Robyn Kinigson Speech Language Pathologist

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This Blog is to keep families and caregivers updated with information about upcoming events, therapy articles and interventions regarding speech and language development.  

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Importance of Schedules for Children with Special Needs

Posted on April 11, 2015 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Schedules not only keep adults organized but children thrive with them as well.  Schedules allow people to know what to expect and when to expect it.  I choose one of 3 schedule types when doing my therapy: Loose Schedules, Detailed Schedules, Loosely Detailed Schedules.  Loose schedules are not very specific with times.  Think of them as your "To Do" list.  You know you need to do all the things on the list but there's no time frame. Detailed schedules are like a daily planner that begins at 6:00 am and ends at 10:00 pm.  Every part of your day is planned.  Then there's an in between, Loosley Detailed schedule.  This is when some things are planned and other things just need to get done.  For example, you may have a "To Do" list with a doctor's appointment in the middle of the day.

Just like adults like to have a schedule, no matter how loose or detailed, children like to have a schedule as well.  This is especially true for our children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, autism spectrum, receptive/expressive language delay/disorder and language processing disorder.  Schedules are the key to keeping children organized in their mind and body.  It helps them understand their world and helps improve their ability to process information.  Knowing what is going to happen throughout the day reduces stress and helps children know what is expected of them.

The first thing to do is to decide which type of schedule is beneficial for your child.  When starting out most children benefit from a Detailed schedule. As the child gets older and begins to understand what a schedule is and how to use it they may benefit from a Loosely-Detailed schdule or Loose schedule.  There are some children, just like adults, who benefit from a Detailed schedule throughout their lives.  The schedule can be made with pictures, icons or words/phrases.  They can be made from left to righ or up and down.  A schedule can be broken up into morning activities, afternoon activities, and evening activities depending on how detailed it needs to be.  

Your pictures/icons/words should be laminated and have either velcro or a magnet on the back.  Make sure to make an "All done" envelope or bin so when an activity is finished your child can place it in that envelope or bin.  Teach your child to be responsible for his/her schedule.  

A schedule does not mean that eveything has to be planned.  You can make a picture icon or use the word "Surprise" for something that happens during the day that is not planned.  Practice having surprises during the day when you are at home as it is a safe way to practice what a "surprise" is. 

Making a schedule with your child is aslo a great language activity.  It can teach choice making when there is a choice to be made, discuss events and what to expect during that event, discuss "expected" behaviors for that even, learning new vocabulary and learn ordinal number concepts.  

Feel free to comment on this post or e-mail me if you have any questions about schedules:  robynkinigson@therapyinyourhome.org

Yoga for Speech and Language Therapy

Posted on June 7, 2014 at 7:25 AM Comments comments (2)

Yoga is not just a great way for children to get up and moving...it's a great way to work on speech and language!!  The following are ways to incorporate speech sounds, vocabulary, following directions, basic concepts, story telling, focus and attention, and imaginative play into your yoga sessions.


Speech Sounds

Animal poses in yoga are a great way to practice speech sounds your child is working on.  There are poses such as "Cat; Downward Dog; Lion; Dolphin; Cow (often done in combination with Cat); Cobra; etc."  Each animal has a sound of their own that you can practice but also have fun with it!  If you are working on the "f" sound but your child wants to do the "Cat" pose first make the cat  sound ("meow") a few times and then you can say, "Let's pretend the cat is mad.  This is the sound the cat makes when he's mad..Fe Fe Fe."  Or you can say, "Let's pretend this is a silly cat and he makes silly noises like Fow Fow Fow", etc.  Think outside of the box.  I always start with the sound they are familiar with the animal saying and then switch it up.  When you're doing this at home always pick a sound your child is working on but is having success with in therapy.  This is supposed to be a fun activity and you don't want your child to become frustrated because you are constantly correcting their speech.  I'm not saying you should never work on difficult sounds, because that is essential for mastering, however, I wouldn't work on them during this activity. For example, if your child is having success with the "f" sound in consonant-vowel combinations or vowel-consonant combinations then that is what you should work on.  If your child is having most difficulty with "f" in words then I would save that focus for a different activity, but still work on it.  


