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3 Reasons Why School-Based Therapy Is Not Enough for Your Child

reasons to continue private therapy

 

Your kids have spent the summer splashing in pools, eating ice cream, and staying up way past their bedtime. It’s hard to believe that in a few short weeks, they’ll be trading in those swimsuits for backpacks.

If your child has been receiving private speech, language, or occupational therapy services this summer, you may be considering cancelling these services for the school year.  After all, won’t their speech therapy services in school be enough?

Here are three important reasons to continue private therapy services during the school year:

 

1. One on One Setting

In the public schools, it is highly likely that your child will be paired with as many as three other children during therapy.  While school therapists are trained to make the most of therapy sessions involving several children, the simple math is that your child might only be getting ten minutes of therapy out of a 30-minute session.

In private therapy your child receives one-on-one therapy services, so every minute of a session is devoted towards working on his or her own specific goals.

 

2. More Collaboration with Parents

In private therapy, parents consult with the therapist directly after each session.  You are kept informed of the specific goals your child is working on, what strategies will improve their skills in these areas, and suggestions for what can be done at home to continue the progress.

More importantly, you as the parent get to know your therapist; together you prioritize what areas you want to work on first. As much as school therapists try to keep parents informed through quarterly progress updates and annual IEP meetings, they provide services for so many students that their ability to collaborate with you is limited.

 

3. More Therapy=More Progress

Public school therapy is free and takes place during the school day, making it a cost-effective and convenient form of therapy for your child. Unfortunately, not every child who is struggling will qualify for services in public schools. Research has shown that early intervention is a key to reducing the severity of your child’s needs and increasing the positive impact of therapy services.

Giving your child the ability to receive therapy services in public schools AND in a private setting maximizes their ability to make progress early. That means less services will be needed later on, when school coursework becomes more complex. Basically, the more therapy your child receives early on, the fewer services they will need later on!

Remember, the benefits of private therapy continue to last all year round! Public school services combined with private sessions makes for a one-two punch that tackles your child’s therapy needs early on.

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3 Red Flags Your Kindergartener Needs Speech/Language Therapy

3 red flags

Written By: Allison Slone, MS, CCC-SLP

It seems like only yesterday your child was learning to roll over, sit up, and take those first wobbly steps.  Now it’s time for them to go to Kindergarten, and you’re left wondering how time managed to slip by so quickly.  Your mind swirls with a million questions.  Will they make good friends?  Will they succeed in school?  Will they remember that you put their lunch money in the front pocket of their backpack?

You’re so proud of your child you think your heart might burst.  But at the back of your mind, the questions continue.  Is this “normal”?  Do other kids have a hard time following directions?  Your relatives have mentioned they can’t understand what your child is saying.  Should you be worried?

A child’s ability to communicate is one of the most important skills they will use as they progress through school and adulthood.  Here are three red flags that your Kindergartener might need to be evaluated by a speech-language pathologist:

  1. People are having a hard time understanding what your child is saying.

By Kindergarten, your child should be able to be easily understood by both familiar (ex: Grandma and Grandpa) and unfamiliar (ex: a stranger at the grocery store) listeners.  Your child may make errors on some speech sounds that are harder to say, like “wabbit” for “rabbit” or “yips” for “lips”, but his or her overall message should be easily understood.  You may need to rely on other people’s report for this, since parents seem to be able to “speak the language” of their child, no matter how difficult they are to understand.

  1. Your child has difficulty following multi-step directions at home or school.

As a Kindergartener, your child should easily be able to follow 3-step directions at home, like “put on your pajamas, brush your teeth, and then pick out a book.”  If he or she seems to get lost after step one or needs frequent reminders about what the next step is, this could be a sign of a receptive language issue.

Receptive language is your child’s ability to understand spoken words (since he or she most likely isn’t able to read fluently yet).  If he or she doesn’t understand what’s being asked or can’t retain the information, these issues will show up in school, too.  If your child’s teacher reports that your child has a difficult time following classroom directions, it might be time to look into an evaluation from a speech-language pathologist to determine his or her overall language skills.

  1. Your child is struggling putting his or her thoughts into words.

By the time your child is in Kindergarten, he or she should be speaking in complete sentences.  These sentences should be relatively free of grammar errors, and they should be able to convey two or more ideas.  If your child is upset, can he verbalize what happened?  If he wants to tell you about something fun that happened at school, could he do so in a way you could easily understand?  Can your daughter retell the basic elements of a story you read to her?  Could she describe what a picture looks like that you can’t see, or explain to you the basic steps of how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?  Can your son use his words to tell his brother “Don’t touch my rocket ship!  It’s mine!” rather than hitting him?

If not, your child may be demonstrating difficulty with expressive language skills.  Expressive language is your child’s ability to put his or her thoughts into words in a way that makes sense.  Difficulty with expressive language can affect your child’s ability to explain what he or she knows at school, which impacts academic success.

 

If you’re worried about your child’s speech or language skills, you can put your mind at ease by requesting a speech and language evaluation by a qualified speech-language pathologist.  Early intervention is the key to reducing the impact of any issues that could affect your child’s ability to communicate and succeed, both at home and in school.

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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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