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Reading Tutoring and Language

This spring I was honored to partake in Orton-Gillingham training through the M.A. Rooney Foundation. I am proud to say I am now a trained tutor! I have been helping clients meet their reading goals since this summer and have been seeing wonderful results!

One thing that I have been learning is how much reading and language skills go hand in hand! As a speech pathologist, many of the skills we studied in training were second nature to me because of that foundation.

There are two main building blocks of reading that intersect with language:

  1. Phonemic awareness – the ability to identify sounds and pair them with their associated letter or letter combinations.
  2. Phonological awareness – the ability to manipulate the individual sounds in words

Difficulty with either of these foundational skills is the biggest indicator of future reading struggles. Children with language disorders tend to demonstrate deficits in these areas.

Orton-Gillingham reading tutoring is successful because we start by laying a solid foundation for reading and building up from there.

If you feel like your child is behind in reading, or that they could use a boost to get started with that strong foundation, please contact me for a free 15 minute consultation. I also have a reading camp coming up for elementary aged students: 11/30, 12/2, and 12/4 from 1-3pm. Reach out for more details.

Homework Helpers are HERE!

I see most of my clients between 30 and 60 minutes each week. The rest of the more than 10,000 minutes a week, they are NOT with me! They are with their families and doing other activities! THIS is why I emphasize homework so much with my kiddos.

I suggest that all my clients work between 5-20 minutes each day on their speech targets or goals. I know that can be a mighty tall order for some, so in addition to the homework pages, words, etc. that I give out following sessions, I wanted to create some helpers to make homework time easier, more fun, and more motivating!

Here is a description of the Progress Tracker packet that I put together:

Page 1:

  • You and your child can use a mountain coloring page to keep track of progress on his or her goals. Every time they meet a goal on their way to conquering their target sound in conversation, color that chunk in and add mountainous decorations! This visual reminder will be so motivating!

Page 2:

  • Use the 100 block pyramid during at-home practice sessions. Encourage your child to try and get 100 productions of their goal/target each time they practice. If your child says the same word five times, that counts as five blocks! Color a number whether the production is correct or incorrect.

Carryover will be most successful (and faster!) when caregivers work at home on a child’s goals with them, even a little at a time. I hope these fun worksheets help make homework time a blast!

Click this link to sign up to have this FREE packet emailed to you!

Exciting Things to Come!

My number one goal with Bloom Speech & Language Services is to serve the community. Because of my passion to empower parents, serve marginalized adults, and help children, I have been putting together some awesome upcoming offerings! I will soon be setting up a mailing list to keep you updated so you don’t miss out!

  1. I will be offering a PDF packet for homework help and progress tracking. There will be a free version and an expanded version offered for a low cost.
  2. I am SO excited to announce that over the summer I will be completing an Orton-Gillingham based training to become an Indiana Department of Education certified reading specialist! I will be able to offer reading and dyslexia tutoring! I also plan on offering trainings to parents to help them work on reading at home.
  3. I have started offering voice feminization services via teletherapy for transgender individuals.

If you are interested in setting up a consultation or evaluation, please let me know. I am here for you and asking questions is free!

When kiddos mispronounce sounds…

Most of the referrals that I receive are due to parents reporting their children mispronounce sounds or that they are hard to understand. After a thorough evaluation, most children fall into three main categories. I want to briefly share what those are so you can be more familiar with what is going on with the speech of your little ones!

  1. Articulation Disorder: This is the most common result of testing. An articulation disorder is when a child demonstrates consistent errors on certain sounds like /r/, /l/, /s/, etc.
  2. Phonological Disorder: This is when a child demonstrates a consistent PATTERN of errors on sounds. For example, all sounds made in the back of the mouth (like /k/ and /g/) are moved to the front of the mouth and become different sounds (like /t/ and /d/ – “tat” for “cat”). Phonological disorders can seem overwhelming because the patterns of errors make it seem like there is a lot more going on, however, once you start treating one set in a pattern the rest usually fall in line!
  3. Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS): Sometimes a child is extremely difficult to understand. The child may also demonstrate difficulties with oral motor planning, motor sequencing, and inconsistencies in error sounds. Some days/times they may sound better than others. Sometimes they may pronounce a word correctly but then the next time it is pronounced differently. Children with CAS may also demonstrate errors on their vowels and groping movements with their tongues while they try to find and create the correct sound.

