start now??

The first step is to decide if your child is behind or not.  Sometimes that can be very obvious, other times it's not.  But in this series I will be mostly focusing on Expressive Vocabulary, so here are the facts:

  • At twelve months old, your child should be just starting to use words, maybe using one or two fairly consistently. (Usually "Momma", "Bottle", "Up"....)  (More on that here)
  •  By 18 months, they should be using at least 10 words, and possibly up to 50. (More on that here)
  • At 24 months, a child should be using between 200 and 300 words.  They should be starting to put two words together soon.  
  • By 36 months, they should use about 1000 words.  Wow! (More on that here)
Now you are armed with knowledge!  If you think your child is behind, don't panic.  Find a speech therapist to talk to you specifically about your child.  Nothing is worse than wondering.  Just take action and see where it takes you.  In the meantime, I hope you're excited because the next post will be about the FIRST step to take if you think your child might be a little behind in language development.  See you next time!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Referral Tracking Sheet

Did you know that I recently got a new job?  I work at a fantastic charter school one day a week.  I love the schedule, the environment, and all the people I work with.  I get to work with another SLP there, although we can't work on the same day since we share a small office space.  It works out pretty well but we are getting totally SLAMMED with referrals.  It's great that the teachers are so on top of it, but we found ourselves needing to get really organized.  No sense in having to brief each other on everything on a day when one of us doesn't work.  Thus my referral tracking sheet was born.  I figured if we can use it, maybe somebody else can!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What is a Narrative?

Hey friends! Guess what?  I will be featured in a guest post tomorrow at Playing With Words 365! This is exciting news for a few reasons.  A) Because it has been a LONG time coming.  It's a little humorous how long it's been in the works.  We just ran into all sorts of small glitches that kept putting it off longer. B) It's exciting because that website rocks!!  Seriously I can't say enough good things about Katie - she is so smart and so clever.  C) It's about narratives!  We don't see that much info out there about the importance of narratives and how to teach them.  So check it out tomorrow and learn a thing or two.  Pick up some cute freebies too!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Crafts and Toddlers and Language

Crafting with toddlers is good for so many reasons!  First, it makes you feel like a good mom/speech teacher.  I like it for that reason alone.  Also - it's fun!  But here are some other reasons why it's a good idea:

1) Making a craft is certainly better than drilling a child with flashcards or boring pictures.  Sometimes that works better for older kids but isn't it best to teach language in a natural way?  The child doesn't feel stressed or under pressure. You can incorporate basically any goal into a craft.  Which leads me to number two.

2) Any goal can be targeted while you work on a craft.  Does the child need to work on answering questions?  Just ask them questions related to the craft:  "What do we need to stick the eyes on?"  "Where does the tail go?" Or even just ask them more abstract "wh" questions and hold off on the required material until they complete the task.  Articulation works too.  "Say 'book' five times, then you can have the next popsicle stick."

3) Crafts lend themselves well to teaching basic concepts such as color, size, shapes, and numbers.  "What color is this feather?" "How many feathers are there?" "What shape do you want next?"

4) Theme-related crafts always add an element of fun, and it makes your therapy session easier to plan.  10 seconds on Pinterest and you can find a craft based on any holiday or any season.  Then you can build around that.  Make a snowman and read a book on snowmen, then sing a snowman song.  Make sure you have a clear idea of how you are targeting their goal, and don't just do those things for fun.

5)  These fun holidays and seasons seem to come and go so fast, it's great to take the opportunity to teach the child the related vocabulary.  Valentine, Jack O Lantern, Turkey, Shamrock, (I could go on and on) are all fun words that are important for the child to learn.  One reason for that is it builds their schema, or their background knowledge that will help them in reading later.  For example, next time they read a book about a turkey, they will form an idea in their mind based on what they have experienced with a turkey.  It leads to better comprehension because they already have a foundation knowledge of what it is, what it looks like, what it does, etc.

6) Sitting down and doing a craft is a good way of lengthening a child's attention and gets them prepared for school, where they will be required to sit down and follow directions given by a teacher.