The nature poses can also be used for speech sound practice.  When doing "Tree" pose you can practice your child's target sound and say that's the way the wind sounds when it's blowing.  You can practice how the water sounds when doing "Boat" pose.  With any of the "Warrior" poses you can practice your Warrior cry with your child.


All poses are a great way to practice breath support which is very important when practicing speech sounds.  Air flow helps improve loudness and allows for enough air to collect for sounds such as "n, m, f, v, s, z, r, etc."  (Air flow is just one aspect of the mentioned sounds.)  


Language

Practicing yoga is great for following directions and sequencing.  When I practice yoga with children I will do one of the following: I pick out the poses and put them in order having the child follow the sequence; I have the child pick the poses and the child can put them in any order they want and they follow the sequence; I pick the poses and have the child put them in order; The child picks out the poses and I put them in order. The pictures give the child a visual to aid in order to perform the pose.  Some children need me to verbally tell them what to do as well.  Other children need to watch me do the pose and then they are able to perform the pose.  When laying out the pictures to follow I will label each pose using either "1, 2, 3,..." or "First, Second, Third,...".  They are either set up from left to right or top to bottom (whatever sequence you are working on).  Every time a pose is complete we turn it over to symbolize the end of the pose.  


Yoga is a great way to practice vocabulary as well.  First there is the name of the pose.  You can discuss what the name means and how to use the word in a sentence.  Practice basic concepts such as "up/down, on/off, under/over".  Each pose requires you to move your body in a different position showing your child what the concept means.  By having the child perform the action it helps them process what the concept actually means.  When children combine their senses it helps them learn new information.   


Focus and attention is at the heart of yoga practice.  When the intent is to improve focus and attention breathing should be slow; in the nose and out the mouth, or as some of my OT friends say "Smell the roses and blow out the candles"!  You can still have fun with the poses put there should be a calm environment for focus and attention.  The following are poses that are calming and aid focus: "Tree; Camel; Standing Forward Bend; Seated Forward Bend; Lotus; Child" (taken from the book Storytime Yoga: Teaching Yoga to Children Through Story by Sydney Solis).


Story Telling and Imagination

One of my favorite things to do with children and yoga is to make a story with the poses.  Have your child pick poses and tell a story about them. Your child should sequence the poses like sequencing a story.  Each pose represents a part of the story and just like any story each pose should relate to the pose before.  This is the time when props should be introduced and after completing each pose act out that part of the story. Your job is to help your child relate the poses.  Use every day household objects to target creativity and imagination.  For example, make a mountain out of pillows piled on the floor; use pool floats as swords; scarves can be used as birds' wings; the "hero" can climb the stairs like it's a castle, or if you don't have stairs use a short stool/step ladder; etc.  Yoga is a good way to have your child act out their favorite stories as well. The importance of using yoga as story telling is that your child is in the lead.  As long as your child is being safe and follows an appropriate sequnce pattern the story is theirs to tell.  As the parent you can help the child use correct sentence structure and grammar if that is a goal, or help increase sentence length by adding a word to what they say.  


**Always remember to modify poses if necessary so your child can be successful.  

Below is a list of yoga cards that I have used.  Please visit my Resource page for yoga books.

"Yoga Kit for Kids" by Imaginazium

"Yoga Pretzels" by Tara Guber and Leah Kalish

"Yogarilla Exercises and Activities" by Super Duper Inc.

Please feel free to e-mail me at robynkinigson@therapyinyourhome.org with any questions!

Mr. Potato Head...More Than Just A Face!!

Posted on June 1, 2014 at 8:20 PM Comments comments (0)

 

As a speech pathologist working in a child's natural environment it's important to be able to make anything a language/speech activity. When I walk into a house, daycare and/or classroom I scope what the child is playing with that I will be working with. I need to keep in mind the child's goals and how I can utilize their interest. I may have an idea in my head but that can all change once I see what the child is doing. 