All three of these disorders/diagnoses require DIFFERENT methods of treatment to be most effective so it’s vital to have a professional speech-language pathologist provide an evaluation and guide you in a course of treatment. Most of these will not go away on their own and may become more difficult to treat as children get older and speech habits become more ingrained. Early, intense intervention is especially important for CAS.

It is my hope that knowing a little about these three areas can give you a better idea of what types of difficulties your child(ren) may be showing in their speech so they can get the help they need to move past it. Please email me or use the contact form if you have any questions about the speech and language of you or a loved one!

Teletherapy

Many of my clients have benefited from teletherapy with me so I wanted to write a blog post explaining a bit about it and how it may help you or a loved one.

Teletherapy involves sessions where I meet my clients over the computer. I have a camera and a headset so I can hear you clearly and you can see me. You can use the camera and microphone built into your computer. You can also use an external webcam, microphone, or headset.

We meet on a secure platform built specifically for teletherapy. It is HIPAA-compliant and links to the sessions are directly sent to you so there is no identifying information floating around. The platform I use has an interactive whiteboard as well as the ability for me to upload worksheets and other papers/pictures for us both to see. It can also screen share and do fun things like that (although I’m still learning that part!).

The beauty of teletherapy is that you don’t have to leave your home (sparing you the cold and travel time!) and you don’t have to cart siblings around. The other great thing is that I can see clients anywhere in the state of Indiana or countries without speech therapy licensing agencies!

Teletherapy is not perfect for everyone and sometimes I do miss seeing my kids in person and being able to cue them physically. Some children will need a parent to sit with them but many are independent and can remain engaged. Teletherapy is also a great way to work on parent coaching or home programs and consultations.

Just like in typical sessions, I always give my teletherapy clients homework for the week via email either that day or the next. Practicing at home is so important for success!

If you’re interested in chatting, asking questions, or setting up a consultation, please reach out via email or the contact form on this website!

Why Articulation Matters

According to the most recent research, here are helpful articulation norms. To understand these norms, read that 90% of children the age listed have acquired the sounds on that line and below:

Age 6: th (voiceless)

Age 5: r, zh, th (voiced)

Age 4: l, j, ch, s, v, sh, z

Age 2-3:

p, b, m, d, n, h, t, k, g, w, ng, f, y (McLeod & Crowe, 2018)

Looking at charts like this is all well and good but what does this mean for your child? Isn’t it cute when preschoolers mispronounce certain words?? The short answer is that while it can be secretly adorable at times, difficulty acquiring new sounds can snowball into much bigger problems.

Untreated articulation disorders can cause difficulties down the road with reading and writing. Articulation disorders can also occur alongside phonological awareness disorders. Phonological awareness disorders involve children not being able to correctly hear and identify sounds, especially those they mispronounce. This can cause major issues with writing and spelling.

In addition to academic concerns, research has shown that difficulties with articulation can cause a lack of self-esteem and trouble with oral presentations and interactions with others.

Many children are blissfully ignorant of their speech struggles but others are painfully aware. Whether or not a child is upset by their speech should not decide qualification for therapy. Early intervention is always better. Incorrect speech patterns can become habitual and difficult to unlearn.

If your child has not met these norms, you cannot understand them, or if they are frustrated because they are often misunderstood, please contact a professional speech-language pathologist as soon as you are able! There are many options for treatment as well as financial assistance for families who may not be able to afford therapy. Either you will find out your child’s speech is progressing appropriately OR you will find out intervention is needed and your child can start on a path to better clarity. That sounds like a win-win to me! Use the contact form on my website to ask questions!

What is First Steps?

Every state has a government funded early intervention program for children age birth to three years old. The reason these were created is because early intervention (EI) is so important when children either already have delays or disabilities or they are at risk for delay. First Steps is Indiana’s EI program. First Steps offers speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, feeding/nutritionist intervention, developmental therapy, etc. These services are usually free or low cost to the family.

How can you get enrolled in First Steps?

There are two ways to get the ball rolling with First Steps. You can do a self-referral by calling them yourself or you can go through your pediatrician and ask him or her to write a script and submit it for you. Here is the link to the “clusters” in Indiana with the phone number of who to contact: https://www.in.gov/fssa/ddrs/4819.htm

What happens after First Steps is contacted?

