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“Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.” 
- Brian Tracy


Speech-Language News

June 2017


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Fathers




As we draw close to Father’s Day this year, I’m reminded of just how important they truly are. Throughout history, social scientists have long ignored fathers, focusing instead on mothers as the significant figure in infant development (Fathers, Ross D. Parke). However, as research explores this area, we see just how truly valuable fathers are to our students.

How? Let’s explore some of the research (and there’s A LOT of it):

Social Development:
Father involvement is positively linked to a child’s overall social competence, social initiative, social maturity, and capacity for relatedness with others (Amato, 1987; Forehand & Nousiainen, 1993; Gottfried et al., 1988; Krampe & Fairweather, 1993; Mischel et al., 1988; Parke, 1996; Snarey, 1993; Stolz, Barber, & Olsen, 2005).
Children of involved fathers are more likely to have positive peer relations and be popular and well liked. Their peer relations are typified by less negativity, less aggression, less conflict, more reciprocity, more generosity, and more positive friendship qualities (Hooven, Gottman, & Katz, 1995; Lieberman, Doyle, & Markiewicz, 1999; Lindsey, Moffett, Clawson, & Mize, 1994; Macdonald & Parke, 1984; Rutherford & Mussen, 1968; Youngblade and Belsky, 1992).
Adolescents who are securely attached to their fathers report less conflict in their interactions with peers (Ducharme, Doyle, & Markiewicz, 2002).

Emotional Development:
Infants whose fathers are involved in their care are more likely to be securely attached to them, (Cox, Owen, Henderson, & Margand, 1992), be better able to handle strange situations, be more resilient in the face of stressful situations (Kotelchuck, 1976; Parke & Swain, 1975), be more curious and eager to explore the environment, relate more maturely to strangers, react more competently to complex and novel stimuli, and be more trusting in branching out in their explorations (Biller, 1993; Parke & Swain, 1975; Pruett, 1997).
Father involvement is positively correlated with children’s overall life satisfaction and their experience of less depression (Dubowitz et al., 2001; Field, Lang, Yando, & Bendell, 1995; Formoso, Gonzales, Barrera, & Dumka, 2007; Furstenberg & Harris, 1993; Zimmerman, Salem, & Maton, 1995), less emotional distress (Harris et al., 1998), less expressions of negative emotionality such as fear and guilt (Easterbrooks & Goldberg, 1990), less conduct problems (Formoso et al., 2007), less psychological distress (Flouri, 2005), greater sense of social competence (Dubowitz et al., 2001), higher levels of self-reported happiness (Flouri, 2005), fewer anxiety symptoms, and lower neuroticism (Jorm, Dear, Rogers, & Christensen, 2003).

Cognitive Development:
Infants of highly involved fathers, as measured by amount of interaction, including higher levels of play and caregiving activities, are more cognitively competent at 6 months and score higher on the Bayley Scales of Infant Development (Pedersen, Rubinstein, & Yarrow, 1979; Pedersen, Anderson, & Kain, 1980). By one year they continue to have higher cognitive functioning (Nugent, 1991), are better problem solvers as toddlers (Easterbrooks & Goldberg, 1984), and have higher IQ’s by age three (Yogman, Kindlan, & Earls, 1995).
School aged children of involved fathers are also better academic achievers. They are more likely to get A’s (National Center for Education Statistics, 1997; Nord & West, 2001), have better quantitative and verbal skills (Bing, 1963;2Goldstein, 1982; Radin, 1982), have higher grade point averages, get betterachievement test scores, receive superior grades, perform a year above their expected age level on academic tests, obtain higher scores on reading achievement, or learn more and perform better in school (Astone & McLanahan, 1991; Blanchard & Biller, 1971; Cooksey & Fondell, 1996; Feldman & Wentzel, 1990; Gadsen & Ray, 2003; Goldstein, 1982; Gottfried, Gottfried, & Bathurst, 1988; Howard, Lefever, Borkowski, & Whitman, 2006; McBride et al., 2005; McBride, Schoppe-Sullivan, & 2005; National Center for Education Statistics, 1997; Shinn, 1978; Snarey 1993; Wentzel & Feldman, 1993). Children of involved fathers are also more likely to live in cognitively stimulating homes (William, 1997). A father’s academic support was positively related to adolescent boys’ academic motivation to try hard in school, feel their grades were important, and to place a high value on education (Alfaro, Umana-Taylor, & Bamaca, 2006).

