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Speech Summer Boot Camp Details!

The school year is drawing to a close, the weather is getting warmer, and things are starting to BLOOM! It’s time to think about Speech Summer Boot Camp!

SSBC will meet on June 10th, 12th, and 14th from 9am-11am in a small group. Clients will be working on varied speech and language goals that will be tailored just for them. This is not only a great time to work on your child’s speech but also their social language since they will be with peers. The target age for this first summer camp is approximately K-3rd grade.

Who would benefit from camp?

  • children who may regress in their speech and language skills during the summer
  • children who have almost achieved their goals and just need some intensive sessions to finish up
  • children who need peers to be able to work on their goals
  • children working on carryover (conversational) skills
  • children who already get speech with me who would benefit from some additional intensive sessions

What is the cost of camp?

For all 6 hours the total cost is $195 (this is half the price of 6 hours of one on one therapy). I can take cash, check, or credit card.

What will camp look like?

Camp will take place in my home office. We will spend part of the time indoors working intensely and drilling (in a fun way!). I personally believe in trying to get in as many target goals during a session as possible! We will also spend part of the time outdoors if weather allows. We will alternate drilling with fun carryover activities including crafts, snack creating, scavenger hunts, etc. Parents do NOT need to stay for camp but you must sign a waiver for your child to participate.

What do you need to do to sign up?

Please contact me through the form on this website or using my email or Facebook page to reserve your spot or to ask questions. Once you sign up I will send you the necessary intake paperwork.

If your child has a current evaluation or IEP, please send it to me for review prior to camp in order to ensure I can prepare the best possible materials for your child. If your child does NOT have a current evaluation or IEP (within the past year), you will need to bring your child in for a screening PRIOR TO CAMP. The cost of this short screening will be absorbed into your camp fee. If you would like a full evaluation the charge will be $65/hour (usually evaluations take 45-60 minutes and you will receive a full report with testing results).

If you have any questions, please let me know! I am looking forward to helping your children better communicate and feel confident with themselves!

 

What if you are homeschooling and your child needs speech therapy?

Scenario #1

You have been homeschooling your child his or her entire education but you feel as if they may have difficulties either producing speech, using proper social skills, understanding speech/language, creating sentences properly, following directions, or any other number of speech and language related issues. What do you do? First, there are many resources online to help you determine whether or not it may be a good idea to have a speech and language evaluation. You can look up sound acquisition charts that list phonemes your child should be able to produce by age. You can also find information on what language skills children should have at each stage of development. If you determine that you are still concerned then a good place to start would be with your pediatrician. Not only are they likely to know of available resources, but often a speech-language pathologist will need a script from a doctor to provide an evaluation and treatment if you choose to use insurance (private pay does not require a doctor’s script). Depending on your location, there may be multiple options for finding a speech-language pathologist and if there isn’t anyone close, you can try finding some via teletherapy. In addition to checking the below options, you can also search http://asha.org/profind/ for providers in your area. Not all speech therapists are listed there but it will give you a good head start. Here are some possible locations for speech evaluations and therapy:
– Hospitals
– Outpatient/outclient clinics (including rehabilitation clinics)
– Stand-alone therapy clinics
– State early intervention programs
– Public schools
– Private therapists

Keep in mind that if you choose to pursue an evaluation and therapy through the schools, this will create a paper trail for your child in the public school system. Many districts will ask that you submit much of the same paperwork as the other students, including vaccination records. This decision is different for each family and depends on your own personal opinions. Service qualification, provision, and requirements vary greatly by district. Schools also have up to 50 school days to perform an evaluation once requested.

Scenario #2

Your child has been attending public school and he or she has an active IEP (Individualized Education Plan) that includes speech therapy. You decide to transfer your child to a private school (homeschooling). What now? You have two options: 1) withdraw your student from services or 2) continue receiving services as a homeschooled (“private schooled”) student.
If you do not want your child to continue receiving speech therapy then you must call for an IEP meeting where you will withdraw your child from services. All you need to do is sign a form indicating your desire for withdrawal. This is DIFFERENT from withdrawing from school; you do not want to do that when transitioning to homeschool. As long as you sign the permission form to withdraw, the IEP is closed and you are done.

