The Key to Success: Professional Communication

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Professional communication is very important in any field, but in the profession of speech-language pathology it is extremely important.  As SLP’s we communicate with many different professionals and clients we work with on a daily basis.  Here are some tips for making communication professional but still well understood by all:

Try to keep your message clear and to the point; don’t fill it with unnecessary jargon

Keeping language concise and clear versus filling it with “extra-fancy” language will help to get your point across in a clear manner.  Using jargon will only make you appear artificial and depending on who you are talking to, will only create confusion.

Written communication:  grammar, punctuation, and spelling are still important

In a world of texting where communication is made up of abbreviations and acronyms, professional communication should take on a different appearance altogether. When communicating professionally via email- greetings, closing remarks, proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation are very important. If a message contains a lot of spelling mistakes, misplaced punctuation, or uses poor grammar, this discredits the writer and the reader is less likely to take the writer seriously. As speech-Language pathologists, we want to model accurate grammar, spelling, and punctuation for our clients as solid role models for them.

Keep communication timely

Drawing out responses to questions or information requests, only makes you appear unprofessional or lacking knowledge.  Responding to inquiries, questions, or requests within 24 business hours is the best way to keep the lines of communication open.

Be mindful of who you are communicating with

Communication style can certainly change depending on who your audience is. Some factors that affect communication style include:  age, culture and nationality, relationship with communication partner (lawyer, team member, client, family member), and cognitive level. Remember to adjust your style to suit your partner’s needs and your communication will be much more meaningful that way.

Following these few tips will keep you on the path to professional communication in all your endeavors.

LindaSaarenvirta-220Linda 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.

SPEECH THERAPY APP: BUILDING SPEECH AND LANGAUGE SKILLS WITH “NIGHTY NIGHT”

1SPEECH THERAPY APP: NIGHTY NIGHT BY FOX & SHEEP  

Nighty Night is a great app by Fox and Sheep for the iPhone or iPad, Android or Kindle. It is a simple story that keeps young children engaged with narration, music, sound effects and cute animals that come to life on the page. It tells the story of seven animals going to bed in and around a farmhouse. As the children visit with each animal, they can interact with it to help it settle in for the night. Children get to choose the animal that they want to put to sleep first and continue putting the animals to sleep one at a time.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The story starts with a farmhouse with many areas that are lit up for children to explore. Children find each animal by touching a window with a glowing light. They then tap the animal to hear its sound and help it to settle down by finding and then turning off the light switch.  While the goal on each page is to help the animal fall asleep, there are lots of things to explore before turning off the light. This is a great speech therapy app for building speech and language skills because children get a chance to interact with each of the animals to make the animals do various actions and make different sounds. The app comes with seven animals (dog, pig, sheep, duck, cow, fish and chicken), and additional animals can be purchased.

Building speech and language skills

Nighty Night targets a variety of speech and language skills, suitable for toddler and preschool children:

Early speech Sounds – If toddlers are just learning to talk, animal sounds are a great way to practice early developing sounds (moo, baa, and woof). When your child picks an animal to put to sleep model the noise that animal makes and encourage the child to imitate you.

Answering Questions and Following directions – You can ask a variety of questions such as “Who do you want to put to bed next?”, “Where is the baby chick?”, “Where is the light? “, “What did the fish do?” You can give your child different directions to follow in each scene such as “Touch his tail”, “Tickle his ears”, “Turn out the light”, “Pop the bubbles”.

Vocabulary – Great way of modelling different types of vocabulary such as nouns (cow, sheep, pig, house, water, light) verbs (eat, swim, pop, scratch, jump, blow, bark, yawn, stretch) descriptor words (fast, slow, cold, hot, big, small, curly, long, short) and location words (in, on, under, beside, behind, up, down).

Saying More  – To help expand the length of what your child says you can model a variety of phrases such as “Good night pig”, “Fish is swimming”, “Wake up cow”.

Inferencing – Who is waiting next behind the light? Give your child clues to see if they can guess what animal that will come out next. “It is something that is pink, has a curly tail and plays in the mud” (Pig).

THERE’S A SEQUEL!

A sequel to Nighty Night, Nighty Night Circus starts by watching an owl settle down for a nap on a tree branch when the trumpeting of an elephant interrupts her. Following the sound, the owl discovers a circus caravan with their lights still on. The narrator asks the reader to help put the animals to bed by turning off their lights in seven locations.

