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6 Tips on How to Improve Reading Comprehension in Your Child

Any child can read a book, but it takes good comprehension skills to be able to absorb and retain the information. If your child has this skill, it will carry them through their entire school career, from preschool to college. It also means they are less likely to get bored with reading.

Sometimes children struggle with this a little bit and it’s up to parents and teachers to work as a team to get them on the right track. Here are 6 tips on how to improve reading comprehension and ensure that your child won’t just be reading books, but thoroughly enjoying them and increasing their vocabulary.

  1. Point Out Connections

Many parents elect to read out loud with their children. This opens up great learning opportunities. One of those opportunities is to make connections.

For example, if you’re reading a book with your child about a beach, and you and the family have been to the beach on vacation, you can bring that up. The child will be able to make a connection about the reading and identify with it a bit more.

You can talk a little bit about the memories you had there, or what the beach looked like. This will make the child more focused on the reading and helps with improving reading comprehension.

  1. Stop and Ask Questions Often

When you’re reading out loud with your children, you can stop and ask questions. This will encourage the children to backtrack and reread to search for answers. It will also leave them wondering about the content they just read.

Allow them to ask you questions and discuss possible answers, as this helps with improving reading comprehension.

If your children are reading a book by themselves, you can still be involved and ask them a question. When you notice your children reading a new book, you should ask them questions about it. This will make them really think about what they’ve read so far so they can give you satisfying answers.

The questions should cause them to think. For example, asking them what they enjoy about a book will make them think of common themes in the story.

Ask them what’s going on in the book because then they will have to think of parts that they read recently and revisit them to tell you. When they’ve finished the book, ask them if it ended the way they thought it would, or to summarize it.

  1. Make Inferences

To make inferences is to guess how you think the story will go based on the clues it’s given you so far. For example, if character A is blushing while talking to character B, we can infer that A has feelings for B. You may guess that they will get together before the end of the story.

Don’t be afraid to make these inferences out loud so your child can make their own. Respond to their inferences as they would yours. This stimulates conversation and will help the child pay closer attention to the plot and characters.

  1. Have the Child Read Out Loud

When a child reads out loud they read a bit slower which allows them to really take in the information that they are reading. Also, many people learn easier when they aren’t only seeing information but listening to it as well.

Even as adults we tend to catch things that we wouldn’t when hearing it aloud. This same idea works for a child. Listen to the child read, and help out when you can.

By doing the things we’ve listed so far while reading out loud, you will stimulate learning and change the way the child reads. They may even find a lot more enjoyment from it.

  1. Find the Right Reading Material

It’s important that your child is reading books that are on their reading level. If they stumble on words that are too big for them, they may become frustrated, and the reading won’t be enjoyable. Not only will the reading not be enjoyable, but the frequent stops they will have to make will prevent them from absorbing the information.

On the flipside of this, if the reading is too easy for the child, they will become bored because they aren’t being given a proper challenge.

  1. Talk to Their Teacher

Some children struggle with reading comprehension more than others. If you notice your child isn’t grasping it, don’t be afraid to schedule a meeting with their teacher. Together, you might be able to come up with a plan to help them.

This doesn’t end with reading comprehension.

If you notice that your child really enjoys reading, but isn’t doing as well in other subjects, you can meet with the teacher to find out what they are currently studying.

For example, if your child is failing in science, you can ask the teacher what subject they are covering in their science class at the moment. Get a book that revolves around this subject but is interesting to read. The child might be able to understand the information better this way.

Steps on How to Improve Reading Comprehension

Taking these steps on how to improve reading comprehension will help open new doors for your child. They will be able to take this skill and soar to new heights throughout their entire educational career. All it takes is reading with them.

Are you ready for your child to start back school? Visit our blog for great tips for back to school success.

How You Can Improve Executive Functioning Skills in Kids with ADHD

How You Can Improve Executive Functioning Skills in Kids with ADHD

Children with ADHD struggle with their impulse control. They can often be disorganized and struggle with following any tasks that are made up of many steps. This can translate into problems at school, affect friendships and harm their career prospects in the longer term.

The technical term for the skills they are lacking is executive functioning skills; sometimes just called executive function or executive skills. These skills are important for a successful and independent life. So how can we help our children master these?

What Are Executive Functioning Skills?

Executive Functioning Skills are related to self-regulation. These are the skills that help with planning, focus, recollecting the steps in a complicated process, and coping with having multiple things to do at the same time.

These skills are vital to organizing yourself, which becomes more important as children get older and are expected to manage more of their lives. Poor executive skills lead to forgotten or late homework, getting lost in school, and forgetting social engagements. If you think your child might have an executive functioning problem, more signs of the disorder are outlined in this article.

The good news is that improving executive function is possible. With a combination of executive functioning interventions, to make life easier, and executive functioning skills training, you can help your child to do more for themselves.

How to Improve Executive Function

Teaching executive functioning skills is something that can be done at any age and can continue through until adulthood. While these skills may not come naturally to a child with ADHD or some other learning disorders, they can be acquired and coping strategies can be adopted to help set your child up for success.

These exercises work to improve performance in three areas that are important for executive function; working memory, impulse control, and cognitive flexibility. Working memory helps with retaining the different steps needed to complete a task. Impulse control is what stops a child doing something they know they shouldn’t. Cognitive flexibility is the ability to change mental gears quickly.

Games for Toddlers

Pat-a-cake and other songs and rhymes help babies to develop their working memory. As the songs are repeated, so they learn what to expect. Songs with a surprise ending, such as ‘Round and round the garden,’ which ends with a tickle are particularly well received.