What’s more, studies have shown fathers to have a direct impact on language development.

Language Development:
When compared with mothers, fathers’ talk with toddlers is characterized by more wh- (e.g. “what”, where” etc.) questions, which requires children to assume more communicative responsibility in the interaction. This encouraged toddlers to talk more, use more diverse vocabulary, and produce longer utterances when interacting with their fathers (Rowe, Cocker, & Pan, 2004).
School aged children of involved fathers have better quantitative and verbal skills (Bing, 1963).
And this study: Child characteristics, as well as mother education and vocabulary, father education and father vocabulary during the picture-book task were related to more advanced language development at both 15 and 36 months of age. These findings support the growing evidence on the importance of fathers in understanding children’s early communication and language development

This post is not intended to make single moms or anyone raised by a single mom feel bad. In her book, For Better or For Worse, psychologist E. Mavis Hetherington writes about how most children from single parent homes turn out just fine.However, working directly with child language development, we cannot ignore the positive impact fathers make on our students.

Working in the schools, it can sometimes be easy for me to communicate solely with mom. However, as professionals, we need to be making efforts to reach out to our fathers as well.

Here are some ways:
Include fathers on progress updates, communication, conferences and IEP meetings.
If parents are divorced, ask the parent with custody if it is alright to include the other parent.
Give a handout of the language research above and encourage fathers to read and talk with children.

Our children need their dads, which means we need them as well.

May 2017

NEWS


better hearing and speech month


May might welcome spring flowers but it also ushers in Better Hearing and Speech Month. Every May for the past 75 years, speech pathologists and audiologists are tasked with advocacy and education. 


In the field of communication disorders, public knowledge can lead to early diagnosis, better referrals or even prevention. Because speech pathology and audiology are so broad and encompass the age-span, there is no shortage of information to communicate to the public. Just like doctors make recommendations for athletes to prevent sports injuries, SLPs can prevent some speech and hearing disorders. Consider the number of parents, for example, who could prevent hearing loss in children with better education about the effects of iPod headphones or speaker volume at concerts. Consider also the number of pediatricians who might benefit from education about when to refer a child to speech therapy.


"Listen To Your Buds"

Noise-induced hearing loss is completely preventable. Unfortunately, hearing loss is growing more common in younger and younger segments of America's population. At the same time, personal audio technology use in on the rise—in even the smallest of children. Consider the following:

  • 75% of kids ages 8 and under have access to a smart mobile device at home, up from 52% in 2011.
  • Almost 40% of children under 2 have used a mobile device, up from 10% 2 years ago.
  • One in six adolescents has high-frequency hearing loss, which is typically noise related and preventable.
  • Despite this, more than 96% of parents believe their child is either not at risk or only slightly at risk of developing hearing problems from excessive noise. Almost 70% have not spoken with their child about noise exposure, mainly because of perceived low risk.

The Buds want all kids to enjoy their technology, but to do so safely. It couldn't be easier with these simple steps:

  1. Keep the Volume Down. A good guide is half volume.
  2. Limit Listening Time. Give your hearing "quiet breaks."
  3. Talk to Your Kids. Discuss and model safe listening habits.

In addition to practicing preventative safe listening habits, parents need to learn the early signs of hearing loss in kids. These are not always easy to spot, and many parents are not looking for them. Early detection of hearing loss in children is critical, as hearing problems that are left untreated can result in academic, social, and other difficulties. For more information about early signs and treatment options, visit ASHA's new early detection initiative, Identify the Signs, at http://identifythesigns.org/.


April 2017

NEWS

Helping Your Child 


Slow Processing Speed and Anxiety: What You Need to Know 

By The Understood Team

At a Glance

  • Kids with slow processing speed often feel anxious.
  • Sometimes those feelings lead to chronic anxiety disorder.
  • There are ways you can help lessen your child’s anxiety.

