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Should I Be Concerned With My Child’s Speech?

As a parent, everyone wants the best for their child. They want their child to grow and Blog-Speech-Concerns-Main-Landscapedevelop appropriately, and flourish socially and academically. One component to success is your child’s ability to effectively communicate their wants, needs, and ideas. Which begs the question, when should you be concerned with your child’s speech and language development? In a world where no child is the same, one thing is for certain: early intervention is better than late intervention, and late intervention is better than no intervention at all. Look for these red flags early in development.

  • Difficulty following directions
  • Difficulty answering questions
  • Difficulty understanding gestures and nonverbal cues
  • Difficulty engaging in conversation
  • Difficulty identifying age-appropriate vocabulary and concepts
  • Frustration when communicating

Expressive Language

More specifically, children should be babbling between 6 and 8 months, with their first words produced around the age of 12 months. By 18 months, your child should possess an expressive vocabulary (spoken words) of approximately 50 words. Two-word combinations are expected around 24 months, with an expressive vocabulary growing to about 300 words. By the time your child is 36 months old, expect 3-5 word combinations (or more!), with most adult language structures mastered around 60 months (5 years).

Receptive Language

Children should follow basic commands around 12 months (“Come here”), and use gestures to communicate along with a few real words. They should be demonstrating comprehension of common objects and animals, by following commands involving those items or identifying them in books (puppy, cup, shoes, etc.) around 18 months of age. Look for your child to answer questions, ask questions, and talk about their day around the age of 3 years.

Articulation

It is typical for a young child (1-2 years) to have some sound errors in their speech. However, by the age of 3, a child’s speech should be at least 75% intelligible to an unfamiliar listener, and more intelligible to familiar listeners. By age 3, a child should have the following sounds mastered: /b, d, h, m, n, p, f, g, k, t, w/. All speech sounds should be mastered by age 8.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

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speech and language activities for travel

Speech and Language Games for Traveling

Vacations are wonderful times to make memories and experience new places. Likewise, these experiences offer unique opportunities to expose your child to new vocabulary and practice language skills in a new environment. Although the hours spent in a car or on a plane seem anticlimactic and dull, this time offers the perfect opportunity to mix fun and language practice to maintain skills while away from therapy. Check out this list of speech and language games for traveling that will keep children entertained while also practicing various speech and language skills.

Speech and Language Games for Traveling:

  1. I Spy: This traditional game is a great exercise to use adjectives and to target expanding a child’sSpeech and Language Games for Travel utterance length. A player can provide clues that include descriptive words or colors (e.g., “I spy something that is shiny” or “I spy something that is blue”). This is a great opportunity for repeated practice of the meaning of an “adjective” as well as for improving a child’s vocabulary.
  1. Category Game: The Category Game is an easy adaptation of the game Concentration that is more appropriate for the car. The Category Game involves thinking of one category/group of items (e.g., Disney movies) and then taking turns until someone can’t think of anything. This is a great vocabulary activity that targets enhancing a child’s lexicon and improving his or her word retrieval skills. As children become more advanced, the category can also be more difficult.
  1. The Picnic Game: The Picnic Game is a great way to exercise memory and pre-literacy skills. The Picnic Game starts with the phrase, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m going to bring…”. The first player picks an item that starts with the letter “A” (e.g., apple). The next person then recites what has been previously said, adding their own item that starts with the next letter of the alphabet (e.g., “I’m going on a picnic and I’m going to bring an apple and a banjo”). This game will test a player’s short term memory, as well as give him or her added exposure to the alphabet.
  1. Speech Sound Game: This game is similar to the Category Game, but rather than focusing on vocabulary, this game will target a child’s phonological awareness skills. To start, a player will pick a speech sound (e.g., “s”). Players will then have to think of words that start with that sound (e.g., “sit….sand….sun”). The first one who can’t think of a word is out. This game can be made more difficult by starting with just a random word (e.g., “pot”). Rather than thinking of words that all start with “p”, the next player will have to think of a word that starts with “t” (i.e., the last sound of the word that was said before). This is a great way to practice segmenting the sounds within a word, as well as give extra practice for producing certain speech sounds. Phonological awareness skills provide a foundation for later developing literacy skills.
  1. 20 Questions: This game is a great way to target receptive and expressive language skills. To begin a player will think of a person, place or thing and announce what category that is in. The other players will then ask yes/no questions in order to try to guess what the player is thinking of within 20 questions. This game requires answering with a reliable yes or no, as well as using a variety of vocabulary words to ask creative questions. 20 Questions can also be adapted to a variety of levels, making it as easy or hard for each player’s skills.

