Holly Ballard MS/CCCslp
Crystal Hutchins MS/CCCslp
Sherrie Susser MA/CCCslp
Randi Weinberg MA/CCCslp

Friday, May 30, 2014

Language Modeling Techniques

Listed below are a variety of techniques that you can use to expand and encourage correct and more mature language production. You may find that you are already doing many of these naturally. Many of these techniques are geared towards younger children or children who are at the earlier stages of acquiring language; however, there are some techniques you can apply to higher level language students.

Highlighting - Emphasize the words your child leaves out of sentences or misuses by saying the words louder with a different pitch. This also works with misarticulated words - repeat the word by overemphasizing the correct sound. This technique models and encourages correct speech and language skills without having your child become frustrated by constantly repeating you.
Ex: "SHE dropped HER spoon."

Self-Talk - Talk to your child about what you are doing while you are doing it, as long as your child is interested.
Ex: "I am stirring the soup." "Now I am taking out the shampoo so I can wash your hair."

Parallel Talk - Talk to your child about what he/she is doing while he/she is doing it.
Ex: "You are eating an apple." "You threw the ball to John."

Expansion - When your child gestures, vocalizes, or uses words or sentences, expand the communication into a more adult-like utterance.
Ex: "Yes, Daddy is coming down the stairs” in response to a child pointing and saying “Daddy"

Expansion Plus - Expand your child's utterances and then add some more information.
Ex: "Uh-h, the truck is broken. The wheel came off." in response to child's "Truck broke."

Description - Talk to your child about what he/she sees while he/she sees it, by describing it without reference to the child.
Ex: "The soup is hot." "That's a tall tree."

Waiting - Give your child time to respond to your utterances. It may take time for your child to formulate a response or locate the right articulators. Allowing additional time for a response takes the pressure off of the child. Use body language and facial expressions to show that you expect a response.
Ex. "Do you want more?" (pause while maintaining eye contact) Child: "More"

Forced Choices - Rather than asking your child a broad question or a yes/no question, ask him/her a forced- choice question.
Ex: "Do you want an apple or crackers?"

Defining - expand on your child’s utterances by introducing and defining different words. You can also provide synonyms/antonyms to expand vocabulary.
Ex: Child: "Big truck." Adult: “Yes, that big truck is a fire truck. It is used to put out fires
and help people in an emergency.”
Child: “That is really dirty.” Adult: “Yes, the counter is very messy. It is not clean. Let’s wipe it down to make it clean.”

Slow Rate - Model slow, clear and coherent sentences when speaking with your child, if he/she is working on these skills. It can be difficult to slow down and be mindful of the way you talk especially with all we have going on, but you are your child’s best language model!

Crystal Hutchins, MS/CCCslp

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Articulation Development

Articulation is the production of speech sounds; it is the “speech” part of speech and language services. Many parents of younger students wonder if their child’s speech errors are age appropriate or not. The link below displays an easy to read chart of the development of children’s speech sounds. It is important to remember that all children develop differently at different ages so view the charts below more as a guideline (see charts from blog posting 4/8/2014).

Should I be concerned?

Sometimes children experience numerous sound errors in connected speech even though they may be able to produce sounds correctly in words. Sometimes it is a matter of getting your child to slow down his/her speech. Other times the sounds have not yet been generalized to conversational speech. It may be time to be concerned if familiar listeners have trouble understanding your child’s speech and/or if your child is becoming frustrated when he/she is not understood.

There are numerous ways to remediate articulation errors, some of which you can do yourself at home such as following a home program put together by an SLP. General education services are also available on a short-term basis. Talk to your child’s teacher or a speech/language therapist if you have any concerns.

Crystal Hutchins, MS/CCCslp

Friday, May 23, 2014

Activities to help facilitate word retrieval skills

Parents: There are many fun activities/games that can be played to facilitate word
retrieval skills. Below are a few suggestions:

* Play word classification games - have your child think of items that would fit in a
category. If you want, time your child and see how many items she can come up with in a certain category, then see if she makes progress over time.

* Play "I am thinking of …” - describe an item or define a word and have your child guess the item/word. You will be providing good models for describing objects and promoting vocabulary growth.

* Fill in the blank associations - have your child complete common phrases and sentences. This will help him use the context to trigger a target word. (e.g., peanut butter and ___, a pair of ___)

* Play “What’s missing?” - choose a task and list the items needed to complete the task while leaving out one key item. For example, if making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you would need bread, a knife, jelly, and ____ .

* List items needed for a specific task - have your child name a task and then ask her to tell you all of the things she would need to complete that task. For example, if the task is sledding, your child could say, “coat, snow pants, hat, mittens, boots, sled, etc.” Encourage your child to visualize herself completing the activity.

* Completing similes. A simile is when you say that something is ___ as a ___. Provide a descriptive word for your child and have her finish the simile. For example, you could say “as fuzzy as a___ .” See if your child can come up with multiple options.

* Synonyms/Antonyms - tell your child a word and have him come up with one synonym (a word that means the same thing) or one antonym (a word that means the opposite) or both.

These are simple “word games” you can play during daily activities such as taking or walk or riding in the car. If these games seem too difficult for your child, use visuals such as objects or pictures to help. Providing auditory cues such as “it starts with ‘t’” or “it goes with a bucket” can be really helpful as well.

The point of these kinds of activities is to practice word retrieval skills and strategies. If your child is becoming frustrated with the activity then take a break or try something easier. Most of all,have fun!

Crystal Hutchins, MS/CCCslp

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Being Social

Some of our students find communicative interactions throughout their day as very challenging. Often times, children with difficulties in the social thinking realm carry an Autism Spectrum, Behavioral or Emotional diagnosis. These children are unsure of how to use their language to achieve a variety of communication goals such as requesting, informing, expressing, regulating, ritualizing, persuading and organizing.  

Our social thinking abilities are something that usually develop naturally from infancy. For disordered social thinkers, this process is anything but natural. When we find ourselves in any communicative interaction, it is typical to think about the other person. Do they look agitated? Are they in a hurry? Does he understand what I need etc.? These impressions guide how we react and how we manage the interaction within the communication dynamic.

Children with disordered social thinking often are said to have difficulties with perspective taking. They cannot understand another’s point of view or the fact that people can view or  react differently to the same situation . Other  social skill issues include difficulty joining into a conversation, poor eye contact,  maintaining a topic of conversation, and managing emotions, just to name a few.

Children with social issues need direct and explicit teaching of these skills , as they did not learn them typically through observation in natural contexts.  Once a child has learned a specific skill with their therapist or counselor, they can then practice the skill in a  structured group.  Often times after this point the skills can be practiced in  a  more naturalistic setting such as out on the playground or in a lunch group .

The ability to be social  and socially appropriate is difficult  for many but may be a significant, if not primary  factor in one’s academic and  professional  development at any age. There are many treatment strategies available if you suspect that your child needs help to improve their social thinking throughout their school day.

Randi Weinberg MA/CCCslp