Speech, Language, and Literacy

March 27, 2012

It’s never too soon to start reading with your children! Children begin to learn speech and language skills from the day they are born. As children develop, they learn increasingly complex speech and language skills. During early speech and language development, children are also learning skills that are critical for emergent literacy skills. Emergent literacy begins at birth and typically continues through the pre-school years. It is critical for parents and caregivers to help children develop these emergent literacy skills…

Make reading fun!

  • Make sure both you and your child are having FUN!
  • Read with expression, pitching your voice higher or lower where it’s appropriate or using different voices for different characters.
  • Use puppets to help read and narrate the story.
  • Allow your child to choose the book he/she is interested in.
  • Let your child interrupt to ask questions or make comments.

Play with language!

  • Sing songs (Ex. “Itsy bitsy spider”, “Old McDonald”, or other ones which you know or can create).
  • Tell stories and narratives with your child, especially ones with sequence.
  • Read nursery rhymes and other rhyming books.
    • After a child has become familiar with the rhyme, stop before the last word on the page and let the child say it.
    • As a game, take turns to see how many rhyming words you can think of together: hop, top, bop, mop, stop, drop, and flop.


  • You do not always need to read the words as they appear in the book. You can simply talk about the pictures with your child.

Reading can take place anywhere, anytime!  Integrate reading into daily routines and make reading a daily habit. This is an activity which you and your child can look forward to.

Some ideas …

  • Start and end the day with books
  • Read during snack or after snack
  • Read during transition times
  • Read while waiting for appointments
  • Play books on CD in the car
  • Restaurants

Point out print in your natural environment to your child!

  • Food labels, billboards, words on the computer, names, signs, and more!

Visit your local library!

  • Check out books.
  • Attend a read-aloud with a story teller

Time Together Triangle:

  • There is a balance between you, your child, and the book!
  • Make sure that you:
    • Read to your child: Make a commitment of reading to your child on a regular basis. Keep the routine, it will be something both you and your child will look forward to!
    • Read with your child: Make sure your child is interested in the book, so that you are both engaged.
    • Let your child read to you: Encourage your child to help tell the story, even if he does not know how to read yet.

Remember we do not need to TEACH children all the time, we need to ENRICH their lives!

E –  Encourage


RRepeat stories over and over

I –   Involve your kids/Invent games together

CCheer for your kids


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


Social-Pragmatic Skills and Autism Spectrum Disorders

March 21, 2012

What are Social-pragmatic Skills?

Children with ASD have deficits in social and communicative functioning, as well as restricted/repetitive interests. According to Gresham and Elliot (1984) “social skills are socially acceptable learned behaviors that enable a person to interact effectively with others and avoid socially unacceptable responses.” It is important to recognize that the word “learned” means that social skills can definitely be taught to individuals who do not automatically learn these skills (Cardon, 2011). Social skills are learned behaviors and typical developing children can learn these skills easily; however, children with social-pragmatic impairments typically require more prompting and instructions. Martin and McDonald (2003) describe pragmatics as behaviors that encompass social, emotional, and communicative aspects of social interaction.

Six Categories of Social Impairment: (Cardon, 2011)

1. Nonverbal communication

– Difficulty recognizing other people’s body language including facial expressions

2. Social initiation

– Rarely initiate conversation with others due to fear, anxiety, or apathy

– Initiate conversation frequently but appropriately

3. Reciprocity and terminating interactions

-Social Reciprocity: engage in one-way interactions

-Termination Interactions: not able to read cues that signal the end of conversation

4. Social cognition

– Difficulty with social problem solving

– May not understand the unwritten rules of social behavior

– May not understand other people’s view points

– Difficulty with joint attention (i.e. eye contact)

5. Behaviors associated with perspective taking and self-awareness

– Perspective Taking: difficulty understanding someone else’s feelings (Theory of Mind); failure to consider the

interests of others

– Self-awareness: difficulty evaluating one’s own behavior

6. Social anxiety and social withdrawal

– Fear of social or performance situations where embarrassment may occur; may prefer structured activities over

unstructured ones

 Therapy for Children with Social-pragmatic Impairments:

Speech-Language Pathologists work with children with social-pragmatic impairments. Social-pragmatic skills require peers, and social groups are a great way to teach children these skills. Children with ASD and other social-pragmatic impairments greatly benefit from these groups and learn social interaction skills. Strong social interaction skills mean: more meaningful relationships, greater happiness and self-esteem, greater social acceptance, greater desire to participate in social situations, and less anxiety (Cardon, 2011).



