Common Medical Conditions that Can Affect Swallowing in Children

While there are countless medical conditions that can contribute to difficulties with swallowing in children, some tend to be more common than others.

Cleft lip or cleft palate, Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy and even enlarged tonsils are among the most typical conditions that affect swallowing in babies and children. A child who has undergone a tracheotomy or who has had a feeding tube inserted might also experience challenges in this area.

Problems with swallowing can start in infancy and progress into the school years. Of course, every child is unique and the difficulties they experience may range from challenges with sucking and swallowing in infants, to avoidance of certain food textures in toddlers, to weakness in the muscles that aid chewing in the mouth, initiate the swallow, and move food down the pharynx to the esophagus in older children.

If you suspect your child might have a swallowing disorder speak to your family doctor about your concerns. You could be referred to a Speech-Language Pathologist for help in overcoming the difficulty.

After consulting with your child’s physician, a qualified Speech-Language Pathologist will devise an intervention plan. Following an individual assessment, the clinician may modify the child’s diet to enable them to better manage and swallow foods, gradually increasing consistency and textures that require increased strength and manipulation of the food. They can teach a child who is having difficulties in chewing and bolus transit how to strengthen the muscles needed for effective swallowing and/or modify the food consistency.

At S.L. Hunter SpeechWorks, there is a team of highly trained Speech-Language Pathologists providing a positive environment where children and adults feel supported, encouraged and safe. Anyone with concerns regarding a possible swallowing or feeding disorder is welcome to contact the clinic to arrange for an assessment.

The offices of S.L. Hunter SpeechWorks are located at 5195 Harvester Rd. Unit 4B. They can be reached by telephone at 905-637-5522 or online at www.slhunter.ca.

The Potential Impact of Untreated Cognitive Communication Disorders in Children

The term “cognitive communication disorder” may sound intimidating, but it denotes a broad range of problems resulting from an acquired brain injury, which may impact the ability to recall, develop and organize thoughts to be an effective communicator.

While cognitive communication disorders are frequently seen in adults as the result of stroke or accident, for example, they also exist in children. Even very young children can experience an impairment as the result of an accident or injury to their brain, although the difficulties in communication may not be recognized until the child is school age or older.

Problems in listening, speaking, reading, writing and social interaction can result from a reduced ability to pay attention, memory loss, and/or limited problem solving, planning or information processing capabilities.

The impact can be far-reaching. Children who react impulsively often find themselves in unsafe situations without necessarily realizing it. . Those who struggle to manage their emotions may experience frequent emotional outbursts and suffer socially. Academic learning can be affected when the ability to plan and organize information or carry out tasks suffers.

If you suspect a cognitive communication disorder in your child, a Speech-Language Pathologist can assess your child’s challenges and work with them – and with you – to develop and implement strategies for overcoming the problems.

S.L. Hunter SpeechWorks provides a complete range of assessment and treatment services for children in their development of speech, language and communication. Any parent that has concerns in these areas is welcome to contact the clinic to set up an appointment.

The offices of S.L. Hunter SpeechWorks are located at 5195 Harvester Rd. Unit 4B. To make an appointment, call 905-637-5522 or visit them online at www.slhunter.ca

 

My Child’s First Appointment – What to Expect

Before taking your child to their first appointment with a Speech-Language Pathologist it’s a good idea to take the time to prepare them for this new experience, letting them know where they will be going, when and why. Be positive and honest with your child, addressing any questions or concerns they might have.

The Speech-Language Pathologist will likely have gathered as much case history information about your child and the nature of their particular challenges as possible, in order to tailor the first session to the specific needs of your youngster. Feel free to call ahead prior to the first session if you have any outstanding questions.

Younger children might be invited to bring along a special toy or other item (e.g., favourite book or blanket) to the first appointment to help ease them into the session and in meeting the new clinician. It also provides a conversational item to allow the clinician to hear the child’s language skills during spontaneous interactions.

As your child’s parent and/or guardian, you will be asked to sign a Health Consent Form- upon arrival at the office of S.L. Hunter & Associates, granting consent for treatment, providing cancellation policies, the clinic rates for service and privacy policy information.

