Category: Language Disorders

Is online speech therapy appropriate for a child with autism

Is online speech therapy appropriate for a child with autism?

The short answer is YES, and here’s why! 

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a complex development condition with challenges in social interaction, speech and nonverbal communication, and restricted/repetitive behaviors. There is a wide range of severity among individuals and the effects of ASD vary greatly among families. ASD is by nature a communication disorder that perplexes many people. Communication is the means with which humans connect with one another. It is the basis of the parent-child bonding experience. When this foundation is broken, it can result in lack of functional communication and atypical behaviors which make everyday living challenging for the average family.

There is no doubt that speech and language therapy is essential to the functioning of individuals with ASD. However, many individuals assume that only in person services would benefit individuals with the condition. However, it is important to note that there are many benefits to providing this service online, since teletherapy affords many opportunities that may be restricted with in person therapy.

By considering the following factors, families can ensure a successful outcome with online speech therapy:

Parent Coaching – By engaging in online speech therapy, caregivers of children with ASD have the opportunity to learn how to engage with their children. The SLP can work closely with the family to develop a plan of care in which the family learns strategies and activities to elicit functional communication. The SLP has the benefit of working with the parent in their natural environment of the home. Also, parents are the child’s primary educators from birth and it benefits the child greatly when their parents are reinforcing the same strategies taught to them by their SLP round the clock.

Sensory Input – Many individuals with autism have a difficult time processing the sensory information they get from their environment. By making adjustments to visual, auditory and tactile cues that the child receives in the environment, the child’s attention span and capacity to learn can improve immensely. Simple adjustments such as adjusting the brightness of the lighting or adjusting the volume to a video can go a long way to improving the quality of an online therapy session.

Use Real Objects – It is a misconception that online therapy can only utilize digital materials. Young children in general, especially children with ASD, will benefit greatly from the use of real objects in their environment. This type of concrete learning lends itself to the development of functional communication during routine activities everyday such as mealtimes. Your child’s SLP can teach you strategies on how to use toys, books, and everyday objects in your home for language expansion.

Movement – Another myth about online therapy is that a child needs to sit and attend in front of the computer for the entire duration of the therapy session. This is completely false as that is not developmentally appropriate for most children. Incorporating movements into a language activity such as singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” while having the child motion and rock their body back and forth during the therapy sessions can simultaneously improve a child’s attention while improving their capacity to learn language. 

In conclusion, online speech therapy is a vehicle through which families can gain access to a skilled SLP who can work with the unique needs of their child with ASD. By providing online speech therapy services in the home, the family can gain valuable insights about how to reinforce strategies in an effective way which in turn can improve communication exponentially.

What to Expect from your Young Child’s Online Speech Session

What to Expect from your Young Child’s Online Speech Session

Young children from birth and up can receive speech and language services through a telepractice model by having the SLP collaborate with parents and caregivers.

When telepractice began gaining momentum over a decade ago, SLPs and clients alike began treading lightly on this new service delivery model. Fifteen years after ASHA published the initial position statement in favor of telepractice as an effective service delivery model, a majority of speech-language pathologists have been thrust into this virtual format overnight. The evidence base for the effectiveness of delivering speech services to young children was just beginning to form in the early days of telepractice. Due to the recent mandate of shelter-in-place, many providers of services to the Early Intervention population have been flexible in allowing telepractice. One of the most popular service delivery models for younger children is parent coaching.

In simple terms, parent coaching is a system of doing therapy in which the therapist will seek input from the family in developing a plan of care for the client. In order to optimize your coaching sessions, your SLP may incorporate the following components into your therapy sessions.

Realistic Expectations – Your therapist will likely have a conversation with you ahead of time to set up realistic expectations about the parent coaching session. It is important to note that there may be an adjustment period for you and your child as there is with any in person therapist. Frustrating sessions during which children may be uncooperative or throw tantrums may happen in telespeech as they do with in person therapy. With consistency and patience, these behaviors should subside as you and your child adjust to the routine.

Parent Feedback – It is very beneficial to dedicate a portion of your session to gather ideas from you as the primary caregiver and educator of your child. You should expect your therapist to ask you questions to guide you in developing a unique therapy plan with activities that will motivate your child. The therapist should also ask for feedback on how your child responded to the homework plan you discussed during previous sessions. This is the time to be honest with your therapist about any concerns or questions and be open to their guidance.