Copying games help with impulse control. If you can come up with a game, for example, taking turns to put toy animals into a zoo scene helps them to master self-control.

Younger Children

Usually, it is when children get to school that challenges with executive function are noticed. But this is also a great time to begin interventions. For example, storytelling can be a powerful tool in helping children to improve their working memory and cognitive flexibility.

Telling a story, or recalling what happened in their day so far, means that they need to get events in order and tell them in a logical fashion. If you tell a story together, taking it in turns to decide what comes next, you are working on both impulse control too.

To help with focus, play a version of musical statues where the pose of the statue is agreed ahead of time. Get the children dancing to fast music, then when it stops they have to concentrate in order to stop and get into the same pose as the statue very quickly.

Older Children

Board games and card games are helpful as children get older. Taking turns helps to improve impulse control, and the need to remember the rules; for example, what happens when you land on a snake or a ladder and apply them correctly challenges their working memory.

Sport and other physical activity can be useful too. Not only does it burn off some energy, but it also gives your child the opportunity to work together. That helps them with working memory and cognitive flexibility. Perhaps more importantly, it can improve social relationships and self-confidence, too. If your child isn’t sporty, don’t worry. The same is true of learning to play an instrument or singing in a choir.

At this age, some children begin using a smartphone or tablet computer more often. There are many apps available which can help to work on executive function.

Teenagers

As children grow up to become teenagers, it’s important to start supporting them to develop their own skills rather than trying to do things for them. When they go to college or get a job, you won’t be able to support them in the same way that you have done through their time in school.

Learning organizational skills can be done by working on a practical project. Choose something your child would like to achieve, whether that is college applications or a party for their birthday. Work with them on the plans, but try and let them take the lead. Only nudge when you really need to make sure that things happen.

Older children can be encouraged to ‘self-talk’ when they are struggling with impulse control. In a way, they act as their own parent. When faced with temptation, they mentally explain to themselves why following that impulse is a bad idea. Explaining this process and encouraging your child to find their own way to implement it can be very powerful.

Sport, music and other group activities remain important for this age group. The teen years can be very confusing and isolating, so helping your child to find their clan whether that’s the football team, the cinema club or something else entirely is really useful.

How We Can Help

Speech and Language disorders often go hand in hand with ADHD, and speech therapy can be a valuable part of the process in dealing with this. But if the thought of packing more appointments into your week gives you a headache, you’ll be glad to know that online speech therapy is just as effective as face to face work.

If you have any questions about how we can help you and your child, with executive functioning skills or anything else, please get in touch today.

Mastering Reading for Academic and Life Success, online speech therapy

Read to Succeed: Mastering Reading for Academic and Life Success

“There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book. “

—Frank Serafini, author

 

Kids generally learn to read until third grade. After third grade, they read to learn.

Reading is the basis of learning and the benefits are many. On a practical level, reading helps us navigate life. Following recipes, taking medications and obeying written traffic signs all require the ability to literally read and understand what we are seeing. On a more cerebral level, reading advances our mind, teaches us language skills, expands our vocabulary, builds our listening skills and develops our imagination and creativity.

Now just imagine a child who is experiencing difficulty reading.

Research has proven that struggling with reading is not a sign of a lack of intelligence. Nor should children who they be labeled as lazy or unmotivated. Often, they have just fallen through the cracks. Sometimes it is simply a matter of finding the right approach.

 

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”

—Frederick Douglass, escaped slave, activist and abolitionist leader

 

Literacy extends to all academic areas, including math, where understanding the word problems are as essential as computing the correct numerical answer.

Difficulty reading not only affects academic abilities but also self-esteem. When reading skills are deficient, grades may suffer despite average or above average intelligence and self-confidence can go right down the tubes.

Our Reading Skills Mastery Program

has been developed to address grade-specific reading (literacy) skills and strategies. Our therapists are trained to assess each student and identify the issues before implementing a monthly individualized program tailored to the age of the child, the amount of intervention required, and the goals set in the initial session. Each session is 45 minutes with a minimum of three sessions per week.

 

From helping children acquire and master basic reading and writing skills to teaching compensatory strategies, decoding skills, essay writing and note taking, the Great Speech Reading Skills Mastery Program focuses on identifying missing skill sets and creating a targeted program using the check list below.

Literacy Skills:

  • Recognition and understanding of letters and letter sounds
  • Reading comprehension
  • Reading accuracy and fluency Recognition and use of letters and letters sounds
  • Learning and application of phonics rules
  • Automatic recognition and reading of sight words
  • Word attack skills (how to read an unfamiliar word)
  • Word study (root, suffix, etc.)
  • Reading speed and accuracy

Writing Skills:

  • Handwriting or typing of letters
  • Learning and applying spelling rules and patterns
  • Learning different writing styles and purposes (e.g., persuasive, descriptive, etc.)
  • Using various aids when writing (e.g., graphic organizers)
  • Learning and applying planning/organization strategies (e.g., outline, brainstorm, timelines, etc.)

Vocabulary Skills:

  • Definitions
  • Word Relationships (compound words, antonyms, synonyms)
  • Contextual Word Lists
  • Derivational Word Lists
  • Semantic Mapping and Feature Analysis

 

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.”

 – Victor Hugo, French poet and novelist

Lighting the fire and keeping the spark alive is one of our areas of expertise. Word power is brain power and has been linked to improved health, socioeconomic status and creativity.  We are proud of the success of those who have enrolled in our Reading Skills Mastery Program and would love to provide services to those who are experiencing academic difficulties due to poor or limited reading skills.