Most kids with learning and attention issues face situations that make them feel anxious. Often, these situations involve their weakness. For a child with dyslexia, it might be reading out loud in class. For a child with dysgraphia, it might be writing a book report.

But for kids with slow processing speed, anxious moments can pop up throughout the day, and without warning. That’s because their processing speed issues can impact everything from taking tests to talking with friends. And in some cases, the frequent anxiety turns into an anxiety disorder.

Here’s what you need to know about the connection between slow processing speed and anxiety, and how you can help your child.

How Anxiety and Slow Processing Speed Fuel Each Other

When any of us feel anxious, we freeze for a moment. During that time, we’re not processing information as fast as we might otherwise be. We may take longer to respond, make decisions or size up situations.

That’s how anxiety can impact processing speed. But slow processing speed can also create feelings of anxiety.

Imagine a child sitting in class, taking a test. She sees her classmates moving quickly from problem to problem, while she trails behind.

That situation might create a lot of anxiety in the moment. It might even make her feel anxious before the next test. But the more anxious she becomes, the slower she gets.

It can be hard, then, to tell where the anxiety stops and the slow processing speed begins.

Why Kids With Slow Processing Speed Can Feel Blindsided

If a child has a learning issue in one area, like math, it can be easier for her to know when she’ll get anxious. She might get stressed out every Friday morning before the weekly math test, for instance.

But a child with slow processing speed can be blindsided by many different situations where she suddenly can’t keep up. She might be having a conversation with her coach, for instance, and miss the end of what he’s saying.

If the teacher calls on her during a group discussion in class, she might take longer to respond than the other kids. The two extra seconds it takes her to answer can feel like a year—especially when her classmates are looking at her.

It can happen in social situations, too. She may have trouble keeping up with what’s going on in her group of friends. Or she might not do something her friends were expecting her to do because she wasn’t quick enough to process it.

Slow processing speed can also put kids in risky situations. A teen might go with her friends to a party, and not pick up on the fact that they plan to drink alcohol there. Once she’s there and realizes that, she may start feeling anxious because she’s in a situation she doesn’t want to be in. But she also might not be able to come up with a way to get out of it.

Why Kids With Slow Processing Speed Can Feel “Unreliable” to Themselves

Kids with slow processing speed may not always realize how, or when, their issues are impacting them. That’s especially true if they haven’t been evaluated and diagnosed.

Subconsciously, they know they can count on themselves to do certain things successfully. They don’t worry about whether they can organize their backpack, play soccer or read two chapters in their history book—they just do it.

But suddenly they run into trouble doing something. Now, subconsciously, they may feel like they can’t rely on themselves. Why, if they can do so much without a problem, are they suddenly struggling?

Often kids with slow processing speed have the sense they’re a step behind everyone else. And that feeling, too, can create anxiety.

Chronic Anxiety and Slow Processing Speed

For some kids, the anxiety created by slow processing speed is contained to certain situations. But for a surprising number of them, it turns into a bigger problem. Kids may develop a chronic anxiety disorder that extends to multiple situations and areas of their lives.

When that happens, it’s important to seek professional treatment. Therapy can be very effective. Sometimes anxiety medication can also help.

How to Help With Slow Processing Speed and Anxiety

Slow processing speed can be a hidden issue. Parents and kids often don’t talk about it together, and others won’t always notice the problems or pay much attention to it.

That leaves kids internalizing their struggles rather than sharing them and self-advocatingfor the support they need. The end result: They feel like something is wrong with them, and nobody understands.

Anxiety is something kids may hold inside and not talk about. They may be hyperaware of their emotional struggles without talking about them. That can make them feel like they’re an island.

Here are some things you can do to minimize the anxiety your child may be feeling:

Reflect on your actions. You might unknowingly be doing things that increase your child’s anxiety. If you find yourself telling your child to hurry up, recognize that feeling rushed may make her feel anxious.

Be aware of your own processing speed. It can be a big challenge when a parent’s processing speed is fast while the child’s is slow. It’s important to recognize and respect the fact that there’s no right or wrong speed—just differences in how you each operate.