Predictable Routine – A common practice among therapists working with young children is to create predictable routines within a therapy session. There are many ways to create these routines so that children start anticipating a beginning, middle and end to therapy sessions. This structure provides predictability and security which is what young children crave. Your therapist may use a visual schedule to outline what you and your child will be learning during each session. In addition, she may begin and end each session with a predictable song to cue your child and help ease difficult transitions.

Use of Real Objects – Your child learns best with tangible objects from their naturalistic environment. Your SLP will likely have you gather favorite toys and books to use during your sessions. Even everyday objects around the house such as cups, spoons, soap, and towels can be transformed into vehicles for imaginative play and language expansion. Daily rituals such as breakfast, brushing teeth and bedtime routines are wonderful learning opportunities where parents can model language expansion and enjoy time bonding with their children.

As you can see, online speech therapy opens up a world of opportunity for your young child to hone their speech and language skills. By collaborating closely with your SLP, you will develop a successful therapy plan that will guide you as the primary caregiver to reinforce effective communication strategies with your child throughout the week.

-Karin H. Koukeyan, MS, CCC-SLP 

How to Use Everyday Objects to Elicit Language

How to Use Everyday Objects to Elicit Language

Young children have curious minds. Instinctually, they explore their environment like little scientists trying to make sense of their world. Any parent can tell you after the excitement of Christmas morning or a birthday party that they will question their purchases of expensive toys. Most children are more fascinated with the wrapping paper and boxes in which the toys are packaged than the actual toys themselves.

What if all the educational toys for your budding explorer could be found in the cabinets and closets of your home already? What if you could keep your toddler entertained for hours with a few simple items from your kitchen and pantry that won’t cost you a dime? And what’s more, what if these same everyday items could help facilitate your child’s speech and language development?

In this article, we will explore common items in your home that will peak your child’s interest and we will share how you can use these objects to support language development. Your job as a parent is to play the narrator as you model words and phrases for your child. In the beginning, your child will be absorbing all of the language they hear until one day, they speak it spontaneously.

Boxes – Boxes of any shape and size fascinate children. You can have them use these boxes to teach simple concepts such as “in” and “out”. You can have them put their favorite items inside the box and play a game of “peek-a-boo” with your child. The concept of location can be reinforced by asking “where” questions. With a simple, repetitive script such as:

“Where’s the bear?” “There’s the bear!”

You can teach your child the concepts of prepositions and answering wh-questions by using boxes. The possibilities are endless. At first, you will want to model the language for them over and over again. Then after a while, you can pause after you ask the question to see if your child responds. Then, before you know it, your child will be responding to the question spontaneously.

Containers – Why does your child head towards the drawers full of plastic storage containers and insist on emptying it? There is great fun for the young scientist to empty the contents of things whether they be drawers, containers or boxes. Storage containers provide a space for children to place their small favorite toys such as a ball, small toy or snacks. These types of containers have lids and are perfect for teaching the concepts of “open” and “close.” You can also place items in the containers and “shake” them for an instant musical toy. If you don’t have plastic storage containers, you can make your own container out of an empty can of formula or oatmeal.

Plastic Water Bottles – Babies and toddlers are always fascinated by the sights and sounds of half empty water bottles. They crinkle and crunch in your hands. You can shake them like a rattle and teach concepts such as “stop” and “go.”

Paintbrushes and Paper – If you purchase colored construction paper and some brushes from the dollar store, you can give your young child hours of mess-free fun. Your child will be fascinated by the painting they do that disappears. While they are painting you can model words for them such as “You are painting.” You can also reinforce the concepts such as “wet and dry” and comment on the different shapes they paint.

Plastic Cups – Children love playing with plastic cups. They love stacking them and nesting them. You can spend some quality time with your young child on the floor as you take turns building a tower of plastic cups and then knocking them down for fun. You can reinforce the concepts of “tall, up, high, and more” as you build your structure. Then you can say, “Uh oh!” and “They all fell down” as you throw them down.

As you can see the possibilities of using everyday objects in your home to elicit language are endless. You can use your imagination to guide you as you teach your young child language with items found in your home. It is important to note that you are the narrator and will be speaking and modeling much more than your child. Focus on having fun and listen to your child’s language emerge!

-Karin H. Koukeyan, MS, CCC-SLP

Mom and Child in Home School Setting Playing on the Phone

Four Common Speech and Language Disorders Children May Suffer From

Speech is the primary form of communication by which we are able to share our thoughts and feelings. Any difficulties with speech can cause frustration and hinder personal development.     

