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Lumiere Children’s Therapy: Asking and Answering Questions

“Hi, how are you doing?”

“I’m doing well, just got back from vacation”

“Where did you go?”

“Florida”

“Nice. Who did you go with?”

“My daughter”

“How did you get there”

“We drove.”


The above dialogue is an example of a typical conversation between two people discussing a recent vacation. The person asking the questions is showing interest and gaining more information by asking informative questions. The person answering questions is providing additional information about their trip by adequately answering the questions. Asking and answering questions appropriately is an important skill in order to participate in social conversation with others and build relationships.  It also aids in comprehension of spoken and/or written language by learning information through the form of questions and demonstrating understanding by answering comprehension questions.



What is Involved in Asking and Answering Questions?

Steps to adequately answer questions include:

  1. Hearing the question correctly

  2. Thinking about the meaning by deciphering the difference between who, what, where, when, why, and how

  3. Understanding the meaning or context

  4. Forming a suitable answer

  5. Articulate the answer in a grammatically correct sentence


Steps to adequately asking questions include:

  1. Determining the information you would like to receive

  2. Formulating a cohesive, grammatically correct question in your head

  3. Articulating the question to another person using adequate social skills

There is a hierarchy for answering and asking questions during development. “What” questions are the easiest to learn, use, and answer in language development. “Where” questions are next, followed by “who” questions. Lastly, the hardest questions to answer are “when” and “why”. When teaching children how to answer questions, start with “What” and “where” questions until fully mastered.


Milestones for Asking and Answering Questions

1-2 years old:

Answering:

  • Answers simple “what” questions like “what’s that?” while pointing at common objects

  • Answers simple “where” questions by pointing to objects or pictures in a book, such as “where are your shoes?”

  • Responds to yes/no questions with a nod or word

Asking:

  • Starts to add rising intonation to the end of phrases to indicate questions. For instance, “cookie?” may stand for, “Can I have a cookie?”

  • May start to ask “what’s that?” to unknown objects



2-3 years old:


Answering

  • Point to objects when described in questions such as “where do you sleep?” or “What do you wear on your feet?”

  • Answers simple wh-questions (what, where, who) logically

  • Follows directions when asked “Can you..” such as, “Can you give me the brush?”

Asking

  • Asks basic “where”, “what”, and “what are you doing”.. questions independently, “Where daddy?”



3-4 years old:

Answering

  • Appropriately answers more complex /wh/ questions such as “who”, “what”, “where”, “when”, and “how”

  • Answers questions about objects function such as “what do we do with a towel?”

  • Answers hypothetical questions. For instance, “If your sick, where do you go?”

Asking

  • Uses correct syntax while phrasing questions such as “where is sister going?” instead of “sister going where?”

  • Starts to ask “why” questions about everyday life

  • Asks the following types of questions using correct grammar:

    • Early infinitive “Do you want to go to the zoo?”

    • Future “Are we going to school?”

    • Modal can/may “Can I use the bathroom?”



4 years old:

Answering

  • At this age, children should appropriately answer all wh-questions including “when” questions. For instance, “when do you brush your teeth?”

Asking

  • Asks questions using age-appropriate structure including “ Can I…”, “Do you want to…”, and “Are we going…”


Activities to Try at Home:

  • For 1-2 year olds, asking questions should remain at the basic level. Line up favorite toys or household items and ask the child to name each by asking “What’s that?” Play with animal figurines and ask your children, “What sound does a pig make?” and so on. Books are great to use so that children can point to the answers for “What’s that” questions. First 100 Words by Roger Priddy is a favorite book of speech therapists.

  • In order to work on yes/no questions, ask preferential questions in that format. For instance, “Do you want yogurt? Yes or no?”. Nod your head accordingly while saying yes versus no so that your child fully understands.

  • Car rides provide ample time to address “wh” questions revolving daily activities. If headed to the grocery store, questions may include “Where do we go to buy food?”, “What should we buy for breakfast”, or “Where do they keep the milk?”. After school, ask more specific questions about the day, “What did you eat for lunch?”, “Who did you sit next to in class?”, or “Where did you play during recess?”.

  • Make a wh- poster board. Split the poster into thirds (what, where, who) or fourths (what, where, who, when) depending on your child’s age. Look through old magazines and cut out pictures to glue into the corresponding spots. “What” pictures may include clothing, food, or toys. “Where” pictures would include indoor or outdoor places. “Who” pictures would be people. “When” pictures can feature seasons, holidays, or time of day.

  • Create your own story books. First, decide what the story is going to be about (vacation, dance class, school, shopping, getting a pet, etc). Next, ask your child questions about the story in order to write a plot, such as “Who is the story about”, “Where are they going?”, “What are they doing there?”, “When does it take place?”, and “How does it end”. Have your child draw a picture on each page to go along with the text.

  • For older children, games can be used to encourage asking questions. The following games encourage the development of asking and answering questions.

Reading Comprehension Milestones

As children enter school-age, asking and answering question skills are applied to reading comprehension. Children begin to understand what they are reading through determining the elements of a story (character, setting, plot, main idea, rising action, and resolution). Below outlines a typical development of reading comprehension skills, and strategies to aid in development to try at home.

