Tag: children

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.

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