Acknowledge the anxiety. Calling attention to it can help your child identify her feelings—the first step toward managing them. You can say something like, “I remember before last week’s vocabulary test, you felt really nervous. Do you feel that now?”

Acknowledge the impact on the family. Your child’s slow processing speed can affect the whole family. If she’s always the last one to finish dinner or the last one out the door, family members may get frustrated or impatient with her. Talking openly about why that happens can decrease resentment and encourage everyone to support and help your child.

Build an awareness of time. You can help your child build awareness of the concept of time by including references to it in everyday conversation. You might say things like, “Grandma is coming in two hours” or “It only took you 10 minutes to clean your room.”

Build in extra time. If you know your child takes longer to do things, adjust her timetable (and yours) to accommodate that. If it’s her turn to unload the dishwasher, for instance, don’t wait until five minutes before dinner to remind her. Together, choose a time for her to start homework so she’ll be able to finish with enough time to relax before bed.

Rehearse things she can say to others. Because her issues aren’t always obvious, your child may have trouble knowing how to explain them and ask for help. Discuss and practice ways she can talk about her challenges to teachers, peers and family. For instance, she might tell a teacher: “I sometimes need more time to do my classwork. Can I take this worksheet home and finish it tonight?”

Regroup to discuss negative episodes. Your child’s anxiety may make you anxious, too. Sometimes that can lead to overly emotional interactions. After you both calm down, regroup and talk about what happened. Acknowledge how upsetting it was, and discuss ways you can work together to keep it from happening again.

Watch for signs of chronic anxiety. These can include physical, emotional and behavioral signs. Understand the different ways younger kids and tweens and teens show anxiety.

Consider treatment for anxiety. If your child’s anxiety gets in the way of her daily functioning, it’s important to seek help. Start by talking to her doctor about treatment options. These may include therapy and sometimes medication.

Understanding the link between anxiety and slow processing speed is the first step to getting your child help. But showing empathy is key to helping her recognize and manage her anxiety. It also lets her know she’s not alone, and that you’re there to support her. Bringing her struggles out into the open can also help her build vital self-advocacy skills.

Key Takeaways

  • Slow processing speed and anxiety can fuel each other.
  • Therapy and medication are two possible treatments for chronic anxiety.
  • Understanding and acknowledging your child’s issues can reduce anxiety.


March 2017


February 2017

Dads Matter! 5 Bonding Tips for Fathers and Their Child with Special Needs

A father’s role in a special needs family is crucial. Not only are they a component of the family’s financial security, but fathers also play a vital, foundational role in the mental and physical development of their children with special needs. Dads offer a uniquely male style of play and interaction with their children and, especially for kids with special needs, it empowers and encourages them in very special ways. Like other kids, those with special needs thrive when they have access to both strong female and male role models.

Dad’s Critical Role in Raising a Child with Special Needs

Men sometimes have difficulty facing and discussing things they can’t change or fix. The typical solution oriented man may sometimes feel powerless and less competent when he realizes he simply can’t do anything to eliminate the challenges and issues faced by his child with special needs.

Some men find it difficult to handle the emotional aspect of raising a child with a disability. These fathers often focus on long-term obstacles, such as financial planning and other practical details, while the mothers typically respond emotionally as they face the challenges associated with daily care for the child. The fathers tend to push their tender emotions away, sometimes expressing anger or frustration when they do show emotion. But, dads must, instead, accept this helplessness and focus on discovering what they can do to give the best life experiences possible to their children with special needs.

Many men have discovered the countless joys they experience by becoming actively involved in raising and caring for their special children. The bond between a father and any child — special needs or not — is critical in that it impacts the development of the child’s social, emotional, cognitive, and motor skills.

Stay away from isolation

Whether you’re raising your child with your spouse or as a single father, you play a vital role as a positive and loving male role model in the life of your child. Don’t isolate yourself when it comes to dealing with the many challenges that arise out of raising your special child. Find a support group that meets regularly, so you can interact with other fathers who face the same challenges you do.