Kindergarten (5 years old)

  • Kindergarteners can start to retell details of a story read out loud by stating the who, what, when, where, and why of the plot

  • Children can retell the main idea of simple stories

  • Children can arrange story events in sequential order

  • They are able to answer simple “what” questions about the story read to them

First and Second Grade (6-7 years old)

  • Children are able to read simple, familiar stories themselves

  • Answer questions about a story that requires them to think about what they have read

  • Demonstrate understanding of a story through drawings

  • Children can create their own stories by organizing thoughts in a logical sequence of beginning, middle, and end

Second and Third Grade (7-8 year old)

  • Children are able to read longer books independently

  • Able to identify unfamiliar words through context and pictures

  • Apply reading skills to writing skills by forming complete paragraphs


Fourth through Eighth Grade (9-13)

  • Able to read and explore variety of texts including narratives, poetry, fiction, and biographies

  • Identify the elements of the story such as time, setting, characters, plot, problem and resolution

  • Analyze texts for meanings, use inferencing skills, and make predictions.

Strategy for Home

Make reading a part of your daily routine, whether it is a book in the morning, after school, or before bed. Stop periodically throughout the book to check for comprehension by asking “What is happening?”, “Who is this about?”, and “What do you think will happen next?”. For younger children, fold paper into three creases and have the child draw three pictures to represent the story.

If your child demonstrates difficulty answering or asking questions or seems behind on the language development milestones, Lumiere Children’s Therapy can provide the appropriate intervention to improve language skills.

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References:

“Asking and Answering Questions.” Speech And Language Kids, www.speechandlanguagekids.com/questions-resource-page/.

Lanza, Janet R, and Lynn K Flashive. “Question Answering and Asking Milestones.” Parent Resources Blog, LinguiSystems, Inc., 2008, parentresourcesblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/questions-development.pdf.

Morin, Amanda. “Reading Skills: What to Expect at Different Ages.” Understood.org, \www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/signs-symptoms/age-by-age-learning-skills/reading-skills-what-to-expect-at-different-ages.

“Reading Milestones (for Parents).” Edited by Cynthia M. Zettler-Greeley, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation, June 2018, kidshealth.org/en/parents/milestones.html.

Spivey, Becky L. “How to Help Your Child Understand and Produce ‘WH’ Questions.” Super Duper Handy Handouts, 2006 Super Duper Publications, 2006, www.superduperinc.com/handouts/pdf/110_wh_questions.pdf.

“Teaching Your Toddler to Answer Questions - Receptive and Expressive Language Delay Issues.” Teachmetotalk.com, 13 Sept. 2017, teachmetotalk.com/2008/02/26/techniques-to-work-on-answering-questions-with-language-delayed-toddlers/.

“Why Is Asking and Answering Questions Important?” ABC Pediatric Therapy, 11 Mar. 2018, www.abcpediatrictherapy.com/why-is-asking-and-answering-questions-important/.


Lumiere Children’s Therapy: Swallowing Difficulties in Children

Swallowing is a complicated process that is both voluntary and involuntary. Many people take swallowing for granted since it becomes second nature to most. Observe the complexity of a swallow by paying close attention to the many stages involved when taking a bite of food or sip of water. For some children, eating and swallowing can cause numerous difficulties leading to poor growth, failure to gain weight and inadequate nutrition. The medical term for swallow difficulty is called Dysphagia.

There are three types of Dysphagia: oral, oropharyngeal and esophageal. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on oral and oropharyngeal dysphagia as speech therapists can diagnose and treat these types.

Stages of a Swallow

There are four stages to an efficient swallow: oral preparation, oral stage, pharyngeal, and esophageal. Dysphagia can occur in one or more of the four phases of a swallow, possibly leading to food or liquid entering the airway causing aspiration.

  • Oral Preparation: In this stage, the teeth chew the food as saliva adds moisture in order to create a cohesive ball or bolus.

    • Signs/symptoms of difficulty in this stage:

      • Child has trouble chewing a variety of textured food that should be age-appropriate

      • Liquid or food spills out of the mouth while eating

      • Excessive amounts of drooling during meals or between meals

      • Takes over 30 minutes to finish a meal

      • Over-stuffing their mouth with food or only allowing small amounts of food into mouth

  • Oral Stage: In this stage, the person voluntarily pushes the food to the back of the mouth by the tongue in preparation to swallow food.

    • Signs/symptoms of difficulty in this stage:

      • Child holds food in the mouth for a long time before swallowing

      • Requires multiple swallows on one piece of food

      • Some food remains in mouth after swallowing

  • Pharyngeal Stage: The food passes through the throat into the esophagus. During this stage, the windpipe or airway is protected by a flap called the epiglottis so food does not enter the lungs.

    • Signs/symptoms of difficulty in this stage:

      • Breathing difficulty during meals as noticed by skin color change, changes in heart rate, or increased breathing

      • Coughing and choking during or after meals

      • Spitting up, vomiting or gagging during meals

      • After or during meals, the child talks with a raspy or wet sounding voice

      • Frequent congestion in chest after meals

  • Esophageal stage: Food travels from the esophagus into the stomach during this stage.

