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Acquisition of Speech Sounds by Age

Speech sound development varies greatly between boys and girls as well as between ages. Below are two charts that provide information about age of acquisition of speech sounds.  Speech Pathologists have researched the age of acquisition of consonant sounds in Standard American English for many decades. Each study found slightly different results regarding the age of mastery. I have provided the norms listed from the Goldman Fristoe Test of Articulation, 2nd Edition (GFTA-2). The GFTA-2 has been a widely-used articulation assessment for over 30 years. The age of mastery was determined by 85% of the sample population having the target sound mastered in the initial, medial, and final position of words. You can view a chart below with each sound and the typical age of mastery.

These charts should be used as a reference, not as a definitive means of determining if speech services are warranted. If your child is difficult to understand or is experiencing challenges with pronunciation of sounds, please contact a licensed speech language pathologist for a full evaluation.

Male

By AgeChildren should be able to say
2 ½mnhw
3pbg
3 ½kt
4f
4 ½-ingy (yellow)d
5j (jumping)
5 ½s“ch” (chair)“sh” (shovel)
6rl
7vz“th” (this)
8“th” (thumb)

Female

By AgeChildren should be able to say
2mh
2 ½np
3fwbT
3 ½kg
4d
4 ½-ingy (yellow)rj (jumping)“sh” (shovel)
5ls“ch” (chair)
5 ½z
6“th” (this)v
8+“th” (thumb)

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References:

 Goldman, R., Fristoe, M., & Williams, K. (2000). Goldman fristoe test of articulation supplemental developmental norms. (2 ed.). Circle Pines: American Guidance Service.

Why Is A Full Occupational Therapy Evaluation Beneficial When My Child’s Only Difficulty is Handwriting?

Child practicing handwriting

Handwriting is a complex task that involves many prerequisite skills, including visual skills, ocular motor control, body awareness, fine motor planning, shoulder stability, and hand and finger strength. Each prerequisite skill contributes to efficient and fluid handwriting:

  • Visual skills are needed to accurately distinguish and interpret letters and shapes on a page, essential for writing. Ocular motor control is needed to move one’s eyes across the paper to write in an organized manner.
  • Body awareness is required to accurately move the hands for writing, as well as knowing how much force is needed to make marks on the paper with the pencil or pen.
  • Fine motor planning is needed so that your child can easily identify, plan and execute the task of writing letters, words and sentences.
  • Shoulder stability is required to control the pencil.
  • Hand and finger strength is required for endurance that is needed to write many letters to form words and sentences. Hand strength is also needed for an appropriate grasp on the pencil.

In order to address handwriting in therapy, it is imperative for the occupational therapist to assess your child’s current level of functioning in each of the above areas. The root cause of your child’s handwriting difficulties may be his or her struggle in either one area or multiple areas. A full occupational therapy evaluation is very comprehensive; it allows the therapist to get a baseline level of performance to identify your child’s strengths and weaknesses in the prerequisite skill areas, and unveil the source of your child’s difficulty with handwriting.

Following the evaluation, your therapist will develop goals based on your child’s performance and design a treatment program that concentrates on improving these foundational skills, and ultimately improve his or her handwriting organization and legibility.

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Reading: It Comes in Stages

Child reading

Reading can sometimes appear to be an overnight skill, and there are even children who “teach themselves” to read before they reach the first grade. Often, it is a wonder that kids enter one grade with minimal letter knowledge and leave reading books on their own. It has been my experience that the skill of reading is often taken for granted. I was a quick reader (one of those annoying overnight type learners), but my sister struggled every step of the way. Now, as I work with children in early elementary school who are having difficulty with this skill, I have learned more and more to appreciate how tricky it is and how many skills go into the act of reading.

To better understand the process of learning to read, and to appreciate the lengths we’re pushing children every time we sit down with a story, I have listed the multiple steps of reading below:

  • First, kids see symbols and associate a symbol with an item- in simple terms, it’s like all of us recognizing those “golden arches” as a potential snack, drink, or rest break while driving on the highway.
  • Next, letters are identified.
  • Then, not only are  letters  identified, but they are also associated with the sounds they create in words (if we’re talking vowels, that list is LONG, whereas for consonants it’s typically only two or so- the hard and soft ‘g’ for example). Children at this stage are called “decoders.” That means they’re taking every letter and painstakingly identifying it, associating a sound, and blending one to the next and so on. I imagine the inner monologue of a six year old learning the skill to be something like this: “oh, that’s a B, b makes buh, ok and next is u, u can be you or uh….let’s see what comes next, g, ok g can say jee or guh, let’s put it together, boooj…no, buuug, no BUG, that’s it.” It’s no wonder that kids at this stage can sometimes get through a whole page, without a clue as to the meaning of the words. Their full attention was on decoding, not comprehending.
  • Some kids are wonderful decoders from the beginning; they have great sound and letter awareness and quickly make the leap to the next step, which involves “chunking” sounds together. Most importantly, kids must learn to chunk vowels which commonly occur together (like the ‘oa’ in boat and the ‘oo’ in boot). They also learn to recognize common words on sight, rather than expending effort fully decoding every word. At this stage, children sound much more fluent and less halting, and their intonation begins to match the meaning of sentences. This is because they are able to spend less energy on decoding and more energy on comprehension.
  • Even beyond this stage of an apparently competent reader, demands are increased – most notably in third grade. Children in third grade are expected to make the switch from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” That is often why children who fared well in early grades bump into difficulty in third and fourth grade “out of nowhere.” It is likely that their reading skills just have not developed to the point where they are now a tool to support learning, as opposed to a developing skill.

