You’ve heard the words early intervention before, but it seems confusing.
Your pediatrician tells you that they are free services for children aged birth to 3.
Your friend from Gymboree tells you that the only way to qualify is to have your child evaluated right before nap time.
Your aunt tells you that if you do an early intervention evaluation, your child will be “classified” for the rest of his life!
As a pediatric speech language pathologist, I hear the words ADD/ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder) approximately 300 times per day. In recent years, an ADD/ADHD diagnosis has become quite fashionable, but according to many prominent psychiatrists and researchers, ADD/ADHD is being over-diagnosed, and as a result, many children are over-medicated.
What is Attention Deficit Disorder?
During the first year of life, your new baby will take the journey that brings him from a crying ball of mush to his first words. It is exciting, breathtaking…and nerve-racking as you ponder whether all this is normal. As part of my new parenting series, I present to you the speech and language milestones and expectations for your baby’s first year. I have also included activities that you can incorporate to maximize your child’s development at that stage.
It is an exciting time in the lives of so many of my close friends, and they have each come to me with their most pressing and daunting questions before they become parents for the first time. This month, I will be focusing on the speech, language, and feeding development of children through the first year of life.
People are always shocked when I tell them I specialize in speech therapy with babies. “But they don’t speak yet! How can they get speech therapy?” These first months are some of the most important in your child’s life and will set the stage for future development. Even if your child is typically developing, these tips will help you ensure your child is on the right track. In today’s post, I am going to talk about the most vital of all behaviors—feeding. Read more
As a long-time yoga practitioner, I jumped at the opportunity to begin studying with Sonia Sumar, the creator of Yoga for the Special ChildⓇ. Through her experiences with her own daughter, who was born with Down Syndrome, Sonia designed a Hatha Yoga program that was modified to meet the needs of children with a wide variety of speech, language and learning disorders, as well as those with physical disabilities and genetic disorders. She has shaped this practice over the past 40 years, and I have had the pleasure of training with her over the past two years. So, why do I think that yoga is the perfect supplement for a speech and language program?
The longer I work as a speech language pathologist, the more I appreciate my work with occupational therapists. I checked in with my friend Jill Loftus at Honest OT in Denver, Colorado, to find out How Sensory Processing Impacts Speech Development.
It’s important to realize that the vestibular and auditory systems work together as they process sensations of movement and sound. These sensations are closely intertwined, because they both begin to be processed in the receptors of the ear.
Audition, or hearing, is the ability to receive sounds. We are born with this basic skill. The ability to hear does not guarantee, however, that we understand sounds. We learn about comprehension as we integrate vestibular sensation. Gradually, as we interact purposefully with our environment, we learn to interpret what we hear and to develop mature auditory processing skills.
Language is understanding what words mean and how we use them to communicate. Receptive language is language which we take in by listening and reading. Expressive language is what we put out by speaking or writing. Language and speech are closely related, but they are not the same. Speech is the physical production of sound. Speech skills depend on smoothly functioning muscles in the throat tongue, lips, and jaw.
The vestibular system impacts motor control and motor planning that are necessary to produce intelligible speech. Because the vestibular system is crucial for effective auditory processing, the child with vestibular dysfunction frequently develops problems with language.
How do these problems play out? Here are some common characteristics of children with poor auditory-language processing:
- May seem unaware of the source of sound and may look all around to locate where the sounds come form.
- May have trouble identifying voices or discriminating between sounds, such as the difference between “bear” and “bore.”
- May be unable to pay attention to one voice or sound without being distracted by other sounds.
- May be distressed by noises that are loud, sudden, metallic, or high – pitched, or by sounds that don’t bother others.
- May have trouble attending to, understanding, or remembering what she reads or hears.
- May misinterpret requests, frequently ask for repetition, and be able to follow only one or two instructions in sequence.
- May look to others before responding.
- May have trouble putting thoughts into spoken or written words.
Recently, I returned to my work with the little ones. There is really no better feeling than figuring out the puzzle pieces of a little one and watching magic happen! The great thing about early childhood is that once you solve the puzzle, the magic happens so quickly! If you want to watch your little one’s speech flourish, follow these tips.
Eye contact is key Always place your child in a way that they can see your face and your mouth. We have a tendency to place children with their backs propped on us, unless we are feeding. Babies receive lots of social cues and signals from our eyes and focus on our mouth to try to figure out how we do that thing called speaking. For a child 0-5 months, I like to sit with my knees bent and child leaning and propped between my knees and my thighs. For children who are beginning to sit independently, I support the back with the heels of my feet while the child is safely supported by the circle of my legs. Read more
Being a new mom is tough! You are getting to know your baby while everyone around you weighs in on what to feed your child, how to care for your child, and how to get your child to sleep. Now add to this experience the fact that you know something is wrong, but everyone around you insists that you just need to relax.
Meet Kristi, a friend from graduate school and fellow pediatric speech-language pathologist. Kristi had, like me, received some basic training on tongue and lip ties, but nothing could compare to going through the experience first hand.