    • Signs/symptoms of difficulty:

      • Frequent constipation

      • Complaints of stomach pain

      • Sensation of food coming back up the pipe

      • Excess vomiting after meals


Signs and symptoms of swallowing problems may be difficult to notice if a child does not express complaints.  Other signs to watch for during meals may include the following:

  • Crying during mealtimes because the child does not want to eat

  • Refusal of food and/or certain textures

  • Distracting behaviors such as excess talking, frequently getting up, or negative behaviors

  • Long meal times due to slow eating or refusal of meals

  • Facial grimacing during mealtime for older children and arching of the back for infants

  • For infants, decreased responsiveness such as blank stares during feedings

  • Food or liquid coming out of nose during or after feedings

Aversions

There are two other types of feeding/swallowing disorders related to the oral preparatory stage: oral and sensory aversion.

Oral aversion is usually a self-defense mechanism that kids use to avoid foods that they know they cannot process due to lack of skills. Chewing and swallowing can be a very complicated process requiring adequate jaw strength, tongue elevation and lateralization and rhythmic chewing and coordination. For children that lack strength and/or coordination in one of these areas, swallowing can be complicated and even dangerous. To assess if your child may have oral motor difficulties, take a bite of a food, such as a cookie, and count the amount of chews it takes you before swallowing. Observe your child eating the same type of cookie and count the amount of chews it takes him or her, while observing the jaw movements. Adequate jaw movements should be a circular/diagonal motion, not simply up and down as in a munching pattern.

Sensory aversion is usually a symptom of a  sensory-processing disorder. Sensory aversions may appear as hypo-sensitivity (lack of sensory awareness) or hyper-sensitivity (excessive sensory awareness). If the child is hyposensitive, the child lacks awareness of the food impacting his/her ability to manipulate the food before swallowing. Symptoms may appear as over-stuffing the mouth, leftover food in the mouth and excess drooling. If the child is hypersensitive, symptoms may include vomiting, gagging, spitting up food or refusing behaviors at dinner.

Consequences of a swallowing disorder

Difficulty with swallowing may cause an array of complications if not properly treated. These complications may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Malnutrition: Malnutrition is when the body is not receiving enough nutrients and vitamins through the consumption of food needed to keep tissues and organs working properly. Malnutrition may occur due to undernourishment or overnourishment. Undernutrition is when the child is not receiving essential nutrients due to lack of food consumption. Overnutrition occurs when the child consumes an abundance of food but lacks the necessary vitamins in those foods. Overnutrition may also involve lack of exercise, excessive eating, and/or taking too many vitamin supplements.


    • Signs of malnutrition:

      • Pale and dry skin complexion

      • Easily bruises

      • Thin hair or hair loss

      • Gums that bleed easily

      • Swollen or cracked tongue

      • Sensitivity to light

      • Rashes or changes in skin pigmentation

    • Treatment for malnutrition: Pediatricians will recommend speech therapy as well as working closely with a dietician to increase oral intake of nutritious food.  If malnutrition continues, treatment may involve inserting a thin tube through the nose that carefully enters the stomach or small intestine. If long-term tube feeding is recommended, a tube may be placed directly into the stomach or small intestine through an incision in the abdomen.

  • Dehydration: Dehydration is when children lose an excessive amount of water and salts without replacing the fluids through diet.

    • Signs of dehydration:

      • Limited tears when crying

      • Decreased need to go to the bathroom

      • Irritability

      • Eyes that have a sunken look

      • Dry or sticky mouth

      • Dizziness or lethargic tendencies

    • Treatment for dehydration: Treatment varies based on the severity of dehydration. For mild cases, children will be advised to drink plenty of fluids (preferably water) and rest in a cool room. For more severe cases, children may be required to drink oral rehydration solution (ORS) which is a combination of sugar and salts that rehydrate the body. If a child refuses liquids, alternative feedings such as tube feeding may be required.

  • Aspiration pneumonia: When food, saliva or stomach acid enters your lungs, it is called pulmonary aspiration. Healthy lungs are able to clear foreign bacteria, but if the lungs are unable to clear the food or liquid, pneumonia may occur.

    • Symptoms of aspiration pneumonia:

      • Shortness of breath

      • Bad breath

      • Excessive coughing, and sometimes coughing up blood or phlegm

      • Chest pain or wheezing

      • Excessive sweating

      • Fever

    • Treatment of aspiration pneumonia: Treatment usually involves antibiotics and supportive care for breathing such as oxygen, steroids or breathing machine.

  • Ongoing need for a feeding tube. As mentioned before, a feeding tube may be deemed necessary if your child is unable to consume enough nutrition through the mouth. There are four types of feeding tubes: nasogastric tubes, nasoduodenal tubes, nasojejunal tubes and gastric or gastrostomy tubes. (Our next blog will focus on the types of feeding tubes and provide more information.)

  • Inadequate weight gain: Attending regular pediatrician check-ups can ensure your child is growing at a healthy rate.

Treatment for Swallowing Disorders

Treatment depends on the child’s age, health conditions, physical and cognitive abilities, and most importantly, specific feeding and swallowing concerns. Feeding therapy is a a team approach consisting of the child, speech therapist, dietician, occupational therapist, pediatrician and family members. The main goals of therapy are to support adequate nutrition and hydration, minimize complication risk and maximize the child and family’s quality of life.