Support your kids’ reading skills- practice makes perfect and support makes practice bearable! Seek out assistance or evaluation if you feel your child could benefit. I feel (and I hope many agree) that it’s better to be proactive than reactive in literacy learning, so that reading can be a pleasurable pastime rather than a dreaded task.

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Speech and Language: What is the Difference?

At a time when families are seeking treatment for their children, they may hear terms like “speech” or “language” and wonder, what’s mother and daughter talkingthe difference?  Many children will struggle with both speech and language aspects of communication, and it is important that families understand the distinction.

Speech:

“Speech” can be thought of as verbal communication. It is the set of sounds that we make (using our voice and our articulators) that comprise syllables, words, and sentences. Speech alone carries no meaning; it is merely sound.

There are three main components of speech:

  • Articulation (how we make each sound)
  • Voicing (using our “vocal cords”)
  • Fluency (intonation and rhythm)

Speech sounds emerge at different ages, and most children have all sounds mastered by age 9. Common speech errors occur when a child omits sounds (ex. “ba” for “ball”)  or substitutes one sound for another (ex. “wabbit” for “rabbit”). If you have questions about typical speech milestones, please see this blog

Language:

“Language” encompasses how we use speech to formulate sentences in order to communicate.  Language also consists of three parts:

Children may have difficulty with one or more components of language, as indicated by children choosing the wrong word, having a difficult time understanding ideas and concepts, and struggling with appropriate grammar when speaking or writing. Many older children may have difficulty decoding social language such as irony, sarcasm, or hidden meanings, which can negatively affect their ability to make and maintain friendships.

Communication is comprised of speech and language. Children struggling in one or more areas of communication may have difficulty being understood by both familiar and unfamiliar communication partners, making it more difficult for their wants and needs to be met. These difficulties may also create problems in school, both academically and socially.

Intervention can help children with difficulties in these areas. Speech-language pathologists can conduct evaluations and create plans that help to reduce both short-term and long-term effects of speech and/or language disorders. At NSPT, we want to see your children blossom, so please contact us if you have any questions about your child’s speech and/or language development!




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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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How To Teach The Word “More” In Baby Sign Language | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s Webisode, a pediatric speech and language pathologist walks us through teaching baby sign language with an emphasis on the word “more”.

To understand the benefits of baby sign language, click here.

In this video you will learn:

  • The best ways and setting to teach your infant sign language
  • Ways to teach the sign “more” to your infant

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now, your host, here’s
Robyn.

Robyn: Hello, and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host, Robyn
Ackerman, and I’m standing here today with Kate Connolly, a Pediatric
Speech and Language Pathologist. Kate, can you tell our viewers how to
teach baby sign language, and maybe, even show us one of the signs?

Kate: Sure. The best piece of advice I can give you for teaching sign
language is to pick words and environments that are very motivating to your
child, so toys that they really enjoy, activities they love, food they
love. Those are all going to be very motivating for the child, and they
will acquire the language a little bit better, and the sign associated with
it.

One of the earliest signs to talk about is the word more. And it’s two duck-
like fingers and then double tap them very quickly, more. And the best time
to teach this is during mealtimes, because what is more motivating than
food for your child. My advice would be that when your child is indicating
that they would like more of an item, so they’re looking at the
refrigerator, or they are looking at you, they’re pointing at the peaches
in your hand. You can do the double tap, “More? You want more peaches?
Let’s have more.”‘ And then immediately provide your child with the
desired item.

As they start to see that, make sure they are focused on you. They are not
looking away, they are not looking at the refrigerator, they need to be
seeing the sign and associating it with the word, more. Enunciate. Change
your volume, “More? More?” That’s really going to help attract the
attention of the child. Then you can help them do the sign for themselves.
Take their hands into a more pattern and have them do it. And slowly,
slowly, as they get comfortable with the sign, gradually allow them a
little bit more time to do it independently, and hopefully you’ll be
signing with your child in no time.

Robyn: All right. Thank you so much, and thank you to our viewers.
Remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of mind
to your family with the best in educational programming. To subscribe to
our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit our website at
learnmore.me. That’s learnmore.me.

What do Occupational Therapists Look for During your Child’s Handwriting Sample?