You can share stories and helpful solutions to problems with likeminded parents, while also enjoying much-needed social interaction and networking. Talking to other fathers in this way can help you acknowledge and face your own needs. This better equips you to work through your own emotions and frustrations as a parent.

Five Ways to Bond With Your Child with Special Needs

Bonding Tips for Fathers and their Child with Special Needs

After you’ve built a support network of other parents dealing with the same challenges you deal with, it’s important that you work to actively deepen and maintain the bond with your child. Consider these tips for bonding with your child from the very beginning:

1. Physical bonding.

Infants bond via smell and touch. Mothers achieve this bond naturally through breastfeeding and cuddling. Fathers can bond this way too. Cuddle your baby on your bare chest while
he or she is wearing only a diaper. Research shows this type of contact can help initiate strong feelings of closeness and protectiveness toward your child.

2. Accept your grief.

You may have imagined all the things you’ll do with your child and the future you hope to guide him or her toward after birth. But when your special child arrives, the reality of the specialized care needs and considerable challenges your child may have can trigger deep grief and disappointment.

Recognize these feelings and accept them. As you move past this phase, you’ll begin to accept this new reality as the new normal. Remember, you are one of the most important people in the life of your child and you have the ability to provide the necessary support and love to give him or her a happy and fulfilling life.

3. Get actively involved in care.

Help your spouse or partner with the tasks of caring for your child. Change diapers, give baths, help with nighttime feedings. Talk or sing to your child. Continue taking on these evolving tasks as your child grows by taking an increasingly active role in each aspect of care, whenever possible.

4. Set aside special time for interactions and play.

From the very beginning, reserve a special time each day for just you and your child. When your child is an infant, you can read books or take short naps with him or her, while giving your baby the important skin to skin contact. As your child grows, this activity time will evolve to include other things.

5. Be your child’s biggest fan.

Show your child love in concrete ways each day, offering positive praise for tiny victories and encouraging him or her to try new and different things. This sends a powerful message that will show you love and support your child, no matter what may happen.



January 2017


Mothers' early support boosts children's later math achievement

Source:
Society for Research in Child Development

Early math knowledge is as important as early literacy for children's subsequent achievement. In fact, research has shown that early math skills predict later school success better than early reading skills, and can even predict income in adulthood. Yet little research has directly examined how parents' support of early math learning affects children's development of later math skills. Now a new longitudinal study has found that young children whose mothers supported them during play, specifically in their labeling of object quantities, had better math achievement at ages 4-½ and 5 years.


Mothers supported their children's math skills in a variety of ways, helping their children count objects, identify written numbers, or label the size of sets of objects. Children whose parents supported them in labeling quantities of small sets performed better on math tests in preschool than children whose parents didn't support them in this way. These children also did better on addition and subtraction problems as late as first grade.

"Many young children can count from 1 to 10 without understanding the meaning of the numbers they're counting," says Beth Casey, professor emeritus of applied developmental and educational psychology at the Lynch School of Education at Boston College, who led the study. "What may be particularly important at around age 3 is for parents to present their children with small groups of one, two, or three objects, and tell them how many objects there are -- for example, by saying at the grocery store, 'See, there are two apples in our bag.' It's also important for parents to encourage and help children label how many objects there are, for example, by asking, 'Can you give me three cups?' or 'Now that you've counted them, can you tell me how many flowers there are?'"

The authors suggest that helping children learn how to label set sizes may support their development of a crucial concept in math knowledge -- understanding that the last number stated when counting a set of objects represents the quantity of the whole set. Such understanding may provide a foundation for developing more complex number skills.

"Our results suggest that early maternal support of numerical skills may have lasting and strong connections to children's math achievement, at least through first grade, which is three years after mothers were observed," explains Eric Dearing, professor of applied developmental and educational psychology at the Lynch School of Education at Boston College, who was also part of the study. "These connections were strong and persisted even when we ruled out the potential role of demographics -- including mothers' education -- the more general level of learning stimulation mothers provided, and both mothers' and children's intelligence."

