What are the benefits of practicing at home?

Have you ever been thought to your-self that “life gets in the way?” Well, you are not alone. It is normal for parents who work full time jobs to feel like the day just flies by. However, most parents do not realize the importance of making practicing speech and language at home. Practicing speech and language therapy can mean all the difference in your child’s progress. Practicing at home does not need to be a major time commitment, however, practicing for five or ten minutes every day will benefit your child more than practicing only one per week.

Benefits

  • Therapy becomes more effective- higher outcome
  • Family feels that they are involved in their child’s success
  • Family increases their knowledge about child’s development
  • Family feels more confident with child’s communication abilities
  • Client has a better long term support system
  • Promotes carry over

Why is it important

Why is practice important? Well, the more your child is exposed to the skill, the faster he/she will catch on. When the SLP sends practice work home for the child, the parent can work together to complete work that may be challenging. This will allow the parent to understand what the child is working on and how to work on it differently at home. Homework activities provide opportunities for the child to practice his/her goals in a more natural environment with the encouragement and support from family. It is important for the parent to collaborate with the Speech-Language Pathologist that is working with the child to ensure the same cues and prompts are given at home, as they are in therapy.

Some parents may decrease the amount of home practice due to positive feedback from his/her therapist. However, even if your child has met his/her goals, the last goal of speech therapy should be carrying over that skill to other settings. It is important for parents to maintain practicing at to ensure that the child’s skill is not only mastered in the therapy room. The patient may be showing improvement in the therapy room without carrying that improvement over to other settings during everyday life such as home, school, and socializing with friends.

*The good news: home practice can be fun!

Practicing at home does not have to be a set of drills before play time. Parents can incorporate home practice while participating in activities in daily life. For an example, the parent can incorporate language, articulation, and fluency at a food store, restaurant, playground, or the pool. The main key to is to have fun!!

What can help motivate child at home:

  • Providing a model: Models will help child visualize and understand the task they are being asked to do.
  • Feedback: Feedback is beneficial for children to help them understand what they are doing wrong, and how to fix it.
  • Reinforcement: Providing reinforcement will increase the child’s motivation and self-confidence.
  • Sticker chart: A sticker chart can be used as a reward system. The parent can tell the child that he/she will receive a sticker for every time he/she practices. The parent will then set a goal for the child to have 4 stickers on the chart before the end of the week. If the child has 4 stickers, he/she will get a reward.
  • Schedule: Making a schedule will allow the child to fit practice speech and language into his/her schedule. This will help them stay consistent and ensure they are practicing.
  • Incorporating speech and language in daily routines: Children tend to feel most comfortable in their homes because there is less pressure. By incorporating speech and language in daily routines, parents can feel involved in their child’s progress and see faster results.

Source: ASHA.org

-Lauren LaGreca, M.A, CF-SLP

 

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Apraxia of Speech Vs. Dysarthria

Apraxia

            Apraxia of speech (AOS) refers to a neurogenic speech disorder that is caused by central nervous system (CNS) damage. AOS is associated with impairment to motor planning and/or programming. Although there is no weakness of paralysis of the muscles, the CNS damage makes it difficult to program and precise movements necessary for smooth articulated speech.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech is pediatric speech sound disorder associated with impaired accuracy and consistency of movements underlying speech. These individuals demonstrate sensorimotor difficulties in positioning and sequentially moving muscles for the volitional production of speech. It is hard for these individuals to plan and program the movement sequences and they frequently show groping behaviors and poor intelligibility due to inconsistent and multiple articulation errors.