As a parent it may be difficult to figure out how to make the toys in your house "therapy" materials. The great thing is that they already are! All you need is to think outside of the box! Here are some ideas for Mr. Potato Head!


Vocabulary and Language: 

Mr. Potato Head is loaded with nouns: body parts, a few clothing items (boots, shoes, purse, hat, glasses). Put all the pieces in a clear storage container with a top. Have your child request the item they want. You can give them a choice between two items, showing them each item. If your child is using pictures to communicate you can take pictures of each item and have your child point or hand you the picture of the item they want. You can show your child two pictures and have them choose what they want. Whether your child is practicing using words or pictures make sure when you say the word your child can see your mouth. One way to do this is to bring the item/picture they want next to your mouth so as they are looking at what they want they see your mouth as well.

 

Concepts: In/out, push/pull, on/off, big/little, etc.

 

Prepositions: In/out, on/off, next to/in between, etc.

 

Concepts and prepositions overlap as you can see! You can position the pieces around the room and have your child look for the piece. Once found discuss where the piece was using prepositional phrases. Ex. "You found the nose! It was on the table." You can also work on following directions when hiding the pieces around the room. The directions can be simple, "Find the nose" or more complicated, "Find the nose on the table." You can practice 1 and 2+ step directions as well. 

 

Mr. Potato Head may be used for expanding phrase/sentence length. If your child is using pictures to communicate there is a template you can print out on speakingofspeech.com for Mr. Potato Head. Your child can then point to the "I want" picture, "Mr. Potato Head" picture and item to make the sentence "I want Mr. Potato Head ears (etc.)." If your child is using a tablet program you can find the pictures on the tablet and plug them into the program your child is using. This will help them be able to maneuvre through the pages of their tablet and learn how to use it. You can also print out the template from speakingofspeech.com, cut out the pictures, laminate them and put them in a communication book for a low tech AAC option.

 

Verbally you can practice putting words together to make simple phrases or sentences. "I want; Mr. Potato Head needs; Where is/are the; etc." You can work on answering questions: "Where is/are the nose/eyes/ears/etc.?; What do you use to hear/see/smell/etc.?" Your child can answer the questions using one word, two words or full sentences. Tailor to what your child is working on.

 

Turn Taking: 

You can work with one child or a group of children with several Mr. Potato Heads. With one child you will be the partner. In both scenarios your child/children can work on taking turns when picking pieces for Mr. Potato Head. You can work on all of the language goals at the same time or if you just want to focus on pragmatics you can work only on turn taking.


Joint Attention: 

This is where you and your child are playing/doing an activity at the same time and your child references you during play. If your child does not display joint attention Mr. Potato Head may be a fun way to work on this goal. You can either use one Mr. Potato Head or two. Make sure when using two you have the same exact pieces for each. During this time your child is in the lead and you follow him/her.


With one Mr. Potato Head you point to the piece your child is hold in his/her hand. Hand your child pieces to Mr. Potato Head either he/she is reaching for or randomly choose pieces to hand to him/her. If your child pushes your hand away do not take this as a sign he does not want you to continue. Take it as a sign he did not want that piece. Continue handing pieces to him. When he pushes your hand away you can say "No, you don't want that piece". When he accepts a piece you can say "Yes, you want...(name of piece)." Never assume that when your child pushes your hand away that he/she is rejecting you.

 

When working with two Mr. Potato Heads you have one and your child has one. You both have the same exact pieces. Sit next to your child and put your pieces around the same vicinity as your child's pieces. Whatever your child picks up, you pick up. Do everything your child does. This is to show your child that you are a play partner and you're not there to "mess up" what he's doing. The only thing I would not imitate is throwing. When your child throws you can say "Oh, you didn't want that one. We don't have to throw, we can put it here" and put it in a place away from the other pieces. You do the same with the same exact piece in your Mr. Potato Head kit. This way you are not condoning the behavior but giving your child another way to express dislikes. You don't want to be too confrontational during this activity because the goal is joint attention.