After First Steps receives your referral they will schedule an evaluation. They will send two therapists from the evaluation team. Sometimes they will be a PT and speech, sometimes OT and DT, depending on who is available and what concerns there are for the child. They will spend at least an hour interviewing you and observing/engaging with your child to get an idea of his or her skill level across a very wide range of developmental domains. Ideally these evaluations (and follow-up therapy, if warranted) will take place in the natural environment – normally the child’s home. Some children are seen at daycare or places around town where the family would normally go (the playground, grocery store, etc.).

(Please note that while a doctor’s script is not required for evaluations, it IS a requirement for therapy services.)

What happens if your child qualifies?

A service coordinator will come to your house to go over the evaluation and service offerings. Most (but not all) therapies will be once a week for 60 minute sessions in your home. There is a long wait list for some services so you may only receive one in the beginning even if your child qualifies for two or more disciplines. You may also receive a developmental therapist instead of a PT/OT/Speech therapist depending on availability. It’s important to be flexible with your schedule due to the limited availability of services.

What happens when your child turns three?

Starting ON your child’s third birthday, they are no longer eligible for First Steps as they will have “aged out”. Prior to their birthday, the service coordinator should be in touch to schedule meetings with the local public preschool to see if your child will qualify there. Legally, the public school system is responsible for therapies for children once they turn three.

I used to contract with First Steps more frequently than I do now but I’m still very much involved with them and will likely continue to take clients here and there. If you have any questions about First Steps, feel free to ask me! I want parents to know about ALL of their options, even outside of private pay with me! 🙂

Summer Update

Hello Bloom Family!

I’m sorry I have been absent from the blog BUT business is booming and I’m able to work with so many families right now! I’ve been spending all of my work time researching and creating the best programs I can to help them succeed. My schedule is COMPLETELY full for now!

That being said, towards the end of August I will have a couple of therapy/evaluation slots opening up. I will also be available to provide low cost screenings for preschools, daycares, homeschool co-ops, etc. Please let me know if you are interested in something for your facility. I know identifying speech and language difficulties can be hard outside of a public school setting where screenings are a legal requirement for certain grades. My heart is to make sure families are aware of their children’s needs and help them succeed whether that’s through direct therapy or not.

As always, feel free to contact me through here or social media if you have any questions or are in need of assistance for your communication. I have MANY exciting plans in the works and I look forward to sharing them over the course of time!

But what about when they turn 3???

A child’s third birthday can be a mixed bag. He is starting to demonstrate more of an individual personality. She may be entering the world of tantrums. He is getting into EVERYTHING thanks to growing confidence. But a child’s third birthday also can hold some anxiety for those families whose children receive state-funded early intervention services.

In the state of Indiana (and many other states), early intervention services are provided for free or very low cost for children who qualify; however, services END the day before the child’s third birthday. This can be a scary time for parents. Often you have gotten to know your child’s therapists well…they come to your home for an hour each week, they have experienced successes and regressions with you, they may have walked with you as you received a hard diagnosis, they have been involving any other children in your home…the bond is strong! When children turn three, parents often wonder, “What next??”

Across the country, the public schools are responsible for taking over therapy services once a child hits three, no matter the time of school year. If a child continues to qualify for therapy services then the local preschool (or developmental preschool) for the area school district provides those services. Often they will also provide transportation if the child stays for preschool and not just therapy time. They will usually offer two options (both of which are free):

  1. Preschool with services: Your child will be enrolled in preschool and will receive services while in the school (either pull out or in the classroom, in a group vs. one on one, etc.). The details will be worked out during your initial IEP meeting that will occur shortly before your child’s third birthday as they age out of EI.
  2. Outclient therapy: Many districts will give you the option to bring your child in JUST for therapy services and take them home. In this case you will be responsible for transportation. Again, the details like frequency will be ironed out during the IEP meeting.

If parents do not want to utilize these services (or if the child does not qualify using the academic model which has different standards than the medical and family models) then private therapy may be a great option. Private therapy is often one on one, intensive therapy that is tailored towards what your family needs, even if it is not just academics related. Depending on the therapist, some clinicians have offices and some go into homes. An evaluation should be set up before your child turns three to make the transition smooth and quick.

I hope this helps ease some of the stress that comes with the aging out process. If you have any questions about private therapy, school therapy (I’ve done both!), or anything else please contact me!