  • Children with CAS usually show:
    • Slow, effortful speech
    • Prolonged speech sounds
    • Repetition of sounds and syllables
    • Most difficulty with consonant clusters followed by fricatives, affricates, stops and nasals
    • More frequently occurrence of omissions and substitutions
    • Voicing and devoicing errors
    • Vowel errors
    • Groping and silent posturing of articulation
    • Problems with hypernasality and nasal emission
    • History of feeding problems
    • Limited sound inventory
    • Inconsistency in sound productions

Treatment:

Treatment for CAS and adults with apraxia involve extensive drills that stress sequences of movement involved in speech production, imitation, decreased rate of speech, normal prosody and increased accuracy in the production of individual consonants, vowels, and consonant clusters. The overall goal for treatment is to have the individual spontaneously produce words naturally, effectively, and efficiently with a focus on articulation and prosody. It is important to master this goal both inside and outside the clinic. Most recently, a system called PROMPT (prompts for restructuring oral muscular phonetic targets) has been used to treat children with CAS. This approach uses tactile kinesthetic proprioceptive cues to support and shape movements of the articulators.

Dysarthria 

The term dysarthria refers to a group of speech disorders associated with an impairment to motor speech control and execution resulting from damage to the central nervous system (CNS) and/or the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The area of damage categorizes the type of dysarthria, the associated characteristics, and treatment goals. This damage typically leads to weakness, or incoordination of the muscles of speech. Dysarthria can be caused by cerebral palsy, head injury, degenerative disease, tumor, and stroke. This disorder impacts all of the speech systems, therefore, all of the speech systems must be incorporated in assessment and treatment. Individuals with dysarthria typically show:

  • Breathy or harsh voice
  • Monopitch or monoloudness
  • Hypernasality or hyponasality
  • Nasal emission
  • Distorted vowels
  • Imprecise consonants
  • Prolonged phonemes
  • Reduced or excess stress

Treatment:

Dysarthria treatment is very repetitive and structured. It involves increasing muscle tone and strength, increasing range of motion, rate of speech and treating other parameters that affect intelligibility. It involves systematic drill, modeling, phonetic placement and emphasis on accuracy of sound production. The focus of treatment for each individual with dysarthria is based on the severity of the disorder.

What is the difference between Apraxia and Dysarthria?

  • Predominant lesion for AOS occurs in frontal lobe
  • Speakers with apraxia do not exhibit neuromuscular conditions, as seen in dysarthria
  • Speakers with apraxia do not exhibit swallowing deficits, as seen in dysarthria
  • Typically, only articulation and prosody are impaired with AOS, meanwhile, all subsystems are impaired with dysarthria
  • Speakers with AOS demonstrate inconsistent speech sound errors
  • Volitional phonation can be impaired at times with apraxia, however both volitional and reflective behaviors are impaired with dysarthria
  • Well practiced tasks will be easier for AOS than less familiar task

Source: ASHA.org

-Lauren LaGreca, M.A, CF-SLP

 

 

 

Normal Language Development for Young Children

Language can be defined as a form of social behavior that is shaped and maintained by a verbal community. It is described as a code in which specific symbols that convey meaning. Language is broken down into five major components, morphology, syntax, phonology, semantics, and pragmatics.

  • Morphology is the study of word structure and the construction of word forms.
  • Syntax refers to the study of sentence structure which involves the arrangements of words to form meaningful sentences, the overall word order, and a collection of rules that specify the way and order in which words may be combined to create a sentence.
  • Phonology is the study of the underlying knowledge of rules of a sound system in language. This component of language describes the rules of sounds and sound systems. Meaning, how sounds come together to form meaningful words (phoneme) and the rules of which sounds do not form meaningful words. For an example, p-l-a-y becomes play, z-w-e-d would not be a word due to the rule that /z/ and /w/ are not two sounds that come together to form a meaningful word.
  • Semantics is the meaning conveyed by words, phrases and sentences. This component includes areas such as word knowledge and world knowledge, and vocabulary.
  • Pragmatics is the understanding and use of language in a social context. This includes the ability to use appropriate language in a communicative and social setting and understanding the social rules. Examples of pragmatics are turn taking, eye contact, topic maintenance, and sequencing sentences logically.

