FUN CHRISTMAS BREAK LANGUAGE ACTIVITIES!

So winter is here and I’m sure you are all busy shopping and getting ready for the holidays! This is the best time of year for speech and language therapy in my opinion! I often get asked, “What can I do with my kids during the Christmas break?”  Everything about winter is exciting for children; the snow, the holidays, hot chocolate and tobogganing.  There are so many fun things to talk about, but few things are more exciting than a snowman!

Here are few activities to do during the Christmas break that are meant for wintertime learning!

CHRISTMAS BREAK IDEAS

Expressive & Receptive  Sequencing

Tell or read the story of Frosty the Snowman. Christmas break is a great time to read this famous story to your kids. Ask your child to retell the story in their own words, or ask them questions about the story such as, “what made the snowman come to life?”

Bring a hat and have the children pretend they are coming to life, just like the snowman. This activity is adaptable for children with varying levels of expressive language goals. For children with limited abilities, use word strips (see below) and carrier phrases to help. A child with more advanced goals will be able to come up with their own phrases and ideas after your model.

I am a snowman, I am…..

White

Cold

Made of Snow

Happy

I am a snowman, I have…..

A carrot nose

Coal buttons

Three snowballs

A hat

A scarf

Stick arms

Talk about how to make a snowman with your child. This is great for children working on expressive language skills, and is also great for sequencing. “First, you take a large ball of snow for the bottom. Next you roll a medium sized ball of snow for the middle, and then a small ball of snow for the head” and so on.  You can further have the child draw a snowman and colour the nose, scarf, and hat after you talk about the steps.

Now it’s time to put those expressive language skills into action! Your child will have a great time building their own snowman. This activity is easy to tailor to their goals. First you can show them how to make a snowman while modeling desired expressive language or sequencing goal. Then they can show you while using their language skills.

Hands On Activity for Descriptive Language

Get a large bowl and fill it with snow from outside, or blend ice cubes in the blender until it looks and feels like snow.  From here the therapy outcomes are endless!

Build a tiny snowman, right there in your kitchen! Have the child play in it, just like they would with sand and describe how it feels. (You might need to use a cookie sheet and have towels close by).

Hide little toys in it and ask them to search for them, using carrier phrases such as “I found a car” or “I found an eraser.”

This is a fun and memorable activity! If you are aren’t up for bringing the snow inside then get all bundled-up and head outside!

Speech Practice

Use the snowman drawing as reinforcement for targeted sounds.  For example, if your child says the targeted sound at the phoneme, word, phrase or sentence level 10 times, they get to begin to draw a snowman.

Read the Frosty the Snowman book or tell the story aloud. As you do, intermittently mispronounce the student’s target sound. When your child “catches” you, he or she can ring a bell.

Using the snow idea above, have your child sculpt the target sound from the snow, then practice saying it.

Get a large scarf and lay it out flat on the kitchen table. Place picture or word cards inside the scarf as you fold it up like an accordion. The scarf will be full of words, and gently hand it to your child. As your child slowly unwraps the scarf one fold at a time, he/she can use ta carrier phrase “I found a ____in the scarf.” This activity can be tailored to your child’s goals, but is especially great for children working on sounds in phrases or sentences.

MORE CHRISTMAS BREAK IDEAS

Lego Lego Lego Time!

Who doesn’t love Lego?! Nowadays, girls and boys have fun with Lego! Christmas break is a great time to have fun with Lego! If your kids love Lego just as much as the kids I know you will definitely enjoy this activity! You can make Lego pieces out of Jell-O by purchases Lego ice cubes trays from your local craft store, Walmart or online. When you have completed the activities below your kids can enjoy a special treat and eat them too! If you can’t find the trays you can do most of the activities listed below with regular Lego pieces and still have fun!

Sort Lego by Colour and Shape

The children can be taught the colours of the Legos and then teach others how to sort them.

Teach Same Vs. Different

Teach your children to describe the blocks and decide which 2 or more blocks have the same or different features. The key feature that differentiates the blocks from each other would be the shape, size and colours.

Teach Adjectives

Describe the Lego’s by talking about their colours, size, shape, how they smell and feel.

Teach Verbs & Verb Tenses

If you make the Jell-O you can introduce the following verbs:

  • Stir, pour, mix, liquefy, spill, separate,      stirring/stirred, poured/pouring

Teach Prepositions

Make a mountain with the Legos and then ask your child to follow directions such as, “Place the robot….”