Request a complimentary screening today and ask how we can help!

Vocal Nodules: What They Are and How to Deal with Them

Vocal Nodules: What They Are and How to Deal with Them

Approximately 7.6 percent of the U.S. adult population (17.9 million people) suffers from some kind of voice disorder.

There are many different voice disorders one can be diagnosed with, but vocal nodules are one of the most common.

If you suspect you have vocal nodules, keep reading to learn more about the condition and how to deal with it.

What are Vocal Nodules?

Your vocal folds are located inside your larynx, also known as your voice box. When you speak, air moves from the lungs through the vocal folds and into the mouth. The air causes these folds to vibrate and produce sound.

Nodules are benign growths that form on your vocal folds. Over time, if they’re not treated, these nodules can become larger and stiffer. They can also become harder, similar to the way a blister becomes a hard callous.

Vocal nodules go by many different names, including screamer’s nodule, vocal cord polyps, and vocal fold nodules.

Symptoms of Vocal Nodules

The symptoms of nodules are similar to the symptoms associated with many other voice disorders.

Some of the most common symptoms of this condition include:

  • A “rough,” “scratchy,” or hoarse voice
  • A “breathy” tone
  • Shooting pain that extends from ear to ear
  • Feeling as though you have a lump in your throat
  • Pain in the neck
  • Vocal and body fatigue

Many people also experience an increased ability to change pitch when they are speaking or singing.

Vocal Nodule Risk Factors

Anyone can develop nodules on their vocal folds. But, certain individuals are more prone to them than others.

Nodules affect people of all ages, but they seem to occur more frequently in adult females.

People who suffer from the following illnesses are also more likely to be diagnosed with nodules:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (also known as GERD)
  • Hypothyroidism and other thyroid disorders
  • Allergies

Nodules are also common among people who have to use their voice a lot as part of their occupation.

For example, teachers are often diagnosed, as are singers, sports coaches, cheerleaders, and those who work in the media. People who inhale irritants like industrial chemical fumes on a regular basis also face an increased risk.

This condition is also associated with unhealthy behaviors like long-term smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and excessive caffeine intake.

If you do have one or more of these risk factors, that’s not an automatic guarantee that you will be diagnosed with vocal nodules. But, you made need to take extra steps — such as avoiding unhealthy behaviors like smoking — to prevent nodules from forming on your vocal folds.

Preventing Vocal Nodules

The most important thing you can do to prevent nodules from forming on your vocal folds is to avoid unhealthy behaviors (smoking, alcohol consumption, etc.) that can contribute to them.

It’s also important to manage health conditions that are associated with an increased risk of developing nodules. Some specific ways you can manage these conditions include:

  • Taking medications and making lifestyle changes to manage GERD
  • Treating thyroid disorders with medication and lifestyle changes
  • Taking allergy medication regularly and avoiding allergens as much as possible

Reducing stress is also important for keeping nodules at bay. You may also want to try and control the volume of your voice as much as possible. Avoid talking too loudly or shouting unnecessarily.

When Should You Visit Your Doctor?

If you’ve been experiencing symptoms of vocal nodules for more than 2-3 weeks, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor.

If they think you have nodules on your vocal folds, they may recommend you visit an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat doctor) or speech-language pathologist (also known as a speech therapist) to get to the bottom of your issues.

When you visit a doctor or speech-language pathologist, they’ll listen to the way your voice sounds and ask you to change your pitch and volume. They’ll also likely listen to see how long you can keep talking before you lose your voice.

Your doctor may also look at your throat to watch the way your vocal folds move. They’ll do this by putting an endoscope in the mouth along with a flashing light, or stroboscope.

This will help them determine whether or not there are nodules present on their vocal folds.

How to Treat Vocal Nodules

If your doctor diagnoses you with nodules, they’ll likely look for the root cause of the condition.

If they believe that another medical condition caused the nodules to develop, they’ll likely recommend medication or other treatments to help you better manage your symptoms and allow your nodules to heal.

Your doctor will also likely recommend reducing stress and giving up behaviors like smoking or excessive alcohol consumption that tend to cause or make nodules worse.

Your doctor may also suggest that you work with a speech-language pathologist. They can help you improve the way you speak and teach you strategies that will stop you from causing additional damage to your vocal folds.

When is Surgery Required?

If your nodules are very large or have been present for a long time, you may need to have surgery to have them removed.

During this procedure, a surgeon will use fine surgical instruments or tools like lasers to carefully remove the nodules. Once the surgery is complete, you’ll need to rest your voice as much as possible and spend a few months using it only in a limited capacity.

After the surgery, you’ll likely need to work with a speech-language pathologist to learn how to avoid abusing your voice and help you recover properly from the surgery.

If you don’t prioritize recovery after your surgery, you may end up dealing with permanent voice changes.

Do You Need a Speech Therapist?

Are you interested in working with a speech therapist to treat your vocal nodules or recover properly from your surgery? Do you want to work with a professional without having to leave your house?

If so, you might want to consider online speech therapy.

Contact us at Great Speech today to schedule a free consultation and find out whether or not our services are right for you.

Speech activities that promote communication skills in adults with Autism and Aspergers

Speech activities that promote communication skills in adults with Autism and Aspergers

Maybe you’re thinking it’s too late for you or a loved one diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to get help with their speech.