7) Cutting, taping, pasting, and drawing are all great ways to build those fine motor skills.  Practice practice practice!

8) You can indirectly teach sequencing by structuring the craft in the right way.  Use words like "First, Then, Next, and Last" to teach the child that things have to happen in a certain order.

9) Crafting is a great way to focus on following directions - a crucial skill in the classroom environment.  It's easy to adapt the directions to one step or two steps, depending on the child's level.  You could start by simply saying, "Get the gluestick" and then when the child is older and smarter you can say things like, "First hand me the sticker, then you write your name."
10) Take it home and talk about it! Creating something leads to a feeling of ownership and pride, which can lead to great conversation and carry-over when the child proudly presents his new creation to Mom or Dad!

Monday, November 12, 2012

What Your 3 Year Old Should Be Doing

Right now I am working with a darling little boy who is turning 3 in a few weeks.  It's almost been 6 months since we first started doing therapy together and that means it's time to do some new language testing and see where he stands with hearing, language, and speech milestones.  As you can imagine, little kiddos change SO MUCH in a very short time so it's important to be constantly monitoring progress.  Every session should be diagnostic in nature, so no test results should be much of a surprise, but it's good to get a broad overview and look at standard scores, etc.  I made a little chart here of Speech/Language Milestones that should be reached between the ages of 2 and 3.  Just thought I would share it with you! Just click on the image to open, save, and print!

PS For all you moms who are like "What in the heck are phonological processes?" Never fear!  I will be doing a series on all things related to Phonological Processes very soon.  Be excited!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I'm Baaaaaack

Hello Readers!  I apologize for my extended absence, but I'm back now.  And with some exciting news!  My basement office is finally finished!  Well - there are still some small details to work out, but any room is a never-ending project anyway, right?  I thought I would share a picture with you before I get back into more regular posts.

It's so nice to have all my materials and games in one spot.  I just love it.  And in case you are envying my furniture, I got it all at IKEA.  Point of note: Food at IKEA is disgusting.  But everything else is AWESOME.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Blog Hopping Day

Today I ran across this great post over at Playing With Words 365.  Katie, the author of the blog, is so smart and creative - I can't stand it!  Today her post is on 5 Ways to practice listening and following directions.  Check it out!  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Preschool Matching Activity: Pets

Today I am taking my 3 year old to the pet store.  What a great place to use language!  Pets is always a fun theme for younger children.  Talk about the similarities and differences between each pet.  What do they sound like?  What do they eat?  What do they like to do?  Do you have any pets at home?  Here is a little activity I came up with.  Since most younger children can't read, it ends up being a good listening activity.  It also established the early foundations of defining words, which we talked about in detail a few weeks ago.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Have you heard of this app?

Peek-a-boo Barn 
Have you heard of this darling app?  Peek-a-boo Barn is great for very young kids, ages 1-4.  I like using it with late talkers to encourage vocalizations.  It is good for teaching animal vocabulary and animal noises.  Animals rotate hiding in the barn and the child has to tap the screen for the door to open.  I like it for children with hearing loss too because before you open the door, the animal is making a very quiet noise. When the door is opened it becomes louder.  It's fun to guess what animal is hiding by listening to the sound they are making.  Young children with Down Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy also particularly like this app.  It does not require fine motor coordination.  Because of that my 8 month old loves it!  There is a lite version which is free.  The regular version is $1.99.  Take a look!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Book Review: The Noisy Noisy Farm

The Noisy Noisy Farm is about some animal friends who become worried one morning when Rooster does not wake them up.  They spend most of their morning calling to Rooster and gathering more friends.  He still doesn't answer so they go look for him in his shed, only to discover that Hen's eggs had hatched and Rooster is a proud daddy!  Isn't that a darling story?  It is sweet and simple.  The artwork is beautiful and on almost every page is a button for the child to push and hear an animal sound.  I have read this book with preschoolers with Down Syndrome or other disabilities and they totally love it!  Often, when I am working on a child with severely delayed speech, we back up to animal sounds.  This book is a good way to reinforce those sounds and some children really like to imitate it when it is coming from a book.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Preschool Sorting Activity: Farm and Jungle Animals

Hello reader!  Thank you for stopping by.  Are you a follower?  If you're not would you please become one? I would love some more.