If you feel your child may have difficulty with any stage of the swallow process, express concerns with your pediatrician immediately. Lumiere Children’s Therapy can provide feeding therapy to help your child reach their highest potential for adequate nutrition and quality of life. Contact us here.



References:

Children's Hospital. “Dysphagia.” Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 24 Aug. 2014, www.chop.edu/conditions-diseases/dysphagia.

“Dehydration.” Edited by Patricia Solo-Josephson, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation, June 2017, kidshealth.org/en/parents/dehydration.html.

“Pediatric Dysphagia: Causes.” Averican Speech-Language-Hearing Association, ASHA, www.asha.org/PRPSpecificTopic.aspx?folderid=8589934965§ion=Causes.

https://www.asha.org/PRPSpecificTopic.aspx?folderid=8589934965&section=Treatment

Lowsky, MS, CCC-SLP, Debra C. “Food Refusal - Is It Oral Motor or Sensory Related?” ARK Therapeutic, 10 Nov. 2014, www.arktherapeutic.com/blog/food-refusal-is-it-oral-motor-or-sensory-related/

“Malnutrition.” Is There Really Any Benefit to Multivitamins?, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/adult/pediatrics/malnutrition_22,Malnutrition.
“Tube Types.” Feeding Tube Awareness Foundation, www.feedingtubeawareness.org/tube-feeding-basics/tubetypes/.



Child Speech Therapy: Expressive Language Skills

Hearing your child’s voice for the first time is an exciting, monumental part of parenthood. As the first babbles turn into words, and eventually sentences, your child’s expressive language is developing. Receptive language is the ability to understand language, as expressive language is the ability to use words, sentences, gestures, and writing to communicate with others.

What is expressive language and why is it important?

Expressive language allows a person to communicate wants, needs, thoughts and opinions. Expressive language is the ability to request objects, make choices, ask questions, answer, and describe events. Speaking, gesturing (waving, pointing), writing (texting, emailing), facial expressions (crying, smiling), and vocalizations (crying, yelling) are all variations of expressive language. Children with poor expressive language skills may become frustrated when they cannot communicate their wants and needs. Temper tantrums may occur when they feel tired, sick or hungry and cannot express their current needs.

How do expressive language skills develop?

Expressive language is developed within the first few days after birth. Babies learn to communicate when they are hungry, uncomfortable or tired through crying and facial expressions. They learn to laugh when they are enjoying an interaction with a parent or caregiver, and smile when they are happy. These are all forms of communication. In order for expressive language skills to develop, a child also needs to have strong receptive language, attention, play, social pragmatics and motivation.

  • Receptive language skills is the comprehension of language which is an underlying skill to label objects, answer questions appropriately, and use language in the intended way.

  • Adequate attention skills is an underlying skill for all developmental tasks. The ability to sustain attention is important in order to finish one’s thought and effectively communicate to others.

  • Play skills encourage children to explore their surroundings. Play can be an intrinsic motivator for young children to communicate by requesting, interacting, and labeling toys.

  • Pragmatic skills is the way language is used day to day in social situations. Adequate pragmatic skills allows a person to participate in conversation appropriately.

Expressive Language Milestones & Activities:

The following, outlines expressive language milestones from birth to 7 years old in three categories: birth, preschool, and school age. Learn about the typical developmental stages as well as activities to try at home.

Birth- 3 years old

  • 0-1 years old:

    • Produces pleasure sounds (cooing and gooing)

    • Makes noises when talked to

    • Protests or rejects through gestures or vocalizations

    • Cries differently for different intentions

    • Attempts to imitate facial expressions and movements of caregivers

    • Laughs during parent interaction

    • Between 7-12 months, child will start to babble sounds together (mama, dada)

    • Uses a representational gesture (such as waves bye-bye, claps hands, moves body)

  • Activities to Try at Home:

    • Talk to your child. When your child is developing language, they learn through role models. Talk to your child about your day, what you are doing, and what they can see. It may feel strange at first to talk to your baby without them responding, but the more you talk, the more they learn.

    • Read. It is never too early to start reading books to your child. Point out familiar pictures in the books. If you are reading about animals, make the animal sounds associated with each animal.  

    • Imitate. Imitate all sounds, gestures, and facial expressions your child makes. Repeat a noise they make, and wait for a response. Encouraging imitation can help your child participate in social turn-taking and start to imitate your words.


1-2 years old

  • First words develop around 12 -14 months (hi, mama, dad)

  • Takes turns vocalizing with another person

  • Uses at least two different consonant sounds (early signs include p, b, t, d, m)

  • Around 18-24 months, child begins putting 2 words together (“more cookie,” “no book,” “all done”)

  • Uses one-to-two word questions such as  “go bye bye?” or “where mommy?”

  • Uses a variety of nouns (e.g. mom, dog) and verbs (e.g. eat, sleep)


2-3 years old

  • Participates in play with another person for 1 minute while using appropriate eye contact

  • Repeats words spoken by others

  • Has a word for almost everything

  • Speaks in two-three word sentences

  • Asks what or where questions (e.g. “what’s that?”)