It is fun to watch the scenes change once the light is turned off and the animations prior to turning the light out. When you meet the bear, he first growls at you and then giggles. If you tap him again, he pulls out a balloon, blows it up, and then makes an animal out of the balloon. When all seven circus animals are asleep, children will see that the owl has settled down as well.

 Inspired Printable 

You can also CLICK HERE for an inspired printable to go along with this app. This printable is created by David Sindrey, LSLS, Cert AVT.

CarrieWebCarrie Rosler is a registered Speech-Language Pathologist who has been practicing pediatric speech pathology for over 14 years. Carrie is committed to providing individualized family-centered therapy in a fun and supportive environment. Carrie has a special interest in Motor Speech Disorders and Auditory Verbal Therapy.

 

“Thankful” Thanksgiving Conversations

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For Thanksgiving dinner, try this family-friendly Thanksgiving conversation starter.

You will need….. some Fall coloured paper, a marker, leaf template and a jar.

Instructions

Cut leaf shapes out of coloured paper.

Write questions about thankfulness or gratitude on pieces of paper and put them in a jar.

During your Thanksgiving meal, pass the jar around the table and have each person pull out a leaf. They can either answer the question themselves or choose someone and ask them the question.

Why Thanksgiving Conversations are Great

This encourages many social language skills such as eye contact, using a person’s name to get their attention, initiating and maintaining a conversation, adding fillers, displaying appropriate facial expressions and body language as well as creating happy memories. These are great skills for young and old! For the younger family members, try giving them some choices to help get them engage in the conversation.

The Thanksgiving Questions

Here are some questions to get you started:

  •  What are you most grateful for?
  •  What invention are you most thankful for?
  •  What do you often forget to be thankful for?
  • Which season do you appreciate the most?
  • Besides saying “thank you,” how do you show your thanks?
  • What was the nicest thing someone else ever did for you?
  • What are you grateful for every day?
  • What activities are you thankful for?
  • Name something about a person here that you really appreciate.
  • What skills are you thankful you have?
  • Look around this room, what item are you thankful for?

Family meal times, especially over the Holidays are an excellent opportunity to stay connected with each other and practice good social language skills.

SandyMastoris-220Sandy is a dedicated professional with almost 30 years experience serving clients with diverse communication challenges.  Sandy’s expertise includes planning and implementing social language programs for school-aged, adolescent and adult clients, as well as workshops for parents and social communication opportunities for stroke survivors.

Friendship and Social skills: Why are they important?

shutterstock_50844475We, as humans, are in a world filled with people. We have no choice but to interact in some way throughout our lives. With increasing technology, there is a decreasing emphasis on social skills. I see people every day, both at work and in everyday life, that need some sort of assistance with social interaction. Whether we are interacting face-to-face or via text or some other online platform, we need to be able to communicate effectively.

Social Skills or Interaction skills

The skills I’m talking about aren’t necessarily something you need to think about. People over the age of around 30, don’t usually have difficulty in social situations. We learned from a young age how to interact because we did it regularly. Instead of texting our friends, we had to go knock on their door, say hello to their parents and ask if our friends could come and play. Little did we know that these skills were something we’d use throughout life in many situations! Greetings, salutations, taking turns, and asking questions are just a few of the skills that we learn through observation and imitation when we are young. Now that technology has seeped into our lives, things are a bit different. Texting has changed our dictionary – Yes, the acronym LOL is in the scrabble dictionary now!! With all of these changes, there has been a decrease in the emphasis of face-to-face social skills. Why or when are these important? We need these skills to get a job and interact with people every day – interviews, in a restaurant, at the movies, interacting with co-workers or class mates, just to name a few. If we don’t know what to do, then how will we do it?

Friendship

Friendship is just one part of social interaction.  I have had some young clients tell me “I don’t need friends”. I beg to differ! Our friends are the first extension of our family, especially early in life. We practice social skills with them and they are usually an unbiased and unjudging venue for that practice. This is also how we learn to interact with people outside of our family – we learn that although you might hug and kiss your mom and dad, you don’t do this with friends – we are learning socially acceptable boundaries. This also teaches us skills that will transfer over into working environments when we are older. It’s also the first avenue where we learn to negotiate, express our opinions and learn to argue our point of view as well as understand other’s point of view. All of these skills will help us become a good worker and an advocate for ourselves or others in the future. I’m not saying you need 1000 friends on Facebook, I’m saying you need a few close real-life friends that you trust and trust you to help navigate this crazy world of ours!