My last sorting activity was pretty popular so I thought I would share another one with you!  Animals are always a fun and easy concept to teach to preschoolers.  It's important for them to start distinguishing that animals live in different places and have different characteristics. You can also use this activity to teach the animal sounds.  This activity could also be a great describing activity.  Instead of cutting the animals out beforehand, show your child the sheet with animals and describe what you're going to cut out next.  See if they can guess what you're talking about!  You can vary the difficulty level.  For example, "I'm going to cut out the animal that says 'Moo'".  Or you could make it more challenging and say, "This animal has a mane, a tail, and you can use a saddle to ride on it."  You can also turn the tables and let your child try to describe an animal.  Kids love being the teacher!  After the animals are cut out you can do the same listening/describing activity again as you glue them onto the animals' home.  Kids love repetition - don't shy away from it!  

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fun Fact Friday

My three year old recently explained to me that 'dehydrated' is when you don't drink enough.  That was his ploy for me to give him more juice.  Yeah, it worked.

Did you know that by the time a child is three years old, he has approximately 1,000 words in his expressive vocabulary?  A 5 year old has about 2,500, and by the time a child is 12 years old, they know and use about 50,000 words. 

Kids are SO AMAZING!!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sneak Peek Into My Life

We've been busy over here at my house.  And by 'we' I mean mostly my husband.  He loves me enough to be simultaneously starting a new job, getting a real estate license, starting grad school, AAAAAND.......

refinishing our basement so I can have an office! Here are some 'work in progress' pictures. 
Here are the stairs going down.  Before this it was very dark.  Very dirty.  Very scary.  Lots of cobwebs and termites and a very old and mildewy smell.  
 This little corner will be my office space.
 The other half will be a living room/waiting area for parents.

Be excited for the 'After' shots.  Coming soon!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Preschool Sorting Activity: Fruits and Vegetables

Here's a fun and simple activity for you moms/teachers of preschoolers. This would even work with K or 1st graders, depending on their language level. Below are two sheets for you to print:  Just click on the picture to go to the link.

Suggestions for Use:
- Cut out the shopping carts and each individual food item.  For added language stimulation, have the child listen to clues given by you on what to cut out next.  For example, "Cut out the fruit that is orange and sweet" or "Cut out the vegetable that is small and round and green."  

- Have the child sort the food by different categories.  Obviously you could do fruits and vegetables - always a great concept to rehearse.  You could also do it by color or size.  You could also sort by whether its crunchy or juicy.  Sort it by whether or not the child likes it.  Sort it by as many ways as you can think of!  

- You could also use this as a compare/contrast activity which is an important pre-writing skill.  Put a pumpkin in one cart and a carrot in the other.  Ask the child, :"How are they the same?" (Both vegetables, both orange with green stem).  How are they different? (One is round and one is long and skinny, one grows underground, one grows above on a vine)

- The possibilities are almost limitless!  It is simple but so much fun!  It also works on cutting skills and gluing skills which are also important for preschoolers.  I hope you like it!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Video: Skye

This is Skye.  She was born deaf.  See the possibilities of what a cochlear implant can do by watching her story.

Skye Carter: Hearing for the First Time from Adam Irving on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Defining Words: Part 5 Games and Apps

There are lots of fun games to use to reinforce categories and word definitions.  Here are some of my favorites:

Name 5
Just like it sounds.  Each card gives a prompt for you to name 5 items in random categories, such as 'items that make you sneeze' or 'types of dogs.  There is a timer which adds an element of difficulty if you want it.  Great for any speech therapy session if you play for a few minutes at the very end. 