 -Sanaz Amini, BA, Speech -Pathology Intern  &  Kristina Elliott, MA, CCC-SLP




















Sensory motor skills! What are they and are they even important?

March 13, 2012

Sensory motor skills are the basic foundation for learning. All the activities and movement we did as infants, toddlers and children help prepare our body and our brain to learn. These skills are essential to develop the ability to participate in classroom activities and affects academic achievements. Physical activities promote dual processing of the brain which means the integrated use of both our brain’s hemispheres which research shows is imperative to learning.

Sensory and motor skills build on the foundation of our innate abilities. Sensory skills are those such as vision, hearing, touch, smell, taste, vestibular (for balance and head position in space), and proprioception (information from the muscles and joints). They are responsible for receiving information. Motor skills relate to muscles and movement and include crawling, walking, running, handwriting, and speaking. Motor skills give expression to the information our senses receive and process.

Sensory motor skills comprise of:

  1. Body in space – Knowing where our body is in space helps know where we are in relation to people and objects and leads to the development of visual motor skills. Visual motor skills are essential in the areas of learning to write, social interaction by knowing boundaries of proximity and even driving as we get older.
  1. Laterality – knowing how to cross midline of the body, knowing right from left and also eye movements comprise of laterality. The development of this skill is essential in learning how to read, write and also for our brain to work in a proficient song.
  1. Balance- Development of balance is promoted through the use of our vestibular system present in our inner ear.  A higher level of balance has been shown to stimulate the growth and enlargement of neural networks which in turn cause the communication systems to grow and develop.
  1. Centering – Centering is the ability to cross the midline top to bottom.  If centering is not developed, a student will walk completely disconnected, as though the legs are working independently of the rest of this body.  This leads to poor coordination in sports; disorganization in his room and classroom desk; messy personal appearance; this child is overwhelmed

What can you do?

1. Encourage movement in your child that uses both sides of the body.

2. Incorporate right and left movements into the routine.

3. Have silly time at home with doing animal walks, tumbling on the floor to encourage skills that involve both sides of the body.

4. Park time- encourage your child to explore all the structures in the park.

5. Tactile play – water, sand, beans, rice, and even shaving cream can provide endless hours of fun for the child while being beneficial to their growth.


-Vibha Pathak, OTD, OTR/L






Baby Sign Language

March 6, 2012

Baby sign language is a great way to encourage language before your baby is able to vocally produce words. It allows a baby to communicate what he wants, or what is on his mind. Being able to use the hand gestures of baby sign dramatically reduces frustration that may occur on both the baby’s and parent’s side.

Here are a couple steps to remember when beginning to teach your child this fun and functional mean of communication:

1) Start with just a few signs: Choose a couple signs that will be the most useful in everyday life. For example “eat”, “more”, “all done”, “milk”, “open”.  Slowly build up to more.

2) Make sure you always use the sign and word together: Being able to hear the word along with the sign helps your baby remember it and make that connection.

3) Point to objects: If you are signing the name of an object, point to the object while saying the word and then signing the sign.

4) Repeat, Repeat: First make sure your baby is watching and then sign the word while saying the word a couple of times.

5) Assist your baby: it is okay to guide your baby’s hands if needed. Remember it is okay if the sign is not perfect! A baby’s fine motor skills are not as developed as adults.

6) Be patient: It will take time for your baby to master a sign. Remember the younger they are, the longer it will take

7) Use signs during all everyday activities and have fun!

Here is a wonderful website that has videos of people demonstrating common baby signs. You will find a dictionary of basic words to choose from: http://www.babysignlanguage.com

-Belen Macias, MS, CCC-SLP