Tips to Stay on Track! Ways to build your memory skills

Are you or a loved one having a difficult time Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 1.24.27 PMremembering important items, facts, or events? Here are some helpful hints to help you stay on task, stay organized and keep your memory skills sharp!

The most common cause of memory loss is acquired brain injury (TBI) such as stroke or head injury. It is important to note that children with learning disabilities may also experience difficulties with short-term and long-term memory. These tips may also help children to stay on track and focused in school! Unfortunately, there is no cure for memory loss but there are a number of ways of coping and making life easier.

  1. Make the most of your memory by adapting to your environment
  2. Use your techniques and strategies

There are 3 stages of memory…

1) Stage 1: Encoding or input – GETTING information in

  • pay attention
  • process information
  • give it meaning
  1. Stage 2: Storage- KEEPING information in.

3) Stage 3: Retrieval – Recalling information previously encoded and stored

  • Pay attention!
    Most memory problems are due to lack of attention.
  • Making a conscious decision to pay attention is the first important step toward improving memory skills.
  • Simple techniques can help you process information so it stands a better chance of making it to storage for retrieval.

Internal Memory Strategies:

-Visualization: Make a mental picture of information.

-Association: Mentally associate new information wit
h something familiar to you. (Ex. Paul moved to Tulip Lane. I’ll remember this because my favorite flower is a Tulip).

-Chunking: Group digits of numbers into chunks (ex. 477-802-976) or break sentences down by ideas (ex. Speech therapy/will be at 4:00/instead of 12:00/because I have a meeting).

-Chaining: Recall 3-4 words by linking them together in a sentence. (ex. words: Eggs, Thursday, Water, Today- I will get eggs and water today, not on Thursday).

External Memory Strategies:

-Note Taking: Take important notes down on a notepad, iPad, computer, phone, or appointment card. Don’t be afraid to write important information down in one spot! These notes will serve as friendly reminders.

-Tape Recording: If someone is giving information in length at a lecture, or is giving important directions or instructions, use your phone, iPad, or computer to record.

-Daily Planner: A daily planner will help you to write down appointments and events in an organized way. Don’t be afraid to color code! (ex. Purple highlight: doctor’s appointment, yellow highlight-plans with friends).

-Phone/watch Alarms: Use these alerts to remind you to take medication or to check your daily schedule.


 Stay organized:

  • Improving memory requires awareness of the possib
    ility of forgetting and then making a conscious effort to use some type of memory tool.

    • Experiment with a variety of techniques and find what works for you. And more importantly, have fun!

Follow a set routine:

  • Helps reduce demands put on memory
  • Changes in routine may cause confusion
  • Family plays an important role in maintaining routines and preventing confusion

Fun Facts!

  • Most short-term memories only last 20 to 30 seconds.
  • The sense of smell can help evoke powerful and vivid memories.
  • Research has found that being tested on material can improve your recall of the information.

Alexis Granger M.A. CF-SLP TSSLD


Fun with Straws to Eliminate a Lateral Lisp

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Does your child lateralize any of the following sounds? /s/, /z/, /ch/, /sh/, /j/?

The main issue with a lateralized lisp is the sides of the tongue may not be high or tense enough in the mouth. Therefore, airflow during speech production comes out the sides of the oral cavity, rather than midline.

Cut off approximately 2 inches of a drinking straw. Have your child place the straw vertically so that the top of the straw is placed midline, touching his/her bottom lip. Have the child produce his/her targeted sound (i.e. /s/) until he/she can centralize all of the airflow through the straw. After a few trials, take the straw away and see if your child can self-monitor centralized airflow. When a lateralized production is made, always remind your child to use his/her “invisible straw” to help centralize airflow for the correct sound production.

More tips to make this technique stick!

-Produce a /t-t-t-t/ prior to the /s/ sound through the straw (i.e. t-t-t-ssssss). This will allow for proper tongue placement to control airflow.