Unfortunately, this is the reality for nearly 1 in 12 children, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. The percentage of the population struggling with speech and language disorders only grows when you consider adults as well.

At SLP-tele, our online speech therapists believe that educating the families we work with is important to developing a successful speech therapy program for their child. For this reason, we would like to share information about the some of the most common speech disorders that can affect children and adults alike. By knowing how these conditions can affect your loved one, you can better support the efforts of their online speech therapist from SLP-tele.

At SLP-tele, our online speech therapists believe that educating the families we work with is important to developing a successful speech therapy program for their child. For this reason, we would like to share information about the some of the most common speech disorders that can affect children and adults alike. By knowing how these conditions can affect your loved one, you can better support the efforts of their online speech therapist from SLP-tele. 

Common Speech and Language Disorders

Stuttering

This common speech disorder affects around 3 million people in America. Repeating sounds and words is one of the most noticeable signs of stuttering. People who struggle with this will also have interrupted speech.

Stuttering can be broken into two specific types: developmental and neurogenic.

  • Developmental – This is typically seen at a young age, and is often the result of children’s speech not developing in an optimal manner. The good news is that it can be successfully adjusted with online speech therapy, with the majority of children able to correct their stuttering disorder.
  • Neurogenic – This condition stems from serious injuries to a person’s brain. Events like concussions and strokes can bring about a problem with stuttering in their aftermath.

Apraxia of Speech (AOS)

Apraxia of Speech (AOS) is characterized primarily by a person being incapable of saying what it is they want to say. The primary causes of AOS are brain damage or some type of damage to the neural pathways in the brain.

A child who has this condition will be able to think of the words that want to say, understand someone else’s, and even be able to write, but will not be able to speak clearly themselves. The extent to which they are affected varies, as some sufferers can still speak well enough to be understood by others, while for others, speech remains incomprehensible.

In Childhood Apraxia of Speech, the development of the neural pathways for speech does not follow a “normal” pattern. This can result in a number of problems in childhood, such as a kid learning how to talk later than those their age and struggling with pronouncing words correctly.

While the condition can be caused by genetic neurological factors in both adults and children, a traumatic brain injury can also be responsible for this disorder manifesting in a person’s speech.

Lisping

Like stuttering, lisping is a speech condition that most people have seen or are acquainted with. The first thought most people likely have when they think of a lisp is someone making a “th” sound in place of an “s” sound.

This is just one of the four types of lisps, however, which are listed below:

  • Interdental – This is the type of lisp most commonly thought of and is characterized by the tongue going between the front teeth, causing the “th” sound in place of s and z sounds.
  • Dentalized – This lisp can be identified by someone having their tongue hit their teeth while making s and z sounds.
  • Palatal – This lisp occurs when the tongue hits the soft palate when making s and z sounds.
  • Lateral – Air escaping out of the sides of the mouth cause this type of lisping.

This condition is something that you are most likely to see in childhood, but it can at times continue as a person becomes an adult. However, the outlook for it is positive.

As a functional speech disorder, lisping is something that can be changed or corrected through work with a Speech Language Pathologist. The therapy would focus primarily on pronunciation and annunciation while including muscle strengthening exercises to help adjust a person’s lisp.

Autism and its Relation to Speech Disorders

Autism Spectrum Disorder, through the efforts of numerous organizations and groups, has found a permanent place in the public consciousness. The awareness of this widespread disorder, affecting 1 in every 100 individuals, is important in light of autism’s connection to speech conditions.

While not every child or adult with autism also struggles with speech, communication issues can arise. Speech therapy is very helpful in overcoming problems with speaking. A qualified speech therapist can work with a child with autism to help them learn words and their meaning, be more comfortable in social situations, and learn important communication cues.

Speech therapy is not just for the child with autism either, family and those closest to them are encouraged to be a part of the sessions as well. This can relax the child, in turn, helping them learn much easier. It also gives parents and other family members the opportunity to learn about their program and how they can be a part of it.

SLP-tele is here for all your online speech therapy needs. We are ready to help improve your child’s life and communication skills.

For as common as speech disorders are, many of us are still surprised when we encounter them in everyday life. These conditions deserve our full attention as the strain they place on your child’s ability to communicate can affect other areas of their life, such as their self-esteem and relationships.

If you are concerned that your child may be suffering from a speech disorder, do not hesitate to contact SLP-tele today at 877-757-8353. Our experienced and caring team of online speech-language therapists can discuss a personalized plan to help your child unlock their full potential.