You’ve heard it’s about time to grow out of it, or that the prime time for language learning is over.

They echo these excuses.

While these misconceptions are completely understandable, you might not know that there are thousands of studies suggesting the contrary.

In fact, there are probably more options for you than you’re aware of.

Therapy is often considered unattainable in certain geographical or financial circumstances, which is the beauty of online speech therapy for autism.

Not only is online speech-language pathology proven to be as effective as in-person, it’s also using cutting-edge techniques to be a positive influence to adults of all ages and backgrounds.

Read on to learn about how we’re using four speech therapy activities to transform lives.

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

PECS is historically one of the most effective activities performed for both children and adults on the spectrum.

This is because it can aid someone throughout all stages of their development, from recognizing basic objects to forming intelligible sentences.

Typically beginning with object recognition, it enhances nonverbal communication skills which can be associated with words in the future.

Let’s say we have a speech-language pathologist (SLP) named Sally.

Communicating live with Sally, you might identify an apple when she shows you a picture of an apple or vice versa. Sally knows that this practice aids the recognition of symbols and their association with real objects.

Once you’ve got a knack for that, you might go onto some form of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), where you would learn to talk without speaking in some form.

This can extend to answering basic questions she asks, such as “Do you like apples?” or “Do you like pineapple on pizza?” (hint: the answer is no).

That skill is actually incredibly important. Did you know studies have shown that children diagnosed with autism will often learn to say yes or no correctly in certain contexts, but cannot answer properly in others?

In other words, if Sally asks “Are you an adult?”, someone with ASD may not know how to respond to that, having only been conditioned to certain kinds of yes or no questions.

For such reasons, PECS and AAC in a wide variety of contexts play a huge role in autism speech therapy.

Imitating Rhythm

Music and language are highly interconnected. They’re so similar that we often play a game of “chicken or the egg” with them.

Since music plays such a large role in the development of language, music therapy has been prevalent in the science of speech therapy.

While working with children on the spectrum, imitating animals noises is a popular activity because it’s important, easy, and enjoyable.

The exact same logic applies to adults in all realms of music.

When we hum or babble in a particular rhythm, it expresses similarity to the sing-song intonation of language.

Reinforcing the musicality of language not only advances understanding but naturalizes the flow of words.

Sensory Integration as Speech Therapy for Autism

If hearing or vision processing are impaired, you can bet language will be out of whack as well.

As these disruptions are prominent among people diagnosed with ASD, learning to speak and write can be frustrating.

This is especially horrible when sensitivities arise towards particular frequencies.

Sometimes you can’t hear a sound at all. Sometimes a simple stirring or rubbing can induce overwhelming.

An inability to hear a particular phoneme (language noise) hinders the processing of it whatsoever.

Fortunately, speech-language pathologists are specially trained to overcome these barriers.

Right on, Sally. With the advantage of modern technology, she can use white noise to muffle the noise and thus reduce the intensity.

On the other hand, she could use warning signals to indicate a certain sound is coming.

All of this can help you adapt to and fine-tune sounds, which in turn fine-tunes language.

Semantic Therapy

It’s not just semantics. The way we use “semantic” here really matters.

“Semantics” refers to the meaning of words in a literal, contextual, or relative sense.

In semantic therapy, our focus isn’t necessarily literal definitions, but on function (i.e., how do you use it?) and association (i.e., what does it go with?).

Although someone on the spectrum may get a wonderful grasp of words, it’s likely that they may not understand the connotation of the words they’re using very well.

It’s been shown that a common symptom of the spectrum is struggling with expressing social cues, feelings, attitudes, values, or perceptions.

And it goes both ways. Recognizing these mental states in others is a different steep.

It’s not a whole other mountain, though.

By training the visual-auditory processing of different words in the sense of their category, usage, and implied meaning, the natural expression of empathy can burst forth more freely.

One example activity is semantic mapping, where the SLP and their student create a diagram of a sentence or conversation.

Not only does this let the individual actually see the conversation–as people with ASD are highly visual learners–, they can diagnose how they’re doing socially.

Do they need to ask more questions, or even more relevant questions? Are they using words properly? Are they fully expressing their emotions?

These are the problems we tackle with semantic intervention.

Thoughts on the Future

Our professionals are thoroughly trained in today’s most effective speech-language therapy procedures, but only time will tell what will come about in the future.

As research builds up, we pursue greater heights for people with autism of all origins.

Rest assured, however, you can rely on us at the forefront of online speech therapy for autism, always seeking out the latest, most substantial tactics.

No matter the regional, financial, or physical circumstance, we’re here to help you.

It’s not too late.

And now it’s never out of reach. Schedule an appointment for a free consultation or drop us a message today.

5 Effective Parkinson's Speech Therapy Exercises

5 Effective Parkinson’s Speech Therapy Exercises

More than 10 million people all over the world currently live with Parkinson’s disease. If you or someone you love is part of this group, you know how difficult it can be, especially when you begin to struggle with your speech and swallowing abilities.

While speech and swallowing problems are common among people with Parkinson’s disease, they don’t have to diminish your quality of life. There is a lot you can do to minimize them, including practicing Parkinson’s speech therapy exercises on a regular basis.

Explained below are some highly effective exercises that you or your loved one can try out today.

Benefits of Speech Therapy

Besides improving their ability to speak clearly, speech therapy provides a number of other benefits for people who struggle with Parkinson’s disease. Some of the greatest benefits include:

  • Improved voice projection
  • Improved swallowing ability
  • Enhanced ability to socializewith family and friends
  • Greater levels of independence
  • Access to devices that improve communication in all stages of the disease

The access to communication devices (including voice amplifiers and picture communication boards) is especially beneficial. These tools help people who are in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s continue to be understood and enjoy a high quality of life.

