Speech Thoughts

Sign Language Can Help Facilitate Speech

When the acquisition of speech appears problematic, I often turn to Amercian Sign Language for help.  opting to use sign language is best when:

  • a child shows a strong reluctance to speak
  • secondary issues  such as Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, apraxia, dyspraxia are present
  • a child has the ability to imitate simple signs
  • communication partners are there to support the use of sign

It’s easier for a child to see and imitate motor movements associated with early sign than spoken words. By example the sign “more” is made by placing one’s hands together twice. It’s spoken counterpart supposes a child has 1. mastery over the  /m/, /oa/,and /r/ sound and can 2. can quickly coordinate production of all three sounds.

Sign simplifies the motor skills necessary to express a word. It facilitates self expression and  builds a vocabulary of words which will eventually be spoken. It allows a child to think in words.

Does a child’s use of sign slow or hinder their ability to ultimately speak?

My experience as a therapist has taught me that sign does help. There is a natural relationship between gesture and speech. Our mouth is not the only part of our body connected to the words in our mind. Watch your own hands or the hands of a friend during conversation. Notice the way hands, arms, and fingers move in all sorts of directions as spoken words occur.

The early use of sign takes the pressure off speech and buys time for it’s ultimate development. The good news is the vast majority of kids receiving therapy will eventually speak.  In the end sign only hastens the acquisition of the spoken word.   In the very unlikely event a child does not develop speech, the experience with sign serves as a foundation for language and bridge to other augmentative means for communication. Self-expression and the development of early language whether speech, sign or combinations of both will in the end only help a child’s ultimate acquisition of speech.

Speech Thoughts

The Attribute of Patience

The dictionary defines patience as:

“the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.”

When concerned with matters in speech therapy, we should add to that definition, without getting frustrated, discouraged or disillusioned.

Sometimes in a therapy session there is a tendency to focus on a successful moment and assume all the moments destined to follow will be the same. The good news is that with commitment to therapy strategies, language is destined to change and progress is inevitable.

How do I know that?  It’s something all the people I’ve ever worked with have taught me. It’s the two year old with a developmental language delay who could say at best  say 3 words. The child with autism, who no matter what was presented, refused textured foods.  The inability of a four year old with apraxia to initiate even a simple thought.  All three cases had eventual success stories and collectively taught me the role patience plays in therapy.

Does patience automatically appear when told your child has a language or speech delay? No… simply knowing it’s importance can make the process easier. The attribute of patience is born of a confidence that comes from witnessing the accomplishments (small and large) a child makes over a course in therapy. Its a developing belief that at some point things will be be better.



Speech Thoughts

Where Can I Find A Speech Therapist?

There are over 130,000 Speech Therapists in the US alone. They go by titles such as Speech-Language-Pathologist, Speech Therapist, Speech Pathologist. These therapists work in a variety of different settings and are generally not hard to find. Some work settings include:

  • Hospital in/out patient clinics
    (for any age group, any condition)
  • Rehabilitation settings (often post stroke, head
    trauma, or following a neurological event)
  • Long term care facilities such as nursing
    homes (dementia, stroke, head injury, debilitating disease)
  • Private practices (defined
    by the practice – articulation therapy for apraxia, lisp, stuttering etc.)
  • Schools (pre-school – K-12)
    therapy to help facilitate articulation, language. Help with speech or language disorders related
    to autism, Down Syndrome etc.
  • Early Intervention Service (children with
    developmental delays ages 0-3)
  • Home Health agencies (often service a wide variety of

Places to find a Speech Therapist:

  • Check yellow pages for clinics, home health agencies, clinics, and private practices advertising in your area. (Look under terms: Hospital, Speech, Home Health)
  • Google the terms speech therapist, speech, articulation, language therapy for your area
  • State speech therapist association
  • American Speech and Hearing Association
  • Ask your pediatrician or family physician


Speech Thoughts

Just What is Early Intervention

What is Early intervention?

Early intervention is an education service for children between the ages of 0 to 3. It  begins with an assessment by a team of professionals that assesses a child’s speech, language, cognitive, and physical development to standards for each age. If significant delays are found, home therapy and/or special education services are arranged.

Can Early Intervention help my child?

EI (Early Intervention) service at or near the moments a child is learning to walk, talk, and develop social skills has  been shown to have a huge positive effect. In some cases, EI services  can significantly minimize or even eliminate the need for professional services once a child reaches school.

Some examples of services provide by EI include:

  • Speech Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)
  • Developmental Intervention
  • Feeding therapy

Who does EI benefit?

Early Intervention services help any child who exhibits a delay to speech, language, cognitive, or motoric development. Some examples of what diagnosis qualify for EI include children with: Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and pediatric speech language delay.

Speech Thoughts

They’re Conversing With Us Now

While we wait and sometimes pray for that “first word”, we may tend to miss out on the developmental sequence that’s really going on – the acquisition of sounds and first conversation.

Short of words a young one can communicate through eye contact, a smile, laugh or even a single sound. A child makes a sound, a parent responds in kind and the next thing you know there’s a conversation of sorts. What do such early exchanges of sounds, laughs, smiles and eye contact mean? They serve as the proving ground for a child’s eventual language development.  It’s the place where sounds are discovered, eye contact is made, a laugh is heard and first conversations come to be.

Who would have thunk, that well before the advent of words, such meaningful conversations can occur. It only goes to show the true wonder of all the individual pieces that makeup and precede the existence of human speech. You don’t have to wait for the words to appear, they’re  conversing with us now so don’t hesitate to join in.

Speech Thoughts

Speech Development Rules of Thumb

Follow your child’s lead

If they’re playing with the “b” sound, then surround them with words words that contain “b”. ie- ball, bye, bed, bath. If they show interest in a particular show or book, point out the words that start with “B”.

They can only do what they can do

First word production is an awesome event. Many things cognitive, neurologic, and motoric have to happen for a word or even a sound to occur. It’s important to realize and be accepting the timing may just not be right.

Think in terms a your child’s world

Children at a young age have defined interests. Pay close attention to their world and interests. Do they like cars, animals, books, outdoor activities? Look for and point out the words which may be associated with such activities.

The important thing is the attempt

Remember you’re expecting your child to do something they’ve never done before. It may not be perfect and rarely is, the important thing is to try.

Think small

Often we expect so much from our little ones, but the reality is progress usually occurs in small increments. Break down speech tasks into it’s small manageable steps. With each success your child will become more and more interested.

Make learning fun

The beauty of being a child is that everything is new and that your in a constant mode of discovering. It’s a really an exciting time. Fill the moments with fun and laughter and don’t be surprised if in doing so you re-discover your inner child.

Speech Thoughts

Is Speech Therapy covered by Insurance?

The answer is … Yes – depending upon your plan speech therapy services are  covered by insurance. Examples funding sources include:

  • Private Insurance (depending on your plan)
  • Medicaid
  • Medicare
  • Local school district
  • Early Intervention Services