 

Whenever working on joint attention persistence is key. As mentioned above, never assume your child is rejecting you when he/she pushes your hand away. Joint attention can be very frustrating to work on for both your child and yourself. You may want to start off with very short periods and work your way up to longer periods. You can be the judge.

 

Articulation:

Using Mr. Potato Head is a great motivator for having your child work on speech sound production. Each time your child practices their sound in isolation, in a word, in sentences he/she can get a piece of Mr. Potato Head. All those pieces allow for a lot of repetition of sounds. You can offer one piece of a pair at a time for more repetition.

 

I hope that these suggestions give you new incite into how versatile Mr. Potato Head can be!! These ideas can also be applied to a variety of toys you alread have in your home.

 

 

 

If you have any questions please feel free to e-mail me at robynkinigson@therapyinyourhome.org

 

 

 

 


"Why Won't He Just Eat?"

Posted on May 25, 2014 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (0)

There is a difference between children who have difficulties eating and those who are picky. Beginning at around the age of 2 children become neophobic: a fear of anything new. This can be seen when you try to feed your child something new and without even touching it automatically says "No". This is a good thing because it also stops children from putting what they find on the floor in their mouths. There are also children who demonstrate oral motor weakness and coordination issues which may prevent them from eating new foods. I will be discussing universat strategies for picky eaters, children with sensory problems and children who exhibit poor oral motor skills.


I have taken a 3 day course by Kay Toomey, PhD, which incorporates sensory activities before, during and after eating. It is a great way to get children ready, engage in and participate in eating activities. One of the biggest myths about eating is that it is innate, natural and everybody can do it. Children with sensory problems and oral motor difficulties do not find it easy. Your child with a sensory issue will not be willing to accept anything new or changes in presentation because it is unexpected. An example is when you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich using the same exact ingredients you always do but leave it whole this time instead of cutting it in half which you typically do. Your child may reject the sandwhich right away because to them cutting it in half has just made the sandwhich something new. The following suggestions are aimed to help ease your child into trying new foods. A speech language pathologist and/or occupational therapist will be able to develop an individualized plan for your child.


One important fact to know is that children have the ability to sit for 20 minutes for a meal. Anything more than that and they begin to lose interest and want to leave the table. This time is shorter for our children with sensory needs. Before a meal it is important to feed the sensory system as to get your child ready to sit. Make an obstacle course by taking pillows off the couch and have your child climb over and under the pillows. Then fill a laundry basket with heavy books and have your child push it across the room. Have your child stomp his/her feet while moving from activity to activity. End the session with a bear hug. Do these activities for 2-5 minutes before a meal, depending on how much input your child needs at the time.


Now that your child is ready to sit it's time for the meal. Limit the distractions. This means no TV and no toys at the table. Make sure your child's feet have something to rest on to decrease fatigue and increase your child's ability to know where they are in space. Make sure the meal is ready before having your child sit at the table. Any time spent waiting at the table is taking away from the time your child is willing to sit at the table...remember the 20 minute rule.


When serving the meal your child should get one tablespoon of food for their age. For example, your two year old should get two tablespoons of each food item. Try having your child scoop their own food, with your help if needed. This helps your child ineract with the food: look at the food and smell the food. In a perfect world new food would go on the same plate as familiar food, however, if your child can't handle this it can go on a plate next to their plate keeping it within their eye site. The first goal for new food should be having the child be able to have it close to them. The first time a new food is introduced it is never the goal for the child to taste/eat it. If they do consider that a bonus! It typically takes 10 different presentations of a food for a child to accept it into their diet. This is 10 separate days, not breakfast, lunch and dinner for 3 days.


Your child should feel comfortable exploring the new food. Exploration means being able to touch the food, move it around the plate, smell the food, kiss the food and possible lick the food. These steps will not happen on the first day. The goal, as said above, is to have your child become comfortable. Make sure to reassure your child they don't have to eat the food but it needs to stay on the plate. There are 25 different steps before a child will actually put the food in their mouth, chew and swallow. There is a link on my Resources page to the Steps to Eating Chart. When meal time is finished have your child help clean their plate. They can blow, kiss or place with their hands the new food into the garbage. This is more interaction. They can wash their hands, signaling to them the end of the meal.


