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Tele-therapy and kids

Tele-therapy items.

Kids of all ages seem to love computers. According to an article in The Telegraph, “Children spend twice as long online using computers as their parents think they do”. The article also state that children start using the internet at the average age of three. We can surely say there is there is an interesting relationship between children and computers worth exploring.

Computers

Computers are both educational and entertaining.  It is one of a few things that can both teach and provide enjoyment at the same time. This seems to occur at an almost unconscious level with kids. Children spend more than 4 hours per day engaged with a computer (cell phones included). As any therapist who work with children would say motivation is the key to making progress and helping kids achieving their goals. Because computers possess this ability to motivate as well as teach they can be used as a  tool to build effective therapeutic relationships between therapists and their young clients.

Tele-therapy

Now, What is tele-therapy? Tele-therapy is the use of telecommunication (internet + modem) and technology (computers) to deliver professional services at a distance by linking clinician to client for intervention, assessment and/or consultation. Tele-therapy was first used by the medical profession during the 1950’s to counsel patients who lived a great distance away about their medical regimen. Since the 1970’s The tele-medical model has been adapted for use in delivering therapeutic and educational services.

Why Speech Tele-therapy

Tele-therapy makes is possible for those hindered by mobility, financial and access difficulties to get help with communication problems. In effect  Speech Tele-therapy will bring a therapist right to the door step of anyone with a communication of language difficulty. 

How does Teletherapy work?

Tele-therapy requires both clinician and client have: a computer, internet provider, modem, mouse (or touch pad). The clinician will acquire additional equipment such as a document camera, storage drives and various types of interactive media (including a white board). Prior to having a speech or language sessions an agreement is signed and agreed upon by clinician and client. The client can be a parent, school, center of hospital. Next a careful review of client medical, education and social histories in performed and a treatment plan in created.

During a typical session the clinician will use a virtual meeting software which the client signs onto. Both clinician and student use their computer’s webcam to interact verbally. In the virtual meeting room clinician will use a white board along with various media to engage and help the client improve. Media include virtual manipulative, graphic organizers, PDF files, stories and videos.

Conclusions

In summary, I would say that Tele-therapy is still a new avenue in which to provide help for those with communication difficulties.  It makes very effective use of computers as means to motivate and essentially correct communication difficulties.

In my experience Speech tele-therapy had been very effective with kids. Children engage with a higher level of cooperation and will participate for longer periods. They often do not want the session to end. Although kids are working to correct challenging problems they are engage with the materials and enjoy the nature of the presentation.

Ultimately Tele-therapy makes use of a stimulating and engaging medium (computers) and when clients are motivated they are more likely to meet their goals and experience  genuine and long-lasting results!

Footsteps To Choosing A Quality Provider: — Lessons from Lady Law

Finding a competent provider.

Each week on my show Legal Ease, which is broadcast on Saturdays at 11:00 am on WTAG, I take difficult legal topics and break them down so they are easy to understand. This Blog post will focus on the steps you need to take to make sure you choose the right healthcare provider for your loved one. Originally, I […]

via Footsteps To Choosing A Quality Provider: — Lessons from Lady Law

The magic of play in social language and communication!

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Communication is something every person on this planet need to do in order to survive and thrive. It is the one ability all intelligent life forms on this planet possess.

Infants and children when they enter this world sometimes have a difficult time connecting with and learning from adults in their lives. Children first observe adults when they communicate via gestures, words and sentences. They often even see adults use of combined gesture and words or even phrases to communicate. It all can appear very complex.

Learning language is analogous to a baby eagle who learns to fly. The eaglet must first learn how to use it’s legs and wings for taking off. It must also learn how to manipulate its wing parts to rise, soar, descend, accelerate, slow down and land safely. Each task may take months or even years to perfect. Children face a similar challenge. Learning to communicate is sometimes made even more challenging when children are born with developmental problems like autism or one of the childhood developmental syndromes.