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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Frustration-Free Communication With Your Toddler

There’s no question about it, and there’s no reason to feel guilty for thinking it: communicating with a toddler can be frustrating. To repeat: communicating with a toddler can be frustrating. Every parent feels this frustration at some point, as do many toddlers! Toddlers are aware of what they want, but they often have trouble conveying these desires to care givers. It is important to remember: it’s ok! Toddlers acquire language each and every day as they are exposed to new words, and, with that, their vocabulary grows.

During this time of rapid language development, there are a few tips to support and encourage language, while also reducing frustration for BOTH communicative partners.

Tips for Frustration-Free Communication with Your Toddler:

  • Reduce the demand: When a child is trying to explain wants and needs, she may feel pressuredFrustration-Free Communication with Your Toddler to verbalize her choices or may just not feel like talking. That’s ok! If a parent is unable to elicit a verbal response, he or she may try reducing the demand! Accept pointing as an alternative, so long as the child is staying compliant with what is being asked of him.
  • Approximate: When a child is attempting to verbalize with a parent, words may often be distorted or syllables may be missing, resulting in immature speech. This is expected in toddlers, but parents can encourage approximation. For example, if a child attempts to say “door,” but instead says “do,” parents can praise their child for trying and respond with “yes, let’s open the door!” Similarly, if a toddler requests “oo na,” parents can reply, “oh, do you want fruit snacks?”
  • Model: When children are acquiring expressive language, parents should be modeling appropriate requests and verbal turn-taking throughout the day. During play, parents can express “my turn,” to encourage toddlers to initiate taking turns and labeling actions. Parents can also model requests, for example, “I want more, Molly. Do you want more?” in order to encourage toddlers to imitate.
  • Provide choices: Offering choices can help to limit toddler frustration during communication. If choices are finite, toddlers won’t have to search through their growing—but sometimes inadequate—vocabulary to retrieve words. If offered, for example, apples or bananas, toddlers will feel the independence to make the decision that they desire. Simultaneously, parents are able to quickly and efficiently learn what their toddlers want.
  • Gesture: It can be frustrating for both parents and toddlers when language demands are placed. If a toddler doesn’t feel like saying “hi” to Uncle Andrew or giving him a hug that day, accept a wave of the hand or a high-five. These gestures are still intentional communication; that is, they still promote social development. Just encourage socialization and more verbalization the next time!

These tips can help to reduce frustration for both parents and toddlers. If parents find that they are unable to understand 50% of what their toddler is trying to communicate, a licensed speech-language pathologist (SLP) can help! This time with your toddlers should be fun, and SLPs can help to make things easier for toddlers to express their wants and needs. Comment below if you have any other frustration-free communication tips!

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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

spring speech language activities

Spring Speech-Language Activities

Spring, the season of growth and renewal, is an excellent time to foster your child’s speech and language development using these fun, season-themed activities.

The activities listed below can be completed with children of all ages. Each activity targets some or all of the following language skills: Sequencing a multi-step process, following verbal and/or written directions, describing sights, smells, and textures, and understanding and using novel vocabulary.

