“Help! My Child Doesn’t Like Reading Books!”– The Benefits of Making Adapted Books

June 24, 2013

What is an adapted book?

Adapted books are any reading materials which have been modified  to make a book more accessible to a child’s physical needs and style of learning. The most common adapted book consists of color laminated pictures attached by Velcro pieces within the book, so a child can remove and replace the attachments for exploration. Adapted books are resistant to tears and heavy push/ pull movements within the pages, and are usually made of large, durable cardboard stock.  Most large board books can be ordered on-line for discount prices.

Who would benefit from reading an adapted book?

Although any child will likely enjoy an adapted book, Children diagnosed with sensory deficits disorders (the inability to process information through the senses), and language delays (the inability to process and express words) will especially benefit.  Adapted books can be used in all environments, including home, classrooms, and play groups.

Why are adapted books beneficial?

Adapted children’s books provide interactive fun, sensory input, and opportunities to engage in social pretend play. When children remove and attach Velcro pieces from within the book, more small and large muscle groups are engaged with the learning process, and language is stimulated through actions. Large, densely weighted books are helpful because they provide pressure to the muscles and joints when lap reading. Also, thick Velcro strips can be challenging to push and pull together, so a child’s range of motions will regulate speech rate, and increase clarity of thought processes. Additionally, attachable pieces can be moved close to the face, which encourages eye contact.

How would I use an adapted book?

Children can be great teachers in knowing how to use an adapted book.  The attachable pieces can fly through the air, sing a song, land on a flower, talk to characters on the next page, ride in a truck to the next destination, or walk across a leaf stem. Children will often match attachable pieces with items in the book, build fine motor skills as they rotate items like a puzzle piece, or play hide and seek with the items in the room. For older children, the following skills can be taught: Identification of objects and colors, sequencing steps, looking for missing objects, and following directions. When used with two or more children, attachable pieces can be used for collecting, trading, and pretend play.

How do I make an adapted book?

Step #1:  Purchase any size Board Books on-line, or buy one at the local book store.

Recommended Starter Books:

Eric Carle—“The Very Quiet Cricket” (which features a cricket sound on the last page of the book)

Eric Carle—“The Very Hungry Caterpillar”

Step #2: Photo-copy (black and white—Image Photo quality) each page of the book. *Note: Commercial office supply companies will not make color photo copies of the book, due to Copyright laws. All copies in commercial companies must be in black and white, then adapted, which is permissible for use with children who have special needs. Adapted books are not permissible to be resold.

Step #3:  Uses Dot Markers (or Bingo markers, sold in craft and supply stores) to quickly color the black and white images.

Step #4: Use scissors to cut out preferred characters and objects .

Step #5: Laminate (Local office supply store)and cut out the pieces.

Step #6: Attach Velcro strips (on-line for bulk)  within the book, and to the attachable pieces.

Although it takes some preparation to make an adapted book, the books are very durable and serve multiple functions of learning. Your adaptable book  will out-live paperback books, and will stack nicely on a shelf.  Have fun using your imagination, and follow your child’s lead!

-April Kumlin, B.A., SLP-A

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Early Intervention and Linguistically-Diverse Families

June 12, 2013

BLOG pic (2)Early Intervention, or the process of providing services, education, and support to young children and their families who have been identified as having a developmental delay and/or disorder, was designed to enhance the development of infants and toddlers with disabilities. Designing an early intervention program that is able to identify and meet a child’s individual needs can be challenging for a service provider, especially when providing services to linguistically diverse families. According to the research literature, service providers can do several things to ensure they are providing appropriate services to a linguistically-diverse group.

            Upon meeting a new client and their parents entering an Early Intervention Clinic, the service provider can ask themselves or the parent, “How does this parent’s background influence his or her perspectives about language learning and education for his/her child? What does this parent want for their child? What concerns does this parent have regarding their child, or the program?” By understanding that a unique culture is inherent in each family with which a service provider works with, they will be able to understand and respect how a family identifies itself.

            According to the research, providing parents and families with information regarding how children learn language and the benefits of bilingualism as well as the preservation of home language and culture, benefit the child’s language development. Parents and families also benefit from learning ways to enhance their child’s language and literacy at home, as well as how to navigate the educational system.

            Families have strengths that can serve as the building blocks for effective service, and service providers should foster those strengths in the family and their community.