Play is setting and manner by which most, if not all intelligent life on this planet learn and acquire skills needed for survival in adult life. During play real communication often begin. Here’s why…

First, in the context of play there are no set rules. The child has the ability to engage when they want to, for as long as they want and in the manner in which they want to. The child is free to use gesture – which is earliest and easiest form of communication to connect.  The child may also choose to use other means of communication (i.e. words, phrase etc.) during play. The child can choose to share his interest in a toy or object in any way he or she likes. Ultimately there is no pressure on the child and studies have shown children are most likely to interact and develop language during play.

Second, during play there is opportunity to explore. The child is able to use any form of communication he desires. He has the chance to practice gestures, words or even phrases he’s seen adults use. He can also rehearse combined forms like gesture + word and see what works! Through trial and error the child can see which forms of communication bring about desired results or even undesired reactions.

Third, during play there is enjoyment and learning. During play a child is able to see communication as something that is fun and rewarding on many levels. Play can be a multi-level learning experience. A child engaged in play learns simultaneously about other aspects of language. He may learn how eye contact or an engaging smile enhances and builds or enhances communication. He learns language is a a very efficient way to get what a person needs or want. He learns language can evoke very exciting feelings. Most importantly the child learns to associate communication with pleasure. He gets to see communication as a means where needs can be met on both a physical and emotional level. The child may even learn that there are limits of social engagement – like certain types of touch are not required or not helpful when communicating.

Hence we have seen  how play can be magical in developing language, speaking and communication. When a child has the context of play as a launching pad for speaking and communication he can achieve great things. With play the child has the opportunity to explore varioius forms of communication on his terms. He gains an understanding of why communication is beneficial  and how it helps him and others around him make meaningful and magical connections!

Are you smarter than a 5th grader?

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Unhinderedspeech – Come Talk with me

Solve the puzzle!

All words contain the letter  ‘v’.

See if you can find all the words in the puzzle with the letter ‘v”.

After finding the words practice saying them slowly and making sentences with your child.

Click on the link below.

www.unhinderedspeechpuzzle1

Try this game as well:

Articulation problems and how to help!

Saying sounds correctly or articulating is a common challenge experienced by young children. It is also sometimes seen in adults – usually following some kind of neurological incidence like a stroke. Some causes for articulation problems are 1. experiencing hearing loss (i.e. ear infections) during language development  and 2. medical conditions (i.e. cerebral palsy, stroke) which result in difficulty controlling  muscles when moving articulators (tongue, jaw, larynx) to say sounds and words.

There are situations where individuals with an articulation disorder will require intensive therapy to develop language abilities. However there are many instances where a child or adult with a  mild to moderate articulation problem can benefit greatly from assistance from loved ones.

Here are some ways parents and families of those experiencing articulatory difficulty can help:

1. Observe and write down the 2 sounds (e.g. ‘s’ in the word “son” & ‘t’ in “two”) that make the individual the hardest to understand or most unintelligible.

2. Start with the sound that make the individual most inintelligible and sit down face to face with the individual. See if they can imitate you when you say the sound correctly.

3. Get 5 pictures where the observed sound is in the beginning of the word (e.g. Sun, son, soup etc.). Practice saying those words correctly.

4. Play games like memory with the words in step 3 and try to create sentences with words once a match is made.

5. Visit places like fast food restaurants and have the individual correctly name all foods whose name begin with the observed sound.

6. Have the individual listen to a story where the observed sound is found many times and have him or her retell the story with correct pronunciation.

7. Once the individual is producing the observed sound correctly at beginning of words move on to pictures where the observed sound is in the middle and end of the word (e.g. castle, whistle, bus). Do steps 4-6 (except the observed sound will be in the middle and end of the word).

8. Work with the individual for at least 30 minutes – 5 days a week and there should be considerable improvement seen.

9. Once the individual has shown consistently correct pronunciation of  first sound – move on to the 2nd sound that make the makes the individual difficult to understand. Perform steps 3-8.

10. Finally, if none of the suggested steps seem to be working – It would be time to visit a Speech-Language clinician who can do comprehensive analysis of child or adult’s sound production system as well as other factors that may be undermining success.

5 free Apps great for Language development.