  • On top of the mountain, beside the      mountain, below the mountain, jump over the mountain

Teach Adverbs

Quickly, slowly, gently

Follow 1 or 2 Step Directions

Mix up the shapes and then pour them out. Have your children:

  • Give you different colours, sizes, or amounts of bricks
  • Stack specific bricks in certain ways
  • Put certain bricks in front of or behind or to the side of each other (works as a preposition activity at the same time)

Sequencing

Your child can help describe the steps that you needed to do to make the Jell-O. You can further take this activity and teach concepts such as, “First, Next and Last” or asking Wh-questions.

 ENJOY CHRISTMAS BREAK AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

AmyWebAmy Grossi is a pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist, practicing for over 10 years. Amy enjoys the area of early language, literacy development, apraxia and fluency. She has a passion for working with children with multiple developmental needs and implementing creative and interactive treatment sessions.

Changing your Will with a Communication Difficulty

In our last post, we talked about why communication intermediaries may be needed in the hospital setting. Today, we discuss the need for communication intermediaries when creating or changing your Will with a communication difficulty. As mentioned in the last post, there are two parts to decision making: 1) understanding the information required to make the decision; and 2) understanding the possible outcomes of the decision. We also mentioned that communication difficulties can hide a person’s ability to make decisions. This is where a communication intermediary can be extremely valuable. Changing your Will with a communication difficulty does not need to be so difficult and we will talk about how.

Case Example

Henry was prevented from changing his Will due to his communication and cognitive difficulties — Please note the details of this case have been changed to protect the identity of the client

Henry had an acquired brain injury and was unable to show his communication abilities due to his speech and language difficulties. For unrelated reasons, Henry wanted to change his Will. His lawyer was uncomfortable with changing his Will due to concern that Henry did not understand the possible outcome(s) of the changes. Revising your Will with a communication difficulty can cause concern on the part of your legal counsel. Lawyers are not trained to assess communication difficulties and are obliged to protect your interests. Communication Intermediaries are trained to assess communication difficulties and provide strategies to promote better communication with others.

How we can Help with Changing your Will with a Communication Difficulty

We assessed Henry and then attended a meeting with his lawyer to promote Henry’s best communication. Henry was able to change his Will with our help. Changing your Will with a communication difficulty can be challenging but is possible with the right support.

Helping with Changing your Will when you have Alzheimer’s Disease

People with Alzheimer’s Disease are also particularly at risk for being denied access to changing their Will. It is important to make these decisions early after diagnosis to ensure change are made while decision making abilities remain in place. Communication Intermediaries can help in these situations to ensure communication is the best it can be.

As indicated in our last two posts, intermediaries follow strict guidelines from the Communication Disability Access Canada (CDAC). CDAC helps people across Canada who can’t communicate and deserve fair assessment to find out if changing your Will with a communication difficulty is possible.

Have you or has someone you know been denied the right to change your/his/her Will?

BobiTychynskiShimoda-220Bobi Tychynski Shimoda is a Speech-Language Pathologist with more than a decade of experience working with neurological communication and swallowing disorders. She has worked in a variety of settings including inpatient rehab, acute care, community, and private practise. She is highly skilled in assessment, and innovative treatment approaches.

WHEN YOUR RIGHT TO MAKE TREATMENT DECISIONS IS AT STAKE: WHY A COMMUNICATION INTERMEDIARY IS NEEDED IN THE HOSPITAL SYSTEM

In our last publication, we discussed why communication intermediaries are needed in the justice system. Today, we explore the use of communication intermediaries in the hospital system. According to the law, there are two parts to decision making: 1) understanding the information relevant to the decision; and 2) appreciating the consequences of a decision. If either of these requirements are not able to be met, a patient’s right to make treatment decisions can be revoked. Communication difficulties can mask a person’s ability to make treatment decisions. This is where a communication intermediary can be extremely valuable.

SHEILA’S HOSPITAL TEAM QUESTIONS HER ABILITY TO MAKE TREATMENT DECISIONS: A CASE EXAMPLE

(Please note the details of this case have been changed to protect the identity of the client)

Sheila suffered a stroke and was hospitalized. She indicated that she wanted to return home despite physical challenges and lack of support at home. The hospital team felt there was significant safety concerns around her going home. To complicate matters, Sheila’s stroke resulted in severe expressive aphasia (the inability to verbally communicate using language). Her comprehension was relatively intact. The hospital team was uncertain whether Sheila was able to make treatment decisions.