If you would like to continue receiving services, you will need to call an IEP meeting to transfer the IEP to an ISP (Individualized Service Plan). The ISP is very similar to an IEP but it is what the public schools use for privately schooled students. By law, every public school MUST provide special education services to any families whether they attend that school or a private school. The meeting will begin with a review of the IEP. At the end of the IEP there is a section for you to reject the IEP and FAPE (Free and APpropriate Education). Once you choose to reject those things, that will cause an ISP to be developed. You will go over the ISP with your child’s goals, services, etc. If you agree to the terms, you sign permission and you are done! As a homeschooler, it will be your responsibility to provide transportation to the school for the services.

It is important to note that while it is the law for schools to provide services to homeschoolers, it varies by district how “equal” those services will be. For example, students in a school may receive two 25 minute sessions of speech therapy each week but they may offer homeschooled students only one session a week. Therapy in the schools will often be group therapy vs. individual therapy in clinics. It is up to you whether or not you accept their offerings. ISP meetings are negotiations and you can withdraw from services or make changes to it at any time. If you need extra assistance in dealing with the schools, you can always hire an advocate to assist you (IN*Source is a great resource). They are very familiar with the law and are used to supporting parents. We have several advocacy groups in Indiana. Again, maintaining services in the schools does keep your child in the school computers. Your child will still be considered enrolled but they will fall under a different code as regularly enrolled students. Your child will be enrolled as a “child receiving special services without placement in a classroom”. If you decide to withdraw from services, you would follow the methods from the first section above to receive services elsewhere.

When considering where to receive services it is helpful to understand the difference between the educational model of providing services and the medical model of providing services. The schools use the educational model where all other locations follow the medical model. The educational model states that children qualify for services only when it impacts them ACADEMICALLY in any way including their ability to participate in a classroom or navigate the school grounds. Often a child has to score LOWER to qualify for services in the schools. The medical model qualifies anyone who falls below the normative data in an area (often 1.5 standard deviations). The medical model looks at the overall picture of a person’s life and not just one area (i.e. academics). For example, if there is a student who has trouble functioning at home because they can’t climb stairs well due to a medical diagnosis, the school may not qualify them if that school does not have stairs but a medical facility would.

It is up to each family to determine which path will work best for them and their children. What is most important is that all children receive the help they need. As homeschooling families there is also a lot of information online to assist with children’s’ speech and language development. HSLDA and IAHE both have information on their websites to further assist with teaching children who have special needs.

Next blog post we will talk about SEPs (specialized education plans)

Great Toys for Language Development: ages 3 – 5

I’m back with installment two of “Great Toys for Language Development”! Today’s post is for kiddos age 3 through 5.

A good rule of thumb is that your child should be using phrases and sentences one word longer than their age in the early years. For example, two year olds should be using 2-3 word phrases, three year olds should be using 3-4 word phrases, etc. Here are some good items to target in order to expand language:

  • asking and answering questions
  • basic concepts (colors, shapes, prepositions)
  • sentence structure/syntax
  • adjectives

There are TONS of helpful games, books, and toys out there that target these areas so I will just share a few of my favorites!

  1. The book “Go, Dog, Go”: This book is wonderful for building simple sentences and learning adjectives (big, small, fast, slow, etc.)
  2. Guess Who?: This is a classic game that targets not only descriptors (talking about things like glasses, hat color, eye color, etc.) but it also helps children to form simple questions and answer them in turn.
  3. “I Spy” books: These are great for working on simple sentence structure (“I spy ___.”). This also works well for following directions using prepositions (example, “I spy the dog. It is over the star. It is under the duck, next to the car., etc.”)
  4. Shape Sorters: This toy is especially great if you find out that uses multiple colors as well as shapes. You can give your child one at a time and have them request using simple phrases, also (ex. “I want circle.”).
  5. Go Fish: This works best with card decks specifically made for Go Fish that have pictures the child can describe and not a normal deck of cards with numbers. This can work on phrases (“Do you have ___.”) as well as practice answering yes/no questions. You can also require the child to use describing words in their questions (example, “Do you have a BIG, BLUE fish?”)
  6. Pop-Up Pirate: This game offers multiple colors of swords that you stick into a barrel to make a pirate pop out. It’s great for colors, prepositions (in, out), and requesting/commenting.