Spring Speech-Language Activities:

  1. Plant A Seed Without Dirt: As the weather gets warmer, all sorts of plants are starting to growspring speech and language activities again. Let your child experience this process firsthand – without the mess – by planting a bean in a plastic baggie and watching it grow. This interesting project will help your child develop direction-following and sequencing skills, expand and encourage use of new vocabulary, and provide opportunities to describe their experience.
  • Materials: Beans, zip lock bag, paper towel, water
  • Directions: Dampen a paper towel, fold it, and place it in the zip lock bag. Place a dry bean on top of the damp paper towel and seal the bag. Tape each bag to a window or wall which gets sunlight. The seed should begin to germinate in three to five days.
  1. No-Bake Dirt Pie: Have fun fostering language skills such as vocabulary, sequencing, literacy, and describing by making some delicious Dirt Pie. Following a recipe (see http://familiestogetherinc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/picrecipes.pdf for a free, printable visual recipe) and talking your way through the process will expose your child to a language-rich experience that will yield a tasty treat:
  • Ingredients: Instant chocolate pudding, milk, oreos, gummy worms
  • Directions: Mix instant pudding with milk, put it in a bowl or cup, cover pudding in Oreo crumbs, put gummy worms on top, eat and enjoy!
  1. Outdoor Scavenger Hunt: Expand your child’s receptive vocabulary, encourage literacy, and expose them to new describing words (adjectives) by sending them on an outdoor scavenger hunt!
  • Materials: Pen, check-list of items, a safe place to walk around outdoors
  • Directions: Write a list of items to find that includes describing words (e.g., something rough, something smooth, something fuzzy, etc). Give your child the check-list of items and head to the park or your own back yard to find them!
  1. Read Spring Poetry: The beauty of spring has inspired many poets. Have your child close his or her eyes, listen to a spring-themed poem, and visualize what the words describe. Together, draw pictures of what each of you imagined while listening to the poem.
  • Materials: Poem(s), paper, markers
  • Directions: Go to the web site http://www.apples4theteacher.com/ and print out a spring-themed poem for free. Enjoy reading with or to your child. Draw pictures of what you visualized while reading the poem!
  1. Scented Painting: With the changing of the seasons, flowers bloom and the scents of spring surround us. Make art inspired by this colorful and sweet-smelling change. Foster creativity and description skills by painting with different flavors of Cool Aid.
  • Materials: 3-5 flavors of Cool Aid, paper, paintbrush
  • Directions: Mix Cool Aid with water, paint with the different flavors, talk about what your child sees and smells during the process.
  1. Grass Heads: Your child will have a blast designing his or her own silly face, using a variety of materials, then watching green hair grow out of its head! Use this activity to practice following directions and describing sights, smells, and textures.
  • Materials: Old pair of nylon legs, grass seed, soil, small plastic containers (e.g., jar), elastic bands, googly eyes/permanent marker, pipe cleaners, spray bottle
  • Directions: Cut nylon at the knee then scoop in 1 TBSP grass seed. Scoop soil in on top of seeds and tie the opening of the nylon tight. Snip excess nylon, but leave about 3 inches dangling. Draw or sew on googlie eyes and decorate head with pipe cleaners. Place grass head on top of small container with the bottom 3 inches of nylon dangling into the container. Pour ½ inch of water in container every couple of days. Spray water gently over grass seeds twice daily. Watch the grass grow and have your child create new grass head hair styles!
  1. Kool Aid Play Dough: Have fun improving your child’s ability to sequence an activity and follow directions by making some spring-colored play dough:
  1. Color Changing Carnation: Bring the bright colors of spring inside by watching a white carnation change color when food coloring is added to its water. Foster your child’s expressive language by encouraging your child to describe what they see before and after the carnation’s color changes.
  • Materials: Food coloring, carnation, water, cup
  • Directions: Pour water into the cup, add a few drops of food coloring, then place the white carnation in the water and watch it change color over the course of the day!
  1. Homemade Birdfeeder: As the weather warms, birds begin to nest. Get your child excited about seeing his or her feathered friends by making a birdfeeder. Once the birdfeeder has been hung outside, watch as birds start stopping by for tasty treats – creating plenty of opportunities to describe the appearance and actions of your new feathered friends!
  • Materials: Peanut butter, pinecone, string, birdseed
  • Directions: Cover the pinecone with peanut butter, then roll the pinecone in birdseed. Tie a string to the birdfeeder and then hang it outside near a window. Watch and wait as birds stop by for a tasty treat. Observe the birds with your child and take turns talking about what each of you see.
  1. Star Art: Choose a spring constellation and read the myth behind it. Then, recreate the constellation using marshmallows and toothpicks. When night falls, look up and match your child’s marshmallow and toothpick creation with the actual pattern of stars in the sky. Throughout the process, have fun practicing comprehension and description skills by talking about the myth and sharing what each of you see.
  • Materials: Marshmallows, toothpicks, sky map (print for free at http://www.kidsastronomy.com/), constellation stories
  • Directions: Read the story behind a constellation (e.g., Orion). Use the marshmallows as stars and toothpicks as connecting lines in the same pattern as your chosen constellation.