Parkinson’s Speech Therapy Exercises

The following speech therapy exercises are specifically designed to help people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease.

Deep Breathing

This exercise might seem simple, but deep breathing is essential for keeping your lungs and diaphragm healthy and strong. This, in turn, helps you maintain your ability to project your voice.

Deep breathing is a great warm-up to get your ready for other, more advanced exercises.

To do this exercise, simply start by sitting or standing up straight. Take a deep breath in through your nose. Breathe in until you feel your ribs and abdomen start to expand.

When you’ve inhaled as much as you can, exhale slowly through your mouth (think about blowing out a candle).

Take several deep, full breaths (at least ten) before moving on to the next exercise.

Pitch Glides

This is a great exercise that will help you maintain your pronunciation and projection abilities.

Start by taking a deep breath in. Then, push out from your diaphragm while making an “ah” sound. Try to extend this sound for at least 15 seconds.

Take another deep breath and push out from your diaphragm while repeating an “oh” sound for 15 seconds. Do this again with both “oo” and “ee” sounds.

When you’ve done the exercise with each sound, you’re ready to move on and practice changing your pitch. Do this by alternating between the “oh” and “ee” sounds for 30 seconds.

Volume Control

Many people with Parkinson’s disease speak quietly without even realizing it. To work on your volume control, practice projecting your voice with the help of your diaphragm.

Take a deep breath in, then, name the days of the week as loudly as you can. Move on to the months of the year, the alphabet, and counting from one to twenty. Speak as loudly as you can during each exercise.

Sirening

Sirening is another good exercise for improving your pronunciation and pitch control.

To do this exercise, take a deep breath in. Then, as you exhale, imitate the sound of a police siren by repeating the “ng” sound — like in the word sing. Continue to repeat the sound as you let your pitch and volume increase and decrease.

Laryngeal Push-ups

There are two types of laryngeal push-ups: adductory push-ups and abductory push-ups. These are great for strengthening your larynx (voice box) to help your pronunciation and volume control.

To do adductory laryngeal push-ups, take a deep breath in. Then, while exhaling, say the “uh” sound as quickly as you can. Keep the sound loud and sharp.

Try to extend your exhale for about 6-7 seconds while repeating the sound and do your best not to let the repetitions blur together.

To do abductor laryngeal push-ups, take a deep breath in. Then, as you exhale, say the “huh” sound as quickly as you can. Just like you did with the first exercise, extend your breath for 6-7 seconds and keep the sounds as loud and distinct as possible.

Additional Exercises

In addition to these specific speech therapy exercises, there are lots of other smaller ways that you can work on strengthening your voice while going about your daily life. Some simple exercises you can do throughout the day include:

  • Reading road signs out loud as your drive or ride in the car
  • Practice reading out loud each day — from books, newspapers, magazines, etc.
  • Focus on tone and pitch while reading out loud
  • Exaggerate your mouth movements and focus on the way your tongue and lips move when you speak
  • Sing your favorite song regularly
  • Practice taking deep, full breaths whenever you have a spare minute (this exercise is subtle enough that you can practice it anywhere!)

Many people also stop talking as much if they feel that they’re starting to get winded while speaking.

Don’t give up on yourself just because you’re noticing changes. Pause and take more breaths if needed, but don’t stop altogether. Remember, the only way you’ll improve is if you practice consistently.

Work with a Speech Therapist Today

The Parkinson’s speech therapy exercises outlined above are a great place to start if you feel that your speech skills (or your loved one’s speech skills) are starting to decline. But, you’ll see the greatest benefits if you also work with a trained speech therapist.

A speech therapist will help you make sure you’re doing the exercises correctly. They’ll also be able to prescribe specific exercises that are better tailored to your particular needs.

If you want to work with a speech therapist but aren’t able to get out of the house for therapy, don’t worry. At Gr8 Speech, we offer online speech therapy sessions. With our help, you can reap all the benefits of speech therapy without leaving your house.

Schedule a free consultation today to see if our program is right for you!

 

Is Speech Therapy for Autism Effective?

Is Speech Therapy for Autism Effective?

Autism speech therapy can help you or your child become better communicators over time. It is also proven to enhance social skills, attention to detail, and make better learners.

To learn more about how autism speech therapy can help you or your loved ones, keep reading this article.

The Affect Autism Has on Speech

The development of communication in autistic children is slower than it is in others. In fact, they don’t find mimicking or imitation natural like children without autism.

When children are young, they learn by mimicking and imitating the adults around them. This helps them understand the basics of communication which eventually turns into forming full sentences.

Autistic children, however, don’t learn a language this way. Instead of becoming interested in the way other people are communicating, they are more likely to pay close attention to environmental or background sounds. This can include sounds like a vacuum running or a fan blowing.

Additionally, autistic children might seem disinterested when you speak to them.

Not every autistic child communicates the same way. For instance, some may have really great vocabularies and speak in long sentences.

They often understand social cues like tone, body language, and facial expressions in social situations. Speech therapy can help both autistic children and adults become better communicators.

Benefits of Autism Speech Therapy

Speech therapy can help people with autism become better communicators. This is accomplished when a pathologist or occupational therapist teaches verbal skills they hadn’t picked up on at an early age.

Speech therapy can also help with the correct use of words and improving the rhythm and speed of speech.

