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Can Speech Therapy Help School-Age Children?

Can Speech Therapy Help School-Age Children?

When we talk about speech therapy, people often look at us with a sweet, smiling face and say things like, “Oh, it is so wonderful that you help kids say their ‘r’ and ‘s’ sounds!”  Don’t get us wrong, we can definitely help your child stop calling that furry animal with long ears a “wabbit”. But did you know that speech-language pathologists work with school-age children in many other areas outside of resolving errors with speech sounds?

 

Here are four examples of the areas we can provide help to school-age children at TheraCare:

1 – Executive Function Skills

Executive function and self-regulation skills are crucial to a person’s ability to get things done in their daily life. You may notice that your child has difficulties planning for upcoming tests, making decisions regarding the best ways to schedule their time, or remaining focused on a conversation at the dinner table. Executive function skills help us all plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks. If your child is having difficulty with these things, then schoolwork and social interactions may be negatively impacted.

2 – Auditory Processing Disorder

Have you noticed that your child has difficulty understanding instructions in noisy environments or continues to have difficulty with reading or spelling even given specific instruction? Sometimes children are able to hear words being said, but their brains have a hard time processing what they are hearing. Speech-Language Pathologists can help students discriminate, recognize, and comprehend auditory information to help them achieve greater success in school.

3 – Language Skills

Language skills are how we convey our thoughts and ideas to others. Adequate language skills are fundamental to academic and social success. This includes both receptive language (how we understand language) and expressive language (how we get our thoughts across). Language is such a broad area, but here are a few examples of the types of things we might work on with children of various ages:

  • Following directions (from simple, one-step directions, to multi-step, complex directions)
  • Grammar (subject-verb agreement, proper verb tense, grammatically-correct sentences, etc.)
  • Vocabulary (demonstrating understanding and using grade-level vocabulary)
  • Asking and understanding wh- questions
  • Writing a complete, grammatically-correct narrative

4 – Spelling, Reading, and Writing Skills

Is your child struggling with spelling words correctly? Maybe reading and writing has been a consistent challenge over the years? We can help with that! We focus on integrating all the functional elements necessary to help your child develop effective reading and writing skills. At TheraCare, we utilize a specific approarch that is proven to help improve skills for individuals with various levels of needs, including individuals with Dyslexia. We can help your child discover that learning these skills is fun while using our systematic, multi-sensory approach.

 

Whether it’s by saying that tricky /r/ sound, working on auditory discrimination skills, or helping your child succeed with reading and writing, the Speech-Language Pathologists at TheraCare would love to help your child communicate effectively and succeed in school! It is never too late to get help for your school-age child.

Check out our summer programs at www.theracareozarks.com/summer-programs for more information about upcoming learning opportunities or call us at (417) 890-4656.

We are excited to partner with you to set your child up for success!

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5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Baby’s Communication Skills

5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Baby’s Communication Skills

Written by: Allison Slone, MS, CCC-SLP

Ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes.  Two big eyes staring at you with a toothless grin.  Chubby cheeks that are made for squeezing and a perfect little head that’s made for smothering in kisses.  We sure love our sweet babies, don’t we? As we become parents, we are hit hard with that intense feeling of love for our children.  We’ll do anything for them, and we want to give them the best life possible.

Then reality sets in, laundry and dishes pile up, sleep deprivation turns us into walking zombies, and the sheer amount of information and conflicting opinions on how to raise our kids makes us want to crawl under a blanket and wave a white flag of surrender.  Yet those two big eyes keep staring at us, and we’ve promised to give this parenting thing our best effort.  After all, our babies will never need us quite as much as they do in their first year of life.

Breathe easy, moms and dads.  Here are five simple things you can do with your babies to improve their communication skills.

1. Talk to Your Baby

 

See, you’re doing great already!  Sometimes we try to overcomplicate things by reading Shakespeare aloud with one hand as we work on baby’s pincer grasp with the other hand while playing Mozart in the background.  Simply talking to our babies about what we are doing throughout the day will do wonders for helping them learn the sounds in our language, as well as begin to associate vocabulary with tangible meaning.