  • Ask yes and no questions

  • Will add “no” in front of verbs to refuse activities (e.g. “no go”)

  • Imitates turn-taking in games or social routines

Activities to Try at Home:

  • Games. Simple turn-taking games help children learn how to wait and take turns which is a necessary skill in conversations. Fun toddler games include Let’s Go Fishin’, Seek-a-boo, and Hi Ho Cherry-O.

  • Expand sentences. Imitate your child’s speech and add on extra words to make it grammatically correct. For instance, if you child says “more juice”, you can repeat “I want more juice”.


Preschool

  • 3-4 years old

    • Names objects in photographs

    • Uses words for a variety of reasons (requests, labels, repetition, help, answers yes/no, attention)

    • Around 3 years, child combines 3-4 words in speech

    • Answers simple who, what, and where questions

    • Uses about 4 sentences at a time

    • Child’s speech can be understood by most adults

    • Asks how, why, and when questions

  • Activities to Try at Home

    • Yes/no game. Make a game out of yes/no questions by asking your child funny questions such as “Is your name Bob?”, “Can you eat dirt?”, “Do you like ice cream?” Then have your child make up silly questions to try to trick you!

    • Ask questions. While running errands, ask your child questions about the community. For instance, “where do we buy food?”, “who helps you when you are sick?”, or “what do you do if it’s raining?”


  • 4-5 years old

    • When given a description, child can name the described object. For example, “What is round and bounces?”

    • Answers questions logically. For example, “what do you do if you are tired?”

    • Uses possessives (the girl’s, the boy’s)

    • Tells a short story

    • Keeps a conversation going

    • Talks in different ways depending on the place or listener


  • Activities to Try at Home

    • I-spy. Describe common objects around the house by giving descriptive clues such as what it looks like, what you do with it, where you would find it, etc. Have your child guess what you are talking about! Include objects out of sight to encourage your child to determine objects on their own, and then have them go on a scavenger hunt to find it.

    • Make up stories. Build a blanket fort, grab a flashlight, and create fairy tale stories. Toys may be used as prompts to help make up a story. Incorporate each part of a story including setting, characters, beginning, middle, and end.


School age

  • 5-6 years old

    • Child can tell you what object is and what it’s used for

    • Answers questions about hypothetical events. For example, “What do you do if you get lost?”

    • Uses prepositions (in, on, under, next to, in front of) in sentences

    • Uses the possessives pronouns her and his

    • Names categories of objects such as food, transportation, animals, clothing, and furniture

    • Asks grammatically correct questions

    • Completes analogies. For instance, you sleep in a bed, you sit on a chair

    • Uses qualitative concepts short and long


  • Activities to Try at Home

    • Category games. Name 5, Scattergories, and Hedbanz are fun and engaging games to work on naming categories.

    • Simon says. Play a game of simon says using prepositions. For instance, Simon says put the book on the table. Once your child is familiar with the game, have them be Simon and give directions using prepositions.


  • 6-7 years old

    • Child is able to names letters

    • Answers why questions with a reason

    • Able to rhymes words

    • Repeats longer sentences

    • Able to retell a story

    • Describes similarities between two objects

  • Activities at Home

    • Read rhyming books. Dr. Seuss books are great to teach rhyming. Read a page and have your child identify the words that rhyme.

    • Movies. After watching a movie, have your child summarize the plot. Guide your child by breaking it up into beginning, middle, and end.


If you feel your child is developmentally delayed in his or her expressive language skills, contact Lumiere Children’s Therapy for a speech-language evaluation. Our speech therapists can formally assess your child’s expressive language skills, create age-appropriate goals, and develop a therapeutic program unique to your child’s needs.

Resources:

“Baby Talk: Communicating With Your Baby.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/baby-talk#2.

Expressive Language (Using Words and Language). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://childdevelopment.com.au/areas-of-concern/using-speech/expressive-language-using-words-and-language/

“How to Support Your Child's Communication Skills.” ZERO TO THREE, www.zerotothree.org/resources/302-how-to-support-your-child-s-communication-skills.

Mattingly, R. (2018, September 13). Typical Development. Lecture presented in University of Louisville, Louisville.

Zimmerman, Irla Lee., et al. PLS-5 Preschool Language Scales: Fifth Edition. NCS Pearson, 2011.

Child Therapy: School Therapy

The beginning of the school year may seem overwhelming for parents, with navigating bus schedules, after-school activities, and new classroom expectations. To make the beginning of the year a little less hectic, we answered all your questions about the IEP process as well as  taking a look at speech therapy services in the school.

What is an IEP?

An IEP, Individualized Education Program, is a legal document for each child in public school who qualifies for special educational services. The IEP documentation process is a team approach consisting of caregivers, classroom teacher, special education teacher, and specialized therapists (speech therapist, occupational therapist, vision therapist, psychologist, etc). The IEP outlines the appropriate and necessary special educational services available to your child to help them become most successful in the classroom.