Click here to read about 5 quick and easy speech and language activities.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

 

language development throughout the day

5 Easy Ways to Encourage Your Baby’s Language Throughout the Day

Language is used everywhere around us, in multiple ways and in all facets of life. How does your little one learn language when she is so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed? When you think about talking to your baby, it may seem a bit silly since she isn’t talking back. However, she is communicating with you in other ways, such as with eye gaze, coos, and smiles. Interacting and speaking to your baby throughout the day is thought to facilitate language acquisition. It has been found that the amount of words addressed to 1- to- 2-year olds by their mothers is predictive of their vocabulary growth rate (Huttenlocher, Haight, Bryk, Seltzer, & Lyons, 1991).

Here are 5 easy ways to encourage your baby’s language development throughout the day:

  1. Use infant-directed speech: Also known as motherese, this is speech that is directed specifically at your baby5 easy ways to encourage your babies language throughout the day in a prosodic and deliberate manner. Research has shown that babies actually prefer motherese to its counterpart, adult-directed speech.
  1. Read books: Interacting and exposing your baby to books and the act of reading is a great way to encourage language. At this age, picture books are ideal and facilitate early learning of concepts such as colors, numbers, and animals. It also helps teach book orientation and direction of reading.
  1. Label: Give your child the names for common objects and objects that they are consistently exposed to. This input increases receptive language which will in turn increase expressive language. Thanks to fast-mapping (the ability to learn words with minimal exposure), typically-developing toddlers require minimal exposure to new words in order to learn their meaning and use them appropriately.
  1. Sing songs: Singing songs to your child such as ‘Rock a Bye Baby’ and ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ not only provides comfort but also includes exposure to repetitive language models.
  1. Use simple language: When speaking to your baby, use simple language by communicating in words and/or short phrases. This limits the amount of language that the child has to process and allows them to focus on the important parts of the message.

Before you know it (and before you may be ready for it), your baby will be talking, walking, and going to school. Facilitate their language learning by utilizing the tips mentioned above. If you become concerned (lack of interest, eye contact, gestures, and/or speech sounds, among others) with your baby’s language and speech skills, seek an evaluation with a certified speech and language pathologist.


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Click here to view our speech and language milestone infographic!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Reference: Huttenlocher, J., Haight, W., Bryk, A., Seltzer, M., & Lyons, T. (1991). Early vocabulary growth: Relation to language input and gender. Developmental Psychology, 27, 236-248.

5 things you didn't know about how your baby learns language

5 Things You Didn’t Know About How Your Baby Learns Language

Has your child ever surprised you with his knowledge and actions, or used a word that you thought he had never heard before? Have you ever thought, ‘My child is a genius’? If so, I have to agree that children and the way that they develop language skills is quite impressive!