There are specific oral motor skills needed when moving from puree/baby food to solid foods. For our older children there are oral motor skills needed as well. They need to be able to bite, transfer food to the back molars, chew and move the tongue from side to side, front and back. Children with low tone and sensory porblems often have weak oral motor skills. One strategy to aid with strengthening the jaw is to give a child something they can chew on but not get a piece off. This may be a frozen carrot or frozen banana. You may also want to buy a food net so your child can chew on soft food but not worry about getting big pieces to swallow. THere are individual oral motor exercises that your speech language pathologist can give you to do on a daily basis to strengthen oral motor skills. Make sure your child is always supervised when working with frozen carrots/bananas and the food net. You can also play a game of "Tug O' War" with a washcloth. Place the wash cloth in your child's mouth by the molars and have them bite. As they are biting you are pulling on the cloth. Instruct your child to hold onto it with their teeth as long as they can. Do this with both sides of the mouth.


The above has been a short explanation of how to incorporate sensory activities and oral motor activities into meal time in order to expand your child's food repertoire. Please look at my Resources page for more information regarding feeding. Please e-mail me with any questions or comments you may have: robynkinigson@therapyinyourhome.org

Executive Functions: Much More Than Organization

Posted on May 18, 2014 at 5:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Executive functions refer to the following cognitive processes: working memory, reasoning, task flexibility, problem solving, planning and execution, organizing, attention skills, managing time and space, and motivation.  These skills are located in the frontal lobes of the brain.  The frontal lobes contain the dopamine sensitive neurons.  Dopamine is a hormone and neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centers. It regulates movement and emotions.  Dopamine enables us to not only see a reward, but take action toward achieving that reward.  Too much or too little dopamine can have negative affects.  In one extreme you will see an increase in impulsivity and on the other extreme you will see lack of motivation.  Executive function deficits may be diagnosed by educators, psychologists, speech language pathologists, among others.  


Working memory refers to verbal working memory and non verbal working memory.  Verbal working memory is your "self talk".  When you are given a task to do or want to remember information you talk yourself through the activity or information.  For example, if you tell your child to go get their shoes, they will say to themselves "Get shoes".  That is verbal working memory.  Non verbal working memory is when your child makes a picture in their brain as to where their shoes are, and may even see themselves walking to that area to get them.  We use both of these types of memory without thinking about it.  One strategy to aid with verbal working memory is to have your child repeat what you say to them.  Eventually they will do this on their own and it won't have to be done out loud.  Having children draw a picture of what you say helps with non verbal working memory. This can be done as an art project and not when you are giving them something to do.  Eventually you can tell them to "make a picture" in their brain.


Reasoning skills refer to a set of skills involving storing information, retrieving information, matching skills and execution.  Think of storing information as having a file cabinet in your brain.  You file experiences and new knowledge in these cabinets. Retrieving the information necessitates you to know which cabinet in your brain the file is in and look at that file.  Matching skills aid with storage and retrieval because you associate things that are similar and it helps you know when something is different.  


Planning, execution and task flexibility are related.  Planning refers to the process of looking at a task that needs to be done and breaking it up into it's separate parts.  Execution is the actual process of going through and doing the separate parts of the task.  Task flexibility refers to being able to change what you are doing in the middle of the activity.  Using lists and calendars with aid with planning and execution.  Discussing possible problems that may arise during the activity may help with being flexible.


