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5 Best Apps to Work on Speech and Language at Home

  1. My PlayHome by PlayHome Software LtdBlog-Speech-Apps-Main-Landscape
    • A digital doll house that lets your child use everything inside. You can fry an egg, feed the family pizza, pour drinks, feed the pets, and more! This app does not specifically target speech
      and language skills; however, there are many ways it can be used to work on speech/language at home. While playing with the doll house, you can work with your child on pronouns, identifying actions (e.g., cooking, sitting), present progressive –ing (e.g., drinking), plurals (e.g., two apples), vocabulary (around the house), formulating complete sentences, etc. I also like to use this app as a motivating activity for children working on speech sounds. For example, I will say, “Tell me what the doll is doing with your good ‘r’ sounds.” There is also My PlayHome Hospital, My PlayHome School, and My PlayHome Stores.
  2. Articulation Station by Little Bee Speech
    • This app is fantastic for children working on speech production skills. The whole app is pricey, but beneficial for a child working on more than one speech sound. It is also possible to download individual speech sounds to target a specific sound at home. This app is motivating and excellent for home practice!
  3. Following Directions by Speecharoo Apps
    • Excellent app for working on following directions. Choose from simple 1-step directions, 2-step directions, or more advanced 3-step directions. These funny directions will have your child laughing and wanting to practice more.
  4. Peek-A-Boo Barn by Night & Day Studios, Inc.
    • My favorite app for toddlers working on expressive language skills. First, the barn shakes and an animal makes a noise. Have your child say “open” or “open door” before pressing on the door. You can also have your child guess which animal it is or imitate the animal noises. When the animal appears, have your child imitate the name of the animal.
  5. Open-Ended Articulation by Erik X. Raj
    • This app contains over 500 open-ended questions to use with a child having difficulty producing the following speech sounds: s, z, r, l, s/r/l blends, “sh”, “ch”, and “th”. It is great for working on speech sounds in conversation. Have your child read aloud the question and take turns answering. The open-ended questions are about silly scenarios that will facilitate interesting conversations.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Deerfield, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140!

Meet-With-A-Speech-Pathologist

How to Get Your Baby Talking

A baby typically starts babbling, using speech-like sounds, between four to six months of age. Usually, the sounds p, b, and m are the first to develop. Additionally, in this age range, a baby is more Blog-Baby-Talking-Main-Landscapeinteractive with the parent or caregiver, laughing and vocalizing displeasure or excitement. Between seven months to a year of age, communication will expand and most babies are producing repetitive consonant-vowel combinations such as baba or dada, using gestures for communication, using vocalization to gain and maintain attention, and by one year of age a baby typically has one or two words or word approximations.

A parent or caregiver can support their baby’s language development or “talking” by encouraging all communication, interacting on their baby’s level, and making communication opportunities.

  • Match your child’s communications and interaction attempts, including repeating his/her vocalizations and gestures. By matching your baby’s vocalizations, you are communicating on a level that allows them to maintain communication turn-taking. Additionally target speech games and songs such as itsy-bitsy spider, peek-a-boo, and gestures such as clapping, blowing kisses, and waving hi/bye.
  • Talk through daily routines such as bath time, bedtime, get dressed, and feedings. You are providing your baby with the associated language during these daily routines. Talk through the plan for the day, what will you be doing, where you are going, who are they seeing, etc.
  • Teach your child gestures and signs to support language development.
  • Teach your child animal sounds (e.g., moo, baa) and environmental sounds (e.g., vroom, beep).
  • Spend time reading to your child and labeling pictures in books.
  • Reinforce your baby’s communication attempts by giving them eye contact and interacting with him or her.
  • Simplify your language during communication interactions with your baby.
  • Make communication opportunities within routines and daily activities.
  • Limit your baby’s exposure to television and/or videos. A 1:1 interaction between a parent and child is preferable to support turn-taking communication.

Remember there is a range of typical development. Not all babies will have their first words around one year of age!

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! 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!

5 Tips on How to Respond to Articulation Errors

A child who is still developing his or her articulation skills may need some feedback in order to fix speech errors and improve intelligibility. blog-articulation-errors-main-landscape

The following tips will help you respond to a child who produces articulation errors:

  1. Repeat the misarticulated word in your response with a slight emphasis on the target word. For example, if the student says, “I want the wed pencil,” you can respond, “Okay—here is the red
  2. Describe features about the misarticulated sound. For example, “The /s/ is a hissy sound. The air goes sssss like a snake hissing” or “The /v/ is made when our teeth bite down on our lip.”
  3. Give the child a consistent visual cue for the target sound, such as dragging a finger across the lips for /m/ or putting a thumb under the chin for /k/ or /g/.
  4. For a child who can read, contrast sounds that contain the correct sound and the incorrect sound by writing them out. For example, you can write out thin fin and show the child that one is made with a th and the other with an f.
  5. If you know that the child is able to produce the target sound, give him or her feedback on what you heard. You can say, “I heard you say doe, did you mean doe or go?” or feign difficulty understanding, such as, “You want to doe home? What do you mean, doe home?”