Sarah Peters, M.A., CCC-SLP

 From the President: Working Early-Intervention Magic in Community Settings, Patty Prelock

 Roles and Responsibilities of Speech-Language Pathologists in Early Intervention: Position Statement, ASHA


Normal Speech Sound Development

June 4, 2013

One of the most commonly asked questions of a speech-language pathologist is “Are my child’s sound errors normal?”

If your child is unable to say certain sounds or cannot be understood by others, you may want to take them for a speech evaluation.  A speech-language pathologist would be able to answer your questions and determine whether your child’s sound errors are developmental (appropriate errors based on the child’s age) or non-developmental (not age-appropriate and would need intervention).  A speech-language pathologist would evaluate your child and use “speech sound norms” or “sound acquisition norms” to determine which errors are developmentally appropriate and which errors are not.

Results of a speech evaluation may help ease parent’s worries about their child’s intelligibility.  Speech sound norms give useful information about which sounds are typically developed in the first 2-3 years, which ones are not developed until 4-5 years, and which ones may not be fully developed until 6-7 years.  A commonly misproduced sound is /r/.  When setting expectations for their child’s speech, it is important for parents to know that the /r/ sound is not typically mastered by most children until age 5 or 6. Although, some children may master the sound as early as 3 or 4.

Below is a link to a chart that is used by speech-language pathologists as a guideline to help determine which sound errors are appropriate and which are not.  Please don’t hesitate to take your child to be evaluated if you have any concerns.

Speech Sound Chart

 

- Michelle Morgado, M.S. CCC-SLP

 

Information taken from: http://mommyspeechtherapy.com

 


Sensory Diet

May 29, 2013

Once a parent understands Sensory Processing (see this post for a full explanation), the next question is often “what do I do with my or my child’s sensory needs?” An OT will usually answer, “it depends on the individual.” Every person explores, feels and senses their environment differently.  For example, when I am unable to focus on my work, often times I will play calming music in the background and that helps me become more focused. For others any type of noise in the background can be very distracting.

To help figure out what is calming/alerting for you or your child, your occupational therapist will usually establish a sensory diet.  A sensory diet is something that can be embedded in your daily routine and help the individual get through tasks/transitions that can be very difficult. For example; if a child has difficulty getting dressed in the morning and complains about the feeling of the material or doesn’t like certain textures on their skin, the therapist might suggest an activity that would help the individual transition into the non-preferred activity (such as getting dressed). An example of one of the activities might include wrapping the child up in a blanket like a burrito and giving deep squishes to help desensitize the skin before putting clothes on. It could also help decrease the child’s anxiety about getting dressed as being wrapped up tightly can give a calm and safe feeling (again, every individual is different). Occupational therapists work with the family to help establish a diet that works for the child and family. Below is a list of tools, most of them are divided into calming, alerting or organizing activities. Please take note that these are suggested activities and may not be calming/alerting for your child; as I mentioned before every person processes information differently.

Activities that may be found in a Sensory Diet:

 

 Alerting Activities: Alerting activities help the undersensitive child to increase hypo-responsiveness to sensory stimulation. Stimulation activities include:

§  Applying lotion with stimulating scents (peppermint, citrus scent).

§  Jumping activities (jumping jacks, jumping on trampoline, hop scotch, jumping on bed/furniture).

§  Bouncing activities (therapy ball, beach ball, peanut ball).

§  Eating crunchy food (raw vegetables and fruits, nuts, crunchy cereal, toast).

 

 

 Calming Activities:

Calming activities should be used to help the oversensitive child decrease hyper-responsiveness to sensory stimulation. These activities are characterized by slow, linear movement or comfort. They include:

§  Deep pressure activities (being sandwiched in between 2 pillows; being rolled in a blanket pretend to become a burrito; pushing against the wall with hands, back, and head; clamping hands in each other and squeeze; pushing down on a hard surface with extended arms and flat hands…).

§  Slow rocking (in the arms of an adult, in rocking chair, placed in a blanket held by 2 adults, in a hammock).

§  Taking a warm bath/shower.

§  Applying lotion with calming scent (lavender, chamomile, vanilla).

§  Sucking on hard candy, lollipops, or pacifier.

§  Holding a cuddle toy (stuffed animal, favorite blanket).

§  Manipulating a fidget toy.

 

 

 

 Organizing Activities: These activities help regulate the child’s responses. Organizing activities use resistance and/or rotational, upside down movement. They include:

 

§  Eating chewy foods (chewing gum, eating peanut butter, chewy fruit bars, dried fruits, fresh bagels).