Handwriting is a lifelong skill. It begins as young as 3 years of age, when children start identifying shapes, letters, and numbers.  Handwriting and letter recognition are important for communicating (e.g. sending cards and emails) and for completing age-appropriate tasks (e.g. homework assignments; writing grocery lists).child pencil grasp

Below are many of the components your child’s occupational therapist looks for during a handwriting sample in order to work towards a clear and legible final product:

  • Sizing: Are the letters all relatively the same size (e.g. all upper case the same size and all lower case the same size)?
  • Spacing: Are the letters and/or words too close together?  Or is there at least a finger or pencil width between each word?
  • Mixing of upper case and lower case:  Is there inconsistency between the use of upper case and lower case letters?  Are upper case letters used correctly (e.g. start of a sentence or for a name/title)?  Mixing of upper case and lower case letters is appropriate until 6 years of age.
  • Capitalization: Are names, titles, and beginning letters of a sentence appropriately capitalized?
  • Formation of letters Does the child form each letter in the right direction?  (e.g. ‘b’, ‘d’)  Does the child use the correct number of lines and curves? (e.g. ‘m’, ‘n’)  Letter reversals are appropriate until 7 years of age.
  • Complete sentences Are there clear and complete thoughts?  Is the correct punctuation used at the end of the sentence?
  • Floating letters: Do all of the letters sit clearly on the line?
  • Pencil grasp:  Does the child hold the pencil or marker age appropriately?  The static tripod grasp is expected around 3 ½ – 4 years of age.  This is when the pencil is held between the thumb and index finger, with the pencil resting on the middle finger and the child uses and moves his wrist/arm to make movements with the pencil.  The dynamic tripod grasp is expected around 4 ½ – 6 years of age.  This is when the pencil is held between the thumb and index finger with the pencil resting on the middle finger, and the child uses and moves his fingers to make movements with the pencil.
  • Posture in chair:  Is the child slouching or falling out of the chair?  Is the child propped or leaning?  Are his feet flat on the floor?  Is the table the appropriate size?
  • Pressure used:  Is the child’s writing legible?  Or does he press down too hard or too lightly with the pencil, causing the writing to be hard to read or his hands to fatigue more easily?

This list of handwriting aspects may give you ideas of what to look for in your child’s handwriting during activities/assignments at home.   If you notice that your child is having trouble in any of these areas, encourage him to focus on one of those aspects each time he practices writing (to break down the task).  Your child will work on these aspects of handwriting during his occupational therapy sessions, but it is also very important to provide your child with similar learning opportunities and feedback at home.

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3 Signs your Child is Ready to Read | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s webisode, an academic specialist introduces us to the 3 top indications a child is ready to start reading.
Click here to read our blog titled “10 Signs of a Reading Disorder

In this video you will learn:

  • What factors determines the child’s desire to read
  • What is phonemic awareness
  • Signs in the child’s behavior indicating his readiness to read

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now your host, here’s Robyn.

Robyn: Hello, and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host, Robyn
Ackerman, and I’m sitting here today with Elizabeth Galin [SP], an academic
specialist. Elizabeth, can you tell us what are three signs to look for
that a child may be ready to read?

Elizabeth: Absolutely. The first sign to look for when your child is ready
to read is motivation. You’re looking for your child looking forward toward
that reading time, sitting down with you, understanding that books open and
close, they turn pages right to left, that the words and the pictures on
the storybook tell us something, tell us the story.

And as children get older, the next thing you’re looking for, the second
thing you’re looking for, is letter recognition. Children begin to
understand the letters of the alphabet, specifically letters in their name
or maybe, letters in a brand that they recognize, Thomas for Thomas the
Tank Engine or stop like a stop sign, and then they begin to associate
sounds with those letters and that’s called phonemic awareness.

The third thing that you’re looking for in a child being able to read is
print awareness. So they begin to realize that letters on the page come
together to form words. Those words form sentences. Those sentences tell us
the story that we’re listening to. And you may find a young child being
interested in imitating writing. They can’t form the letter but they make
pretend letters.

Robyn: All right. Well, thank you so much, Elizabeth. Those are some great
things to look out for, and thank you to our viewers. And remember, keep on
blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of mind
to your family with the best in educational programming. To subscribe to
our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit our website at
learnmore.me. That’s learnmore.me.

The Unexpected Benefits Of Story Time

 It’s Not Just About Reading

Reading is an important and fun activity to experience with your child. There are so many benefits to the time spent reading to your child, listening to them read to you, and talking about the story afterwards. Listed below aMom And Young Daughter Pointing At Picture Bookre some of the things that you can do to make the experience of reading even more beneficial and engaging for you and your child.

To make reading more meaningful and exciting for your child, ask them to tell you their own story or make up a story together. You and your child could also recreate the ending of a familiar story to enjoy a whole new adventure. As you read books together, make sure to be animated and engaged in the story, use your voice Read more