If you are unable to determine what word the child is trying to say, refer to this article for more tips: https://nspt4kids.com/parenting/helping-your-child-with-articulation-difficulties/.

As a parent or a teacher, it is important to acknowledge attempts at communication while providing feedback on speech sound production. If your child continues to demonstrate speech sound errors or is frustrated with his or her speech, seek out the advice of a speech-language pathologist.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! 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!

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At Home Speech and Language Games

Who says that practicing speech and language skills can’t be fun? While most games were not created Blog-Speech-and-Language-Games-Main-Portrait (1)with the intent to work on speech and language skills, there are many games that can actually be used for this reason. In fact, you may be targeting these skills at home without even knowing!

The following is a list of games that can be used and various skills that can be targeted for at home speech and language development:

  1. Go Fish
    • F or SH sound – Your child will get a lot of practice when saying “go fish!”
    • Asking questions – Your child will need to think of what card he needs and request the card by asking an appropriate question (e.g. “Do you have a four?”).
  2. Twister
    • Following directions – Your child will need to follow directions that contain three components (right vs. left, body part, color). If three components is too complex, the directions can be modified to have two components by eliminating right vs. left and only using the body part and color. An example containing three components would be “put your right foot on blue” and two components would be “put your foot on blue.”
  3. Hedbanz
    • Asking questions – Your child will work on asking yes/no questions to figure out what picture is on his or her head.
    • Word finding – The game can be altered where one person is describing the picture for someone else to name. When your child describes pictures and names, he or she can work on various word finding techniques such as identifying categories and attributes.
  4. Jenga
    • Jenga can be used to work on numerous speech and language skills by writing target skills on the Jenga blocks.
      • Speech – Any speech sound can be targeted by writing words, phrases, or sentences containing the specific sound(s) on the blocks. When your child removes a Jenga block from the stack, he will practice his sounds by reading what is written on the block.
      • Language – Many language skills can be targeted in the same way by writing various targets on the blocks. For instance, wh- questions (e.g. who, what, where) can be targeted by writing one wh- question on each block. Another language skill that can be targeted is categories. This can be done by writing a category name (e.g. animals) for your child to name or write items that are associated or writing items in the category (e.g. dog, cat, elephant) and having your child name the category.

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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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 Games to Play on Spring Break

Spring Break – the weather is (hopefully) bright and sunny, flowers are beginning to Speech and Language Gamesbloom, and the kids are out of school. What better way to spend this week off than to take a vacation with the whole family. Not only can a Spring Break vacation be a wonderful way to recharge, it can be a great time to grow your child’s speech and language skills, all while playing games.

Many different types of games can help children with language development while also entertaining everyone in the family. These games can be played anytime and easily incorporated into any Spring Break vacation!

Speech and Language Games:

  • Car games: road trips can be a great way to spend quality time with our families. Playing word games on these long road trips can foster close relationships and increase phonological awareness (the knowledge of sounds and their rules in language).
    • With younger children, look at road signs for words beginning with A, B, C, and so on, to encourage letter identification skills. Whoever finds the most wins!
    • For older children, take it one step further and play Name-Place-Job. For example, if someone sees a sign for Baltimore (letter B), he or she has to come up with a name and job to go with it: “I’m Beth from Baltimore, and I’m a beekeeper.” Not only does this game involve more advanced skills (like alliteration), it encourages creativity and vocabulary growth.
  • Board games: board games are fun and educational for the whole family, and many of them are language-based – perfect for facilitating language growth.
    • Elementary-aged children can play Apples to Apples or Apples to Apples, Jr., both of which encourage vocabulary development and word-association networks.
    • Children in middle school can play Taboo, a game where the speaker describes a word to his or her team without saying “taboo” words. Taboo incorporates higher-level, more abstract language skills, such as idioms, multiple-meaning words, and comparing and contrasting.

Spring Break is the perfect time to enjoy some quality family time and focus on language skills.

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!

Meet-With-A-Speech-Pathologist

Language development in twins

Twin Talk: Speech and Language Development in Twins

Twins can be double the fun, double the trouble, or double the talk! Multiples can be an exciting challenge for parents who are working to give each child his or her own individual time. As difficult as that may be, twins also have a communicative partner from birth! Some parents report on “twin language,” or babbling between two babies, which seems like their own language. This babbling can be great for language development as the babies tend to mimic each other’s intonational patterns (or rise and fall of their voices). This can lead to longer “conversations” between babies, as well as bond the two babies as they are primarily communicating with each other.