Normal language development relies on the child’s ability to bring innate characteristics to the situation, the child’s environment, and cultural expectations. The language that is spoken at home and cultural forms may influence the way we communicate. caregiver plays a very important role that contributes to

*REMEMBER: every child is unique, and no individual that will develop the in the same ways and at the same times. Use this information as a guide to understand what you should expect your child’s language to be.

Birth – 3 months

  • Displays startle response to loud sound
  • Visually tracks, or moves eyes, to source of sound
  • Attends to and turns head toward voice; turns toward sound source
  • Smiles reflexively
  • Cries for assistance
  • Quiets when picked up
  • Ceases activity or coos back when person talks (by 2 months)
  • Produces predominantly vowels

4 – 6 months

  • responds by raising arms when mother says ‘come here’, and reaches toward child (by 6 months)
  • moves or looks toward family members when they are named (‘where’s daddy’)
  • explores the vocal mechanism through vocal play such as growling, squealing, yelling, making ‘raspberries’
  • begins to produce adult-like vowels
  • beings marginal babbling; produces double syllables (‘baba’), puts lips together for /m/
  • varies pitch of vocalizations
  • responds to name (5 months)
  • vocalizes pleasure and displeasure
  • varies volume, pitch, and rate of vocalizations

7 – 9 months

  • looks at come common objects when the object’s names are spoken
  • comprehends ‘no’
  • begins to use some gestural language; plays pat-a-cake, peek-a-boo, shakes head for ‘no’
  • uses a wide variety of sound combinations
  • uses inflected vocal play, intonation patterns
  • imitates intonation and speech sound of others (by 9 months)
  • uses variegated babbling (‘mabamaba’ – at approximately 9 months)
  • uncovers hidden toy (beginning of object permanence)

10 – 12 months

  • understands up to 10 words, such as, no, bye-bye, pat-a-cake, hot; understands on simple direction like ‘sit down’, especially when command is accompanied by gesture.
  • Begins to relate symbol and object; uses first true word
  • Gives block, toy, or object upon request
  • Obeys some commands
  • Understands and follows simple directions regarding body action
  • Looks in correct place for hidden toys (object permanence)
  • Turns head instantly to own name
  • Gestures or vocalizes to indicate wants and needs
  • Jabbers loudly; uses wide variety of sounds and intonations; varies pitch when vocalizing
  • Uses all consonant and vowel sounds in vocal play
  • Establishes joint reference – the ability to focus attention on an even or object as directed by another person.

1 – 2 Years

  • Syntax:
    • The child uses one-word sentences
    • Average MLU = 1.0 – 2.0
    • The child uses sentence-like words; communicates relationships by using one word plus vocal and bodily cues. The sentence-like word can serve several functions:
    • Between approximately 18-24 months of age, children begin to put two words together.
    • The child may use 3- or 4-word responses at two years
    • A child combines 3- and 4-word utterances about 50% of the time; the other 50% of the time, the child uses 2-word utterances (at 24 months)
    • Near 24 months of age, the child uses ‘and’ to form a conjoined sentence.
    • Approximately 51% of the child’s utterances consist of nouns.
  • Semantics:
    • The child uses 3-20 words and uses gestures; around 18 months, the child produces 10-50 words.
    • The child shows understanding of some words and simple commands; understand ‘no’; around 18 months, child understands about 200 words.
    • The child uses cause-effect relationships
    • The child also exhibits the following during this period:
      • Uses overextension
      • Answers the question “what is this?”; responds to yes/no questions by nodding or shaking head
      • Says “all gone” (emerging negation)
      • Follows one-step commands or simple directions accompanied by gestures (give mommy the spoon)
      • Follows directions using one or two spatial concepts such as in or on (19-24 months)
      • Points to one to five body parts on command; points to recognized objects (emerging nomination)
    • Pragmatics
      • The child uses verbal and nonverbal communication to control the behaviors of others, satisfy needs and wants, interact with others, express emotions or interest, imagine, inform, and explore and categorize.
      • Presuppositions emerge; between 1 and 2 years of age, the child uses expressions that have shared meaning for the listener and speaker.
      • The child begins to understand some rules of dialogue, ‘when someone talks, you need to listen’ – the child is able to take the role of both speaker and listener.
      • The child uses nonverbal as well as verbal communication to signal intent.
      • Dore (1975) focused on the 12-24 month period in which children use early words to signal communicative intent, focusing more on the children’s intentions and less on listeners’ reactions:
        • Practicing (language)
        • Protesting (‘no’ and resisting)
        • Greeting (‘hi grandma!’ as grandma comes in the door)
        • Calling/addressing (‘mommy’)
        • Requesting actions (says ‘juice’ to get juice)
        • Requesting an answer (‘Cow?’)
        • Labeling
        • Repeating/imitating
        • Answering (adult: ‘what is this?’ child: ‘bottle’)

