ASHA Convention 2011: San Diego, California

The 2011 American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) Convention was held at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California, November 17–19, 2011. Many therapists from CSLOT, along with more than 12,000 attendees, attended the convention, where we enjoyed informative classes, caught up with colleagues, and learned new and innovative approaches to speech language pathology!  From classes on voice disorders to brain injuries to augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), attendees had a wide variety of courses to choose from at this year’s convention.

One of the classes featured a panel of researchers who presented their study of late-talking toddlers. The study aimed to discover which therapeutic methods were best for late-talking toddlers. After thousands of studies were examined and scrutinized, it was found that there is no single approach that is best for all children. After taking into consideration family values, it was found that an eclectic approach which combined multiple language stimulation methods was found to best promote expressive language. The researchers presented more than 15 effective language stimulation methods; a few of them are listed below:

  • Expansion: the adult expands on the child’s “baby-like” utterance into a more adult-like form (e.g.:  Child says:  “horse”. Adult says “Yes, that is a horse.”).
  • Self-talk: the adult uses short phrases or sentences to convey your actions to the child (e.g.:  Adult says “I am washing dishes”).
  • Parallel talk: the adult uses a short phrase or sentence to describe what the child is doing.  This technique highlights the action (e.g.:  the child raises a cup to his lips. Adult says:  “You are drinking” or “(Child’s name) is drinking”)
  • Description: the adult uses a word, short phrase, or sentence to describe what the child sees or is playing with.  This technique is object centered (e.g.:  The child picks up a truck.  Adult says:  “a truck” or “It’s a truck” or “a blue truck”).

Further, it was found that environmental arrangement is extremely important. For example, a cluttered play space was shown to be overwhelming and difficult for the child and communication partner (therapist, parent, teacher, etc), to communicate. The child also responded more frequently when patterns and routines had been established within the environment.

Lastly, the power of patience and wait times were emphasized. Rather than giving the child a bombardment of prompts/cues, it is more powerful to listen to the child, watch their response, then add to the interaction. Following the child’s lead is a crucial part of intervention, especially with late-talking toddlers.

-Katey Sellers, M.A., CF-SLP


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