Other random favorites: Cootie, Don’t Break the Ice, Go Away Monster, trains, cars, playdoh

This is just the TIP of the iceberg! The biggest keys are finding games that take turns and/or games you can CONTROL so the child MUST do some bit of work before they can continue the activity (whether it be asking for something in a phrase, naming a color/shape, etc.). When you are looking for unstructured ways to target these goals, it’s always a great idea to model alongside the child. For example, while coloring narrate what you are doing: “I am getting the RED crayon to draw a BIG moon! Wow, look how BIG that moon is! Now I will make a SMALL moon in GREEN.”

Great Toys for Language Development: Birth – 3

I have worked at least partly  in early invention for my entire career as an SLP. There is such a range of interests (and attention spans) in little ones but I have developed a “go to” list of therapy toys for them based on my experience and now I want to share it with YOU so you can prepare those birthday and Christmas lists! 🙂

(You know your child best. If they cannot handle smaller pieces, please use your best judgment with what toys you give them.)

  1. Toy barns with animals: Not only can you practice specific vocabulary like animals and their noises, but the barn is also great for prepositions (on, in, off) and following simple directions (“Put the cow in.”)
  2. Baby dolls: This is a great activity to target a child’s typical daily routines as well as age appropriate verbs (eat, drink, sleep, change). The baby can also “participate” in activities that may be more averse to the child to work on desensitization (for example, learning to diversify what foods they eat).
  3. Mr. Potato Head: This activity is perfect for learning body parts and colors. It also is great for following directions, fine motor skills, and targeting prepositions.
  4. Bubbles: Who doesn’t love bubbles?? Not only are they motivating for continuation of an activity but they also work on oral motor strength if the child takes turns blowing. The sounds /p, b, m/ are typically the first consonants children acquire so BuBBles, PoP, Blow, etc. are wonderful words to target. (For bonus blowing activities you can blow cotton balls across a table, squirt a blob of fingerpaint on paper and blow on it to spread it out, etc.)
  5. Songs/music: I love to use songs with repetitive verses. One, because the repetition helps the language to stick and two, because it’s easy to pause the song after verse one and wait for the child to request “more”. Singing also activates a different part of the brain which can add to greater retention of sung vocabulary. Not to mention….what toddler doesn’t love dancing? Hello gross motor skills and direction following! I would also add finger play songs to this part (Itsy Bitsy Spider, Twinkle Twinkle, etc.)
  6. Chunky puzzles: I especially love puzzles with vehicles or other items that have a noise you can create/imitate. Environmental noises are a pre-cursor to verbal speech so targeting these is a perfect way to help open the gateway to language. There are great puzzles out there with handles on each piece, too, for assistance with fine motor skills.
  7. Stringing Beads: I like to use very big beads for safety. I target colors, fine motor skills, and vocabulary with this. I have a set that is made of giant boats, airplanes, cars, and trains and it’s a big hit!
  8. Books: Board books tend to be your best bet if you want them to last. My personal favorite are the “Bear” stories by Karma Wilson. I love the repetition and the use of core vocabulary throughout. Books are great for modeling as well as having your child point to named vocabulary. They can also work on pre-reading skills such as book orientation and turning the page.
  9. Wind up cars: Motivating, fast, and easy. It can’t get much better. You can target describing words (fast, slow) and action words (go, stop) as well as give directions and prepositions.
  10. A safety mirror: Using a mirror to model with little ones is SO FUN! You can sit side by side and look in the mirror together. Practice making silly sounds and silly faces. Odds are your child will copy you for the sheer fun of it! Make sure you’re using a non-breakable mirror. Bonus points for mirrors that have attached soft toys!