2-3 years

  • Syntax
    • Uses word combinations; has beginning phrase and sentence structure
    • Has an average MLU of 2.0 – 4.0; at 36 months, sentences often average 3-4 words.
    • Combines 3-4 words in subject-verb-object format (‘daddy throw ball’)
    • Uses incomplete sentences; word order is often object-verb (‘doggy sit’), verb-object (‘push Barbie’), subject-verb.
    • Asks wh-questions and yes/no questions
    • Expresses negation by adding ‘no’ or ‘not’ in front of verbs (me not do it; he no bite)
  • Semantics
    • Comprehension usually precedes production – at 30 months the child comprehends up to 2,400 words
    • At 36 months, the child comprehends up to 3,600 words
    • Expressive vocabulary is 200-600 words; average is 425 words at 30 months.
    • Meanings seem to be learned in sequence: objects, events, actions, adjectives, adverbs, spatial concepts, temporal (time) concepts.
    • First pronouns used are self-referents such as I and me.
    • Answers simple wh-questions; understands questions; begins asking wh-questions of adults (30 months)
    • Can identify simple body parts
    • Understands plurals
  • Morphology
    • Develops inflections such as –ing, spatial prepositions in and on, plurals, possessives, articles, and pronouns.
    • Develops simple, irregular past tense (went)
    • Develops is plus adjective (that is pretty)
    • Develops regular past tense verbs (walked)
    • Over-regularizes past tense inflections (goed, throwed, falled)
    • Over-regularizes plural morphemes (feets, mouses)
    • Uses some memorized contractions such as don’t, can’t, it’s, that’s
  • Pragmatics
    • The child’s utterances, although occasionally egocentric, generally have a communicative intent.
    • The child demonstrates rapid topic shifts; a 3-year-old can sustain a topic of conversation only about 20% of the time.
    • Communication includes criticism, commands, requests, threats, questions, and answers
    • Interpersonal communication expands; the child learns to adopt a role to express his own opinions and personality.

