Category: Communication Skills

Tips for Developing Language in Your Child

The best and easiest way to develop language in your child is to get down on the floor and PLAY with them!! Play is pleasurable to most kids and can be spontaneous or structured. Play involves active participation and helps to establish joint attention (attend to the same items or topics the child is focusing on) with your child. Play leads to ideas about the environment and expands upon what you child already knows about and enjoys. Finally, play helps your child adapt to the needs of others by learning social rules and roles of people in their home and community.

When you are playing with your child, be sure to provide a variety of language models for your child to imitate during play rather than asking a lot of questions. For example,

  • Comment on his/her actions
  • Use self-talk – talk about what YOU are doing, seeing, or thinking with the child (i.e. “I’m stirring the soup.”)
  • Use parallel-talk – talk about what your CHILD is doing (i.e. “Kelly is rocking her baby.”)
  • Use expansions and elaborations – listen to your child’s short utterance and then expand on it to let the child know that he/she was understood. (i.e. “Soup hot.”, “Yes, your soup is very hot.”)

Always be sure to reinforce all communication attempts made by your child so that he/she feels successful. Speak on your child’s level by using a sentence length that is equal to one word more than theirs. When playing and throughout your day, talk about objects and activities that are present AND absent. Imitate your child’s movements and vocalizations and encourage him/her to imitate things that you say and do. Label, label, label objects and actions frequently. Above all else, have fun. Your child will know that you are having fun and will respond to your excitement. Remember – kids are only young once!! ENJOY!!

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Demystifying Auditory Processing Disorders

Auditory Processing Disorders, or APD, is not new to Speech-Language Pathologists. However, it has only been in the past 5-8 years that some professionals have embraced this disorder and have incorporated APD language goals into their therapy. I had the privilege of working with a Speech-Language Pathologist, who was also certified in Audiology, early in my career. Like me, she also had an interest in APD. She was one of the few audiologists, at that time, who administered the Central Auditory Processing Battery. We would together interpret the results and develop a plan of treatment. This was 25 years ago when not many in the field of Speech-Language Pathology were really acknowledging the impact that this disorder has on language and academics or, as I refer to it as language learning.

Since that time, my interest in APD has grown professionally resulting in more reading and questioning and, personally, as my younger son exhibited characteristics of APD. So what does APD look like and what can be done. The following is a summary of the disorder and what, as parents, you can do to advocate for your child.

Language is processed from the phonemic level. The phoneme is the smallest unit of meaning. It is the speech sound that we associate with the letter. For instance, the word ‘cat’ has three phonemes; the /c/ sound, the /a/ sound and the /t/ sound. If the /c/ was changed to a /p/, the entire meaning of the word would be changed. That is why it is considered the smallest unit of meaning. In order for us to process language, we must first discriminate the speech sound, (Was that a /p/ or a /c/?), hold on to the sound, (retain), sequence the sounds, (c-a-t), blend the sounds then identify the word and create a linguistic image, (animal with fur that meows!). This happens in tens of milliseconds. Yes, tens of milliseconds! And, it must happen for every word of every sentence. It has been found that if children have difficulty with processing, it can take up to 400-800 milliseconds to process. Add background noise to this and you can see why some children cannot pay attention in class, cannot keep up with the work, and/ or “looks around” to get extra visual cues.

Some signs of APD are:

  • Late walkers
  • Difficulty with pre reading skills, ( letter to sound identification; rhyming)
  • Decreased interest in early reading, (site words, letter identification)
  • Difficulty following 2 step directions
  • Difficulty producing words that have three syllables or more. They may reduce the word
  • Articulation errors
  • Unable to re tell the events of the day and, if they do attempt, many details are missing.
  • Word finding difficulties
  • Difficulty attending in school

Standardized language testing may not blatantly identify an APD. However, most times, there are patterns in the scoring or, great deficits between scores obtained on certain subtests, that warrant investigated work to identify the problem. Past medical history, speech and language developmental history as well as motor development can all help in solving the APD puzzle. We, at Communication Associates, pride ourselves in detecting if an auditory processing disorder is evident and help you, as parents, navigate the sometimes murky waters, with beneficial treatment plans with implemented by our proficient Speech-Language Pathologists and Occupational Therapists. If you feel your child may be exhibiting some of the characteristics that are related to an APD, call our office for further assistance. We will be happy to help you navigate those uncertain waters that can lead to bright horizons!

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