I hope this list helps guide you! Really ANYTHING you do with your child is great because YOU and your voice are the best examples out there. Narrate while you bake, narrate while you get ready, play and read and sing often, get outside and talk about what you see. The opportunities for modeling are endless and you are your child’s best teacher!

How to Use Speech Sound Acquisition Charts

I recently spoke at the IAHE (Indiana Association of Home Educators) Convention and it was amazing! I was so thankful to speak to many parents about their concerns regarding the speech and language of their children. I compiled a list of frequently asked questions and will be sharing them here in a blog series.

The number one question I kept answering was “My child can’t say ____. Is that normal?” It can be difficult to know if your child’s difficulty with certain sounds is age appropriate and when to be concerned, hence this blog post was born.

There has been a lot of research done on speech sound (or phoneme) acquisition. An easy way to check and see if your child has a possible speech disorder is to google a “speech sound acquisition chart”. This is a chart stating what sounds a child should have in their phonemic repertoire by what age. It is separated by boys and girls because girls tend to develop certain sounds earlier than boys.

Here is an example:

You use the chart by finding the sound with which your child is struggling (for example, /l/). You can see that /l/ typically develops around age three. The “cut off” age for a typical developing /l/ sound is age five for girls and age six for boys. If your child is a boy who is seven and he cannot say /l/ correctly, then that would indicate a possible speech disorder because he should have achieved correct pronunciation of that sound by age six.

Just because a child does not have a certain sound by the accepted age range does not mean that anything is “wrong”. Sometimes they may just need a little push to start self-monitoring or to correct a learned habit of mispronunciation. If you notice multiple errors, your child may demonstrate a phonological processing disorder. This means that errors follow a pattern.

Once you have looked at this chart and noticed any sounds your child has not mastered by the cutoff, I would suggest contacting a speech therapist for their clinical opinion and a possible in-depth evaluation of your child’s speech. Treating misarticulations EARLY is beneficial to progress as misarticulations can become hard to unlearn because they are ingrained habits. Speech sound disorders can also have a negative impact on a child’s reading and spelling ability.

I hope this helps to provide a resource to either set your mind at ease or set you on the right path to getting your child help! Please keep in mind that articulation is not the only area in which children can demonstrate a speech disorder. Articulation trouble can also be related to phonemic awareness and phonological awareness disorders (the latter can also stand on their own). If you have ANY concerns about your child’s speech or language, please feel free to contact me and I’m happy to offer a free consultation to let you know your next steps.

Teletherapy up and running!

I’m so excited to be providing a much needed service for clients in Indiana (or for those in other countries who don’t have a speech therapy license)! Teletherapy services with Bloom Speech & Language Services are now up and running!

What is teletherapy?

Teletherapy is basically like a fancy version of Skype but it is totally HIPAA compliant. It also has nice tools such as document sharing, interactive whiteboard, screenshare capabilities, video sharing, etc.

Who is eligible for Teletherapy?

Anyone who can sit (either assisted by another person or independently) at the computer for about 30 minutes. Ideally the person can manipulate the mouse but that’s not necessary as long as someone helps them to initially log in to the session. More complex speech therapy cases may not be appropriate for teletherapy but things like articulation and language (past preschool age), social skills, auditory processing, etc. work great!

Why teletherapy?

You don’t have to leave your house! It’s also cheaper because the therapist doesn’t have to leave their office either! (see my “forms” section for my “private client contract” which outlines prices)

With teletherapy you can save time and money while still getting quality intervention. Teletherapy clients still receive weekly homework and unlimited email consultations.

What is required?