3-4 years

  • Syntax
    • Learns set of clause-connecting devices, including coordination (‘and’) and subordination (‘because’), and uses then in sentences.
    • Begins using tag questions (‘you want to go, don’t you?’)
    • Begins using passive voice (‘she’s been bitten by a dog’)
    • Uses mostly complete sentences; at 48 months (4 years), sentences average 5 – 5.5 words per utterance; MLU is approximately 3.0 – 5.0
    • Uses mostly nouns, verbs, and personal pronouns
    • Acquires do insertions and ability to make transformations (‘does the kitty run around?’)
    • Uses negation in speech (‘Timmy can’t swim.’)
    • Begins using complex and compound sentences (‘I can sing and dance.’)
      • 7% of sentences are compound or complex
    • Semantics
      • Comprehends up to 4,200 words by 42 months (3.5 years); at 48 months, comprehends up to 5,600 words.
      • Uses 900-1000 words expressively
      • Asks how, why, and when questions
      • Understands some common opposites (day, night; little, big; fast, slow)
      • Labels most things in the environment
      • Relates experiences and tells about activities in sequential order
      • Can recite a poem from memory or sing a song (48 months)
      • Uses pronouns you, they, us, and them, as well as others such as I and me.
      • Understands concepts such as heavy, light; empty, full; more, less; around, in front of
      • Supplies last word of sentence (the apple is on the ____) (closure)
      • Appropriately answers ‘what if’ questions (by 43-48 months) (what would you do if you fell down?)
    • Morphology
      • Uses irregular plural forms (children, mice, feet)
      • Uses third person singular, present tense (he runs)
      • Consistently uses simple (regular) past and present progressives (is running) and negatives (not)
      • Uses simple (regular) plural forms correctly (boys, houses, lights)
      • Begins to use is at the beginning of questions
      • Uses and as a conjunction
      • Uses is, are, and am in sentences
      • Uses possessive markers consistently (by 43-48 months)
      • Begins to use reflexive pronoun myself (by 43-48 months)
      • Begins to use conjunction because (by 43-48 months)
    • Pragmatics
      • Can maintain conversation without losing track of topic
      • Begins to modify speech to age of listener
      • Uses requesting (yes/no questions, wh-questions)
      • Responds with structures such as yes, no, because; expresses agreement or denial (‘that’s not really her dress’), compliance or refusal (“I won’t take a bath’)
      • Uses conversational devices
        • Boundary markers such as hi, bye – indicate beginning, end of communication
        • Calls such as “Hey mommy!”
        • Accompaniments such as “here you are”
        • Politeness markers such as please, thanks
      • Uses communicative functions
        • Role playing, fantasies
        • Protests/objections such as ‘Don’t touch that!’
        • Jokes such as ‘I threw the juice in the ceiling!’
        • Game markers such as ‘You have to catch me!’
        • Claims such as ‘I’m first!’
        • Warnings such as ‘look out or you’ll fall!’
        • Teases such as ‘You can’t have this!’

 

Source: Roseberry-McKibbin, C., & Hegde, M. (2016). An Advanced Review of Speech-Language Pathology. Austin, TX: Pro-ed.

Source: ASHA.org

-Lauren LaGreca, M.A, CF-SLP

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Aloud 15 MINUTES

Read Aloud 15 MINUTES is a non-profit organization that is working to make reading aloud every day for at least 15 minutes the new standard in child care. This organization makes direct connections between reading aloud to a child from birth to the level of readiness to learn in kindergarten, the necessary literacy skills to succeed in school and the ability to have a productive and meaningful life after school.

Quick Facts:

  • More than 1 in 3 children arrive at kindergarten without the skills necessary for lifetime learning.
  • More than 15% of young children, 3.1 million, are read to by family members fewer than 3 times a week.
  • Only 48% of young children in this country are read to each day.
  • Reading 15 minutes every day for 5 years is equivalent to 27,375 minutes and 456.25 hours.

Reading aloud has a direct impact on language development, instilling a love of reading, knowledge gained and shared, literacy skill building, brain development and bonding. The number of words within a child’s lexicon upon entering kindergarten is a key predictor of their future success. When a parent or loved one reads to their child, it demonstrates the importance and value of reading as well as the enjoyment. Books can be enjoyable as well as informative in which children can learn something new each time they are read to. Reading aloud builds several literacy skills, including vocabulary, phonics, familiarity with the printed word, storytelling and comprehension. Furthermore, the critical years in the development of language skills are from birth until age 3. Lastly, reading aloud provides a great opportunity for bonding between the child and the loved one as it can be their own special routine.

Takeaway:

If you are treating a client under the age of 5, begin to tell their parents and caregivers the importance of reading aloud to their child for at least 15 minutes each day. It can make a world of difference!