December 2016


Concussions: The “Hard” Facts What you need to know about traumatic brain injury By Peter Marincovich, PhD, CCC-A


Identifying various forms of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) — mild, moderate or severe — and understanding the potential causes is everyone’s responsibility. TBI is an important public health issue due to the large number of people who acquire these injuries and their potential longterm effects. Concussions are not just sports-related and can occur from any direct blow to the head or other body part or from a concussive blast that results in impulsive or whiplash-like forces. The CDC estimates that between 1.6 million and 3.8 million concussions, or mild traumatic brain injuries (MTBIs), occur each year. Here are some other important facts about the potential causes of TBI:


WARNING SIGNS: There are some signs you should look out for if you suspect an injury has caused a concussion. If after a traumatic event:

  • You feel dazed n

  • You had a loss of consciousness

  • You see flashing lights

  • You feel like you have lost time

  • You have nausea and/or vomiting

  • You are confused, feel “spacey,” or are not “thinking straight”

  • You feel drowsy, or it is hard to wake up or similar changes

  • You have visual acuity changes

  • You have noticed balance changes

  • You have ringing in your ears

  • You have hearing loss, or your ears feel “full” or “plugged” and sounds seem muffled


Some symptoms may not appear right after the injury. Here are some signs to look out for the next day after a traumatic event:

  • You experience a headache

  • “Everything” is blurry

  • You are having trouble “processing what you see”


Symptoms often are not immediate and may appear a few days after the event:  

  • You have slurred speech

  • You can’t recognize people or places

  • You develop weakness or numbness in arms or legs


NEXT STEPS:

If you think you may have sustained a concussion, the first step is to seek medical attention. In addition, a complete audiology assessment of hearing, balance, tinnitus and communication is necessary. A speech assessment of cognitive-linguistic data; memory; attention; naming and listening comprehension; and visual-perceptual skills is also an integral part of a comprehensive evaluation.


Communication TIPS to use when communicating with an individual with TBI are:

  • Allow them time to express themselves

  • Be specific with questions

  • Speak slowly and clearly

  • Use short sentences

  • Repeat complex sentences when necessary

  • Allow time for them to comprehend

  • Provide both spoken and written instructions and directions when appropriate

  • Communicate in less complex environments both visual and auditory


November 2016


My Daughter’s Speech Therapy Is Breaking My Heart

 A Mother's Love & Augmentative Communication
Adiba Nelson Author, Staff Writer at Ravishly, Burlesque Dancer

Pat on the lap + eye rub = I’m sleepy and I’m ready to cuddle.

Mouth open wide + finger inserted = I’m hungry woman. Feed me NOW.

Right fist to left shoulder + pointing = I love you.

This is our language. Our secret language. Our language of love, formed from my daughter’s need to communicate with me and my need to understand her. It has been the language we speak for the past five years, with American Sign Language, Spanish and English mixed in. But mostly, it’s been our language of love. When she was diagnosed with Bilateral Schizencephaly at 10 months of age, I was told it would impact her production of speech and ability to communicate. I was told she would have some level of mental retardation. I was told this dread and that dread and all I could say was, “Not on my watch.” I drove all over town five days a week so that I could one day give those doctors the finger. I refused to let them place limits on her future before she got to live it. She was my child to guide. And thus, we formed our love language.

2015-03-16-1426481390-6725203-meandematdisney.jpg

As these last five years have gone by, I have watched her excel and shatter every limitation doctors once tried to place on her. We’ve been through just about every therapy under the sun, and if I told you that being dead broke and choosing between diapers and paying a utility bill just so I could have enough gas money to get her to therapy wasn’t worth it, my tongue would fall out for lying. It has been five years since her diagnosis, and she is currently learning to walk independently. She is feeding herself, and imitating sounds and word approximations. What they said she would struggle with, she is knocking out of the park. And I couldn’t be more proud. At therapy, we continue our love language with fist bumps after every successful pincer grasp, elbow bumps after an extended period of unsupported sitting and strutting like peacocks after a stroll around the clinic. She is a superstar in therapy, rarely complaining, and always ending with a pat on my lap and a rub of the eyes. “Mommy, I’m sleepy and I am ready to cuddle.” And of course I oblige — she’s speaking my language.