 

What is included in an IEP?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law requiring specific information in the IEP, but does not mandate a specific format. Therefore, each IEP may look different depending on the involved professionals and school district. The main purpose of the IEP is to outline the necessary support and services provided to your child inside and outside classroom instruction. It includes the type, amount, and frequency of services. An IEP will include the following information:

 

  • Current performance level. The IEP will outline your child’s strengths and weaknesses academically, socially and behaviorally. If appropriate, it will include an analysis on language and speech development, sensory needs, fine motor development and gross motor development. Standardized assessments will be explained with scores and severity level. Each member of the IEP team will communicate specific information about their area of expertise such as progression with current goals, strengths and weaknesses, and type of support provided.

 

  • Measurable goals. The second piece of information included in an IEP is the goals. Goals are created based on your child’s current needs. Goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Progress on goals should be observed and documented throughout the year by the attending professional. During annual IEP meetings, goals will be modified, upgraded, and downgraded based on your child’s progress.

 

  • Appropriate services. The final piece of information included in an IEP is the action plan, such as recommended services, start date, location (in classroom or out of classroom), and professionals involved. Services may include extended testing time, reading intervention, speech therapy 1x/week, qualification for a communication device, and so on. The type, frequency, and implementation of services will be specific to your child’s needs.

 

What should you expect in an IEP meeting?

 

IEP meetings occur annually to discuss progress, concerns, and make necessary updates. If necessary, IEP meetings can occur more than once a year to discuss changes or modifications to the current plan. Prior to the annual meeting, team members will re-evaluate skills through standardized and/or non-standardized assessments, observe behaviors and participation in the classroom and analyze data collected on goals.

The new IEP is written with updated goals and services. The annual IEP meeting will be scheduled in advance to ensure each member of the team is present. During the meeting, each team professional will communicate progress and modifications of current goals and services. After each member of the team has discussed their area of specialty, caregivers will be able to discuss current concerns observed at home. In preparation of the meeting, write down noticeable areas of improvement and weaknesses to discuss during the meeting.

The meeting may seem overwhelming with excess amounts of educational jargon, so being prepared with specific questions or concerns will ensure you have all your questions answered. If you feel rushed during the initial or annual meeting, feel free to ask for a copy of the IEP to review at home before signing off on the current plan. Once you are comfortable with the current plan for services, your signature will allow for the IEP to become effective.

 

Speech Therapy in School

 

In order to determine eligibility for speech therapy services through the school, the speech therapist must obey the federal regulations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  Eligibility is determined through a multi-step process including observation, teacher reports, screening, standardized assessments, work samples, and parent reports.

The speech-language pathologist will determine if there is a language or speech disorder. In order for the child to receive services in school, the disability must be adversely affecting educational performance. The following can be used to determine adverse academic impact: teacher’s reports, work samples, grade and therapist’s observations in the classroom. Due to caseload capacities, mild speech and language disorders may not qualify for services in the school. If you are concerned with your child’s speech and language development but your child does not qualify for services in the school, you may obtain services through a private practice.

If your child qualifies for speech therapy services, it is important to establish a good rapport with the speech-language pathologist. Parent involvement is crucial for carryover of skills into the home environment. Below are questions to ask your speech therapist in the beginning of each school year.

 

5 Questions to ask your speech therapist:

 

1. What will be the type of service?

 

There are two types of service methods: push-in or pull-out. Push-in is providing speech services in the classroom. The speech therapist collaborates with the teachers and classroom staff. This method allows the speech therapist to target social interactions within the classroom setting. Therapy in the classroom is most beneficial for children demonstrating difficulty with participation in the classroom. It is a great way to work on social skills, reading comprehension, or other language goals that may be impacting one’s academic success. Benefits include peer models, not missing instructional time, collaboration between classroom staff, and addressing specific academic concerns. Disadvantages include classroom distraction and limited one-on-one instruction.

Pull-out method performs speech therapy in the designated speech room. Services may be conducted in a group or individual setting. Pull-out method is recommended for children with articulation goals or specific language concerns. Advantages of pull-out allows specific instruction and intervention in a small group setting. The lesson can be child-specific and independent from the classroom curriculum of that day. The disadvantages of pull-out is that the child is taken away from peer models and may be pulled out during classroom instruction.

 

2. What will be the group size?

 

Group size varies depending on grade, speech goals and time of day. Most school groups fluctuate between three to five students in a group.

 

3. How will be the groups be divided?

 

Groups can be divided in a variety of ways: grade level, type of speech therapy (articulation, language, social), or ability level. Knowing how the group is divided is important to make sure your child is receiving the adequate amount of personalized instruction.

 

4. What will the weekly schedule be?

 

Each school speech therapist creates their weekly schedule differently. It is important to know how often and the amount of time your child will be receiving services. Will it be once a week for 20-30 minutes or three times a week for 15 minute increments.

 

5. What are the goals of therapy?

 

This is the most important question to ask your speech therapist. The speech therapist will have long term goals for the length of the IEP, as well as short term goals she/he will be targeting during sessions. Ask the therapist what goals to work on at home to facilitate carryover into the home environment.

 

For more information on speech therapy services outside school, contact Lumiere Children’s Therapy at 312.242.1665 or www.lumierechild.com.