Too bad I didn't patent this when I had the chance, because I totally invented it.  Oh well.  It's a great way to reinforce the concepts of categories and defining words.  Kids will know when they didn't do a great job describing it because the other child will tell them flat-out, "I have no idea what you're talking about."  And they will be rewarded when they used good clues because the child will guess.  The categories are concrete and the vocabulary is familiar.  I like to introduce this game by modeling "bad clues".  Say we're talking about  ice cream.  I say, "It's yummy".  They might have a guess but most likely they will not get it from that one clue.  I then proceed to explain that lots of things are yummy so that is a 'bad clue'.  It's usually quite the 'aha' moment for the kids.  I'm constantly prompting them by asking, "What makes it special or different?"
20 Questions
A great way to teach kids the importance of 'narrowing it down'.  I usually draw a big circle on the board and call it 'animals'.  We talk about how there are many different kinds of animals and we need to 'narrow it down'.  Then I discuss how we can narrow it down by type (mammals, reptiles, amphibians) or habitat (tundra, jungle, forest).  See how great it plays into the curriculum?  20 Questions is a fun way to teach the applicability of
 'narrowing it down'.

And here are some apps that I know of that you can use to teach sorting, organizing, and defining words:

- Objects: Pro
- What Does Not Belong?
- Clean Up: Category Sorting
- NLConcepts Autism: Sort and Categorize
- Pre-Number Category Sorting Matching Game
- Name that Category
- Let's Name Things
- Autism and PDD Categories
- Category Carousel

I am sure there are lots more!  Leave us a comment if you have one that you particularly enjoy or know about.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Defining Words: Part 4

More fun ways to teach adjectives!

1) Darling activity from "Crazy for First Grade".  Check out her post!

2) Or this is a fun idea from "The Inspired Apple"

3) Here's a list of books that lend themselves to teaching adjectives.

4) And here's a quick list I made of adjectives categorized by size, appearance, shape, what it's made of, and how it feels.  A fun way to use it is to put it in a page protector and hand the student a dry erase marker.  Then, grab a bunch of objects with very salient characteristics from this list.  Show the student the object and talk about it.  Have them circle the applicable adjectives that describe it.  Erase and start again!  Who doesn't love a little dry erase marker activity?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Defining Words: Part 4

When your child has really mastered categories, it's time to move on to the second half of defining words.  This involves teaching attributes/adjectives and functions.  This is the worksheet I use for this.
However - you're probably going to have to spend a few times teaching these things individually before you expect the child to put it all together in one nice, cohesive definition.  Of course it depends on the child, but teaching adjectives is usually a great way to start.

I saw this on Pinterest which is a great way to get the wheels turning:
Isn't that adorable?  Last year I used a frog theme.  How fun would it be to describe a frog?  Slimy.  Green. Loud.  Slippery.  I think kids would love it!  

"Hairy, Scary, Ordinary": A great way to introduce adjectives to students.  Pictures are a riot and fun to talk about at the same time.  Could easily take a half hour with this book!
Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What Is an Adjective? (Words Are Categorical)

Since this is such a fun concept, I'm going to do another post on it tomorrow.  Be excited! :)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Defining Words: Part 3

Here are some great materials for you to try when you are teaching the concept of categorization:  Click on the image to see purchasing information.  

By the way nobody is paying me to tell you this stuff. :)

Category Cut-ups: Relatively inexpensive.  Great for homework.  Gets the kids involved.

Descripto Bingo:  I copied each category in different colored cardstock and got it laminated.  It's a great way to reinforce what has been learned and it's also fun to play with any client. 

Basic Concept & Vocabulary Round-Up: Not only great for categorization but also basic concepts/prepositions.  Nice!  Also has clearly laid-out teaching plans which I quite like. Why re-invent the wheel, right?

Classifying Cards: Oh the possibilities!  Of course you can have the child sort these into piles.  I liked Jenna's idea of using one of these for sorting purposes.  Which One Doesn't Belong? Matching.  Memory.  Go Fish.  Fishing.  Tape them on the wall and use a flashlight to find all the cards in the right category.  Hide them around the room.  

Can't leave LinguiSystems out!  They always have great stuff too.  The pages can be copied for the child to complete or they can be read outloud by the therapist and done orally.  Both gives good practice.  

I  know there are tons of materials out there but these are some of my favorite.  What are yours?

Next time we'll talk about what to teach after categorization.  I'll have another printable for you too! :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Defining Words: Part 2

When I did my student teaching, the speech therapist I worked with was pretty great.  Her name was Jacqueline.  She made sure to pronounce it "Ja-kwa-lynn" with the rounded 'w' in the middle.