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Applications or ‘Apps’ are a type of software that allow the end user to perform a specific task. Apps have been created  for various purposes from enabling mobile data processing to educational entertainment. In 2007 Apple released the first i-phone and hence began the real commercialization of applications. Recently several Apps particularly useful to educators and therapists have been released. Here are a 5 free apps that have shown good potential is fostering the development of speech and language skills.

1. My first words. Available in the apple app store. It is a mobile app that teach actions, feelings, parts of the body, clothing – among other categories. The app offers the ability to customize (i.e. remove sound, change categories, add/remove text etc.) For the educator, parent or therapist the customization feature is a great bonus as one can alter the stimulli and make it more or less challenging.

2. Dot.2.dot. Available in apple app store. A mobile app, it allows the child to step by step – create pictured items using his or her fingers. It is useful in teaching social behaviors like joint attention, commenting and turn-taking. It also teach facilitate  labeling of nouns and responding to questions. The App can also be customized. The app has great auditory feedback that reinforces correct choices.

3. Families 1. Available in the apple app store. In this application the child is required to select an object that completes a set.  The child can be asked to name the items in the box (ex. Cats) then drag another item (ex another cat) to complete the box.  It starts at a basic level and can grow more challenging. The child is able to build language skills like categorization, matching and discrimination. There are several categories to choose from – ranging from animals and emotions to vehicles.

4. Fish Jump. Available in the apple app store.  In this application the child can improve attention, discrimination skills and language skills such as answering WH questions can be targeted. It is very good initial game to foster a child’s attention and engagement and does not require ability to follow multiple step directions.

5. Puzzle me 1.Available in the apple app store. In this applications the child is required to drag pieces of a puzzle around to create a targeted picture. The child learns skills like matching, scanning and problem solving. Social language skills like joint attending and turn-taking can also be targeted. This is a great game for the child who is ready for an intermediate challenge.

All of these apps can be customized and therefore are good teaching tools. Finally it is important to note that though all of these apps are free the user will be offered the ability to add much more material – usually for a modest fee (typically 99 cents).

How Children books help to improve communication skills

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In this era of electronics and digital media books have been increasingly put aside as a form of interactive learning for our kids. However It may be time to revisit them as many children have been exhibiting social -cognitive difficulties with the increased use of digital media.

In an article in Infographic 2013 it was reported that by 2020 young tech users are predicted to have cognitive problems like inability to focus, lack of foresight and limited critical thinking ability. Perhaps this prediction is alarming but it is only what could occur. I think the key to offsetting this forecast is increased parental involvement in children’s lives and a concerted effort to present children with materials such as books which stimulate development socially and cognitively.

Most children books offer several social or communicative and cognitive benefits.

1. Books teach children about emotions and how to cope with their own feelings.

2. Reading books build the parent-child bond.

3. Books teach new vocabulary.

4. Books help children learn new phrases and sentence structures.

5. Books help to stretch a child’s attention span and teach joint attention.

6. Books set a foundation for school or academic success.

7. Books teach children to empathize with others.

8. Books teach a child how to imagine and set a foundation for imaginative and exploratory play.

9. Books helps children develop critical thinking.

I have just mentioned some of the benefits of books. In conclusion I would state that digital media is not the problem. Digital is part of our culture and I believe it’s here to stay. It is can be very useful. However parental supervision is important in limiting the time spent at the TV, tablet or computer. Digital media does not meet many of the social, communication and cognitive needs children have and care should be taken to also expose children to traditional media – such as books which offer many of the important benefits not found when children use digital media.

 

How to use meal time to build communication skills.

As the holidays approach family and friends will gather to talk, laugh, share stories and meals. It is in this context that there is opportunity for both child and adult with communicative difficulties to benefit.

Meal time is a natural setting in which to teach and reinforce a variety of communication skills.

Here are some skills to focus on at meal or snack time:

1. Greeting. Salutations or greetings are important to get the conversation going. The adult or child should be encouraged to greet all persons with a “Hi _(person’s name)_” or “Hello”. This initiates conversation as well provide a context for further social engagement. At meal’s end also encourage use of farewells (“bye”, “Nice to see you’) as it’s important the child or adult get to practice ending a conversation.