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Resources:

School Services Frequently Asked Questions. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.asha.org/slp/schools/school-services-Frequently-Asked-questions/#ed2

School-Based Service Delivery in Speech-Language Pathology. (n.d.). Retrieved August 14, 2018, from https://www.asha.org/SLP/schools/School-Based-Service-Delivery-in-Speech-Language-Pathology/

Baumel, J. (n.d.). What is an IEP? Retrieved August 14, 2018, from https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/what-is-an-iep/

 

 

Parent Resources: Transitioning to Kindergarten

As the 2018-2019 school year approaches, backpacks fill with new school supplies, desks receive new nametags, and excitement fills the air. Although starting a new school year is nerve-racking for most children, beginning elementary school for the first time brings on a new level of excitement...and fear. Starting kindergarten is an adjustment for both parents and kids, so we want to help you begin the school year with ease by learning about prerequisite skills for kindergarten and how to prepare for the first day of school!

Skills Needed For Kindergarten

           Kindergarten is an opportunity for your child to develop social skills, self-care, and academic skills independently. Kindergarten allows children to explore new opportunities without relying on the constant assistance from caregivers. With that being said, the independence that kindergarten permits may be initially challenging for children. The following is a suggested guideline of prerequisite skills and activities to prepare your child for success before entering kindergarten. This list is only a guideline as kindergarten curriculums and expectations vary.

 

1. Identify some letters of the alphabet.

 

  • Start with the letters in your child’s name for motivation. For instance, if your daughter’s name is Kelly, you can point out the letter “K” in books, magazines, and advertisements.

  • Refrigerator letters are versatile toys that can be used in a variety of ways for letter recognition. Play I-spy while cooking and eating, such as ‘I spy the letter “A”’ and have your child point out the letter. Play hide-and-seek by hiding a letter and asking your child to find the letter “B” in the kitchen. Point to the letters as a point of reference while getting food out of the fridge. For instance, “I am getting broccoli; broccoli starts with the letter B”.

  • The following are enjoyable games that incorporate letter recognition; alphabet matching game, alphabet puzzle, and alphabet go-fish.

 

2. Grip a pencil, crayon, or marker with the thumb and forefinger, supporting the tip.

 

  • Improve hand muscles by rolling and forming shapes with Play-Doh.

  • Use a variety of writing instruments and coloring books to entice creativity. Crayons, markers, chalk, paint dot markers, and magnetic drawing board are all great options!

 

 3. Use art materials (scissors, glue, paint) with relative ease.

 

  

4. Write first name.

 

After learning the first two prerequisites, the next skill to practice is writing one’s name.  Make it fun by writing in shaving cream or using bath crayons during bath time!

 

 5. Count to 10.

 

6. Able to self-dress.

 

  • Although dressing your children in the morning saves time and energy, it restricts them from learning opportunities to self-dress. Aim to leave a few extra minutes each morning to let your children practice getting dressed for the day.
  • Read more about activities for tying shoes and zippering.

 

7.  Clean up toys or activities independently.

 

In kindergarten, children are expected to clean up toys, art supplies, school materials, and other activities independently. Give the expectation to clean up toys once finished playing at home to encourage this skill. Once your child loses interest in a toy, sing the clean up song together while putting each item in its respected place.

 

  8. Listen to a story without interrupting.

 

Sustaining adequate attention during stories is challenging for children. When reading a book, set a certain number of book pages or set a timer as a visual reminder for the amount of listening time. Continue to increase listening time until your child is able to listen to a full story or children’s book.

 

   9. Follow 1-2 step directions.

 

  •  Following 1-2 step directions is required for most activities during the school day.  Make following directions fun by playing Simon says with the whole family!

  • Independently use bathroom.

  • For most kindergarten programs, potty training is required. Read our previous posts on potty training tips and potty training with speech problems.

           If your child has not mastered the following skills, do not fret. The skills will continue to develop and form throughout kindergarten. Allow opportunities for your child to become more self-efficient and demonstrate their independence.

 

The First Day of Kindergarten

           Being prepared for the first day of school can help smooth the new transition. Most kindergarten programs provide an open house night leading up to the school year, allowing students to meet the teacher, explore the classroom, and greet fellow classmates. Attending the open house is highly encouraged for families, so your child can become more familiar with their new environment prior to the first day.

           Establishing a structured sleep and meal schedule prior to the first day will help your child adjust accordingly. Set a strict bedtime and morning routine so your child is well rested the first week. Regulate mealtimes at home so that lunch is scheduled at the same time every day.

           Plan a “kindergarten practice day” at home. Take an hour out of the day to walk through possible activities your child may experience. Some examples include wearing a backpack, standing in line, listening to stories, participating in a craft, and singing a song. Your child would probably love to role-play a typical day of school, and feel more comfortable knowing expected activities.

           Finally, build excitement for the first day of school. Starting kindergarten should be exhilarating for children. Involve your child in the purchasing of school supplies, packing lunch, and picking out their first day outfit. On the day of, allow extra time to spend the morning together by eating breakfast and taking some first day photographs.

 

Expectations of the First Day

 

           It is easy to imagine the first day of school to be picture perfect as a parent or caregiver. Although kindergarten is a big milestone in your child’s life, avoid setting high expectations for the first day. Children may also experience negative feelings after the first few days.

