10150645_644696168901058_8504921901197776998_nEar 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.

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Children’s Hospital Potty Training Seminar

Picture_11On 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.

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Mother’s Day Activities

MomMay 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!

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Vocabulary Development

mom-talking-to-toddler-girlIn 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.

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Brain Development and Early Intervention

_67373987_09f1654a-e583-4b5f-bfc4-f05850c6d3ceA 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.

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Identify the Signs of a Speech Language Delay

ASHA_Identify-the-Signs_Mouth-Banner-Ad ASHA_Identify-the-Signs_Mouth-Banner-Adimages ASHA_Identify-the-Signs_Mouth-Banner-AdThe American Speech-Language-Hearing Association recently began a new campaign called Identify the Signs. The organization developed a website with information for families and caregivers to learn more about the signs for a speech and language delay as well as steps to take towards gaining help. Early intervention is a wonderful service for children identified as needing help with their development and Identify the Signs helps educate people about all of their options.

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Boulder County Public Library

bplIn 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!

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Phonological Disorders

e2a41af29b73d44820c90acac32508ee 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.

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Preschool Transition

Preschool 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.

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Sensory Friendly Films

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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!

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Imagine! Family Services

EarlyInterventionWhen 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.

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Personalized Picture Books

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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.

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Coloring to Encourage Speech

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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.

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Open-Ended Questions

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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.

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Colorado Home Intervention Program

The Colorado Home Intervention Program (CHIP) is run by the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind and provides early intervention services for children with hearing loss. Parent facilitators work with families on learning about hearing loss — the causes, mechanics, impact on development, treatment options, and how to support the child in the home. A facilitator may be a special educator, a speech-language pathologist, or another individual with expertise and training to work with families of children with hearing loss.

One of the services CHIP provides is a detailed assessment of the child’s development in speech and language, play, social-emotional, auditory, and motor skills. This gives the family and providers guidance to develop goals and treatment tools.

If your child has a hearing loss and is under the age of three, be sure to ask your doctor about CHIP to become a participant and receive assistance from a family facilitator.

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What are Picture Schedules?

In my early intervention practice, I work with a number of children who struggle with transitions, following directions, and sticking to routines.

A picture schedule involves using a drawing or photo of activities and placing them in order of the day’s routine. This helps a child prepare for what comes next in the day, reducing stress about transitions. For a child who struggles with waiting for an activity to end, a picture schedule provides a guide for what to look forward to after completing an undesired task.

Picture schedules are commonly used in preschool classrooms to help all of the children stay on task and follow routines. Children with Autism, cognitive delays, and some genetic disorders might also use these schedules as a way to decrease negative behaviors due to anxiety or cognitive delays that impact understanding of “first, then.”

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Library Activities for Socialization

From a young age, it is important for children to interact with their peers. When a child has a speech and language disability, this can be a struggle due to difficulty with conversations or parent stress regarding social situations. Luckily, our area has a number of wonderful libraries that offer low stress and fun activities for children to play with other kids their age.

The Boulder Public Library has opportunities such as storytime and songs and rhyming group activities. Participating in these classes exposes children to new books, playing with peers, and learning preschool skills such as rhyming and following directions.

Anythink libraries offer a variety of activities, such as Toddler Tales, Music and Movement, and Explore on the Floor. You can find the most recent schedule on their calendar of events. Most of these classes involve music and all offer opportunities for early literacy. Teaching children to participate in routines, take turns, and share are all a big part of these groups.

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Facial Expressions

When talking to your child, it is important to match your facial expression to your message. For example, when scolding your son or daughter, be sure to look upset. When celebrating, show your child a big smile. It is also important to name both you and your child’s emotions so that he or she can learn the appropriate words to communicate their feelings to others.  Being able to label their emotions can help a child communicate their needs and feelings with others and can ease some social interactions.

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December Book of the Month

In my sessions with my early intervention clients, I like to use books that reflect what’s happening outside so that a child can relate. The Mitten by Jan Brett is a perfect book for wintertime. A child can learn animal sounds when reading this book, learn big versus little, and understand cause and effect.

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PBS Bookfinder

Bookfinder by PBS Parents allows you to search for books by age, topic, and keyword. I use it to find books around holidays and seasons, so that the children I see in early intervention with can relate to the books and, thus, learn new vocabulary. In my speech language pathology practice, most of the children I see in early intervention enjoy books about trucks, animals, and toys. Reading these books consistently and repeatedly helps children learn new vocabulary.

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