Aside

Dysphagia is a disorder in the ability to eat and swallow, not to be confused with eating disorders, which are not due to a physical dysfunction, but an emotional and psychological disorder that revolves around eating and the implications of eating food. But according to ASHA, there is also Conditioned Dysphagia, which they describe as behavioral problems associated with eating. So if Conditioned Dysphagia is a disorder in which emotional issues create a problem with eating, then what is the difference between an eating disorder and conditioned dysphagia?

I would describe it like this…

Eating disorders are usually associated with a fear of eating for secondary reasons, like weight gain or being ostracized by others. Conditioned Dysphagia is more related to actual pain or sickness that comes along with eating. When a child has negative associations with eating early on, such as painful reflux or excessive vomiting or uncomfortable tube feedings, they begin to associate pain and discomfort with eating, even after their symptoms have been controlled, or they transition off tube feedings. It’s hard to understand sometimes as adults. Most adults love to eat and associate pleasure and happiness with food. But consider something like going to the dentist. When you are little and you only go for checkups, you get the yummy flavored toothpaste and cool stickers. The dentist is definitely not something you fear, that is, until your first cavity when they poke you with needles, you hear the drill in your mouth and your whole face is numb for several hours. I’m sure some of you are even cringing while just reading about the dentist. Imagine this as your child’s association with eating. Yes, you have to go to the dentist and clean your teeth regularly, but you still hate it and do everything you can to avoid going. The same goes with eating for these children. They will do whatever they can to avoid eating so they don’t have to deal with the pain and discomfort.

So remember, when you have a child who has had negative experiences with eating, you must be patient as they learn to enjoy food again (or for the first time). Make eating fun and a happy experience. Yelling and punishing will not improve their feelings about eating. Children learn best through play and we tend to leave play out of mealtimes (Sarah, don’t play with your food!). Why is it that when we are potty training, our whole world becomes talking about things with our children that we would be mortified to talk about as they get older but we can’t take time to make eating a fun experience? If we can make up a potty dance for every time our children use the potty, why can’t we do an eating dance or play an eating game? (Sorry for mixing the two subjects, but it needed to be said)

That’s all for now. Talk to you guys soon,

Melissa B.

Aside

Children with fluency disorders (stuttering and cluttering), auditory processing disorders, ADHD, and other disorders tend to have increased difficulty with high stress situations. Increased stress levels can make them effectively fall apart and become disorganized. It is very difficult to be successful when you are not organized, as you probably know very well. So what are some things you can do to help de-stress your child?

Parents obviously want the best for their children. Sometimes, however, the things we do to help our children can create extra stress for them. We tend to overload our children with extra activities to help them be more well-rounded and have more opportunities; we have dance, violin, soccer, gymnastics, piano, and then, find some time to do your homework! While we want to give our children every opportunity, the overload may be more detrimental than beneficial. Try to limit out of school activities to one a day or less if possible. If they have one activity on Tuesdays and Thursdays, set up another for Monday and Wednesday. Friday can be their day to catch up on some relaxation. Too many activities can create stressful schedules and be disorganizing and difficult to keep up with mentally.

Try not to use time constraints as a punishment or threat. Activities are usually seen as a reward. So, we might say something like, “if you don’t finish your homework, we can’t go to soccer.” This, however, adds more stress to an already stressful activity. Children may try to rush through homework so they don’t miss their activities or disappoint you. Instead, try to set up helpful situations and let them know that they can take their time and really focus hard on their homework. Try not to point out that soccer practice is about to start. It’s important that your child knows that academics are important and that there will be time for other things later.

Don’t be rushed, even if you’re running late for an activity. Children get their cues from you, so if you are running around like a headless chicken, they are more inclined to feel stressed and possibly guilty for not getting to the car fast enough. Set up schedule boards or set a timer to help keep on track. If they didn’t finish their homework and you don’t want them to miss out on an activity, set up some time after they get home, or wake up a few minutes earlier the next morning to finish up. It will be easier for your child to focus after a good night’s sleep than when it’s 15 minutes past their regular bedtime. Let them know not to worry and that they will have time in the morning to finish (if they are up all night worrying about finishing homework, that won’t be a good thing either).

Break up the chaos at home. Especially when there is more than one child at home, it can be hard to coordinate schedules so that everyone can sit around the dinner table, but, this is one of the most important things for children to have. It sets up a stable base and helps to reorganize after a long day. Even if you can’t coordinate a time for everyone to eat together, it is important that children sit down and separate eating from other activities. Try not to let your child eat dinner by his or her self. At least one other family member should sit with them and share the meal. Though not ideal, if you have to eat in the car on the way to an activity, take a few minutes in the parking lot to eat dinner and include some calm conversation to make it as close to a regular meal as possible.