Here are other ways that seeing a speech therapist is a beneficial treatment for autism:

It Teaches Spontaneous Communication

The first step in helping someone with autism is to make sure they are able to functionally and spontaneously communicate their needs. This involves the person being able to express what they want or need without being promoted or asked first.

There are a few different ways a speech therapist will go about establishing spontaneous communication. They include using sign language, picture communication, and a voice output AAC device.

Sign Language

Autistic children benefit greatly from using their own bodies to communicate. It’s even been said that sign language gets helps autistic children utilize verbal communication quicker than they typically would.

Picture Communication System

Sometimes using photos is the best way for an autistic child to learn how to communicate. Pictures make communication tangible and concrete for them.

Voice-Output AAC Device

If your child isn’t speaking at all, an AAC device can help them get started. The device will play a recorded message when a child presses a button.

What it says depends on the button they press.

Social Instruction and Interaction

Once a child has begun communicating, it’s important to help them do better in social situations. This will also involve learning what behaviors are socially acceptable, like manners and waiting their turn to talk.

These skills are especially important when children are in school and learning how to become a good friend. Some of the social strategies that might be included with your child’s speech therapy are:

Visual Supports

Visual supports use photos and other visual reminders to help a child remember how to respond in certain situations.

Social Stories

In this part of therapy, books are typically used to teach a child about appropriate behavior. The books that are selected will be targeted to the correct age range and reading level.

Video Support

The video part of speech therapy allows students to watch videos that teach expected behaviors and what to do in common social situations.

Peer Interactions

Since it’s difficult for children with autism to interact one on one with their peers, it is something that has to be taught. Peer interactions are dependent on the child’s age and where they are socially.

When children are young, they will learn:

How to Play Nicely

Just as children without autism often have to be told to play nicely and share their toys, autistic children have to receive the same lessons. Just in a more formal environment.

The primary goal here is to learn how to get along with other kids.

Recognizing Their Name

This is a little-known fact about autism. It can be difficult for a child to understand his or her own name and how to respond when it is called.

So, it’s a skill they are taught during therapy.

Paying Focused Attention

Earlier we mentioned that children with autism tend to pay more attention to environmental and background noises than they do with people speaking. Their speech therapist will help them tune out other sounds and become more focused when someone is talking to them.

Older children will be taught peer interaction with these methods:

Targeted Conversational Skills

It’s easier to pinpoint the specific conversational problems an older autistic child is having. This will allow better communication with their peers and adults too.

Perspective Talking

Perspective talking helps children learn how to put themselves in somebody else’s shoes. It makes them understand that there is more than one perspective and more than one side of the story.

This creates an environment for open-minded communication.

Parental Support

It’s a big misconception that an autistic child is the only one who should receive training from a speech therapist. Yes, it’s true that the child should have plenty of time for therapy, but it is also important for the parents and other adults in the child’s life to help the child implement the new things they learned.

When the speech therapist is able to train the adults who care for a child, they will make quicker progress. This is because they are getting individualized support and practice from multiple sources.

This will also allow the child to practice their new skills in a more natural comfortable environment for them like their home. The setting of a therapy room or classroom can sometimes feel a little formal causing anxiety.

Contact Us

Autism speech therapy varies based on the patient’s individual needs. Some people may have more advanced communication problems than others.

Whether you are looking for a method of speech therapy for an adult or child, our specialized online programs can help you. Just contact us today and we’ll help you get started.

A comprehensive guide to the most common speech disorders or speech and language disorders

A comprehensive guide to the most common speech disorders or speech and language disorders

Speech disorders are no uncommon condition. An estimated 7.5 million Americans have some sort of problem with their speech. These millions of people could have any number of speech conditions ranging from selective mutism to vocal cord damage.

There are certain speaking disorders that are more common than others, though. Each disorder has specific causes and symptoms that you can use to identify them.

We’re going to go over some of the most common speaking disorders that occur in both children and adults. Keep reading to learn more.

Apraxia of Speech (AOS)

Apraxia of Speech (AOS) is a condition where you are physically unable to say what you want. This is usually the result of damaged neural pathways or brain damage. When the pathways that connect the brain to the speech muscles are damaged, you are unable to physically say what you want to say.

You can think of the words, write down the words, and understand speech, but your ability to actually speak those words is inhibited or impossible. The level of severity can range with this condition. Some people maintain an ability to be understood while others are incoherent in their speech.

There’s also a specific subset of this condition called Childhood Apraxia of Speech. This is a childhood disorder where the neural pathways for speech don’t develop normally or on the “normal” timeline.

Children with this condition can:

  • Be late talkers
  • Have abnormal mouth/jaw movements
  • Emphasize syllables incorrectly
  • Have inconsistent pronunciation

The causes of this condition, both in children and adults, are neurological. This could be genetic or the result of TBI (traumatic brain injury) like concussions, strokes, infections, etc.

Stuttering

Chances are you’ve heard someone stutter before. It’s very common with an estimated 3 million Americans having a stutter at some point.

There are two subsets of this condition: developmental stuttering and neurogenic stuttering.

Stuttering is characterized by the repetition of sounds, interruption of speech, repetition of words, or overuse of fillers like “um” or “er”.

Developmental stuttering is most often seen in children, and 75% of kids grow out of their stutter. This is usually the result of kids not developing their speech correctly, causing them not to be able to get the words out as fast as they’re thinking them. It can be helped with speech therapy.