Anyway.  She was a smart lady and I learned so much from her.  She made these charts and gave me permission to share, so today I shall do just that!  I like them because they are simple and straightforward, which is what I think these kids with language disorders really need.

I usually start teaching by introducing the concept of categories.  I give them this sheet and we discuss how each category acts as a file of sorts in our brain.  Then most any noun in English can be filed away into a specific file folder.  Imagine how many fun games you can do while teaching this!  The possibilities are quite endless.  I know you guys reading this have a million awesome tricks up your sleeves!
First we practice identifying categories.  I will read a list of 3 or more words and ask the student to tell me the category.  They often need extra help with 'appliances' and 'occupations' and 'vehicles/transportation'.  The app I use for that is "Name that Category" which is from Super Duper for $1.99

Then we practice listing things in categories.  For this I usually use "Let's name things" which is always free from Super Duper.  We also go the other direction and I read them a list of 3 or more objects and they tell me which category it goes to.

I also found this sorting game.  I don't even know who Erin Jackson is but I'll still give her a shout-out.  "Thanks Erin!"

What are your favorite ways to teach this? Next time I'm going to post a bunch of other available materials and apps to use while teaching sorting and categorizing.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Defining Words: Part I

One day I was working with a boy and a girl on describing.  We were describing animals to each other, trying to help the other child guess what animal we were talking about.  This little boy was supposed to be describing a rooster, and....he didn't really know how.  I whispered into his ear, "It says 'cockadoodledoo'".  He turned right around and promptly said, "It says crocodile doo-doo!"  And then I proceeded to laugh.  Really hard.  Couldn't help it.

I love language.  I love teaching language.  I love working with children who struggle with language.  Not only is it highly entertaining, it can also be very rewarding.  I am by no means an expert, but I feel like I have some nifty tricks and materials up my sleeve.  So I thought I would share them with you.

In my experience, when I have a child with language difficulties, they usually also have trouble defining words.  Semantics  in general seem to be a common area of difficulty.  My favorite tests for looking at semantics in detail are the TOSS (There's one for ages 4-8 and one for 9-13) and the LPT-3 (Ages 5-11).  They are both extremely easy to administer, score, and interpret.  They lay it all right out for you very clearly what areas the child particularly struggles with- whether it's labeling/word-finding/vocabulary, giving functions, attributes, or the category.

Join me tomorrow when I share with you how I usually introduce intervention and also a couple of printables. :)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Auditory Verbal Therapy: Part 10

Auditory Verbal Therapy: Part X

Principle X
Promote education in regular classrooms with typical hearing peers and with appropriate support services from early childhood onwards.

We're talking mainstreaming.  Children who are born deaf can definitely be placed in a regular classroom with hearing peers.  This is happening more and more often.  Parents and professionals should plan and prepare for this if they think it is a good fit for the child.  Many children who are born deaf are also born with other challenges such as Down syndrome or cerebral palsy and may require a specialized setting.  Work as a team to figure out what is reasonable.  Teamwork will be necessary.  The team should consist of: the parent, speech therapist, audiologist, classroom teacher, principle, resource teacher, and AV therapist.  Am I missing anybody?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Auditory Verbal Therapy: Part 9

Auditory Verbal Therapy: Part IX

Principle IX
Administer ongoing formal and informal diagnostic assessments to develop individualized Auditory-Verbal treatment plans, to monitor progress, and to evaluate the effectiveness of the plans for the child and family.

Every therapy session should be diagnostic in nature.  This means that the therapist should always be alert to the child's progress and performance in listening, language, and speech.  Standardized tests should always be administered every 6 months.  A great standardized test that looks at listening, language, and speech is the Cottage Acquisition Scale for Listening, Language, and Speech (CASLLS).  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Auditory Verbal Therapy: Part 8

Auditory Verbal Therapy: Part VIII

Principle VIII
Guide and coach parents to help their child self-monitor spoken language through listening.