 

SOURCE:  https://www.asha.org/News/2017/ASHA-and-Read-Aloud-15-MINUTES-Announce-New-Go-To-Resource-for-Parents-of-Young-Children/

-Rebecca Hipp M.A., CF-SLP, TSSLD

Better Speech and Hearing Month!

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) designates the month of May as “Better Speech and Hearing Month!” Usually during this time of year Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) and Audiologists come together for workshops and conferences. It is also the time of the year to increase awareness of the field of Speech-Language Pathology within the community.

History of the Profession:

The need for specialists to work with individuals who presented with disorders of speech was identified in the 1920’s. “Speech correctionists”, as they were formerly referenced, were not introduced into the school system until the 1950’s. The beginning of the field revolved around articulation but as the years past the field has grown to include voice, fluency, language, dysphagia, accent reduction, acquisition and oral-motor evaluations and treatments. Speech-Language Pathologists are now amply present in not only schools but also hospitals, rehabilitation facilities and private practices.

Education and Certification:

There are four professional terms associated with individuals who work in the field of speech therapy, “Speech Correctionist”, “Speech Therapist”, “Speech-Language Pathologist” or “Speech Pathologist” and “Speech-Language Specialist”. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, they actually mean different things. In the 1950’s, a person would receive a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Speech Correction. The requirements for the teaching certificate then changed in the 1980’s to what they are now. In order to work in most schools, an SLP must obtain a “Speech-Language Specialist” or “Speech-Language Pathologist” certificate. This requires a master’s degree (M.A. or M.S.) and approximately 300 clinical hours in diagnostics and interventions. The masters program for Speech-Language Pathology combines science, education, medicine, and psychology. Most graduate programs require 40-60 graduate credits, in addition to several clinical internships. SLPs may also be registered to obtain two additional certificates: The Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) and a state license. The CCCs are issued when the SLP completes a masters degree, 375 hours of supervised clinical hours in communication disorders and therapy, a passing score on the ASHA exam, and completion of a Clinical Fellowship Year (CFY). However, state license requirements vary.

Scope of Practice:

If an SLP is in a school-based program they are most likely going to focus on articulation therapy, voice therapy, stuttering therapy, language therapy, group language lessons, sign language programs, speech reading programs, speech and language evaluations and hearing screenings. If an SLP is in a rehabilitative program they are most likely going to focus on dysphagia therapy, videofloroscopy studies, laryngectomy patients, closed head injury, stroke and trauma, Alzheimer’s patients, cleft palate, speech and language testing and hearing screenings.

SOURCE: Super Duper Handy Handout #19

https://www.superduperinc.com/handouts/pdf/19_Celebrate_Better_Speech.pdf

-Rebecca Hipp M.A. CF-SLP, TSSLD

Talking To Loved Ones With Dementia

Communicating with loved ones who have Alzheimer’s disease, another dementia or memory loss can be challenging if not frustrating for both communicative partners. However, there are three common tips to remember when presented with speech and communication issues.

  • Ensure that the attention of your loved one is not only on you but on the current topic. Some of the frustration and confusion can be reduced simply by ensuring that you have your loved ones attention before communicating with them. This can be done by sitting in close proximity, preferably directly in front of them, exuding proper body language by facing them and not only making eye contact but maintaining it as well. Alzheimer’s disease impacts an individual’s peripheral vision, so standing slightly to the side can be significantly detrimental to their focus or attention as they may no longer see you. Additionally, don’t assume that even if you are in their field of vision that they are actually looking at you, eye contact is still imperative.
  • Continue to maintain the attention of your loved one as people living with Alzheimer’s disease present with difficulty concentrating. This can be done by continuously stating your loved ones name and waiting for them to respond before continuing with the conversation. Another helpful tip is to use simpler sentences along with a slower rate of speech. Additionally, try to decrease the amount of questions and/or options presented to them within one conversational exchange and if a decision needs to be made try to limit the choices to two or else communication may be hindered.
  • Another way to decrease the demands placed on your loved one is by not putting them on the spot which a memory, which can unwittingly create anxiety for individual’s with Alzheimer’s disease. To someone who presents with dementia, it can feel as though they are being tested on something they do not know the answers to, which could potentially be setting them up to feel embarrassed or ashamed. Although Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia impact several speech and language areas, it does not cause individuals to forget how to feel emotions. Although these may be well-meaning questions, try to reword them in a way that is much less likely to create anxiety or confusion, which significantly increases the likelihood of a positive experience for the person with dementia.