Here are 5 things you didn’t know about how your baby learnslanguage development language:

  1. Babies cannot learn language from iPads and TV. Although there are many apps available that target language skills, they do not replace human interaction. Patricia Kuhl and her research team concluded that language learning takes place in a social context (interaction with a person!) (Roehrich, 2013). Their research has shown that American babies exposed to non-native sounds (sounds not in their primary language) in a face-to-face context were able to learn to distinguish these sounds from their native sounds. However, when presented with the non-native sounds via audiovisual and audio recordings only, they were not able to distinguish between the two.
  2. Motherese works. Motherese (also known as baby talk or infant directed speech) is spoken by mothers around the world. Is there a purpose to this talk? The answer is yes! Motherese helps babies to learn the sounds, patterns, and intonation of their language. The prosody of motherese is thought to facilitate processing in domains such as word segmentation (Thiessen, Hill, & Saffran, 2005) and word learning (Graf-Estes, 2008).
  3. Babies start learning language in the womb. Believe it or not, the number of neurons (nerve cells) in our brains peaks before we are even born!  Babies have a critical period for learning sounds in their native language, and this critical period occurs before your child turns 1 year old. This period begins when your baby first develops the ability to hear (around 16 weeks after conception). Before this critical period, babies are able to discriminate between any sounds in any language. At approximately the age of 8-10 months, babies are pruning connections in their brain and fine-tuning the connections that are used most frequently. This is why, after the critical period, your baby no longer has the ability to discriminate sounds in native and non-native languages. When your baby is 6 months old, they have an ability that you as an adult do not have! (Roehrich, 2013)
  4. Babies communicate via eye gaze. Have you ever wondered how your baby communicates without using words (or cries?) The answer is eye gaze! Eye gaze is one of the first ways that a baby and their mother connect socially. Babies show preference for items and people by demonstrating longer eye gaze towards a person or object. When they are a little older, babies also use joint attention and gestures to communicate. This is demonstrated by the baby looking at a preferred object, then making eye contact with their communication partner, and then back to the preferred object again, attempting to draw the adult’s attention to their preferred object.
  5. Toddlers fast-map. During the second year of life, toddlers learn and retain new words after minimal exposure to the word and its use. This enables them to expand their receptive and expressive vocabularies at a rapid rate.

Watch this TED Talk that provides additional information about how babies learn language. If you are concerned with your child’s language skills, consult a speech and language pathologist!

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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!  

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Language Development Red Flags: Ages 0-36 Months

Have you ever wondered if your child is on track for “typical” language development? The following red flag checklist can help give you a general idea if your child is not following typical patterns of development. It is important to note that some children develop language a few months earlier or later than these general guidelines.

Red Flags for Language Development by 3-4 months:red flags for language development

  1. Child does not react to sudden noises
  2. Child does not turn head to sounds such as a bell or a rattle
  3. Child is not quieted by a caregivers voice
  4. Child does not seem to look at faces or objects- the baby should track items or people in her line of vision
  5. The baby seems unusually quiet, no cooing
  6. The baby as not developed “different” cries to signify different needs i.e. hungry, tired, distress, etc.
  7. The child has not developed a smile response to familiar caregiver
  8. The child does not use her voice to attract attention

Red Flags for Language Development by 14 months:

  1. Child does not follow simple directions such as, “give” or “come”
  2. Child does not seem to understand simple gestures of “hi” or “bye”
  3. Child does not have interest in simple books and simple pictures
  4. Baby does not seem to communicate other than crying
  5. Baby does not use simple gestures such as waving for bye-bye or hi, pointing, reaching, showing
  6. Child does not produce a variety of consonant or vowel sounds and/or does not produce sounds frequently
  7. Child does not use 2 to 8 words spontaneously
  8. Child does not communicate in a variety of ways such as facial expressions, eye gazing, or gestures

Red Flags for Language Development by 28-30 months:

  1. Child shows inconsistent response to words or directions
  2. Child needs repetition
  3. Chid gives inappropriate responses to simple ‘wh’ questions such as who is this? What is this?
  4. Child is not interested in simple stories
  5. Child seems to easily forget familiar routines
  6. Child becomes easily frustrated during communication exchanges
  7. Child mostly relies on yelling, grunting, or incoherent utterances for communication
  8. Words do not seem like adult words or may be part words i.e. “Da” for dog
  9. The child uses the same pseudo word or short syllable to represent many different things i.e. “ba” for boy, ball and baby
  10. Child is unable to name most familiar items
  11. Child has no clear “yes” or “no” response
  12. Child has less than 200 words and lacks steady vocabulary
  13. Child may have “lost” some speech