§  Hanging activities (hanging arms of monkey bar, or chinning bar, hanging of adult’s elevated arms).

§  Pushing activities (pushing furniture, heavy grocery and/or laundry bags).

§  Climbing (on play structures, furniture, trees).

§  Bouncing activities.

§  Digging in resistive mass (theraputty, sand, mud, rice).

§  Sitting on an air cushion, peanut ball.

§  Participating in rough play (tug of war, roughhousing).

§  Upside down movement (somersault, cartwheel, hanging off trapeze).

 

By: Laura Anderson MS, OTR/L


Red Flags for Sensory Processing Disorder

May 21, 2013

What is sensory processing?

Sensory processing refers to how individuals process the information provided by all the sensations coming internally from the body from the environment. These senses work together to give us a sense of the world and our place in it. The brain organizes the information about the different smell, sounds, textures, sights, tastes, and movements that surround us. This organization of sensory information allows us to put meaning to the world around us and gives us a sense of how to respond and behave appropriately. When the organization of sensory information is impaired, it can affect the way in which we live our everyday lives.  Impairments with sensory processing have been found to have a great impact on activities such as play, work, learning, social interactions, and everyday activities.

You might have wondered, “Do I or Does my child/loved one have a sensory processing disorder?” There is an excellent resource for people with sensory processing difficulties at the Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) Foundation website: http://www.spdfoundation.net/index.html.

They have a checklist (see below) describing symptoms that may fit someone you know with sensory processing difficulties. Please note that this checklist cannot diagnose someone with SPD. It can be help determine if additional testing should be done. When filling out this checklist, think about the individual’s behavior during the past six months. When more than a few symptoms are found in an individual, we recommend that you talk with your doctor/pediatrician or occupational therapist.

Sensory Processing Disorder Checklist

Many of the symptoms listed in the following categories are common to that particular age group.

Infant/ Toddler Checklist:
____ My infant/toddler has problems eating.
____ My infant/toddler refused to go to anyone but me.
____ My infant/toddler has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
____ My infant/toddler is extremely irritable when I dress him/her; seems to be uncomfortable in clothes.
____ My infant/toddler rarely plays with toys, especially those requiring dexterity.
____ My infant/toddler has difficulty shifting focus from one object/activity to another.
____ My infant/toddler does not notice pain or is slow to respond when hurt.
____ My infant/toddler resists cuddling, arches back away from the person holding him.
____ My infant/toddler cannot calm self by sucking on a pacifier, looking at toys, or listening to my voice.
____ My infant/toddler has a “floppy” body, bumps into things and has poor balance.
____ My infant/toddler does little or no babbling, vocalizing.
____ My infant/toddler is easily startled.
____ My infant/toddler is extremely active and is constantly moving body/limbs or runs endlessly.
____ My infant/toddler seems to be delayed in crawling, standing, walking or running.

 

Pre-School Checklist:
____ My child has difficulty being toilet trained.
____ My child is overly sensitive to stimulation, overreacts to or does not like touch, noise, smells, etc.
____ My child is unaware of being touched/bumped unless done with extreme force/intensity.
____ My child has difficulty learning and/or avoids performing fine motor tasks such as using crayons and fasteners on clothing.
____ My child seems unsure how to move his/her body in space, is clumsy and awkward.
____ My child has difficulty learning new motor tasks.
____ My child is in constant motion.
____ My child gets in everyone else’s space and/or touches everything around him.
____ My child has difficulty making friends (overly aggressive or passive/ withdrawn).
____ My child is intense, demanding or hard to calm and has difficulty with transitions.
____ My child has sudden mood changes and temper tantrums that are unexpected.
____ My child seems weak, slumps when sitting/standing; prefers sedentary activities.
____ It is hard to understand my child’s speech.
____ My child does not seem to understand verbal instructions.

 

School Age:
___ My child is overly sensitive to stimulation, overreacts to or does not like touch, noise, smells, etc.
___ My child is easily distracted in the classroom, often out of his/her seat, fidgety.
___ My child is easily overwhelmed at the playground, during recess and in class.
___ My child is slow to perform tasks.
___ My child has difficulty performing or avoids fine motor tasks such as handwriting.
___ My child appears clumsy and stumbles often, slouches in chair.
___ My child craves rough housing, tackling/wrestling games.
___ My child is slow to learn new activities.
___ My child is in constant motion.
___ My child has difficulty learning new motor tasks and prefers sedentary activities.
___ My child has difficulty making friends (overly aggressive or passive/ withdrawn).
___ My child ïgets stuck’ on tasks and has difficulty changing to another task.
___ My child confuses similar sounding words, misinterprets questions or requests.
___ My child has difficulty reading, especially aloud.
___ My child stumbles over words; speech lacks fluency, and rhythm is hesitant.