Conversely, some research has shown that twin language may be an early phonologicalTwin Talk: Language Development in Twins disorder (or sound substitutions/deletions/insertions). Researchers have found that as sounds are developing inappropriately, this twin talk perpetuates these errors, as babies are “understood” by their siblings, so there is no real need to correct misarticulations.

Twins also tend to have an increased likelihood of later language emergence, primarily due to the higher percentage of premature babies. Both monozygotic and dizygotic twins may develop language behind their singleton peers, so it is important for parents to keep in mind their children’s adjusted age (should they be premature).

Red Flags for Speech Development in Twins:

  • Both babies missing milestones: keeping track of appropriate language development, taking into account the babies’ adjusted age, can help parents monitor their twins’ development.
  • One baby is developing more quickly: paying attention to each individuals’ progress when developing speech and language is so important. If parents notice that one child is significantly behind their other, intervention may be warranted.
  • Singleton red flags: Overall, the red flags for multiples are the same as for singletons, taking into account adjusted age, as necessary. Babies should acquire their first words around 1 year, and should be consistently learning new words until they reach “word spurt,” or rapid language growth around 18 months.

It is also important to note that monozygotic twins tend to have higher rates for speech and language disorders that dizygotic twins, so it is important that parents monitor speech, language and overall development and growth. As with all children, red flags and milestones are variable, and it is important to remember that some babies progress faster or slower than others. Should parents have concerns regarding speech-language development, it is important to check in with pediatricians or licensed speech-language pathologists!


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References:
Lewis, B.A., & Thompson, L.A. (1992). A study of developmental speech and language disorders in twins. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research. 35(5), 1086-1094.

Rice, M.L., Zubrick, S.R., Taylor, C.L., Gayan, K., & Contempo, D.E. (2014). Late language emergence in 24-month old twins: Heritable and increased risk for late language emergence in twins. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. 57(3), 917-928.

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!

Will Learning Another Language Delay My Child’s Speech?

Guest Blog Submitted by our friends at Language Stars

Language Stars

It’s a common myth in the US that introducing an additional language to your child will cause them to develop speech delays or maybe even have academic difficulties.  We often forget that bilingualism is the norm in much of the world with over 66% percent of children growing up bilingual.  While many parents believe multilingual children will start speaking later than monolingual peers, extensive research has shown that children still start speaking within the normal milestones.  As Colin Baker, a prominent researcher in childhood bilingualism, noted in his book The Care and Education of Young Bilinguals:

“Raising children bilingually is sometimes believed to cause language delay, though evidence does not support this position. Raising children bilingually neither increases nor reduces the chance of language disorder or delay.”

In addition, once they do start speaking, they’ll start speaking in two languages – an amazing gift to your child!

Of course, you still want to check with a professional if you have any concerns.  Usually your pediatrician will know a good speech pathologist as the younger you catch something, the more easily you can address it.  However, you can rest assured that speaking or introducing another language to your child will not cause or exacerbate any issues.

Learning another language is even beneficial for many children that actually do have a diagnosed learning disorder.  Unless your child has a language processing disorder where there is an issue with the way the brain is receiving or producing language, language learning will actually help your child in life by giving them an additional skill to help overcome other obstacles.  The flexibility and advanced cognitive benefits created by learning another language may actually help your child deal with other learning issues.  As always, talk to your childcare professional about what the best approach is for your child.  North Shore Pediatrics has many specialists that can help you diagnose and treat a wide range of developmental issues with your child.

Language Stars teaches Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Italian, French, and German to children 1-10 in a fun and immersive environment.  To find out more information or register for programs call 866-55-STARS.

You can also follow them on social media where they love sharing language learning tips, tools, and resources for children and families on FacebookPinterestGoogle+, and Twitter!

Developing Speech and Language AND Cooking a Pumpkin Pie

Developing speech and language AND cooking a pumpkin pie. Can you believe it?  Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Let’s talk for a minute about the staple of any Thanksgiving dessert table…the pumpkin pie. Many of us are looking for the perfect recipe, I know I am constantly searching! Before you jump straight into cooking, consider the following ways you can make this a fun activity that will help support your child’s speech and language needs.

Here is a list of ways you can make cooking a pumpkin pie
into a speech and language activity:

BakingaPie

  • Direction following: Read through the recipe with your child and have him follow directions as you say them out loud. If your child needs extra support draw pictures in the same order that correspond with each step. For example, draw pictures of the ingredients, cooking utensils, etc.
  • Word recall: Read a list of ingredients out loud and have your child repeat a few, or all, items needed. This is a great way for your child to practice their listening and memory skills. If your child is able, you can ask them to recall items from a list a few minutes later or in steps. For example, if you’ve already used the pumpkin ask them if they remember what ingredient was next on their list.
  • Auditory Comprehension: Read the recipe out loud to your child and have them repeat the steps back to you (different from recalling the ingredients). This is great if your child is working on language processing skills. Your child may need to have the information broken down into smaller chunks, and this is okay.
  • Articulation: Find a few words within the recipe that have your child’s target sound or sounds in them. Ask them to use these words often throughout cooking and repeat them whenever they come up. For example, if their target sound is /k/ you can say, “Pumpkin, that has your /k/ sound in it, you try saying it!”
  • Fluency: The texture of pumpkin lends itself to a conversation about smooth versus bumpy. When encouraging your child to use fluent speech, you can ask them to use smooth speech versus bumpy speech with disfluencies.

