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Dysphagia: I Think I've Heard Of That Before...

Dysphagia. Seems like a funny word when you don’t know the definition of it. A person might not even come across this word unless their mother or father get diagnosed with dementia or Parkinson’s or if a loved one has a stroke or the SLP dreaded, aspiration pneumonia. Even a bad enough UTI can cause someone to have the symptoms of dysphagia! Dysphagia is, according to ASHA, defined as problems involving the oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus, or gastroesophageal junction. That’s just a lot of words to tell you it means “difficulty swallowing”. It can be the scariest part of an SLP’s job, but in my opinion, it can be one of the most interesting.

An SLP can work with patients with dysphagia in a variety of settings. Either in a skilled nursing facility, hospital, long term care, and yes, even in schools. Prevalence of dysphagia is difficult to assess as it can be seen over many different diagnoses and diseases, but approximately 1 in 25 adults will experience a swallowing problem in the Un…
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The Functions of That Pesky Frontal Lobe

I feel like people say, "Did you know that the brain isn't fully formed until 25!?" often as a "shocker-did-you-know" fact. Yes, in fact, newest studies are showing that the pre-frontal cortex may not even be fully formed until our 30s. So, what gives? Aren't we fully functioning adults at the age of 18?

While we are responsible for our own decisions legally at the age of 18, the frontal lobe of our brain, or the portion right behind our foreheads, takes significantly longer to fully develop. This part of our brain is responsible for executive functions. Executive functions are the tasks of anticipation, inferencing, planning, selecting goals, self-monitoring, taking and using feedback, and completing purposeful activities. If you are like me and are a 30-something (or older), you can see that the use of these executive functions definitely did not develop fully until at least your mid-twenties. This does not mean that you cannot make good decisions, be mat…

Teaching The Earliest Communicators

Other than, "When should my child be making this sound?", the most asked questions about my job are how to get the youngest children speaking more (birth to age 3). First, I have two kiddos of my own in this age range. Second, I love working with little ones and really discovering how children communicate and watching them grow. So, I am really passionate about this subject.

Today's post will be some basic information that all parents of small children can incorporate into their daily routines to promote language development. These are general strategies; that is, an SLP can help you to incorporate more routines specific to your child. If you feel that your child is not meeting language milestones, please contact your local early intervention institution (a free government-mandated program). We can also evaluate your child here in our office or help you to find other services.

First and foremost, I cannot emphasize the importance of reading enough. You really can start …

Articulation Therapy: How Do I Help My Kid Say Their Sounds At Home?

Cueing Strategies

For the most crucial part of this topic (in my opinion), we will talk today about how to cue your child for certain sounds. I believe that this is the most crucial part because you will understand more how to make your child successful with speech sounds and give them self-confidence that they can incorporate these sounds into their life! Without further ado, I give you a list of some of the most common cues and strategies I suggest in my practice:
Use a mirror for visual feedback. You can practice words in front of a large mirror, or just have a hand-mirror handy while you are doing your fun activities I talked about on Monday!Hand motions to cue how the sound should be made. I cannot make a list of all of the hand motions I use (especially since they change depending on what works for the child!). I can suggest asking your SLP what hand cue they use for certain sounds. Some common ones may be lightly dragging a finger up the arm for /s/ or touching your lips for a /…

Articulation Therapy: Why Is The SLP Working On That Sound?

Target Selection

Hello to part 2 of this week's topic of articulation therapy. Yesterday, we talked about building rapport to begin working on speech therapy. Today, we will be discussing why and how your SLP chooses which sounds to work on.

So, this can get very clinical, but I am not going to “go there” within this blog post. I am just geeky enough that I will talk to anyone about how much the Cycles Approach has been helping out my therapies, and how I prefer many words to just a few personally in my practice, but that’s just too much. What I will do in this section is explain what speech “targets” are and explain a little but about how you can become an active member in helping your SLP determine what sounds would be most beneficial for your child first.

So, first, there are a few different ways that speech therapists can determine what sounds to work on first. If your child only has 1-2 sounds in error, it is much easier to decide which sounds to work on. Otherwise, an SLP ca…

Articulation Therapy: How Do I Motivate My Kid?

This past week, I actually had a lot of feedback about this little blog of ours. So, to all of you reading, thank you! Make sure to leave comments below to start further conversation.
In one of the bits of feedback, a friend from high school and college shared a story with me about her experience with speech therapy as a child and how she was made to feel very vulnerable, embarrassed, and unsuccessful with her articulation, or speech sound, therapy. She asked if I could share strategies on how to make therapy less traumatic for children and make them motivated for working on their sounds.

I loved this idea and thought for a bit about how I wanted to address this issue. I think the three key elements to getting your child a) excited for speech therapy and b) excited to work on sounds with you would be:

1. Rapport
2. Target selection
3. Cueing strategies

In order to avoid an extremely long post, I will be breaking this topic into 3 separate posts. So, this week only,…

What is stuttering?

This blog post has a lot of information in it. What better way to relay a lot of information than…lists? I got most of my information from the book If Your Child Stutters: A Guide For Parents from the Stuttering Foundation. We have several copies at our office that we are willing to lend out. Without further ado, let’s start those lists!

What stuttering is not:
A bad habitA diseaseNormal disfluency (which is what everyone experiences at times; not everyone stutters thoughCaused by neglectful mothers (a theory from the 1970s; thank goodness we have evolved in both psychology and evidence-based practice) 
Signs of stuttering:
Primary characteristics:Multiple repetitionsWhole word repetitionsCan-can-can we do that?Part-word repetitions W-w-w-we have donuts! Filler wordsUm-um-um-um yea, I like going on the slide.Schwa soundAlso known as the “uh” soundUnlike a part-word repetition, this distorts the wordMuh-muh-muh-mouse ProlongationsProlongating a soundMmmmmmmmommySecondary characteristics:T…