 

Adolescent/Adult:
___ I am over-sensitive to environmental stimulation: I do not like being touched.
___ I avoid visually stimulating environments and/or I am sensitive to sounds.
___ I often feel lethargic and slow in starting my day.
___ I often begin new tasks simultaneously and leave many of them uncompleted.
___ I use an inappropriate amount of force when handling objects.
___ I often bump into things or develop bruises that I cannot recall.
___ I have difficulty learning new motor tasks, or sequencing steps of a task.
___ I need physical activities to help me maintain my focus throughout the day.
___ I have difficulty staying focused at work and in meetings.
___ I misinterpret questions and requests, requiring more clarification than usual.
___ I have difficulty reading, especially aloud.
___ My speech lacks fluency, I stumble over words.
___ I must read material several times to absorb the content.
___ I have trouble forming thoughts and ideas in oral presentations.

For more information the SPD Foundation website recommends checking out the SPD Foundation’s Treatment Directory (http://www.spdfoundation.net/directory/index.html) for a professional experienced with treating Sensory Processing Disorder.

 


Turning the “Terrible Twos” into the “Terrific Twos”

May 14, 2013

Many parents of two year-olds comment about the difficulty of having a two year-old.  The phrase the “Terrible Twos” is frequently used to qualify the feelings of parents about their frustration with their children’s temper tantrums and mood swings.  Whether or not a child has special needs, this period of time can be challenging.  I suggest that as we understand this unique period of growth in our children and have strategies to navigate challenging situations, we can turn this time period into the “Terrific Twos.”

Understanding: From the Perspective of a Two Year-Old

Being two years-old is hard. Children who are two are caught between having new self-help skills, leading to increased independence, and the reality that most tasks still cannot be done completely on their own.  They may have acquired a few new words and with language comes power.  Children quickly discover that the word “No!” is especially powerful.  But with this new-found power of communication, there is also realization that it is limited.  Two year-olds have limited verbal ability which leads to frustration. For children with delayed language, feelings of frustration can be even more intense.  Overall, children who are two have some ability, the taste of power, but, in the end, are relatively powerless in their situations.  That’s a very frustrating scenario.

Understanding: From the Perspective of a Professional

There is phenomenal growth and development occurring between 24 and 36 months across all areas of development.  In neuro-typical children, this is the time period of an explosion of vocabulary and language.  For children who are delayed in language, there is often significant change in language ability during this year.  With all of this growth and development, mood swing and temper tantrums are typical during this time period.

Strategies for Parents

  • Stay engaged with your child by talking with and playing with your child.  This is true in your home as well as when going out in public (to the grocery store, the doctor’s office, a restaurant).  Additionally, bring along a bag of engaging activities when going out in public.  Using a combination of engaging activities and staying engaged with your child’s interaction can go a long way to prevent a break down for your child.
  • When a child is having a temper tantrum, either offer comfort or ignore the behavior.  If you choose to ignore the behavior, ignore for a while, then offer comfort.
  • Distraction is a beautiful tool to use when a two year-old is upset.  Do something unexpected, be silly, or use humor.  Tickling sometimes works, if it is a generally desirable and engaging activity for your child.
  • When engaging in distraction, distract with interaction (tickling, being silly, etc.) rather than with another object (food or a toy). Giving a desirable food or a desirable toy can be seen as a reward and you can inadvertently reward an undesirable behavior.
  • Don’t be afraid of saying “No” to your child but reserve the firm use of “No!” for serious (i.e. dangerous) situations.  In other situations, redirect your child’s behavior to another activity instead.

By staying engaged, being prepared, and knowing ahead of time how to pull out of melt downs can turn this exciting period of development into a terrific time for you and your child!