But I have to tell you, there is a part of me that is unapologetically sad. She is having all of these wonderful, glittering successes, and yet I find myself at the crossroad between being overjoyed and wistful. You see, while she’s been making all of these strides, we’ve managed to hold on to our secret language — gestures and looks, pointing and lap pats. When no one else knows what she is trying to say, I know. When no one else knows what she is asking for, I know. When no one else can figure out why she’s crying, I can. Most of the time, it takes about two seconds, and she knows that if no one else knows her, I know her. But now there’s a communication device. It’s got pictures that correspond to words, and when she presses one this computerized robot voice tells me what she wants. And if I’m being honest, as much as I love it, it’s starting to form the rugged, zig-zag crack at the top of my heart. Now, instead of looking at me and then glancing at the bowl of oranges to tell me she’d like some fruit, there is a button that says “fruit.” Instead of patting my lap and rubbing her eyes to tell me that she’s sleepy and ready for cuddles and bed, there is a button that says “sleep.” This device is granting her so much independence and the ability to speak her mind. It is opening the gateway to conversation for us. It is giving her the skills to one day be able to say “Mom, you’re being a real bitch right now and I wish you’d just go away.” And as much as I dread that day, I also can’t wait for it. I love the fact that my daughter will one day be able to tell a boy he’s cute, or a girl she’s cute, or a boss he’s being a creep, or a teacher that he/she is disproportionately focusing on the role men have played in the civil rights movement. I can’t wait to get the note home that says “your daughter is talking too much in class” (actually, yes I can, but I’m going to assume you know what I mean). However, right now, while she’s 5 years old and learning the motor planning to tell me she’s sleepy or hungry or wants to watch television.

I just want our secret language. I want to hold onto it for all its quirky, silly nuances that only she and I know about. It’s selfish, I know. How dare I want us to keep this little gem of communication we’ve created? How dare I expect her to forgo her own advancement to appease my aching mommy heart? How dare I want my baby to stay my baby forever?

But alas, we didn’t go to every therapy under the sun for nothing. So, I’ll watch her grow, I’ll listen to her punch the buttons and tell me she’s hungry/thirsty/sleepy/anything, and I’ll applaud her as she gives her graduation speech, 13 years from now, on her communication device. But for now, while she’s 5, I’ll hold on to any moment I get to share our secret language. Every sparkly-eyed glance. Every wry smile. Every lap pat and eye rub that says, “Mommy I’m sleepy and I’m ready to cuddle.” Our language doesn’t need a device. It’s ours — glance for glance. And no series of letters strewn together could ever aptly communicate our language of love.

October 2016


Selective Mutism

PA center supports emotional and speech needs of children with SM

Video Produced by ADVANCE




Children who have selective mutism are social and verbal in some situations, like at home around familiar people, but completely mute in other social situations, like at school or in public places. 

Since 2002, the Selective Mutism Anxiety Research and Treatment Center (SMart Center), Jenkintown, PA, has been meeting the emotional and language needs of children with SM. Led by Elisa Shipon-Blum, DO, the center provides care and has been carrying out research on the disorder, alongside research consultant Evelyn R. Klein, PhD, CCC-SLP, BRS-CL, associate professor, Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Science, La Salle University, Philadelphia.

ADVANCE visited the center to find out more about selective mutism and the role of the speech-language pathologist in caring for these children. Learn more from Shipon-Blum and Klein in this video. 


http://speech-language-pathology-audiology.advanceweb.com/Multimedia/Videos/Selective-Mutism.aspx#.WAjRAhSFJR0.email



The "Missing" First Year: Parents Underestimate the Benefits of Reading and Talking with Babies

Aug 4, 2016

Research shows that you can have a positive impact on your child's language and cognitive development in the first year.




    Involving Parents in Stuttering Therapy

    Reinforcing strategies at home, mobile apps for hearing aids, post-stoke dysphagia, and more.

    Matters of disfluency can manifest themselves in a variety of ways and can be triggered by a number of different circumstances. 