Aside

Sometimes, people with expressive aphasia can be easily frustrated. Unlike, receptive language aphasia, people with expressive aphasia are usually aware of their language deficits and know what they want to say; they just can’t get it out. It’s kind of like when you have a word on the tip of your tongue. Another symptom of expressive aphasia can be ataxia, or drunken speech. People with aphasia typically have a weak side (usually the side opposite the affected side of the brain). Since the muscles are weak, it is difficult to make precise speech sounds, so the speech is slurred. One way to remember ataxia is: when you drink, you have to take a taxi; hence, ataxia is drunken speech. So, what are some ways you can help out at home?

Words on the tip of your tongue-

  • Try playing word association games, like scattergories or Taboo. Scattergories gives you categories to work with and you have to come up with words in each category that begin with a certain letter. Taboo is a game where you have to get the other person to think of a word by describing it. Association games help with word finding difficulties by giving you other options to get out what you want to say; if you can’t think of a word, describe it using word associations. While it may take longer to get your message across, you will be able to communicate your wants and needs with other people.

Ataxia-

  • If reading ability is preserved, this can be a good way to improve articulation. When you read out loud, you are forced to slow down your rate of speech because the printed words serve as a cue for pacing. If you think about it, you read slower than you speak, and when you read, you pronounce each word rather than using the jumbled mess we call speaking. For example, you wouldn’t see the words “going to” and read it as “gonna.” So reading out loud can help you to slow down and pronounce all of the sound you hear. It may not sound natural, especially at first, but reading is a good exercise that will help your articulators (like your tongue and lips).
  • Overarticulation also can be helpful. While it may not feel very natural at first, words will come out clearer and be easier to understand. If someone with normal speech overarticulates, it will sound funny, but if you have slurred speech and weak tongue and lip movements, then overarticulation will sound closer to normal speech.  

Aside

Hello Everyone,

Here’s an idea to get kids interested in doing their work. Whether you’re trying to motivate them to finish their homework or get their chores done, turning everyday activities into a game just makes the work not seem like work. I find that this is a fun way to pique a child’s interest while achieving a real goal. It breaks up the workload without taking away from the importance of doing the work. So, without further ado…

Sit your child down and make a game board together. Explain to them that this is our “Working Game.” All you will need is:

  • cardboard, posterboard, or sturdy paper to serve as the game board
  • construction paper
  • scissors
  • glue
  • markers
  • any other crafty pieces you would like to add to the board (e.g. glitter or stickers)

Cover the game board in construction paper if you would like to change the color of the board. Cut out shapes from the construction paper to serve as the spaces for the game board. Arrange the pieces onto the board any way you would like that shows a clear start and end to the board with a clear path. put as few or as many pieces as would be helpful for the size of the tasks your child will be completing. For example, if your child is using the board to complete homework, which usually takes an hour, try putting a space for each 5-10 minute span of homework time. Remember, if your child has to complete some long tasks and some short tasks, put more spaces. You can always instruct your child to move 3 spaces for chores and 1 space for homework. A dice could also be used to shorten the number of spaces your child has to move. Add stickers, glitter, or pictures in empty spaces on the board to make it more fun.

While creating the board with your child, explain to them that the game is part of their homework. Explain that when they get to the end of the game, they get a reward. The reward can be whatever you feel would be motivating. However, be cautious not to make the game or task seem like a punishment. Try not to use threats, like “if you don’t finish the game/ task, you can’t have the reward.” Instead, try motivating phrases, like “Let’s play our game so that we can have our reward.” Good rewards could be: computer or TV time, a favorite healthy snack, or a quality time activity with mom or dad.

Once the game board is made, you can begin using it to complete whatever tasks you feel your child may need some extra motivation for. After 5 minutes of good work (less if the child is younger or the task is easier), allow the child to move ahead. Try not to cheat them out of moves. If they are working well and they go through 10 minutes without stopping, allow them to move the appropriate 2 spaces. Once you start the game with an activity, keep the rules consistent for that round. However, if the child is having difficulty, it is okay to bring down the demands. Next time you play, change the time limits or number of spaces accordingly to your child’s needs. As they become more proficient, increase the demand until the child is able to complete their tasks without use of the game board. After your child is able to build up their sustained attention to complete their tasks, they will not need the game board and instead, the idea of getting their reward or free time will be motivation enough to finish their tasks.

Another idea could be to use a marble jar. Have a set number of marbles put aside (as many as they would need to complete the task). As they meet their time requirements, allow them to put the marbles into the jar. Once they finish the marbles , they get their reward.

Be sure NOT to punish the child for bad behavior by taking away marbles they already earned or moving their game piece back on the game board. This game is a reward system and we don’t want them to have negative feelings about it. Taking away things they already earned can lead them to feel that the work isn’t worth it because their hard work can be taken away.

Change it up by adding specialty spots on the board. For example, if they reach the half way mark, they get to play with some bubbles for two minutes or take a chocolate milk break. Just be sure not to add too many because they may become distractions and break your child’s focus from completing the task.

That’s all I have for now. Hope it was helpful 🙂

-Melissa