Parents are encouraged to imitate any noises the child makes.  This can be a very fun game for mom and baby, and it helps develop the auditory feedback loop.  The child needs to have the skills of listening to what other people say, and repeat it.  This then transfers into the child being able to listen to their own speech and modify it.  This strength is crucial to developing proper speech and language skills.  All this from saying, "Goo goo" and "ba ba ba" and "mee mee mee"?  You betcha!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Auditory Verbal Therapy: Part 7

Auditory Verbal Therapy: Part VII

Principle VII
Guide and coach parents to use natural developmental patterns of audition, speech, language, cognition, and communication.

I think the key word here is expectations.  Parents need to understand that children follow a developmental sequence with regards to language, cognition, and speech.  The child needs to continue on that developmental path.  We can't skip steps.  We can certainly move through them more quickly, and we hope to catch them up to their peers, but there are no shortcuts.

 Another key concept is hearing age.  We have to take into account how long the child has been hearing.  AN important thing to understand is that listening and speech develop together - not separately.  This article is my favorite reference for further discussion on these important concepts.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Auditory Verbal Therapy: Part 6

Auditory Verbal Therapy: Part VI

Principle VI
Guide and coach parents to help their child integrate listening and spoken language into all aspects of the child's life.

Children born with hearing loss, especially if it is amplified late, are not natural listeners.  It needs to become a habit.  And habits can be taught!  Parents need to learn how to take advantage of everyday listening moments and capitalize on them.  For example, the mom and baby are playing with blocks and the doorbell rings. She could just get up and go answer the door, but she would be missing out on a great learning opportunity.  Mom should sit up straight and announce, "I heard something!" and point to her ear.  She is teaching the child to notice sounds as they occur around her.  She is also teaching her that sounds go through the ear/hearing aid/implant thus teaching the child the importance of the device that they wear and its connection with noises. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Auditory Verbal Therapy: Part 5

Auditory Verbal Therapy: Part V

Principle V
Guide and coach parents to create environments that support listening for the acquisition of spoken language throughout the child's daily activities.

Dishwashers are loud.  So are air conditioners and fans and fish tanks and lights and washing machines.  A house can be a loud and distracting place, especially for a child with a hearing loss.  They need to hear conversations happening around them in order to learn language, and background noise makes that so much more difficult.  Therefore a big part of AV therapy is educating parents to be more aware of the noises that surround them and convince them how important it is to reduce it as much as possible.  Run the dishwasher at night.  Same with the dryer and washer.  If your lights hum (like the ones in my kitchen - so obnoxious) then just leave them off.  Classrooms are a totally different story but most teachers are open to trying whatever they can to help the classroom be a quieter place.  After all, it improves learning for all children, not just the ones with hearing loss (Nelson, Soli 2000).

Friday, August 10, 2012

Auditory Verbal Therapy: Part 4

Auditory Verbal Therapy: Part IV

Principle IV
Guide and coach parents to become the primary facilitators of their child's listening and spoken language development through active, consistent participation in individualized Auditory-Verbal therapy.

Auditory Verbal Therapy is a big commitment for the whole family.  Most therapists I know have a serious discussion with the parents before they start therapy in order to make sure that they know it will require lots of time and effort. Still, most parents I've met are happy to be involved and learn more.  They feel validated to know that lots of the things they are doing at home already (reading books, singing songs, telling stories) are providing necessary foundations for their child's learning.  They just need to be taught some strategies and skills to use along with those activities that can help strengthen specific skills such as: listening, articulation, auditory memory, sequencing, categorizing, and many more.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Auditory Verbal Therapy: Part 3

Auditory Verbal Therapy: Part III

Principle III
Guide and coach parents to help their child use hearing as the primary sensory modality in developing spoken language without the use of sign language or emphasis on lipreading.

This might be a therapist or a mom, but whoever it is they are doing it right!  She knows to talk next to but not in front of the child.  She is optimizing listening and inhibiting visual cues.