Red Flags for Language Development by 36 months:

  1. Is unable to follow more complex directions i.e., get your coat then go to the car
  2. Lacks interest in or does not remember simple and familiar stories, songs, nursery rhymes
  3. Does not understand the difference between who, what and where questions
  4. Is overly dependent on parents or siblings for communication
  5. Persists in babbling in place of adult speech “bibi” for baby
  6. Clarity of the child’s speech decreases as the child attempts longer utterances
  7. Is not speaking in sentences of three to four words
  8. Is not beginning to use simple grammar- articles, verb endings, plurals, pronouns
  9. Less than 800 words
  10. Is not easily picking up new vocabulary

If you believe your child meets the criteria of this red flag checklist for their age, please speak with a professional speech and language pathologist who can thoroughly evaluate their language development. As mentioned previously, children may develop a few months earlier or later than the time frames outlined by this checklist.

Click here to download our speech and language milestone infographic!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today! 

speech and language activities

5 Quick And Easy Speech And Language Activities

The amount of language that happens naturally throughout our day is immense. Even some of the most classic childhood past times involve fundamental speech and language skills. The ultimate goal of speech-language therapy is for your child to generalize the speech and language skills he is learning in the therapy room to his day to day life. By incorporating several minutes of targeted speech-language practice into your child’s life, the better the prognosis it is for your child to be successful! Try one of these easy speech-language activities at home and your child might not even realize they are practicing his language!

5 quick and easy speech and language activities:speech and language activities

  1. Categories Game – Choose a general vocabulary category, such as food or animals, and try to come up with as many items within that category as possible. If your child becomes stumped, provide him with semantic clues, for example, “Can you think of other farm animals?” or “What animal lives in a jungle and has stripes?”. The category game is an easy way to increase a child’s semantic network and to introduce him to new vocabulary words. The game can even become competitive by keeping track of the number of items stated and trying to increase that number each week.
  1. Simon Says – This classic game targets a core skill in a child’s receptive language – following directions. This game can be made simple by using one-step directions (e.g., “Clap your hands 3 times) or made more challenging, progressing to two-three step directions (e.g., “Clap your hands 3 times and turn around in a circle). Improving a child’s receptive language will have a positive impact on his ability to succeed in the classroom.
  1. I Spy – Increasing a child’s utterance length, such as increasing a child’s average utterance from three to four word sentences, is a common goal in speech-language therapy. The game “I Spy” is a great way to work on a child’s expressive language in a fun way. The game can be tailored to a child’s skill level – working on 3-word sentences (“I see cat”) or progressing to a 5-word sentence (“I see a brown cat”).  Descriptive words can also be incorporated. The best part of this game is that it can be used for improving advanced language as well, such as using complex sentences (“I see something that is brown).
  1. Board games – Any activity that involves taking turns provides a great way to practice using pronouns. During a game have someone announce whose turn it is – “It is my turn”, “It is your turn”. Not only can it be used to announce turns, but also to describe the items that people have, “I have three pieces and you have two pieces”. As a child’s language skills improve, third-person pronouns can be practiced, such as “It’s her/his turn” or “She/He is on a blue square”.
  1. Decorating a Letter – If a child has articulation or speech sound goals, these skills can also be easily practiced. Cut a block letter out of construction paper that is the same as your child’s speech goals. Go through a magazine to search for items that have that target sound within its name – in the beginning, middle or end. For example, if your child is working on saying the “k” sound at the beginning of words, look for pictures of items that have that sound – cat, can, kangaroo, etc. Cut the pictures out and glue them on your letter! The decorated letter can then be hung up and referenced at later times for additional practice.

Check in with your child’s speech-language therapist to ensure the activity is appropriate for your child. He or she may have suggestions on how to best adapt the game or activity to your child’s skill level.


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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

5 Reasons Why Your Child Needs a Visual Schedule

What is a visual schedule?

A schedule consists of main activities to be completed during a particular timeframe. A visual schedule uses words or symbols (depending on your child’s level of literacy) to represent activities on his/her schedule.