Organization and managing time and space refer to how you collect the materials needed for a project, put them together and how you keep your work space.  Managing time refers to how much time you alot for the project.  For example, when doing homework you may have your child take one subject out at a time (organization), discuss how long it should take to complete that homework activity (managing time) and working in a clean and neat desk (managing space).  Managing time seems to be the most tricky.  Children with executive function problems don't realize how long a project/homework will take and they are usually the one's up past bedtime because they started late.  It is important to help your child realize how long it take them to do an activity.  In the case of homework, have them start when they come home after a brief break.  Before starting ask how long they think it will take to complete the first homework assignment.  After that period of time come back to your child and see if they are done.  Show them on a clock how much time has gone by so they can visually see.  Make sure your child knows that it's OK that it took longer but they need to be aware of how long it took so next time they have homework in that subject they can allow for extra time.  We don't want them rushing through homework to get done in a certain time, we want them to give themselves enough time to finish properly.


Problem solving refers to the ability to look at a task/situation and find solutions.  Since children with executive function difficulties have problems with reasoning skills (storing and retrieving information) they look at each situation as a new one and are unable to see similarities between what is happening now and something that has happened in the past in order to find a solution.  Discussing different problems that may arise and solutions for those problems before they occur may help.  When a problem does come about help your child remember a similar situation and discuss what was done in that situation.


There are many strategies that can be utilized to help with executive function difficulties.  The strategies should be used on a daily basis and will probably need to be used for life.  Strategies will change as your child gets older and eventually they should be responsible for utilizing these strategies without your aid.  This depends on the type of executive function difficulties they have and if there are other language delays/disorders involved.  In either secenario it is very important to be organized when having problems with executive function.  


If you see your child having problems with any of the cognitive processes above it is recommended to bring it up to your pediatrician.  A referral to a professional, such as a speech language pathologist, should be made.  A referral is not always needed, as in the case with my services, however, some services do require a referral.  Please feel free to e-mail me with any questions you have regarding executive function or any other developmental inquiries.  My e-mail address is robynkinigson@therapyinyourhome.org



Social Pragmatic Skills: What is it and how can you improve it?

Posted on May 11, 2014 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Many children with language disorders display poor sociall pragmatic skills.  But what are social pragmatic skills?  Social pragmatic skills are how we relate to other people.  It includes communicative intent, engagement, play skills, body language, facial expressions and proximity to communication partner.  I am going to go through all the components of social pragmatic skills and explain what each one looks like and how to improve that skill with our children.  

Communicative Intent

Communicative intent is how we show we want to interact with someone.  It does not always include words, in fact, in babies it is shown when they cry for a reason (they're hungry, wet, tired, etc.).  Children may reach for you, take your hand to bring you to something, point to an object, and/or use their words to show you something or convey a message.  Each of the above convey a message to you, the communication partner.  A lot of children with language delays have communicative intent but don't know how to show it other than crying and/or screaming.  

One way to work on communicative intent is to model the behavior you are looking for.  For example, point to an object you want to share with your child.  If you know what your child wants but is just crying, label and point to what your child wants.  Taking pictures of common objects your child uses/wants, putting them on the refrigerator or a place where your child can reach them, and taking your child there to show you what they want will help with communicative intent.  This way your child is showing you they want to communicate with you.

Engagement

Engagement involves joint attention.  Doing an activity together.  Being in the moment and sharing experiences.  The way I teach joint attention and engagement is by observing what the child likes to do naturally and join them.  If your child likes to line up toys then help them line up the toys.  Hand your child the toy.  If they push it away you can say "Oh you didn't want that one.  Show me which one you wanted."  Try adding a toy to the line and if your child takes that toy out of the line then you can say the same thing.  This will teach your child that you are someone who wants to be with them doing what they want to do.  

Play Skills

Play skills refer to how your child interacts with toys.  A lot of our children with language delays/disorders and autism spectrum disorders do not play with toys the way they are intended.  They have difficulty figuring out what the toys are meant for and will play with them in different ways.  In these situations I observe the way a child is playing with a toy to determine whether or not the child is being creative or just can't figure out the toy.  I will then say "That's one way to play with the toy but look what I can do" and then show them how to play.  This may need to be done several times.  Another way to teach appropriate play skills is to imitate what your child is doing with the toy and then gradually change what you do.  For example if a child repeats moving a car back and forth I will move a car back and forth next to them, eventually I will stop the car and after a few seconds have the car go again.  If a child throws toys I will give them a target such as a "clean up box", or give a ball to throw.  I will label the object only, not using any other words.  Then I will label the action.  It is important to start where your child is at and gradually teach appropriate play skills.