Guiding, coaching and teaching parents is a big deal.  In fact, my experience with AVT has really helped me realize the power of empowering parents in any type of therapy. Who knows the child the best?  Who spends the most time with them?  Who wants what is best for them?  Who has hopes and dreams for this child?  The PARENTS.  Therefore they are the center of AVT.  When the parents feel knowledgeable and confident, the child's is more successful and the parents no longer feel like helpless bystanders.  The importance of this is reflected in the fact that principles 4-8 also revolve around coaching the parents.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Auditory Verbal Therapy: Part 2

Principle II
Recommend immediate assessment and use of appropriate, state-of-the-art hearing technology to obtain maximum benefits of auditory stimulation.

A child born with a hearing loss should be fitted for hearing aids as soon as possible to receive auditory stimulation.  The early years are the most crucial.  The first 3 1/2 years of life are when neuroplasticity is at its greatest, meaning the brain is the most adaptable.  The younger the child, the more adaptable the brain and the easier it will be for them to learn to listen and talk.  Therefore, the older the child, the more difficult it is because the auditory centers of the brain have begun to reorganize themselves. (Sharma et al., 2002; 2004; Sharma, Dorman, and Kral, 2005).

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Auditory Verbal Therapy: Part 1

Principle I
Promote early diagnosis of hearing loss in newborns, infants, toddlers, and children, followed by immediate audiologic management and Auditory-Verbal Therapy.

Most states have implemented a newborn hearing screening program in which many types of hearing loss can be detected.  We need to ensure that when a child is identified with a hearing loss, the family is educated regarding all of their options and that appropriate follow-up is established.  A child can be fitted with a hearing aid as early as one month: the time it takes for a complete audiological exam, molds to be made, and the hearing aid to be ready for the child.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Auditory Verbal Therapy Series: Introduction

Fact:  90-95% of children with hearing loss are born to hearing parents (Mitchell & Karchmer, 2004).  This fact means that most parents who have a child with hearing loss don't know any sign language and would like their child to learn to listen and use spoken language.  With today's technology that is possible!  Which means many parents are choosing Auditory Verbal Therapy because the possibilities that it provides most closely match their hopes and dreams for their child.  I've decided to do a series on the principles of Auditory Verbal Therapy because it is still a relatively unknown area.  I studied these principles very closely in college and someday would like to become one of the current 600 Listening and Spoken Language Specialists.  It's quite the process but I'll get there eventually!  
Join me tomorrow as I discuss Principle I of Auditory Verbal Therapy! 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fun Fact Friday

Did you know that by the 20th week of gestation a baby's cochlea is fully formed?  That means by the time a child is born they already have 20 (ish) weeks of hearing experience!  That's why they show preference towards their mother's voices at such a young age.  It's also why it's so important to get a child fitted with hearing aids as soon as possible once a hearing loss is detected.  They're already 20 weeks behind so it's important to act quickly if you want your child to develop age-appropriate listening and speaking skills.

Blog Awards are Going 'Round

I feel like this might be some online version of a chain letter.  But I'm still going to do it because I like the idea of networking with other speech bloggers.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't want other people to read my blog!  It's very validating and my main purpose is to educate so I need the word to spread.  Thanks to Amy over at Miss Thrifty SLP who nominated me for these two blogger awards and I'll take 'em!  


For receiving these awards I must...

1. Follow the person who gave me the award
2. Link back 
3. Thank the blogger who nominated me 
4. Include the award image in my post
5. Give 7 random facts about myself
 6. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award
7. When nominating, include a link to the blog
8. Let other bloggers know they've been nominated

15 Nominees:

Talk It Up
Apraxia Adventures
The Speech Ladies
If Only I Had Super Powers
Dysphagia Ramblings
Heather Speech Therapy
Heather's Heart
The Dynamic Duo
The Learning Curve
Chapel Hill Snippets
Crazy Speech World
Cochlear Kids
The Teaching Studio
Teaching 2 and 3 year olds
A Year of Reading

7 Random Facts About Me:
1) I want to be a college professor some day
2) My favorite movie is Anne of Green Gables
3) My favorite actor is Kirk Cameron
4) I met my husband when I was 15
5) Then I moved to Massachusetts
6) We emailed each other for 3 years while we were miles apart
7) We now have been married for 6 years and we have 2 boys.