Speech, Language and Literacy

September 28, 2011

Did you know that language and early literacy development are intertwined?

Language development begins from the day children are born.  Overtime, children’s understanding and use of speech and language becomes more complex. They learn to use gestural and verbal communication as well as communicate their ideas, thoughts, and feelings, with others (ASHA, 2006).

Early literacy is considered the development of critical skills from birth to 5 years of age that contribute to formal reading and writing skills during the school years.  These foundational skills include book handling skills, vocabulary comprehension, oral language development, story-telling, print awareness, alphabetic awareness, phonological awareness and early writing.

Parents can enhance early literacy development in daily activities.  Recommended practices include shared book readings, using daily routines (eating, bath time, getting dressed) to develop core vocabulary, selecting books with repetitive lines and/or a predictable outcomes to support story comprehension and memory, providing a literacy rich environment with easy access to books, singing ABC and rhyming songs and reading alphabet books to introduce phonological awareness and encouraging drawing and scribbling activities for written language.



Joint Attention

September 20, 2011

What is joint attention?

Joint attention is a behavior where and infant/child shows enjoyment in sharing an object or event with another by looking back and forth between the two.

Why is joint attention important?

Research indicates that joint attention is important for the development of other, later-emerging, skills, such as more complex expressive language, symbolic play, and theory of mind. Children with disabilities often prefer to be by themselves, isolated from others. They do not understand the joy of sharing an experience with another person. Because social interaction/communication is a reciprocal, dynamic relationship based on mutual understanding, enjoyment, and benefit, children with difficulties in joint attention will have difficulties with social interactions.  Joint attention allows you and your child to connect more easily and share the moment.

Activities to facilitate joint attention:

1. Point to a toy that your child likes and say “look”.  Gently turn his/her head toward the toy.  When he/she looks at it, play with the toy or give it to him/her. 

2. Tell your child “look at me”, and then tap his/her face and then your face.
After you have given this verbal cue, give your child time to respond.

3. Blow up a balloon or bubbles.  Don¹t tie the balloon, say look and when he/she does, release the balloon.

4. Take turns with a cause and effect toy.  Hold the toy near you.  Say, “my turn”, and push a button.  Push the toy to your child and tell him/her, “your turn”.

5. Offer a little bit…then wait.  Instead of giving your child a big piece of apple or a full cup of juice, give them a little bit, then wait for them to “ask” for more by looking at you and saying or gesturing “more”.


-Belen Macias, MS, CCC-SLP


September 13, 2011

Please do the following in order:


  1. Read the title of this article.
  2. Answer the question below.


Q: Are you feeling somewhat confused? Disorganized? Unsure of what your eyes visually perceived.


If you haven’t already figured it out, the title of this article reads OT’s can help with SENSORY PROCESSING DISORDER!!!


It is our sense of vision that allows us to see and make sense of the title of this article. However, our sense of vision may not always process information correctly, leaving us to feel disorganized, confused, and unsure of what we see. The feeling you felt when you read the article title is similar to that of a child who has difficulty processing sensory information.


Sensory processing disorder (SPD) is a neurological disorder. It is the way our nervous system receives sensory messages and turns them into responses. Lucy Jane Miller, Ph.D., OTR, states “Children with SPD experience touch, taste, sound, smell, movement and other sensations differently in comparison to typical children. Some feel sensations more intensely, while others feel them less intensely. A child with SPD does not process sensory information the way other children do, and may not always behave the way typical children do.”


Here are a few examples of a child with SPD:


Sensory Over-Responsivity: Responds to sensory messages more intensely, quickly, and for a longer period of time. Examples are your son or daughter is frequently bothered by certain textures such as fuzzy or furry, dislikes walking barefoot on grass, having their fingernails cut, loud unexpected sounds, and bright lights.


Sensory-Under-Responsivity: Exhibits less of a response to sensory information, taking longer to react, requiring intense sensory messages before they take action. Examples are your son or daughter doesn’t seem to notice when they are touched, seems unaware of what’s going on around them, doesn’t hear their name being called, does not notice food or liquid on their lips.


Sensory Seeking: Craves sensory experiences and actively seeks sensation, often in ways that are not socially acceptable. Examples are your son or daughter is constantly on the move, likes crashing, bashing, bumping, shows a preference for excessive spinning, swinging, or rolling, constantly touches objects or people, seems unable to stop talking, and takes risks during play such as jumping off high furniture.



Occupational therapists are trained to diagnose sensory based disorders. If you would like your child to be evaluated, please contact one of our clinics.


Click on the following link to obtain more information regarding SPD:



Anna Lisa Matudio, MS, OTR/L





Parent Participation in Early Intervention Services

September 6, 2011

The term Early Intervention refers to services given to very young children with special needs, generally from birth until the child turns three. Early intervention helps families and children from birth to age 3 who have a developmental concern or who are at risk to make sure that these children grow to their greatest potential. Services vary by state, but may include:

  • Educational services
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Infant Development Programs
  • Speech therapy
  • Family counseling

Over the years the focus of early intervention has evolved to become a family-centered approach.  Parents now play a significant role in developing and implementing services for their children.  Regardless of the service, direct family and/or caregiver participation in therapy services is crucial to overall success.  You as the family or caregiver spend the most time with you child and really are your child’s primary “therapist”.  Think of it this way, one hour of direct services with a therapist/week is only 4 -5 hours/month of therapy/practice for your child.  This is not enough practice for your child to learn a new skill. It is crucial that parents know, understand, and practice therapy targets with their children throughout their every day in order to maximize treatment benefits.

Ways that parents can be involved in their child’s early intervention program may include…

1)      Direct participation in planning therapy goals

2)      Direct observation and participation in therapy services

3)      Video record therapy sessions so that family members unable to attend therapy sessions can also be trained

4)      Be proactive.  Ask your therapist questions, request parent training, request handouts on developmental information and treatment methods.

5)      Don’t be afraid to ask to actively participate in a therapy session.

6)      Ask for suggestions on how to work on goals throughout your daily routines

7)      Carryover the skills that you have learned during therapy throughout your day

8)      Be specific about what you understand and what you do not understand.  Ask for help when you need it.

9)      Be proactive and research information about your child’s diagnosed delays and services available in your community.

10)   Research and get in touch with your local parent support groups.

11)   Ask for recommendations about appropriate toys, games, books, etc to help enhance your child’s development

12)   Be willing and open to suggestions about changes in your home environment if suggested by your early intervention team.

13)   Speak with other families in the Early Start Program.


Brandi Quinsay, M.A., CCC-SLP