Chrome browser, microphone, and webcam (a headset is nice but not required)

I know in some places (especially rural areas of Indiana!) speech therapy is hard to come by so I really wanted to offer this service to reach those struggling to find them! I do love seeing my clients in person but if I can help at all through this method vs. not helping at all, I think this is a great option! 🙂

If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact me! May is Better Speech & Hearing Month so watch my website for some tips, freebies, and deals!

 

Top Tips for Helping Your Child to Speak

When your young child is not communicating after about 18 months it can be very frustrating for both you AND  your child! Therapy can be a huge help, but as parents you spend the most time with your children so it’s important that you carry over therapy techniques and strategies to encourage language development. The following are my top tips that I give to the parents of new clients:

1. Environmental sabotage: This isn’t as scary as it sounds! This means you structure your environment in such a way that your child doesn’t have immediate access to what they want all the time, thus forcing communication. For example, toys are in clear boxes that the child doesn’t know how to open, DVDs are on a high shelf that can’t be reached but can be seen, food and drinks aren’t left out all day where child has easy access, etc.

2. Give small amounts/bites: When eating or playing only give one piece of something at a time, encouraging your child to ask for “more” before they receive it. For example, only give one blueberry or puzzle piece at a time. Keep the rest where your child can see them but not reach them.

3. Use sign language: It is a myth that teaching sign language to babies/toddlers will prevent them from talking. Research shows it actually ENCOURAGES verbal speech! Start modeling sign language as soon as you can. Common signs are “more, all done, please, thank you, eat, drink”. You tend to get more “bang for your buck” when using verbs as opposed to nouns.

4. Play turn-taking games: Rolling a ball back and forth, taking turns blowing bubbles, pushing cars, etc. all provide opportunity for your child to ask for his or her turn after the object is given to you.

5. Don’t be afraid of the pause: The pregnant pause paired with an expectant glance can do wonders to encourage communication from your child. Try to avoid completing your child’s phrases or anticipating their needs. Even if you know what they want, make them ask, even if it’s an approximated response at first (like signing, or a /b/ sound for ball).

6. Use toys that are hard for your child to operate: If you use wind up toys or other items that require an adult to use, this presents a lot of opportunities for your child to ask for continuation of the activity.

7. Narrate: It may drive you crazy at first but try and narrate what you’re doing throughout the day. For example, “Mommy is making dinner now! Let’s get the pot. Now it’s time to get the spoon! Stir, stir!”

8. Environmental Noises: Utilize a lot of noises during play such as animal sounds, cars beeping and vrooming, etc. This skill typically develops before verbal speech so it’s a good pre-requisite to practice.

9. Respond and recast: Take what your child says and expand/correct it. For example, (child sees a horse) “ook, mama, cow!”. You can respond with “Wow! You saw a horse!”

10. Keep it positive: Shaming your child for not talking or getting frustrated could hinder their progress. Language development is hard work so a little grace and encouragement goes a long way!

The best things you can do to encourage your late talker are to create communication opportunities by setting up the environment, respond positively to all communicative attempts, and model, model, model!

(*If your child is not talking by 18 months and/or not responding to their name or simple directions, seek an evaluation with a speech-language pathologist!*)

My new website!

Hello!

Thanks so much for visiting my new website for Bloom Speech & Language Services! I am beyond blessed by how quickly this business is growing.

On this site I hope to offer blog posts with helpful tips for working on speech and language skills as well as other fun topics that arise! I am available to answer any questions you have and I provide FREE email or phone consultations with no obligation for therapy. My goal is to help so I want to do that however I can!

You can contact me through my website, my FB page, First Steps (NCA agency) OR you can come meet me and listen to my presentations at the upcoming Indiana Association of Home Educator’s convention on March 23rd and 24th. I’ll be participating in a special needs panel as well as presenting on the following topics:

“Speech and Language: How and When to Get Help”

“Managing Your (School) Day with ADHD/SPD/Autism, etc.”

Annie Nichols

I absolutely love my job and am so excited to expand my practice to help as many people as possible!

~Annie