Remember, cooking with your child should be fun! Pick one or two of the above activities and gently incorporate it into your holiday fun. Don’t stress yourself or your child too much by making cooking into a structured learning task. These are some great ways for you to support your child’s speech and language needs while still enjoying some family fun!

Here is the recipe for a great pumpkin pie:

Ingredients:

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 (14 ounce) can Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 large eggs1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Whisk pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt in medium bowl until smooth. Pour into crust. Bake 15 minutes.
2. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Cool. Garnish as desired. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator



Encouraging Language Skills during Family Board Games

One of the most impactful ways a child can make progress toward their speech and language goals is through home practice.  I compare it to working outFamily playing a boardgame at the gym; one day a week counts for something, but you’re unlikely to see noticeable results.  Instead, three or four days a week is the best way to build muscle and endurance and notice tangible changes.  Speech and language development functions in a very similar way. To help children maintain and make further gains between speech sessions, we assign home practice activities.  To kids, this often translates to “more homework!”  So how can we encourage children to practice throughout the week?  Try choosing fun and engaging activities that mask the speech and language goals

Here are some board games recommended for school age and adolescent students:

7 favorite games that encourage language skills:

Outburst Junior. This fast-paced game encourages the use of categories and vocabulary.  Players are given a word or category, and asked to name as many category members as possible before the time runs out.

Scattergories Junior. This fun game also encourages the use of categories.  Players are given a specific letter (e.g., “F” or “G”) as well as a list of categories.  Each player must think of various category members that begin with that letter.

Guess Who. This silly game encourages players to ask questions and group pictures together based on similarities and differences.  Players have a board filled with faces (or in the new version, animals, appliances and even monsters) and have to guess which face belongs to their opponent.

Headbanz. This engaging game encourages children to verbally describe objects, ask questions, and remember clues.  Players are each given a secret word to wear on their headband.  Players can look at other players’ headbands, but cannot see their own.  Each player must ask questions about their word, and give others clues for theirs (e.g., “Is my word an animal?’).

Catch Phrase Junior. This high-energy game encourages the use of vocabulary, verbal descriptions, categorization, synonyms, and word definitions.  Players are given a word and must try to get team members to guess what it is without actually stating the word.

Cranium Junior. This entertaining game also encourages the use of vocabulary and word meanings while tapping into the various senses.  Players are given a question card and must act, hum, draw, or sculpt the answer to help their teammates guess what it is.

Apples To Apples Junior. This interactive game encourages the use of vocabulary, word meanings, synonyms, and categorization.  Players are given a stack of cards, each with a different word (a person, place or thing).  A descriptive word is then placed in the center of the game and players must choose a card from their stack that best fits the description.

5 modifications for kids with language difficulties:

Each of these games relies heavily on language skills. Therefore, a child with language difficulties might find these games challenging.  To help, here are a few ways to modify each game so that your child feels more successful.  I advise using the modifications for all players, instead of singling one child out.

  • Extend the time allowed for each turn. Instead of using a sand-timer, use your own timer on a smartphone or stopwatch to allow each player more time to complete tasks.
  • Eliminate timing altogether.  If you notice your child crumbling under the time pressure, just eliminate timers altogether.  After your child has had practice with the game and feels more confident, you can slowly reintroduce the timer.
  • Adjust the vocabulary words. If your child seems unfamiliar or overwhelmed by the vocabulary in the game (e.g., Apples to Apples), create your own playing cards with more suitable vocabulary for your child.
  • Encourage note-taking. Games such as Guess Who and Headbanz rely on memory.  If your child seems to have difficulty remembering clues, encourage him/her to write things down during the game (e.g., my headband is an animal, it lives in the zoo, it has stripes, etc).
  • Provide lots of encouragement. Discourage any negative comments from players, while encouraging positive comments instead (e.g., “good try” or “nice job!”).  Give your child positive and descriptive praise for anything they are doing well (e.g., “Wow, you are showing great sportsmanship” or “That was an excellent question to ask.”)

Above all, have fun!  Games provide an excellent avenue for learning, but more importantly, they provide a fun and engaging way to spend time together.  By incorporating your child’s speech and language goals into games, your child will learn and practice without ever hearing those dreaded words, “more homework.”  Ask your child’s speech-language pathologist for more fun activities to address their speech and language goals at home.

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