SOURCE: http://www.alzheimersweekly.com/2016/10/3-ways-to-talk-to-dementia.html

-Rebecca Hipp M.A., CF-SLP, TSSLD

Impacts of Seasonal Allergies on Speech and Hearing

Seasonal allergies can severely affect speech and language development. Several children who present with speech or voice disorders will also suffer from allergic rhinitis and/or asthma. Allergies interfere with the nasal passage and cause congestion, which further compromises auditory acuity and perception therefore interfering with production and intelligibility. Asthma is a condition in which an individual’s airway becomes inflamed, thus causing them to narrow and swell making it difficult to breath. It is important to note, both of these conditions result in inflammation and swelling of the airways, and when the nasal tissue becomes inflamed, the voice is affected. The impacted voice, including irritated vocal cords due to frequent clearing of the throat from increased nasal drainage, can result in improper articulation. Additionally, children who present with severe congestion often breathe through their mouth and young children who utilize this breathing pattern frequently may create a habit of a perpetually opened mouth with a protruding tongue. This posture severely impacts the quality of their speech and articulation as this behavior perpetuates lingual weakness as well as inadequate tone in other oral motor muscles. This breathing pattern is actually one of the possible causes of orofacial myofunctional disorder  (OMD), which is commonly referred to as a “tongue thrust”, resulting in the improper articulation of the sounds “t”, “d”, “n”, “s”, “z”, “l”, “sh”, “ch” and “j”.

Seasonal allergies can not only affect articulation and vocal quality, but also hearing as well. In addition to congestion, allergies can cause ear infections secondary to fluid in the middle ear space. Ear infections with concomitant fluid in the middle ear space are known to create a temporary conductive hearing loss, which can negatively impact a child’s ability to recognize, discriminate, and produce phonemes. When the Eustachian tube becomes clogged, children experience pain or pressure in the ears, along with reduced ability to hear. Hearing loss from ear infections is usually temporary and can be resolved with treatment prescribed by a medical professional. However, children with allergies may suffer from more frequent ear infections and may experience a more severe impact on hearing. Hearing is critical for speech and language development as if a child cannot hear, it interferes with their ability to understand language or discriminate sounds as they may not be able to hear softer, high-frequency sounds, causing them to mispronounce the sound.

There are certain signs and symptoms that may show that a child is presenting with seasonal allergies. These include constant runny nose, excessive sneezing or coughing, watery eyes, dark circles under the eyes and/or itchy eyes or nose. Additionally, the child may complain that their mouth or throat feels itchy when eating certain fruits or vegetables, such as bananas, cucumbers and melons, which is called oral allergy syndrome (OAS) and often occurs in those who are allergic to ragweed. It is important to have the child fully diagnosed by a medical professional to ensure these symptoms are secondary to allergies and not a cold.

Luckily, allergies are treatable and may only require an over-the-counter medication or an antihistamine nasal spray that can be used daily and improve quality of life immediately for the child. It is also important to evaluate the child’s environment to find ways to reduce possible allergens at home. This includes keeping the windows closed, acquiring an air purifier, and encouraging hand or body washing immediately after playing outside.

SOURCE: https://www.speechbuddy.com/blog/language-development/seasonal-allergies-and-speech-issues/

 – Rebecca Hipp M.A., CF-SLP, TSSLD