In most instances, parents are encouraged to stay for the appointment. Once in the clinician’s office, young children may engage in diagnostic play, while older children will engage in conversation to build rapport and comfort level with the clinician. The assessment process, may be conducted either formally – through standardized testing or informally through observation, diagnostic play, rating forms and/or check lists.

Once the assessment is complete, recommendations are made as to the need for any further assessment, treatment goals may be established and/or additional sessions will be scheduled if required. Generally home practice activities are assigned for completion in the home to start the process of practicing skills learned during the session, in other environments. S.L. Hunter & Associates provides a complete range of assessment and treatment services for children in their development of speech, language and communication. Any parent that has concerns in these areas is welcome to contact the clinic to set up an appointment or speak with a Speech Language Pathologist for further information.

The offices of S.L. Hunter & Associates are located at 5195 Harvester Rd. Unit 4B. They can be reached by telephone at 905-637-5522 or online at www.slhunter.ca.

 

Things Every Parent Can Do to Help Their Child’s Speech and Language Development

“If you can give your son or daughter only one gift, let it be enthusiasm.”

Bruce Barton

 

Maintaining enthusiasm for life and a passion for living are qualities many parents hope to pass on to their children and doing so can be as easy as modeling such attitudes. But did you know that you can also help your child’s speech and language development in the process?

Being an engaged and nurturing parent can begin before your child is born. Fetal hearing develops in the second trimester and parents the world over have been talking to – and bonding with – their unborn children since ancient times.

After birth, teaching your infant about the world they inhabit can be as enjoyable for them as it is for you. Talk to your baby as much as possible. Make eye contact. Describe what you’re doing. Use short, expressive sentences and name things correctly. “Daddy is going to change your diaper. You’ll feel so much better when you’re clean and dry. First I’ll use these wipes. Now it’s time for the diaper cream.”

Your child will learn as you talk to them and they’ll pick up important auditory and visual cues about language and how it works in the process.

Singing to your child and reading to them are also important. Can’t bear the thought of rereading your toddler’s favourite storybook for the fortieth time? Talk about what you see in the pictures and ask them to point out the things they can find. “Do you see the butterfly? Show Mommy the cow that’s standing in the barn.” With older children, talk about what may happen next in the story and predict outcomes of actions.

Your child will benefit in numerous ways. And as they grow, if you have concerns about how their speech or language is developing, remember that help is as close as your nearest Speech-Language Pathologist.

No matter what the communication challenge is, S.L. Hunter & Associates has an entire team of highly skilled and innovative Speech-Language Pathologists and Communicative Disorders Assistants who are prepared to help.

The offices of S.L. Hunter & Associates are located at 5195 Harvester Rd. Unit 4B. They can be reached by telephone at 905-637-5522 or online at www.slhunter.ca.

 

 

The Importance of Social Language Skills

Social language skills can be described as the way in which we communicate verbally and non-verbally with the world around us. These skills are important because they form the basis of all human interaction and the foundation on which caring relationships are built.

Some examples of social language skills include:

  • Posture and body language
  • Facial expressions
  • Maintaining appropriate proximity to a speaker
  • Maintaining eye contact and attention
  • Staying on topic
  • Taking turns appropriately in a conversation
  • Appropriate listening behaviors
  • Humour
  • Figurative language
  • Asking and answering questions appropriately

Many of these skills come naturally to most people. For others, these skills need to be developed and refined to ensure effective communication is achieved.

When a child does not have developed or appropriate social language skills, they may become increasingly isolated. Fearing rejection, teasing or bullying, they may avoid social situations.

Speech-Language Pathologists are highly educated professionals, trained to identify and treat such challenges. If you have a child who needs some assistance in this area, the clinicians at S.L. Hunter & Associates would be pleased to help. Intervention may initially involve one-on-one intervention and as skills are developed the child is given the opportunity to practice using these skills in a group setting.

The offices of S.L. Hunter & Associates are located at 5195 Harvester Rd. Unit 4B. They can be reached by telephone at 905-637-5522 or online at www.slhunter.ca.