A study in the June 11, 2014 issue of the Journal of Children and Media reported that having the TV on while playing with children can negatively impact their language development. When the television was on during play time, parents used significantly less words and phrases. Even if the family was not actively watching the TV, just having it on in the background influenced parent-child interactions.
In my early intervention practice, I often discuss TV time with families. I have seen the speech and language skills of children increase significantly when parents reduce the amount of time children are exposed to the television during the day. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV or screen time for children aged 24 months or younger. This can be difficult with all of the television programs and electronic games available for families, but the priority for parents should be their child’s development.
Most children begin sharing with their caregivers when they are between 9-12 months of age. They begin taking turns with peers around 24-30 months and sharing between 36-42 months.
When you have siblings at home or your child often plays with others, however, it can be frustrating to watch them struggle with learning to share and take turns. A beginning skill to work on is trading toys. That way, your child still has to give their toy away but still gets a toy. Another method is to take turns with puzzles and toys such as Mr. Potato Head so that that there is a visual end to the activity. Giving your child the final turn allows them a feeling of accomplishment. I do this often during my sessions with my speech therapy clients and have had great success.
Children with sensory impairment can sometimes be overwhelmed by both visual and auditory input. This can limit their ability to enjoy activities that other children participate in, such as a trip to the Denver Children’s Museum. In order to help children with sensory impairment, the museum will be hosting free low-sensory mornings on September 6 and November 8. They will limit the ambient noise and attendance. For more information, visit their Low-Sensory Morning information page.
The Wow! World of Wonder Children’s Museum in located in Lafayette, CO and has wonderful exhibits and activities for families and children to enjoy together. I recommend the Language and Movement class, which teaches early learning skills through multiple senses. It’s also a great opportunity for children to practice their social skills in a comfortable environment. Wow! changes their exhibits every once in awhile, so keep an eye out for new learning opportunities throughout the year.
Ear Community is a non-profit organization serving children and their families who were born with hearing loss due to Microtia and Atresia, Hemifacial Microsomia, Treacher Collins Syndrome, and Goldenhar Syndrome. They provide information about each of these syndromes, as well as different levels of hearing loss. Ear Community has a local chapter, The Microtia and Atresia Support Group. In my early intervention practice, I share this information with my clients who have hearing loss or one of these disorders.
On June 12, 2014, the Colorado Children’s Hospital will be hosting an event to help parents with potty training. The seminar will run from 6:45 – 8:15 pm and be held at the Denver Zoo’s Norgren Hall. Potty training is difficult for many parents and the experts at Children’s Hospital are a great resource. Please follow this link to learn more and register.
May 11th is Mother’s Day and many families ask me for speech related activities they can do as part of the celebration. My favorite is to have your child practice writing their name on a card. Also, drawing lines and circles is a necessary skill for preschoolers so you could also focus on trying to draw a portrait of Mom for the big day.
Have a wonderful Mother’s Day!
Baby Banz Ear Muffs offers a variety of hearing protection for babies and children.
Our ears are very sensitive and contain the smallest bones in the body. Prolonged exposure to loud noise or exposure to a short intense sound, such as firecrackers, can damage hearing. It is important to begin protecting your child’s hearing when they’re young and to teach them how to protect their hearing as they get older. Hearing protection, such as earplugs and earmuffs, should be used during extended loud activities such as on airplanes, at concerts, and riding motorcycles.
Some loud toys can also impact hearing. Every November, the Sight and Hearing Association posts a list of toys that could negatively impact your child’s hearing. Be sure to check this before shopping for the holidays!
In general, sounds louder than 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. The Center for Hearing and Communication has a fact sheet that explains common environmental noise levels, so use this as a guide for when to utilize ear plugs and ear muffs.
As an early intervention speech language pathologist, I utilize sign language with many of my clients. Research shows that babies with normal hearing who were exposed to sign language demonstrated a four year old speaking level at the age of three. For children with speech and language delays, sign language may help them begin to gain the communication skills necessary to reach their typical developmental levels. Sign language sparks the language part of the brain and demonstrates to children that they can use words and language to get their needs met and express emotions. Over time, most children begin using speech instead of signs because speech is more functional outside of the home. If you’re considering using signs with your child, please see the Further Information page on this site for links to excellent resources.
In my early intervention practice, many of my clients struggle with their vocabulary development. Instead of using words to ask for what they want, children will grunt or say “uh” while pointing to request. This can be frustrating for both the child and their parents so I instruct families to name what a child points to and encourage the child to use the word. Using this method helps children gain the new vocabulary words as well as teaching them to use words when requesting.
