Posts Tagged ‘communication’

February 18th, 2014

Speech Therapy-What’s Best?

Parents sometimes ask me about different therapy methods-“tactile cues” for example.  I have been asked “Should I buy this oral motor therapy kit?”  You may come across information about different methods to treat speech sound problems.  It can be confusing.  Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • The most important part of any therapy is the relationship between the therapist, the child and the caregiver. What’s important in the end is what works best for your individual child or student.  If you have a therapist you have confidence in, and it’s working, you’re on the right track.
  •  Many different methods are successful. Caroline Bowen, S-LP has an extensive list of treatment methods with explanations.  If you want more information this is her website:

  • There is not a lot of evidence that any particular therapy works better than others.  You should be aware though that there is no evidence that nonspeech oral motor treatments make a difference to speech sound problems. A nonspeech treatment might be blowing whistles to strengthen the muscles of the lips.  The American Speech and Hearing Association published an article on this topic.

  • If you’re unsure about a therapy that’s being recommended  remember you can always get a second opinion.
September 29th, 2012

Teach Your Children Well

The words “speech therapy” mean different things to different people.  Some parents say, “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it“.  Other parents say, “So when does therapy start?” or “How often will you see little Henry?”  Sometimes it’s hard to convince parents that they are the child’s best teacher and best therapist.

Speech therapy starts at birth when parents look into the baby’s face, smile and make soft googly noises.  It happens all day and everyday in the car, at the dinner table, getting ready for school. Every time a parent or caregiver listens, talks, interacts, provides a good speech and language model-that is speech therapy.

What parents and caregivers do is very powerful. Change happens when we do something everyday.  As therapists we sometimes have to remind ourselves that the parent or caregiver is our most valuable tool.


July 30th, 2012

To Sign or Not to Sign

Teaching sign language to children who are not hearing impaired might seem like a fad.  You can see many videos on You Tube of cute babies signing.

Baby sign language courses for parents are taught  in many communities.  For typically developing children it’s fun and a great way to reduce frustration before they can talk.

The children  I see are all struggling to learn to talk.  I often recommend teaching signs and gestures to help a child communicate. You can’t make a child say sounds or words, but you can take  hands and help form the gesture or sign. Sometimes parents  are worried  their child won’t talk if they teach him  signs and gestures. Happily, that is never the case. If a child can talk he will. We all use gestures to communicate anyway, it doesn’t stop us from talking too. Think about these gestures we are familiar with:

  • wagging a finger
  • waving
  • shrugging shoulders
  • putting your hand out in front of you
  • nodding

Teaching Tips:

  1. Introduce one or two new signs/gestures at a time.
  2. Choose signs/gestures that are important to your child.  If your child isn’t interested in cats he won’t learn that sign. If he loves apples you can bet he’ll pick it up quickly.
  3. Demonstrate the sign and say the word.  If he doesn’t imitate, gently take his hand and show him how to do it.
  4. If you are signing as a temporary measure to bridge the gap until the child can talk, it doesn’t matter if you choose American Sign Language or Signed English. Some children make up their own gestures-it’s all good as long as the child and people around him know what it means.
  5. Choose signs that are not too hard.  For example; one hand slapping your leg for “dog” (like the gesture for “come here”) is easy.  Tapping your chin with 3 fingers for “water” is harder. You can see the baby in the video link above trying these signs.
  6. Don’t expect perfection and repeat, repeat, repeat.

These are sites with  free  dictionaries so you can see the signs in action:

May 23rd, 2012

Celebrate May

In my household there are 2 birthdays in my immediate family and 4 more in my extended family.  Including Mother’s Day and a couple of wedding anniversaries there’s a lot of celebrating.  I put up the balloons and a Happy Birthday banner and just leave them there for the whole month.

In the rest of the world May is speech and hearing awareness month.  As communication specialists we try to raise awareness about speech, language, hearing and swallowing issues. What’s there to celebrate?  There have been many changes over the 30 years I’ve been in the field.  Here’s my list of things to celebrate in May:

  • Earlier identification of speech and hearing problems.
  • Newborn hearing screening.
  • Better assessment of disorders such autism, voice and swallowing disorders.
  • Cochlear implants for the hearing impaired.
  • Better voice output devices for those who can’t speak.
  • More information about the best therapy techniques.
  • Way more information about how the brain works.

We still have lots to learn.  That’s what I love about this field. For more information about speech and hearing awareness check out: