5 Ways a Speech Language Pathologist Can Help a Child with Autism

Having a child receive a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder can be a scary thing. The best thing you can do for your child is learn as much as you can about what to expect and how you can help in order to be the best advocate that you can.

Here are five areas in which a licensed speech pathologist can help a child with Autism:

  1. Communication – Regardless of whether your child uses sign language, pictures, or words to communicate, a speech pathologist can help a child with Autism learn a functional way to express his needs and wants.
  2. Understanding Language – It can be scary to live in a world where you don’t understand what is said to you. A speech pathologist can aid your child with Autism in comprehending and understanding language.
  3. Social Skills – A speech pathologist can help teach a child with Autism to use communication appropriately with others, whether that means teaching how to touch and look at others when speaking or learning skills to make friends.
  4. Feeding – Mealtimes are a critical part of family and social interaction and a speech pathologist can help your child with Autism eat a wider variety of foods safely and effectively for adequate nutrition.
  5. Safety Skills – Being able to recognize and avoid dangerous situations is a skill that a speech pathologist can help teach your child with autism to keep him safe!

All parents want what is best for their child and a speech pathologist can help your child with autism gain the skills to overcome the daily challenges he may face. To learn more about the steps to take after receiving an Autism diagnosis, click here.

Click here to visit our Chicago Autism Clinic.

How ADHD Impacts Your Child’s Social Skills and Friendships

ADHD is a neurobiological disorder that can affect your child’s ability to regulate his behavior and observe, understand, and respond to his or her social environment.

Does your child…

  • Often have problems getting along with other children (i.e. sharing, cooperating, keeping promises)?
  • Struggle to make and keep friends?
  • Tend to play with kids younger than him?
  • Become upset, aggressive, or frustrated easily when they lose a game or things don’t go their way?
  • Have difficulty following directions and rules?

Peer relationship issues tend to be a common problem area in children with ADHD. Children with ADHD tend to act in a way that provokes negative reactions from peers, and can become a target for teasing.  The hallmark symptoms of ADHD, such as hyperactivity and impulsivity, can be the main culprits to blame! These children tend to live in the NOW… meaning what they can achieve right now is what is important! The consequences, like losing friends and being left out the next time, are overlooked. Social skills (i.e. sharing, keeping promises, expressing interest in another person) have NO IMMEDIATE GRATIFICATION. These kiddos then have difficulty understanding the concept of building friendships based on these learned skills.

What can you do to help?

  • Practice social skills at home and when you observe your child playing with other children.
  • Avoid activities that require complex rules for success and a lot of passive time (i.e. choosing an infield vs. outfield position in T-Ball). They can become bored and distracted easily.
  • Keep groups small.
  • Discourage play with aggressive peers.
  • Experts have found more positive social interactions when there is less competition – this causes emotional over arousal, increased disorganized behavior, and frustration.
  • Make sure you are modeling appropriate social behavior at home.
  • Encourage friendships – invite kids over to your house and keep the play structured and supervised
  • Work with your child’s teacher and involve her in the process.
  • Enroll in social skills training class or contact a professional if more help is needed.

Sources:
Taking Charge of ADHD, Revised Edition: The Complete, Authoritative Guide for Parents  By Russell A. Barkley




Positive Thinking Tricks for a Better Mood

Changing your child’s thinking may be a helpful way to appropriately deal with day to day conflict that inevitably occurspositive thinking tips for teens. Have you noticed that when minor upsets in the day occur, your child has a reaction that lasts a long time? Does your child tend to think of the glass as half-empty? By challenging your child’s thoughts (and your own!) you will start to see the way that more positive thinking can improve his or her mood.

Tips to Help Your Child Think Positively:

  • Challenge extremes by finding exceptions. By challenging extremes (ex. Does every single kid in the classroom really get to do that? ) you can help your child see that there are exceptions to the generalizations that he is likely making. In the example above, if your child is feeling down because some of his peers get to do something he is not allowed to do, he may utter, “but EVERYONE else gets to!” By questioning the truth of his statement in a non-threatening way, you can help him see that there are indeed exceptions.  A great way to do this is by having him list a few examples. Read more

What is PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System)?

PECS or Picture Exchange Communication System is an augmentative and alternative form of communication that can be used across ages and disabilities.  It teaches functional communication that is immediately useful for individuals who have either not developed speech or who have lost speech.

Common Questions about PECS:

What about speech?

Many parents are concerned that by implementing PECS, we are disregarding speech or talking. That is not the case.  While implementing PECS, we are also addressing the development of speech. For those that have the ability to speak, we are continuously modeling and encouraging speech throughout the entire process. Read more

5 Tips to Help Your Child with Motor Planning

Does your child have difficulty learning or doing a new or unfamiliar task? Does he appear clumsy or avoid participating in sports or other physical activities? Does he have trouble coming up with new play ideas or knowing how to play with toys? If this sounds familiar, your child might have difficulty with motor planning.  Motor planning is the ability of the brain to conceive of, organize, and carry out a sequence of unfamiliar actions.  If your child needs help with motor planning, read on for 5 helpful tips.

5 Ways to Help Your Child with Motor Planning:

  1. Do activities that are composed of a series of steps (i.e. making a craft, making a sandwich, or creating an obstacle course).  As you do this, help your child identify, plan, and execute the steps to promote the ability to sequence and map actions. Break down the steps to make them more manageable and attainable, which can build self-esteem.
  2.  Determine what aspects of motor planning are a strength for your child (e.g. imitation, following verbal directions, timing, sequencing, coming up with ideas).  Play to these strengths when doing activities with your child to compensate for the areas of difficulty.
  3. Engage your child in activities that involve climbing over, under and around large objects.  For example, playing on playground equipment or coming up with obstacle courses will help your child gain basic knowledge of how to move his body through space.
  4. Encourage your child to come up with an idea for a new activity, or a new way to play with a toy or equipment, to promote motor planning. Read more

5 Tips to Keep Your Child’s Backpack Organized

Ever wonder how your child’s backpack goes from looking like it belongs in a museum exhibit on the first day of school, to looking like there was an explosion of school supplies, snacks and nick-knacks thrown together a few weeks later?  Read on for 5 tips to help your child keep his backpack organized throughout the school year.

5 Tips to Keep Your Child’s Backpack Organized:

  1. Have a designated place for everything.  Work out a system with your child at the beginning of the year (or whenever you realize that the current system is not working), and designate a spot for all materials.  This may mean putting all writing utensils in a plastic box or a carrying case, having different colored folders or using a binder system.  Make sure you have a place for the odds and ends too, such as scissors, rulers, and informational papers to bring home to mom and dad. Read more

5 Ways to Help Your Child “Kick-Off” a Conversation

Many people look forward to fall for the start of football season and back-to-school; however, it can also be an intimidating time for children who struggle with social interaction with peers.  For some kids, talking with friends comes naturally.  Other kids need some help.  If your child finds it difficult to strike up a conversation with friends, encourage her to take the following steps to “kick-off” a discussion with peers that will set the foundation for wonderful friendships in the school year to come.

5 ways to help your child “kick-off” a conversation:

Ask “Get-to-know-you” Questions:

  • What’s your name?
  • What grade are you in?
  • Do you like sports?
  • Do you have brothers/sisters/pets?

Discuss Seasonal Topics:

  • Ask about summer break/vacations/camps
  • Discuss favorite fall football teams

Talk About News Events:

  • Sports games
  • Presidential election
  • “Did you hear about…?”

Share Stories from the Summer:

  • A good book you are reading/read
  • A movie you saw Read more

Vocal Hygiene

Brushing your teeth. Bathing every day. Washing your hands after using the restroom. These are all forms of hygiene that most adults practice regularly and are certain to instill in their own children as well. Although, one form of hygiene that people often dismiss is vocal hygiene. Taking steps to maintain a healthy voice is especially important for children. Children with abusive vocal behaviors can develop a breathy, hoarse, or “raspy” voice, which can be indicative of damage to the vocal folds, such as vocal nodules or polyps. Damaging the vocal folds can mean long-term voice issues that require therapy or even surgery.

Abusive vocal behaviors to watch out for in your children:

  • Throat clearing and/or coughing (may be secondary to allergies, illness, etc.)
  • Excessive crying or tantrums
  • Speaking loudly or yelling frequently Read more

Strategies to Help Your Teen Make Good Decisions

The teenage years are marked with new experiences.  Teenagers want to be independent and are drawn to exciting, new opportunities.  During this time period, chemical changes in the brain also motivate teens to seek out risky behavior.  What can parents do, then, to help their teens learn to exercise good judgment despite the internal and external motivators they have to make poor choices?

Strategies parents can use to help teenagers make good decisions:

  1. Help your teen to take positive risks.  For example, encourage your teen to try out for a new sport, visit a new place, or make new friends.  This will help instill confidence and self control in your teen.  It will also satisfy your teen’s quest for new or exciting things. Read more

4 Back-to-School Resolutions to Promote Speech and Language Skills

With a new school year starting, now is the perfect time to promote and encourage your child’s speech and language skills! Here are some helpful tips in order to set your child up for the greatest success this school year.

4 Back-to-School Speech and Language Resolutions:

  1. Easy Voice: Avoid using a harsh voice, yelling, and shouting.  This can help both parents and children maintain a healthy vocal quality. Modeling your own “easy voice” can encourage your child to keep his voice healthy too!
  2. Build Vocabulary: Targeting and explaining new “back-to-school” words can help to improve your child’s vocabulary. Increased exposure to novel words will reinforce these additions to your child’s vocabulary and will encourage usage.
  3. Read Aloud: Reading aloud to your child is extremely beneficial for language development. When reading stories, emphasizing and reinforcing new words will enhance vocabulary skills, and asking questions while reading encourages understanding. If age appropriate, ask your child to retell the story!
  4. Ask Questions: Talk with your child about the events of his day. Learn what activities occurred in the classroom, in the lunchroom, and at recess. Monitor for sentence structure and grammar, and emphasize accurate productions. For example, if your child says, “I goed to art,” respond with, “You went to art? How was it?” Read more