What do I do to help my kids learn these social skills?

Have a conversation with them. Set aside time to demonstrate these skills to them and show them what they should be doing. For example, make dinner time a “no technology” time so you can actually interact with each other. Ask them questions about their lives “tell me your favorite part of the day today”. Show them how to listen and answer “my favorite part was ____ because ____”. Play outside – no technology! Teach them the games you used to play, run, skip, jump, play hide-and-go-seek! Have your child interact with the people and things in their world and set a good example for them! Don’t sit on your device, actually interact with people, on the phone or in person and show your kids how, otherwise, they might not ever learn.

For more ideas or to ask questions, feel free to comment!

LynseyWilson-220Lynsey Wilson is a Communication Disorders assistant with experience treating a wide range of clients with varying ages and disorders. She also has her Early Childhood Educator certificate and specializes in working with pediatric clients. Lynsey enjoys working with a variety of age groups to keep her on her toes!

Prepare Your Child for Back to School by Establishing School Routines

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This time of year, parents are starting to think about getting their kids ready for school.  Preparing children for back to school success involves thinking about setting routines before the beginning of school.

Rise and Shine – Starting the Morning  Routine

Spend time over the next few weeks with the family making a morning routine chart so that that everyone understands the routine and expectations to ensure things go smoothly.

Example:

  1. Get dressed (picture of clothes)
  2. Eat breakfast (picture of food)
  3. Brush teeth (picture of toothbrush or bathroom)
  4. Get ready to leave (picture of shoes, bus, car, backpack and/or lunch)

With a younger child, you can use pictures along with the words. For an older child, have them write out the order in which they would like to complete their morning. Place the list around the house or in a central location. Getting the children involved in this routine will help provide them with some responsibility and commitment to follow through with the routine within that first crazy week of school.

After School Routines

Every family will have a different after school routine. It is best to determine what works for your family.  Activities will change on the nights where extra-curricular activities are involved, but remember to plan the routine for those days as well. One idea is to plan ahead and create a homework center.

Using a designated area with limited distractions provides the child with a familiar and predictable area to complete their homework. Discuss with the child what materials they will require to set the area for homework success.

Add talking with your children about their day to the after school routine. Dinnertime, driving to the next event, or getting ready for bed are great times to ask specific questions about the child’s day.  Avoid asking general questions like, “How was your day?” Instead, ask questions with purpose, such as:

  • “What was your funniest part of the day?”
  • “What was your favourite part of the day?”
  • “Can you teach me something you learned today?”

These questions should give a more specific answer rather than typical short answers, such as “fine.” or “I don’t know.”

Evening Routines

Where have all the books gone? Time to gear up your child’s literacy and thinking skills. Get back into reading books before bed. Where can reading fit into your nighttime routine? This may require turning off the electronics and going to bed a little early in order to have time to read before the exhaustion sets in. Talk about the pictures, events and engage the child to predict what will come next in the story.

Before going to bed, have a chat with your child about the events for the next morning and go over the routine one more time. No matter the age, getting into the habit of talking about the next day helps mentally prepare them and also provides parents with an opportunity to introduce new vocabulary.

School Activity Preparation

Once the school schedule is organized, it’s time to get your child’s thinking skills jump started! Here’s an idea to impress your child’s teacher on the first of school or the Speech-Language Pathologist the first day back to therapy: prepare children for the popular question, “What did you do all summer?” Open-ended questions are more difficult to answer. There may be too many details to discuss. In order to avoid answers such as, “I don’t know”, or “I don’t remember”, completing the activities below will give children the opportunity to response in detail since it will be rehearsed and familiar.

  • For younger children, develop a photo album of the pictures from different events throughout the summer. Make a photo album and have the children discuss what they see in each picture. Are they able to recall what came before or after the picture?
  • Recalling the events which took place all summer. It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it!  Once the child has selected a special vacation they can write or discuss all of the events of the vacation. Using the five W’s (e.g. ‘Who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’, ‘why’ and ‘how’) guarantees a very descriptive story.

If you would like more tips and activities to prepare children for school success leave me a message in the comment section and I will certainly provide more ideas.

TeriLynam-220Teri Lynam is a registered Speech-Language Pathologist with ten years of experience working in the field of communication disorders. She has a special interest in early language, literacy development, acquired brain injury, motor speech and resonance disorders. Teri is committed to providing individualized family-centered therapy in a fun and supportive environment.