I think my child needs help with speech and language – What should I do?

May is Speech and Hearing month and there’s no better way to celebrate than to offer $20 screenings! S.L. Hunter SpeechWorks is offering $20 speech and language screenings for the entire month of May. You can call us today to book yours now!

WHY SHOULD I HAVE MY CHILD CHECKED?

Speech and language development is important for learning, literacy, and communicating with others. Early assessment and treatment of speech and language difficulties makes a big difference in a child’s prognosis for improvement.

Speech and Language screenings are a helpful tool used to determine if a child is developing within the “average” range when compared to other children his or her age. Screening tests identify areas that may need further assessment and are an important part of increasing your awareness of your child’s needs, strengths, and weaknesses.

WHAT DOES THE SPEECH AND LANGUAGE SCREENING INCLUDE?

At Speechworks, our speech and language screenings will look at the following areas of your child’s language:

  • Comprehension
  • Verbal expression
  • Articulation and Phonology (speech sounds and processing of speech sound patterns)
  • Early Literacy
  • Voice
  • Resonance
  • Social Language Skills
  • Fluency (stuttering)

Screenings are performed through play activities; discussion with parents, and observations made during the session. Screenings are completed in approximately 15-20 minutes.

What Happens If My Child Does Not Pass the Screening?

Depending on the difficulties noted by the SLP, you may be provided with strategies and tips to work on at home with your child, with follow up recommended in a month or so. If your child has notable difficulties that are not developmental in nature, then further assessment and evaluation will be recommended to develop a plan for treatment.

Visit our website for more details about our services or call us to book your child’s speech and language screening today!

Linda Saarenvirta is a speech-language pathologist who has been practicing for over 20 years in the healthcare field.  She has worked with a variety of communication disorders and clients of all ages.  She is extremely passionate about voice therapy and enjoys helping clients achieve their vocal needs.  Her client centered approach to therapy ensures all clients maximize their potential and achieve their goals.

 

Healing Through Music and the Power of Song to Promote Recovery of Language Function

The Power of Music

As discussed in the article shared from Harvard earlier this week, music has positive medical benefits for depression and anxiety related to invasive procedures; reduces side effects of cancer therapy; helps with pain relief; and improves quality of life for people suffering from dementia. What’s more, music can help to restore lost speech. These are some of the many ways people experience healing through music.

The Harvard U article indicated that “…music therapy can help people who are recovering from a stroke or traumatic brain injury that has damaged the left-brain region responsible for speech. Because singing ability originates in the right side of the brain, people can work around the injury to the left side of their brain by first singing their thoughts and then gradually dropping the melody…”

Healing Through Music in Speech Therapy

Melodic Intonation therapy was developed by Robert Sparks in Boston at MIT. This approach takes advantage of the brains right-sided processing of music to tap into remaining strengths following left-sided brain damage. By using song in sessions, therapists are able to bring out words and phrases that were otherwise “lost”. Helping clients to find these lost words and phrases is empowering! This approach was designed to help with aphasia – a disorder of language function.

Many clients who have arrived to their session depressed have left with big smiles on their faces after singing and getting words out through song. They appear to experience healing through music before my eyes. For some, this was the first time that they produced entire sentences. The sense of hope, progress and well-being should be measured, just like other therapeutic outcomes as these outcomes are equally important.

Healing Through Music for Clients with Speech Difficulties

Many clients with speech disorders (e.g. from stroke, ABI, or progressive conditions like MS or Parkinson’s Disease) have trouble changing their pitch when speaking which results in a flat monotone voice. This makes it hard to interpret the meaning of what they are saying (e.g. is he or she being sarcastic?) In my experience, use of song has provided a way to increase the range of pitches used in speech and has made the person’s meaning more recognizable. This is yet another way client’s experience healing through music.

Do you know anyone that has benefitted from musical approaches within speech therapy? We would love to hear your story.

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.

What Is Stuttering?

When a person stutters, we sometimes say that their speech is “dysfluent” because the flow of speech is interrupted. These interruptions may include one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Repetitions – involve repeating a sound, syllable or phrase (e.g. m-m-m-my)
  • Prolongations – involve stretching out a sound (e.g. mmmmmy)
  • Blocks – involve stoppage of the airflow so no sound comes out

Tension

These characteristics are often caused by increased tension somewhere within the lungs, throat, mouth, tongue or lips. When people stutter, they often struggle to push the words out as they feel the words are getting stuck.

Unfortunately, this strategy is often ineffective as it results in more tension which can then result in even more struggle. This struggle may be heard in the individual’s speech (e.g. change in pitch or loudness), seen throughout their body (e.g. body movements, eye blinking) or it may come out in other behaviours (e.g. rapid breathing).

Emotions

Over time, people who stutter may experience negative emotional reactions to their speech (e.g. teasing, bullying, embarrassment, frustration).

Other people’s reactions or the individual’s own negative thoughts may result in feelings of anxiousness or worry about speaking as they fear getting caught in a stutter again. For many, the result is often a cycle of tension, struggle and inevitably more stuttering.

This loop is very difficult to break without intervention. If these feelings are not addressed, the individual may begin to avoid speaking situations in an attempt to keep themselves from stuttering.

Is there a Cure?

People often wonder if stuttering can be cured. Although there is no easy “cure” for stuttering, speech-language therapy can be very effective in helping the individual learn strategies or techniques to help him modify his speech. Speech-language intervention for stuttering often involves the following:

  1. Increasing awareness of stuttering and its related behaviours;
  2. Reducing how often someone stutters;
  3. Decreasing the tension and struggle of stuttering moments;
  4. Working to decrease word or situation avoidances;
  5. Using effective communication skills; and,
  6. Increasing overall communication confidence.

If you have concerns about your speech or your child’s speech, it is always best to get it checked out by a trained Speech-Language Pathologist.

After reviewing the assessment results, the treating Speech-Language Pathologist will work with the person who stutters and/or their family members to set individual treatment goals that will help them become the best communicators they can be.