A BBC news article recently highlighted the benefits of early intervention speech therapy. Research published in the Journal of Neuroscience studied the importance of language intervention between the ages of two and four since the brain is most elastic and has a greater capacity for positive response to speech therapy.
In early intervention, I encourage parents to participate in as many library activities as possible and to read books with their children. Children with speech-language developmental delays benefit greatly from exposure to books.
The Boulder county library system offers story times and suggested book lists. The librarians in the children’s section are helpful and friendly, answering almost any question. Computers are available for library patrons to use and the libraries have areas for children to play and become comfortable in the library. I suggest enjoying the library as often as possible!
Most children gain sounds in their speech in a typical sequence. There are also typical errors that we expect children to make as they develop their speech, though we expect these errors to resolve as a child ages.
Until the age of three, typically developing children may do the following:
- Repeat the initial syllable of a word twice, such as “baba” for “bottle.”
- Substitute the sounds /t/ and /d/ for the sounds /g/ and /k/. For example, they may say “tat” for “cat” or “dot” for “got.”
- A consonant in a word may influence another, such as saying “beb” for “bed.”
- Leave off the last consonant, including “co” for “coat” or “ba” for “bat.”
- Delete the unstressed syllable in a multi-syllable word, such as “mic-phone” for “microphone.”
Until the age of seven, a child may produce the following errors:
- Deleting a consonant in a cluster, such as “boo” for “blue” or “fas” for “fast.”
- Substituting /w/ for /l/ and /r/, such as “wight” for “light.”
- Replacing consonants with vowels, including “boyd” for “bird.”
- Inserting or misplacing vowels in words, such as “taruck” for “truck.”
- Substituting /t/ for /s/, /ch/, /f/, and /sh/, for example “bot” for “boss.”
If these mispronunciations continue past the typical age limits, a speech-language pathologist may be required to treat these articulation errors.
In the Early Intervention program, when a child nears the age of three they participate in a transition evaluation. A team consisting of a speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, and special educator evaluate the child’s current level of development. Any current therapists working with the family also submit reports to aid the transition team. If a child has a delay, they may qualify for preschool services provided by the county.
Depending on the preschool, a child may go 2-5 days/week for about 3 hours/day. While at school, the child will be taught by a special educator and receive appropriate therapies throughout the school day. I often suggest to families that they take advantage of preschool services if they’re offered because, besides the services provided, their child will have more opportunities to interact with peers and develop age-appropriate skills such as counting, pretend play, and following directions.
Four AMC theaters in the Denver area offer an opportunity for children with sensory processing disorders and their families to enjoy going to the movies in a comfortable and friendly environment. During the movie, the lights do not dim and the sounds are turned down. The kids are welcome to walk around, talk, or dance during the movie so that they stay relaxed and can fully enjoy the experience without crying, kicking, or needing to be removed from the theater. This also gives parents a chance to take their child with sensory processing disorder to a public, child-friendly situation without being concerned about having to cut the activity or trip short. As an early intervention speech therapist, many of my clients struggle with sensory processing disorders and I suggest going to these movies as a fun family activity, particularly when these summer days get so hot!
When a parent in the Boulder County area becomes concerned about their child’s development, they contact Imagine! family services. If a child qualifies for services after an evaluation, Imagine! finds an appropriate speech, occupational, physical, or behavioral therapist for the child. Services focus on family needs and are provided in the child’s home. I contract with Imagine!, which allows me to work with families in Boulder County.
Some children I work with in my early intervention practice struggle to relate to the picture books I bring. One solution is to use the website I See Me! Personalized Children’s Books to create books your child will enjoy. One I’ve seen is to make a book that teaches the ABC’s through familiar pictures. For example, if your child enjoys playing with and watching insects you could use “A” for “Ant,” “B” for “Bee,” etc. This services also allows you to add in pictures of familiar people, so a sibling could be holding an Ant. The website has some suggestions for books, as well as premade books to personalize.
Kids love to color, whether it’s in a coloring book, on blank pages, or with chalk on the sidewalk. During my early intervention sessions, I use coloring to work on new concepts. Coloring is a great way to teach more vocabulary by giving children choices, such as “Should I draw a house or a car?”. You can also teach colors, shapes, and letters by modeling them on paper. You can find some printable coloring pages at Crayola’s website as well as PBS kids.
As a speech-language pathologist, my main goal is to help children develop their language skills. One great way to do this is through use of open-ended questions. An open-ended question allows a child to use more than a yes/no answer to communicate. For example, “What do you want to do?” provides children to think of their own ideas, practice vocabulary, share specific thoughts, and be creative. Asking “Do you want to draw?” allows a child to only say yes or no, instead of giving them an opportunity to be so creative and independent.