Neurogenic stuttering is usually caused by traumatic brain injuries like head trauma, concussions, strokes, etc.

Lisping

Lisping is another well-known condition that you’re probably already familiar with. Most of us think of the “th” instead of “s” sound as a lisp, which isn’t incorrect. But there are actually 4 different kinds of lisps that are considered speech disorders.

The common one we think of is the “th” sound that’s made incorrectly instead of an “s” sound. This is called interdental lisp, and it occurs when the tongue pushes past the front teeth when trying to make the “s” sound.

While lisps like this are most common in children, they can persist into adulthood. Lisping is what’s known as a functional speech disorder. This means that it can be adjusted and sometimes corrected with speech therapy.

Speech therapy for those with lisps includes relearning pronunciation, muscle strengthening exercises, and general annunciation coaching.

Spasmodic Dysphonia

People with spasmodic dysphonia (SD) suffer from abnormal spasms in the vocal cords. This can cause the voice to sound strained, tight, broken, soft, hoarse, and/or jittery.

An estimated 50,000 people have SD in the United States. However, this is considered a low estimate since many physicians believe that people are misdiagnosed or go undiagnosed.

Unlike most of the other things we’ve gone over so far, this condition is more common in adults than in children. Onset is usually between the ages of 30 and 50. There’s no single cause of SD; most agree that it’s related to aging and changes in muscles and nervous system pathways.

Those who have trouble talking or find that their voice is particularly shaky or hoarse because of SD can have success with speech therapy.

Aphasia

Aphasia is a condition that occurs after a traumatic brain injury, usually stroke. Those who suffer from a stroke have a one in three chance of developing aphasia. There are an estimated 2 million people with aphasia in the United States.

Brain injury can affect the blood flow to our brain, especially during a stroke. When this happens in language and communication centers in the brain, it can lead to this condition.

Aphasia is characterized by:

  • Trouble getting words out
  • Difficulty finding/saying the correct words
  • Difficulty understanding communication
  • Inability to produce coherent words/sentences
  • Difficulty/inability reading and writing

Those with aphasia have trouble speaking and communicating properly. There are things that can treat aphasiapost-injury to help relearn communication skills that may have been lost or inhibited because of the injury.

Autism and Speech Disorders

Autism spectrum disorder affects 1 in 100 people, making it one of the most common disorders on this list. Not all people with autism have trouble speaking. But, problems with speech, communication, and social cues are some of the most common symptoms of autism.

Difficulty or inability to speak because of autism spectrum disorder can be helped with speech therapy. Therapy can include:

  • Learning communication cues
  • Learning the meaning of words
  • Socializing with others
  • Learning exercises to help make speaking easier

Parents or relatives of those on the spectrum are often encouraged to come along to therapy sessions. This helps the person communicate effectively with the encouragement of their loved one.

Common Speaking Disorders: Wrapping Up

Speaking disorders might seem uncommon, but millions of people around the world are affected by them. It could be something as simple as a childhood stutter or a result of a traumatic brain injury. Whatever the case, speech disorders can affect communication, confidence, and even mental health.

Hopefully these descriptions of the most common disorders can help you understand them a bit better. If you want more information on these disorders and how they can be treated, check out our website.

You can also contact us with any questions.

 

Your Guide to Child Language Disorders, online speech therapy

Your Guide to Childen’s Language Disorders

What if you could help your child live a happier and more productive life?

This is what all parents want for their children. However, for parents of children with language disorders, it can be often be frustrating to help their children do anything from speak clearly to understanding others.

However, the more you know about these disorders, the more you can help your child and any others with a language processing disorder. Keep reading to review our comprehensive guide to child language disorders.

What Are Child Language Disorders?

There are different types of language disorders (more on this in a moment). However, they are all rooted in a difficulty finding and saying the right words and/or a difficulty in understanding what other people say.

Adults sometimes confuse certain language disorders with a child being hard of hearing. However, these children do not have trouble hearing. Rather, their difficulty is with fully understanding and applying the various rules of standard spoken communication.

The good news is that the more you know about your child’s language disorder, the easier it will be to treat it.

Different Types of Disorders

There are three different kinds of language disorders. The first is a receptive language disorder, which means that the children have trouble understanding what those around them say.

The second type of language disorder is an expressive language disorder. This means that the child has difficulty in fully expressing their different thoughts and different ideas via language.

The final type of language disorder is a mixed receptive-expressive language disorder. Simply put, this is a combination of the first two disorders, meaning that a child has difficulty understanding others as well as making himself understood by others.

Language Disorder Symptoms

There are a few general symptoms that a child has a language processing disorder. This includes speaking less than other children and speaking in short sentences that are missing conjunctions such as “and” or “but.”

Another symptom is that the child may have trouble responding to directions they are given. This is likelier if the instructions contain information about time, location, or description. They may also have trouble with directions that exclude a certain category of something, such as bringing every ball except the red one.

A final symptom may be that a child continues to misuse verbs or nouns after their peers have stopped doing so. The good news is that these specific systems will give a speech pathologist (either in your area or online) a specific area to focus on during speech therapy.

Delay vs. Disorder

You will hear many different terms when it comes to your child’s language disorder, including “delay” and “disorder.” While some people may use these terms as synonyms for one another, it’s good to know what the actual difference is.

“Delay” refers to a child who is developing their speech skills in the standard order but slower than the standard rate. “Disorder” refers to a child whose development is non-standard, and this may manifest in a variety of surprising ways.