Why should I use a schedule with my child?

When used consistently, a visual schedule has many potential benefits:

  1. Security and Behavior: Following a visual schedule increases the predictability of your child’s
    schedule-Portrait
    environment. Understanding what comes next, and when a particular event or activity is going to happen, increases your child’s feelings of security and helps them understand what is expected, as well as what to expect. Security and understanding of expectations, along with familiarity with a consistent schedule, may decrease behavior problems and increase engagement in the activity at hand. Increased engagement leads to increased attention and, therefore, learning.
  2. Independence: Knowledge of schedules increases independence. Visual schedules can be used to guide your child through through morning activities and routines. For example, if your child knows he/she eats breakfast then brushes his/her teeth (and understands what needs to happen to complete these routines – e.g., bring plate to the sink, then go to the bathroom, etc.), he/she is more likely to initiate these routines independently.
  3. Flexibility: Predictability allows children to more easily mentally prepare for changes in the regular schedule. If something outside the regular series of activities is going to happen, a visual schedule allows your child to mentally prepare for this change, making for increased flexibility (and smoother transitions to new activities).
  4. Receptive Language: Using a schedule increases your child’s immediate and overall understanding of linguistic concepts. For example, abstract time concepts (later, next, first, last, etc.) that are often difficult for children to understand or conceptualize are experienced firsthand, and can be visualized by looking at the schedule. Furthermore, using a visual schedule will help increase your child’s understanding of verbal directions, as it pairs visual cues with verbal directions, providing additional support to verbal direction.
  5. Pre-Literacy Skills: Using symbols and pairing them with words on your child’s visual schedule facilitates his/her understanding that symbols and words represent concepts. This is an important concept for future acquisition of literacy skills, as letters and words require an understanding of symbolism – pictures or graphemes represent concepts separate from themselves.

Try a visual schedule to help your child and see the impact it has!

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How to Adapt a Book to Support Language Development

Books have long been considered an avenue for enhancing language development. Books provide children a way to learn more vocabulary, explore new things and enhance their literacy development. In the words of Dr. Seuss, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Books by themselves are great therapeutic activities, however, at times more interaction is required to help children with speech and language disorders engage with the stories they are listening to. By adapting a book, you are providing a child with additional ways to interact with the story, words and language within its pages. Greater interaction will ultimately lead to increased comprehension and improved language development (Delsandro, 2013).

How to Adapt a Book:

There is no correct way to adapt a book, in fact, books can often be adapted several different ways. Once you have a book that you would like to adapt, you need to decide which aspect of the story you want make more “interactive” or which element you would like to emphasize/highlight. Ways to adapt a bookBrown Bear can be to highlight repetitive text, simplify text or use a carrier phrase (e.g., “I want the ______” or “She has the ______”) (Delsandro, 2013). For example, in the picture to the right, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle was adapted to highlight the repetitive concepts of color (adjective) + animal (noun).

The computer software, Boardmaker, was used to select pictures to represent each item. The pictures were then laminated, with Velcro placed both on the back of the pictures and then in the book. Depending on the child’s skill level and therapeutic goals, the pictures can be used in a variety of ways. When reading, the child needs to find the corresponding color and animal for each page. Or before reading, the child needs to separate the pictures into colors versus animals to target categories. Or the child needs to name each animal or color, using the pictures as reinforcement of the vocabulary…the options for activities are endless.

Ultimately, any child would benefit from and enjoy reading an adapted book. It makes reading more fun! However, there are some children who may benefit more than others. Adapted books would be a great therapeutic tool to use with children with limited receptive or expressive language who have goals to improve their vocabulary or sentence structure. Additionally, children who are working towards increasing their verbal output are ideal clients to use with adapted books, as these activities are supportive and predictable (Delsandro, 2013). Adaptive books are not just therapeutic tools, but could act as great carryover activities to the child’s home environment.

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Delsandro, Elizabeth. “Adapted Books.” [PowerPoint]. University of Iowa. Wendell Johnson Speech & Hearing Center, Iowa City, IA. The China Project 2013. Lecture.