Here are a few basic tips for talking to your baby:

  • Feel free to use an excited, animated voice (most people naturally use this kind of voice when talking to babies) to increase interest when talking to your baby, but use real words with their proper sounds.  You don’t need to say “Whewe is Wodney’s wattle?” for “Where is Rodney’s rattle?” (Do you have any idea how hard it is to teach kids to say the /r/ sound?  They need all the proper modeling they can get from an early age! ☺), or “Do you need your baba?” for “Do you need your bottle?”, but you can be as enthusiastic as you want when you say “OOOOO, mama’s HUUUUNGGRRYYY!!!!  Are YOU hungry too?”
  • Ask your baby questions and then pause for a response.  Even if they don’t say anything, they are learning about “conversational turn-taking”, even as a baby.  Mommy gets a turn to talk, then it’s baby’s turn!
  • Turn daily routines into something predictable for your baby.  For example, every time you give your baby a bath, sing “This is the way we wash our belly, wash our belly, wash our belly.  This is the way we wash our belly to get my Ellie clean” for each body part you wash.  They’re not only hearing the names of their body parts, they’re learning that at bath time, this is what we do.

2. Read to Your Baby


One of the absolute best things we can do for our babies to set them up for a lifetime of success is to read to them.  As babies get older, they may not sit quietly and listen to a book politely.  As a matter of fact, they will most likely use the books to mouth, taste, and throw.  That’s okay!  Make sure you get sturdy board books for your babies that won’t easily be destroyed.  And if they won’t sit still for an entire story, let them roam and read the rest of the story aloud anyways.  They are still listening!  Remember, you are building up their attention span, listening skills, vocabulary development, and pre-literacy skills, just by reading aloud to them and exposing them to lots of books!

The best books for babies are ones that have the following characteristics:

  • Good rhythm and rhyme to help them learn the different sounds of a language (Mother Goose rhymes or Dr. Seuss books)
  • Lots of repetition (For example, “Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See?” by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle)
  • Sounds that are silly or dramatic (My daughters’ all time favorite is “Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?” by Dr. Seuss.)
  • Bright colors to catch the eyes (Example, “The Everything Book” by Denise Fleming)
  • A “touch and feel” or sensory/interactive component.  Babies are “hands on” (and probably mouth on) learners.  Isn’t it so much more meaningful for them to feel a lamb in a book with a bit of wool on it to talk about how it’s “soft” or a sandpaper rock to talk about it being “rough”?  Older babies also delight in being able to lift a flap or open a door to find something for you.

3. Play With Your Baby


As I said before, these are things you naturally do as parents!  Little did you know the silly games you play with your baby are teaching them the crucial building blocks they need for communication skills.  These skills include joint attention, reciprocation and imitation, following directions, social greetings, predictable routines, vocal play, turn taking, development of intentionality, cause and effect, and more.  Here are a few simple games every baby loves:

  • Peek-a-Boo
  • Imitating actions like clapping, blowing kisses, waving hi and bye
  • Pat-A-Cake
  • Finger plays like “Itsy Bitsy Spider”
  • Blowing bubbles

4. Give Your Baby Your Undivided Attention

 

We live in a busy, “go, go, go!”world where there are plenty of distractions to prevent us from getting quality one-on-one time with our babies.  If we are distracted, we might miss out on opportunities to recognize our babies’ attempts to communicate with us.

  • That shift in their gaze means they notice the dog walking across the room and they want us to notice it too.
  • Their serious stare into our eyes as we talk to them means that they are memorizing the faces of the people they love the most, and watching how our mouths move to form sounds.
  • That smile that melted your heart means “Dad, PLEASE make that hilarious zerbert noise again!”
  • That soft coo means they are perfectly content, snuggled up in our arms.

As parents we so often worry about getting them “the best” of everything—we do crazy amounts of research, seeking out the very best educational toys, the very best and safest carseats, even the very best pacifiers to soothe them.  In reality, babies need very little.  Are we giving them the very best of ourselves?  That’s what they need the most, even if it’s just for 30 minutes a day.

5. Consider a “Mommy and Me” Summer Enrichment Class


So you’re talking to your baby, you’re reading to your baby, you’re playing with your baby, and you’re giving that sweet baby some serious uninterrupted one on one time.  What now?  Well, you do something really fun to enhance your baby’s growing communication skills, of course!  TheraCare Outpatient Services is excited to provide “Mommy and Me” summer enrichment classes.  This hands-on summer camp is for parents to enjoy special bonding time with their baby as they learn how to better enhance their budding speech and language skills in a way that’s meaningful to babies: through play!  Guided by a certified speech-language pathologist, parents will come away from this class with improved parent/baby attachment and interaction, specific strategies for enhancing your baby’s speech and language skills through play, and fun memories with new friends!  Visit our summer programs page here for more information on session dates, times, and prices.  It’s going to be a blast!  Oh, and it’s called “Mommy and Me” because alliterations are fancy.  Dads are welcome too!

Chime In:
What are some of your favorite games to play
or 
books to read with your baby?

 

Feel free to contact us via our social media links, email, or by phone to discuss any questions you have.

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info@theracareozarks.com

417-890-4656

 

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