2. Requesting.  This is a challenging skill and the caregiver or parent would need to pre-teach basis phrasing like “I would like ________”.  It would be important to have practiced requesting a variety of food items prior to the meal. Remember to teach an accompanying hand sign for “want” when practicing requesting as the use of signs tend to make it easier to get the words out and help to amplify the actual request. The caregiver can also encourage use of other requests like ” more please”  or “please pass the corn”. Meal time is a great time to use newly learned skills and success is typical – particularly in this non-judgemental atmosphere with friends and loved ones.

3. Commenting. The caregiver or parent can encourage use of pre-taught comments appropriate to meal time. Examples might be “That was great!” or “That was delicious”.  Comments can range from one to several words (i.e. “nice”, “perfect casserole” etc.). Use of short, over-learned phrases are a great strategy and proven technique which have helped individuals who have had a stroke or  language delay or disorder re-develop language.

4. Answering. As the meal progresses and conversation is mixed in an individual can be called upon (intentionally or not) to respond to simple questions. Questions can be posed to elicit simple or more elaborate responses. Some examples might be “What did you like best?” or ” What would you like for dessert?”. A still easier question would be : “Would you like more cake?”. Correct responses can be reinforced with a smile, a thumbs up or ideally – continued conversation.

In conclusion,  I would say that communication benefits every aspect of our health.  So perhaps during this holiday – as we talk, laugh and share we can try to help those we love connect even more by focusing on some of the above mentioned communication skills. In doing so we are all made better!

How pets help with speech & Language.

Pets teach, enrich and offer a special kind of relationship with those who have them. Studies have shown that 90 percent of all children live with a pet at sometime during their childhood. Pets can help foster emotional, cognitive, social and physical development. Even for adults who have experienced medical or neurological problems animals are also very helpful in enabling them to restore their communication abilities.

Children and adults with speech and/or language delays or medical setbacks often have difficulty initiating verbal interaction. Many shy away from human interaction. Several  folks have difficulty expressing emotions and appreciating another person’s feelings or perspective. Children with language delays may have trouble sharing possessions. Both adults and children have trouble using words, phrases sentences to state their needs.

It is amazing to see how a well trained pet or therapy animal can dramatically help loved ones to be on their way to be willing communicators. Here are few ways in which pets help people with speech and language problems.

1. Pets relieve communicative stress. When children or language disabled adults first interact with an animal successful communication is achieved without words. Connecting and being understood is achieved with just a touch, rub, smile or hug – All communication is non-verbal and intuitive. This is important as the foundation for a new relationship. It can be used to expand and build more complex communication on.

2. Pets are safe, predictable communication partners. With animals an individual can easily learn what makes a mutually rewarding relationship. He or she learns that when he talks to Fido in soft voice and rubs his head he will wag his tail and yelp. He will also see that when he interacts roughly or screams, the dog may stop wagging his tail, lower eyes and usually stay away. Animals generally do not vary in their reactions. With this new awareness speech and language challenged persons can learn human are similar and can easier apply new learning to human relationships.

3. Pets are useful surrogates for learning new language and speech behaviors. It is a well known fact that stutterers do not stutter when talking to animals. This fluent speech experienced with pets can be used to achieve clear speech in other situations. I believe the fluency a stutterer experiences is due to the 2 above mentioned factors of pets relieving communicative stress and being predictable. Other speech or language behaviors may be taught by building upon the bond that is initially created when human and animal meet. For example, a child who seldom speaks would more willingly say “Hi” each time he meets Fido. He has already made a meaningful bond with the animal and is excited for even more. Saying ” Hi” would also be therapeutic goal for an individual who has trouble meeting and speaking to new people following a stroke.  He or she would find it much easier to get the words out as there’s no expected criticism on the quality of his speech. All that’s important is the communication. Individuals can also have opportunities to practice other behaviors – such as making requests (i.e. get the ball), expressing emotions, using descriptive language, reading body language etc.  Animals respond predictably to the human communication – without regard for the quality of speech.

In conclusion, I would say that there are just a few things as enriching as the human-animal bond. Beside contributing to social, cognitive, emotional, and physical growth this type of relationship can be used to both facilitate and restore (lost) speech and language abilities.

Resources and references

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