 

1.     They may cry. It is not because your child doesn’t want to go to school or is not ready; it just means they are scared of the unknown. With peer models and the support of the teacher, your child will adjust and learn how fun school can be!

 

2.     They will be tired. Adjusting to a full school schedule is hard for children. The first few weeks will be a transition. Expect your child to be tired and sometimes cranky, at home.

 

3.     They may not want to go back. Kindergarten places responsibilities and expectations on children. Following classroom rules and listening to the teacher can seem intimidating to them. As they become more comfortable with the routine of the classroom, they will begin to enjoy attending school on a daily basis.

 

Happy first day of school!📚😄

 

LUMIERE THERAPY TEAM🖐️

 

 

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Resources:

Herzog, Danielle. “What to Expect When Your Child Goes to Kindergarten.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 7 Aug. 2015, www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2015/08/07/what-to-expect-when-your-child-goes-to-kindergarten/?noredirect=on.

“Kindergarten Readiness: What Skills Your Child Should Have.” Scholastic Publishes Literacy Resources and Children's Books for Kids of All Ages, www.scholastic.com/parents/school-success/school-life/grade-by-grade/preparing-kindergarten.html.

 

Child Physical Therapy: Treatment for Toe Walking

As children learn to navigate walking, they may initially learn to walk on their toes while cruising along furniture. Toe walking is developmentally appropriate until the age of three. If your child persistently walks on their toes in the absence of any underlying neuromuscular or orthopedic condition, it is considered idiopathic toe walking. 

Kristal Kraft

Kristal Kraft

Idiopathic toe walking is defined as habitual toe walking with no known cause. Idiopathic toe walking may lead to tightened calf muscles, decreased range of motion of ankles, and eventually, shortened Achilles tendon. 

 

What is the treatment for toe walking?

            Treatment options vary on the degree and duration of toe walking. It also depends on the flexibility of the Achilles tendon. As with any habit, the longer it persists, the harder it is to break. In extreme instances, surgery to lengthen the Achilles tendon may be most appropriate. For most cases, ankle foot orthosis (AFO) and/or physical therapy are recommended. AFOs are removable braces worn during day and night to help maintain the foot at 90-degree angle. 

Physical therapy creates a program designed for your child’s needs by incorporating a combination of stretches and strengthening. In order to increase the effectiveness of physical therapy, daily home exercises are crucial. Below are a list of at-home stretches and activities you can incorporate into your weekly routine. 

 

At-home Stretches: 

·     Manual calf stretch: This stretch requires help from an adult. Your child will sit on the floor with his/her knees straight. The adult will cuff the child’s heel with their hand as the foot rests on the adult’s forearm. Slowly apply pressure on the child’s foot so their foot points up and towards the child’s body. Hold for 30 seconds on each side. 

·     Wall stretch:  The child is standing for this stretch. They should place their hands on a wall and point both feet at the wall one behind the other. Lean into the wall as the front leg is bent and the back leg is straight. Hold both feet on the ground flat for 30 seconds.  

 

Activities to strengthen muscles: 

·     Sit to stand: While your child sits on a chair or bench, place your hands below their knees with moderate pressure downward to provide tactile cues to keep heels on the floor. With the steady pressure, your child will stand up with heels remaining on the ground. Complete 5 repetitions. 

·     Basketball stretch: Encourage your child to sit on a small ball such as basketball while keeping both heels on the ground. Practice squatting by standing and sitting back down on the ball while keep heels down. 

·     Bear walks: Animal walking is great for stretching and strengthening leg muscles. For a bear walk, place hands and feet on the floor while hips aim towards the air. As one foot moves towards the hands, the other leg stays back while actively pushing the heel to ground. 

·     Penguin walk: Pretend to walk like a penguin by keeping the toes in the air and walking only on the heels! 

·     Crab walk: Start in the bridge position and propel forward by using hands and feet. Keep feet flat on the floor! 

·     Bozo Buckets: Line up three buckets in a row to play bozo buckets. Instead of throwing the beanbags into the buckets, place the beanbag on top of the feet and fling the bean bag by kicking. 

·     Scooter races: Race a friend or sibling on the driveway! Sit on the scooter with feet in front and use the heels to propel forward. 

·     Slide: With parent supervision, have your child climb up the slide. Climbing up a playground slide targets range of motion, strength and weight bearing. 

 

LUMIERE THERAPY TEAM🖐️

 

 

References:
Beazley, Elizabeth, et al. “Activities for Children Who Walk on Their Toes.” University of Rochester Medical Center, www.urmc.rochester.edu/MediaLibraries/URMCMedia/childrens-hospital/developmental-disabilities/ndbp-site/documents/toe-walking-guide.pdf.
SickKids hospital staff. “Toe Walking, Idiopathic .” AboutKidsHealth, 11 Apr. 2011, www.aboutkidshealth.ca/Article?contentid=946.
“Toe Walking in Children.” DINOSAUR PHYSICAL THERAPY, 5 May 2018, blog.dinopt.com/toe-walking/.
“Toe Walking in Children.” Mid-Maryland Musculoskeletal Institute, 8 Oct. 2015, mmidocs.com/media/blog/2015/10/idiopathic-toe-walking/46.
http://blog.dinopt.com/toe-walking/