Causes of These Disorders

Many parents are understandably curious about what the causes of language disorders are. Unfortunately, there are many different potential causes, so it is difficult to isolate what may be the cause for a particular child.

In some cases, it is genetic, as anywhere between twenty percent to forty percent of children with a history of family speech issues end up with their own language disorder.

Other cases may be linked to differences in prenatal care. Some studies have shown that women who take folic acid supplements while pregnant have a reduced chance of developing a language disorder.

Finally, speech issues may be linked to other conditions that the child is facing. This includes Down syndrome, autism, and premature birth as well as other intellectual disabilities.

How Common is This?

When your child is dealing with a language disorder, it’s easy to feel isolated and lonely. However, it’s important for parents and children alike to realize that these disorders are more common than most people imagine.

Some studies have found that up to five percent of the child population suffer from various language disorders. This means that over sixteen million children may suffer from these language disorders in America alone.

Reaching out to other families who may be experiencing this can be beneficial and is a good supplement to getting traditional speech therapy.

How to Diagnose This

Earlier, we talked about some of the symptoms that might serve as warning signs of a language disorder. How, though, would a pediatrician actually diagnose this?

Typically, a pediatrician has a good sense of certain language milestones that children will reach and what age they typically reach them. If your child is past a certain age and has not reached that milestone, it helps them identify things like receptive and expressive language delay.

It’s important to seek professional assistance as soon as possible. A pediatrician or other doctor can help rule out things like hearing problems and also accurately diagnosis the exact kind of language disorder the child is facing.

Don’t forget that diagnosis does not have to be expensive. You can typically receive cheap (and sometimes even free) diagnosis via local universities or school districts.

Types of Treatment

Once a language disorder has been diagnosed, the next step is for your child to receive treatment. How, though, will this treatment work?

The truth is that the exact treatment plan varies because the speech pathologist creates an individual therapy for each patient. In addition to their sessions, they will work with you on how you can extend lessons from therapy into your daily lives.

A speech pathologist can also help your child get an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for your local school system so they can participate in the speech rehabilitation. If your child cannot get an IEP, they may qualify for a 504 plan that will help teachers adapt to their unique needs.

The Bottom Line

You know how important a speech pathologist is to help your child’s language disorders. But do you know where to find the best pathologists?

Here at Great Speech, we are the ultimate authority in providing online pathology solutions for your child’s every need. To see how we can make each day brighter, contact us today!

 

back to school success 3

Six Great Tips for Parents to Promote Back-To-School Success

My children have never had issues transitioning from school to summer vacation. Neither have any of my clients.

We all naturally celebrate summer by changing our routine. Camp replaces school, vacations become the norm and homework becomes a distant memory.

Until the first official back-to-school notice arrives.

It’s a transition for everyone, both mentally and physically, no matter how many times you do it.

The one thing I have learned over the course of my career, as a mom, speech therapist and founder of Great Speech, is that organization is the key.

Most of us are not born organizers. Rather, organization is an acquired skill requiring ongoing nurturing by the adults in the family.

The benefits are numerous. Organization breeds focus, productivity, efficiency and academic success. It helps us set goals, prioritize tasks and meet deadlines. Ultimately, being organized is an important tool in reducing anxiety and promoting self-confidence.

While the stakes are higher as we grow older, the importance of organization is crucial even in preschool. There are parent consent forms and assignments to bring home and then returned with a signature. I recently visited a three-year old class where there was a visual chart outlining the morning sequencing routine: hang up your coat and backpack, empty out your communication folder, sign in, do your daily job and say good morning to the teacher.

Task sequencing is an important organizational tool.

In elementary school, you may not only have to write down the homework assignment, but also bring home the appropriate books, complete the assignment and put it somewhere in your backpack where you can find it upon request.

Organization begins at home. The more organized you are, the better the transition. Understandably, this puts a lot of pressure on you as parents, but our role in setting the tone for the school year is crucial.

Here are my three favorite strategies to facilitate the back-to-school process:           

·       Create a routine and ease into it: Involve all family members into creating the schedule for school as well as the transition routine. Use an app or large calendar to map out the daily, weekly and monthly schedules to create a realistic routine. If bedtime has been lax, start working on a routine. If TV time has been unlimited, start cutting back to realistic school levels.

·       Promote organization through conversation: Most people think of organizing as the physical act of putting things in the right place. But organizing is also a mental process and a great way to encourage organized behavior is through conversation. Taking the time to talk about what you did today and what you plan to do tomorrow is a way to teach sequencing skills and demonstrate how what you do today impacts your plan for tomorrow. Dinner time is the perfect venue for these type of family conversations.

·       Move from organization to executive functioning: While regular conversations focusing on planning promotes organized thinking, taking it to the next level will promote executive functioninga set of essential mental skills are critical for academic success, play a key role in social interaction and impact both oral and written communication.

Wondering how to promote organization and executive functioning skills. Here are three of my favorite starter tips:

  • Designate a quiet, neat, clutter-free area for homework with easy access to all school-related supplies. Identify a centrally located place for backpacks to avoid the last minute morning rush.
  • Make “organizing the backpack” part of the nighttime routine. You can either do it together or have your child do it under your watchful eye. The ultimate goal is for them to eventually do it regularly on their own with a thorough cleaning every Sunday. I still clean out my purse every Sunday night, a remnant from my childhood routine.
  • Shop together for school supplies that are color-coded. Visual cues are super-helpful for executive functioning and especially for organizing preschool kids.

Looking for other GREAT Speech tips? Download our eBook or email us about our Executive Functioning Training program.