Speech, Language, and Literacy… Oh my!

June 28, 2011

Whether your child is a toddler or already school-aged, it is never too early or late to invest time in building literacy skills, especially during these hot summer months! Most children enjoy being read to, and early exposure to reading provides opportunities to learn about language, grow in imagination and social-emotional maturity.

Words are made up of individual sounds, and children learn the relationship between sounds, letters, and words before being able to decode printed words. This phonological awareness is a strong predictor of literacy. Children with auditory processing challenges often demonstrate delays with both language processing and literacy development, as both visual and auditory systems are accessed for successful reading. Reading aloud strengthens these neurological pathways and is still the best way to put a child on the road to becoming a reader.

Some easy tips while reading to your child:

  • Young children are active and may need to move while you read to them. Encourage them to help flip pages, point to / name pictures, fill in rhymes!
  • Instead of reading exact words on a page, try adding in sound effects, movement, and adjusting your language so that it meets your child’s comprehension level.
  • Take turns choosing books and allow repetition, thereby building increased participation and memory skills.

The non-profit, Reading Rockets, produces several great resources supporting families around promoting early literacy in children.

A few highlights include:

Have fun!

-Iris Lee, MS, CCC-SLP


High-Functioning Autism and Social Skills

June 21, 2011

Children and adults with autism vary greatly in their strengths and challenges, but most persons with autism have difficulty with social skills.  Frequently referred to as “mind-blindedness”, they have trouble knowing what others might be thinking.  A person with high-functioning autism (sometimes referred to as Aspergers), may act oddly, hurt other’s feelings, or ask inappropriate questions without knowing it.

Persons with high-functioning autism share symptoms with others diagnosed with autism, but their strengths allow them to function fairly well in school or at work.  They do not usually have delayed language development; they often have average to above average intelligence; and usually are passionate about one or two specific topics.  They don’t do “small talk” well, and often have trouble understanding the non-verbal aspects of communication such as eye contact, facial expressions and body language.  They want to be involved with others, but lack the social skills of how to go about it.

But social skills can be taught, and learning them can make a big difference for children and adults with autism.  A speech therapist or occupational therapist can teach specific skills like understanding facial expressions and body language, self-monitoring, and how to be part of a group.  Lessons involve recognizing indirect language (like hints or implied information) and learning to make guesses.  Students may also learn about understanding and interpreting emotions, understanding intentions and how to solve problems.

For more information regarding teaching social skills for children or adults with high-functioning autism, visit Michelle Garcia Winner’s social thinking program.

-Paula Gallay, MS, CCC-SLP

An OT’s Guide to a Sensational Summer!

June 14, 2011

It’s that time of year. School is out and the kids are home for summer break to relax. But why is it that on day 2, our kids are already bored? Here are some ideas to help liven up the summer break while keeping your child regulated.

Make homemade slime with school glue and Borax detergent. Got broken crayons lying around? Turn those pieces into rainbow colored Crayon Nibbles for endless hours of fun. Feeling really crafty? Make sidewalk chalk with plaster of paris and tempera paints.

If crafts are not your thing, then here are some movement ideas for a sensational summer outside:

  • Make a fort with old sheets or boxes and play hide and seek!
  • Draw hopscotch patterns on the sidewalk with chalk.
  • Hang an old sheet up and spray with watered down paint in a spray bottle to work on targeting and hand strength while making an original piece of art!
  • Go camping in the backyard and “roast” marshmallows in the microwave for s’mores.

For more summertime tips, check out the Raising a Sensory Smart Child website.

-Larissa Ksar, MS, OTR/L

Resources for Parents of Young Children: Zero to Three Years Old

June 7, 2011

Early childhood is a critical time in development.  So much happens in the developmental process during the first three years of life.  Sometimes the changes can even be seen on a daily basis!

One great resource to help parents of young children is Zero to Three, a national non-profit that addresses issues important to families of young children.  Of specific interest is their selection of Free Parenting Resources.  They cover a wide range of useful topics.

Some of the materials available include:

Check out some of these resources and find ways of connecting and engaging with you infant or toddler everyday!


-Jennifer Adams, MA, CCC-SLP