We were called in as communication intermediary to provide a comprehensive assessment to determine what tools were required to assist Sheila to ensure she understood the questions that were being asked, and was able to respond non-verbally. After the assessment, we provided our recommendations for communication supports and were invited to facilitate at an informal capacity assessment. Sheila was found quite clearly capable to make treatment decisions based on her ability to gesture and select key words demonstrating her understanding of the possible consequences of going home.

As indicated in our last segment, intermediaries follow strict the guidelines laid out by the Communication Disability Access Canada (CDAC). CDAC supports people across Canada who can’t communicate and deserve fair assessment to determine candidacy to make treatment decisions. Please visit the CDAC website for more information. The Communication Intermediary Roster contains a list of intermediaries that have completed the necessary training (including those at our agency).

BobiTychynskiShimoda-220Bobi Tychynski Shimoda is a Speech-Language Pathologist with more than a decade of experience working with neurological communication and swallowing disorders. She has worked in a variety of settings including inpatient rehab, acute care, community, and private practise. She is highly skilled in assessment, and innovative treatment approaches.

WHEN YOU CAN’T COMMUNICATE IN COURT

If you have been involved in a legal battle, you will know how stressful the process can be. Imagine that you can’t communicate in court or within another legal process (e.g. a police interrogation). Imagine being unable to understand the questions that are asked due to a stroke or brain injury. Now, imagine that you understand and know what you’d like to say and are unable to speak clearly or unable to find the words to express yourself. Maybe you were born with cerebral palsy and can’t communicate clearly or that you use a device to communicate. Imagine that others assume that you can’t communicate in court and aren’t competent to testify on your own behalf, or that you are not able to provide evidence explaining how you were wronged by another person. These scenarios sadly represent what people with developmental or acquired speech and language difficulties can face in a court of law. Involvement in the court system highlights the importance of clear communication for defendants, plaintiffs, and witnesses.

PAUL CAN’T COMMUNICATE IN COURT: A CASE EXAMPLE

(Please note the details of this case have been changed to protect the identity of the client who was struggling to communicate in court and in the court system)

Paul suffered a stroke as a result of surgery following an automobile accident. He was not at fault, but he can’t communicate in court about what happened in the accident. There were no eye witnesses, other than Paul and the driver of the other car. The other driver’s story conflicted with what Paul remembers. The problem is that Paul’s ability to communicate in court is hampered by his stroke-related communication problems. Paul already has a Speech-Language Pathologist, but she is considered biased and therefore cannot be asked to assist in the legal process.

We were called in to assess what services were needed in order for Paul to communicate in court effectively. Afterward, our services were provided to assist Paul in communicating with police, legal representatives, and eventually before a judge. It was determined that Paul needed written key words to help him understand the questions asked by the lawyers. Furthermore, Paul needed to be provided with written choices to allow him to respond. These tools needed to be approved by the lawyers on both sides before he gave his testimony. The use of an Intermediary was helpful for Paul and he was able to communicate in court, providing his evidence with the help recommended and provided by the intermediary. As intermediary within this dispute, we were able to assist Paul in the courtroom, following strict the guidelines laid out by the Communication Disability Access Canada (CDAC). CDAC supports people across Canada who can’t communication in court and within other areas of the justice system. More on that below…

HOW DID THE JUSTICE SYSTEM HELP PAUL COMMUNICATE IN COURT?

In the last couple of years, CDAC has made the process of participating in the justice system more accessible for Canadians who can’t communicate effectively. Through the help of trained intermediaries, identified plaintiffs or defendants are provided with an assessment and intermediary services if needed. The intermediary provides unbiased assistance to ensure that a person who has trouble to communicate in court or within other parts of the justice system can understand and be understood effectively. Please visit the CDAC website for more information. The Communication Intermediary Roster contains a list of intermediaries that have completed the necessary training (including those at our agency).

BobiTychynskiShimoda-220Bobi Tychynski Shimoda is a Speech-Language Pathologist with more than a decade of experience working with neurological communication and swallowing disorders. She has worked in a variety of settings including inpatient rehab, acute care, community, and private practise. She is highly skilled in assessment, and innovative treatment approaches.