    But even those of us who do not struggle with a stutter can relate to how exasperating it is when you have something to say but cannot - or are not being allowed - to articulate it.

    For children who stutter, it seems to make perfect sense that the security and comfort of home would be the best place to help refine and reinforce strategies for working through their disfluency, but the process involves quite a bit of commitment and hard work from parents and siblings. 





    Animal Companionship Therapy for Children

    How a special relationship with a cat helped one child learn to better socialize despite an early autism diagnosis.

    By Lindsey Nolen

    Posted on: May 25, 2016
    Proving that medicine is not the answer to every health-related condition, an unforeseen friendship has captured the hearts of millions while shedding light onto the benefits and services offered by therapy animals. This relationship between 6-year-old Iris Grace Halmshaw and her 2-year-old service cat, Thula, has helped the child learn to better socialize despite an early autism diagnosis.

    Their Story

    Whether playing with toys, painting outside or falling asleep together, Iris and her Maine Coon cat are almost inseparable. However, before Thula entered young Iris's life, things were a little more challenging. According to a report by CNN,1 Iris's parents experienced a "dark time" prior to their cat's introduction into the family.

    During this time, Iris battled irregular sleep patterns, obsessive behavior, refusal to make eye contact and a general sense of avoidance when put in social situations. Her severe form of autism also made taking baths and getting dressed extremely difficult, for Iris did not like the sensation of being touched. However, upon Thula's arrival, all of these situations slowly became much more bearable for the child alongside her pet.

    "Specifically for children with social disorders, behavioral-assistance animals offer the opportunity for a child to bond with another being who is completely nonjudgmental. Over time, the child will hopefully transfer that connection to the animal to people in his or her life," explained Heather Silvio, PsyD, a psychologist at the Department of Veterans Affairs in North Las Vegas, Nev. "In my clinical opinion, behavioral-assistance animals can be most effective for individuals experiencing significant levels of anxiety, regardless of specific diagnosis." 

    Proving effective, Iris has continued to develop a sense of openness with her companion, Thula, which she often lacked with other children or adults. Through these interactions, Iris has improved her speech, communication and ability to express herself while continuously making progressive strides towards enhanced socialization.

    SEE ALSO: Growing Season: Summer Camp in Oregon for Kids with Autism

    Other Benefits

    Although Iris found therapy through her pet cat, numerous other animals, including dogs and horses, are known to be used for similar purposes. Physically, these animals have demonstrated the ability to lower their companion's blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, release endorphins, diminish overall physical pain and produce an automatic relaxation response.2

    Capable of providing mental health benefits, therapy animals have also been known to lift spirits and lessen depression, decrease feelings of isolation and alienation, encourage communication and provide comfort. Similarly, this method of therapy can increase socialization, reduce boredom, lower anxiety, reduce loneliness and create motivation.

    "Service animals help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Research studies have shown that individuals display noticeable improvement in mood with the involvement of dogs during therapy," commented Megan LoBue, coordinator of communication and development at the Calais School, a state-approved provider of special education for students with special needs located in Whippany, N.J. "We see it every day when our students light up when they see Cali and Cleo greet them in the morning. Students can visit with the dogs when they feel anxious, lonely, or depressed."

    In terms of literacy, therapeutic animal companions may additionally help children focus better, provide non-stressful, non-judgmental environments and increase self-confidence. This is due to the notion that animals accept their owners as they are, offering patients the ability to wholeheartedly interact with them while safe in the knowledge that there is no hidden agenda.

    Although the ability of behavioral-assistance animals to improve the quality of life for their patients cannot be fully predicted, this method of intervention comes with far less probable side effects than medication. Instead, the biggest concern with incorporating service animal aid deals with safety and sanitation - elements that stringent facility rules seek to protect against.

    With the positives outweighing the negatives, behavioral assistance animals have proven to be an avenue of alternative therapy worth considering under many circumstances. Improving the way many adults and children are able to conduct themselves throughout daily life, these animals are transforming into much more than mere pets.

    References
    1. CNN. Portrait of a 6-year-old artist with autism and her therapy cat.http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/11/health/turning-points-iris-grace-autism/