Body Language

Body language refers to what we do with our bodies during a conversation or when we are playing with someone.  Are you fidgeting?  Is your body turned away from your communicative partner?  Are you tapping your feet?  We need to teach our children the appropriate ways to use our body during a conversation or play to show interest.  I will go over the rules with children and then practice using them in different situations. When I feel a child is able to tell me the rules I then model some of their body language to them during activities and have them tell me if it is appropriate or not.  I will also model the child's body language as they are showing it to me so they can see.  They often ask why I'm doing it and that leads to a discussion.  Sometimes they laugh because they know I'm doing something wrong.  Other times by me imitating their actions they fix what they are doing without me saying anything to them.

Facial Expressions

Facial expressions refer to how we use our face to convey messages.  Often the face can be very over stimulating because it gives so much information.  Children may not be able to read your face because they can't put the different pieces of your face together to make one big picture or there is too much to look at on the face.  This is when I tone my expressions down and add intonation to my voice saying "Oh no; Uh oh; Yay". I use a soft voice.  If they are not over stimulated I exaggerate my facial expressions to help understanding.  

Proximity

Proximity refers to personal space.  When you are talking to friends and family you stand closer to them than you would when you are talking to your boss, co-workers or a stranger.  It is important to teach the rules so your child is not misunderstood.  Once they are able to state the rules we practice them in different situations.

Social pragmatic skills are sometimes difficult to teach and difficult to understand.  On my Resources page there is a Youtube video titled Late Talkers vs. Language Delay.  At the end of this video it discusses social skills and pretend play skills.  There is also a link on the Resources page to a handout by Super Duper Inc. regarding Social Pragmatic Skills.  I hope this gives you insight into the different areas of social pragmatic skills and ways to help teach the skills.  Please feel free to e-mail me with any questions at robynkinigson@therapyinyourhome.org or visit our Contacts page and fill out the form.  I look forward to hearing from you!!


Sensory Play and Language Development

Posted on May 4, 2014 at 2:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Exploring the world is how children as young as infants acquire language.  This exploration involves all of the senses.  Children with special needs and language delays/disorders develop these skills using the same approach.  In fact, in my experience, it is even more important to tap into a child's sensory needs in order to gain and improve language skills.

While working with some fabulous occupational therapists throughout the years I have learned how important sensory integration is when working with children.  Sights, sounds, touch, smells and even tastes may be so distracting to children that they shut down.  When this happens it is nearly impossible to teach new skills and/or expect children to communicate and use skills they already have.  Imagine how you feel when you have the flu.  The slightest touch may send pain throughout your body; any sound may cause you to close your eyes to drown out the world; food is of no interest; smell may cause headaches or nausea.  Now imagine going to work feeling this way.  How productive will you be?  It's difficult to concentrate and understand what is being said to you becuase you are focused on what is bothering you.  The good thing about the flu is that it doesn't last forever.  However, imagine if you felt that way everyday.  Many of our children diagnosed with autism, ADHD/ADD and language disorders battle with feeling this way.

Although sensory issues do not go away like the flu families, and eventually children, can learn strategies to feed that sensory need.  Once the child's sensory system is "fed" the child is in a good position for learning.

Sensory play can open the door to learning new vocabulary, basic concepts and imaginary play, among a few.  It is important to know what your child needs.  Observe your child's behavior and pick up on their clues.  One of the best ways is to work with an occupational therapist.  Feeding the sensory system must be done consistently throughout the day.  Just as when you have the flu and may take medication to alleviate some of the symptoms the medication wears off and you may need to take more.  This is the same for the sensory system.

Here are a few fun sensory play activities that feed the sensory system and enhance language development:

Marching-pretend you're marching in a band and stomp your feed hard on the ground.  Use preten instruments.  Repeat "march" as you march around the house or playground.  