Jennifer M. Adams, MA, CCC-SLP


Literacy Series Post #6: Supporting Your Child’s Reading At Home

April 10, 2013

“If you add a little to a little, and then do it again, soon that little shall be much.” -Hesiod

Listed below are some general suggestions for things that parents can do to help support the reading growth of their children. These are general suggestions, meant to be useful for almost any child, and there may be other things your child’s teacher will want you to do that are focused on the specific needs of your child. All of these suggestions come from research on the way children learn to read. If you do some of them regularly in a motivating and supportive way, they will help your child make faster progress in learning to read. Many of these activities, such as those that build vocabulary and teach children to think while they read, will also help your child ultimately be a much better reader than he or she might otherwise become.

Kindergarten

1. Create a special workspace and schedule daily quiet time for your child to do his/her homework from school. Be sure this is a time you are available to help if needed.

2. Schedule 15 minutes of special time everyday to read to your child. Before you read each book, read the title and look at the cover and pictures inside. Ask your child what she thinks the book may be about (prediction). After reading the book, review her prediction. Was the prediction right? If not, what happened instead?

3. Plan to go to the school library, public library, or the local bookstore once each week and read a new book together. After reading each book, talk to him about what happened at the beginning, the middle, and the end of the story.

4. Play rhyming games. Say two words that rhyme (e.g. cat, sat) and ask your child to say a word that rhymes with your words. Take turns. Ask your child to say a word and then you respond with a rhyming word. For example, child says “cat”, parent says “hat”; child says “chair”, parent says “pair”.

5. Take turns thinking of two words that begin with the same sound. Examples: mom, moon; dog, door; fun, fast; paper, pet.

6. Play the “say it fast” game. Say a word, one sound at a time and have your child say the word at a normal rate. For example, you say each sound in the word cat, “/c/ /a/ /t/.” Then your child says the word at the normal speed, “cat.” Play this game with about five to ten short words (e.g. am, is, it, in, on, sit, pan, sun, top, net, fin) each day.

7. Take every opportunity you can to help increase your child’s vocabulary. You can do this by pointing to things and asking the child to tell you what they are, or you can stop and explain the meaning of any words in your reading that the child may not understand. The more you talk to your child, the faster their vocabulary will grow.

First Grade

1. Create a special workspace and schedule daily quiet time for your child to do his/her homework from school. Be sure this is a time you are available to help if needed.

2. Schedule 15 minutes of special time everyday to read with your child. Take turns reading a page at a time. Or, read a sentence and then have your child reread that same sentence until you read through the whole book.

3. Plan to go to the school library, public library, or the local bookstore once each week and read a new book together. After each story is read, ask her to retell the story to you. Go back to the story to reread sections if she needs help retelling the story in sequence.

4. Play the “say the word slowly” game. Say a word at normal rate and then have your child say that same word slowly, one sound at a time. For example, say the word, “mat.” Then your child will say that same word slowly, one sound at a time, “/m/ /a/ /t/.” Play this game using about five to ten short words each day.

5. Fold a piece of paper into three parts. Let your child draw a picture of something he did in sequence. Then help your child write one sentence under each picture explaining what he did first, next and last.

6. Take turns thinking of two words that end with the same sound. Examples: mom, some; dog, rug; fun, ran; paper, feather.

7. Take every opportunity you can to help increase your child’s vocabulary. You can do this by pointing to things and asking the child to tell you what they are, or you can stop and explain the meaning of any words in your reading that the child may not understand. The more you talk to your child, the faster their vocabulary will grow.

Second Grade

1. Create a special workspace and schedule daily quiet time for your child to do his/her homework from school. Be sure this is a time you are available to help if needed.

2. Schedule 15 minutes of special time everyday to listen to your child read.

3. Go to the school library, public library, or to the local bookstore once each week and read a new book together. Read the title then look at the cover and pictures inside. Ask your child to predict what the book is about. After reading the book, review prediction then ask about the characters, setting, problem and solution.

4. Fact or Opinion Game: The parent says a sentence to the child then asks whether it is a fact or opinion. Ex: The weather is nice. (Opinion) A dog can bark. (Fact)

5. Encourage reading fluency by having your child read and reread familiar books. It can also be helpful to have your child read a short passage over several times while you record the time it takes. Children often enjoy seeing if they can improve their time from one reading to the next, and the repeated reading helps to establish a habit of fluent reading.

6. Pick out a new vocabulary word from one of the books you are reading with your child. Talk about what it means then make up a sentence with the new word. Try to use the word again that week.

If your child is a struggling reader and you want professional support in helping your child read, please visit our website to make an appointment for an evaluation.