Take cushions off the couch and put them on the floor.  March "over" and "under" cushions.  Call it a mountain, or train tracks.  Pretend to be trains and make train noises.  Discuss where you would visit if you took a train.

Give squooshes with a pillow.  Have your child lay on his/her belly and put a pillow on top and apply a little pressure.  Do the same with your child laying on their back.  Talk about how they are a "hot dog; hamburger; taco; sandwich; etc.  For each squoosh name a different topping.

Pull/Push your child on a plastic circular sled.  Discuss where you're going, whay type of vehicle it is; etc.  Do they want you to "push/pull".

WIth all of these activities you can use sign language, words, sounds and gestures for language practice.  Do whatever your cild is working on at the moment and gradually expect more.  For all activities you can stop and have your child indicate/say "more" or "all done".  There are many more activities so use your imagination!  The key is to do what your child enjoys and is seeking naturally.  Turn it into something fun and functional!

Please feel free to e-mail me with questions at robynkinigson@therapyinyourhome.org

Identifying the Signs of Communication Disorders

Posted on April 27, 2014 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (1)

April is coming to a close and we are soon going to welcome May!!  May is Better Speech and Hearing Month.  For the month of May look for topics regarding evaluation and treatment of different speech and language disorders.  Today's post is recognizing the signs of communication disorders.

The following are signs of a possible Speech and Language Disorders:

* Does not interact socially

-Lack of eye contact

-Does not respond to name

-Does not request items either by using words or gestures

-Does not show items they are playing with or are of interest

-Does not play with toys in the way they are intended 

*Does not follow or understand what you say (starting at 1 year)

*Says few words, sounds or gestures (18 months-2 years)

-Between 1-3 months a child should begin to coo

-Babbling begins between 6-8 months

-A child should use 10-15 words consistently by 18 months

-A child should use 50 words by 24-27 months and begin combing words to make simple phrases

*Words are not easily understood (18 months-2 years)

-Children 12 months-18 months should be understood 30% of the time in context

-Children 18 months-24 months should be understood 50% of the time in context

-Children 3 years and older should be understood 80%-100% of the time

*Does not combine words (starting at 2 years)

*Struggles to say sounds or words (between 3-4 years)

It is important to understand that each child is an individual and the above information is a guideline.  If you feel as though your child is not developing along these guidelines it is important to seek intervention early.  You should discuss concerns with your pediatrician and obtain a speech and language evaluation to address concerns.

Early intervention for speech and language disorders/delays helps decrease the incidence of educational delays.  Speech and language disorders/delays may affect reading, ability to follow directions and ability to interact socially at home, in school and in social situations.

You may find more information regarding speech and language delays on the following website provided by the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA):  

www.identifythesigns.org

Please look for new posts regarding speech and language disorders/delays throughout the month of May!! 




Spring Has Sprung!!

Posted on April 20, 2014 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Welcome to the first entry on Therapy In Your Home blog!!  Spring certainly has sprung here in Ohio and it is a wonderful time to get outdoors and explore.  Language activities can be practiced anywhere.  Going outdoors provides great sensory stimulation.  Walk barefoot on pavement and grass (provided it's a safe place) and discuss how the different textures feel on your feet.  Use sidewalk chalk to make beautiful masterpieces.  Discuss colors, shapes, letters, numbers as you draw.  Plastic easter eggs don't have to only be for Easter.  Fill the eggs with target words/pictures, different textures, little toys, etc. and hide them.  You can work on concepts such as "in, on, under, next to, open, close" and colors.  Hiding the eggs may be a fun activity to do in the house during those rainy days.  Planting can also be a very therapeutic activity.  You don't have to plant an entire garden but maybe a small pot of herbs or one flower.  This will help with organization skills, following directions and vocabulary.  If you take the end of a celery stalk and place it in water, within days it will begin to grow!!

I hope these suggestions have inspired you to get outdoors, explore and create language activities anywhere!!  As spring continues to show itself look for more ideas on my blog!!  

Thank you!!



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