-Need some visual feedback? Visual feedback will help your child to recognize and monitor when he/she is producing the sound with the correct or incorrect airflow. While your child is attempting to shape the airflow into the straw, place an ipad or mirror (anything that fogs up) underneath the straw. If the air is centralized, you should see the mirror/ipad glass fog up! Wow! Look at that! You made the airflow go down the middle and through the straw!

Alexis Granger M.A. CF-SLP TSSLD

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What is a language-based learning disability?

Language-based learning disabilities are deficits with age- appropriate reading, spelling, and/or writing. This disorder is not about how smart a person is. Most individuals diagnosed with learning disabilities have average to superior intelligence.

Signs of a language learning disability:

Difficulties with…..

  • Expressing ideas clearly, as if the words needed are on the tip of the tongue but won’t come out. What the child says can be vague and difficult to understand (e.g., using unspecific vocabulary, such as “thing” or “stuff” to replace words that cannot be remembered). Filler words like “um” may be used to take up time while the child tries to remember a word.
  • Learning new vocabulary that the child hears (e.g., taught in lectures/lessons) and/or sees (e.g., in books). This includes problems with new word acquisition, storage and organization of known words, and lexical access/retrieval.
  • Understanding questions and following directions that are heard and/or read
  • Recalling numbers in sequence (e.g., telephone numbers and addresses)
  • Understanding and retaining the details of a story’s plot or a classroom lecture
  • Reading and comprehending material
  • Learning words to songs and rhymes
  • Telling left from right, making it hard to read and write since both skills require this directionality
  • Letters and numbers
  • Learning the alphabet
  • Identifying the sounds that correspond to letters, making learning to read difficult
  • Mixing up the order of letters in words while writing
  • Mixing up the order of numbers that are a part of math calculations
  • Spelling
  • Memorizing the times tables
  • Telling time
  • Social communication which include problems with social interaction and social cognition.

What treatments are available for individuals with a language-based learning disability?

  • Individualized programs always relate to the Common Core Learning Standards. Therefore, materials for treatment are taken from or are directly related to content from classes (e.g., textbooks for reading activities, assigned papers for writing activities, practice of oral reports for English class). The student is taught to apply newly learned language strategies to classroom activities and assignments.
  • Speech-Language Pathologists specialize in intervention with spoken language (speaking and listening), which can also be designed to support the development of written language. For example, after listening to a story, the student may be asked to state and write answers to questions. He or she may be asked to give a verbal and then a written summary of the story.
  • Speech-Language Pathologists will also target the specific aspects of reading and writing that the student is struggling with. For example, if the student is able to read words but is unable to understand the details of what has been read, comprehension is addressed. If a younger student has difficulty distinguishing the different sounds that make up words, treatment will focus on activities that support growth in this skill area (rhyming, tapping out syllables, etc.).

Alexis Granger M.A. CF-SLP TSSLDScreen Shot 2016-01-09 at 5.31.55 PM

New Breakthrough Made in Autism Research


Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 12.41.35 PMNew research reveals that brain-chemical imbalance increases the symptoms of autism. This study was supported by a Milton Fund grant from Harvard University, a Seed Grant from the Simons Center for the Social Brain at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an MIT-Mass General Hospital Grand Challenge Award. According to recent research, a direct link between the symptoms of autism and brain levels of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) has been found. The question you may have is, “What’s GABA? How does it work in our bodies?” GABA is crucial to the human body and is responsible for reducing excitability levels throughout the nervous system. Without enough GABA in our body, neurons will fire too easily and too often. Excessive GABA levels often cause anxiety, a trait that individuals with autism often exhibit. “Often, people with autism have trouble filtering irrelevant sensory information, and it’s long been thought this might have something to do with inhibition in the brain,” says study leader Caroline Robertson, a researcher with the Harvard Society of Fellows, in Cambridge, Mass. Therefore, high levels of GABA contribute to difficulty filtering and processing various stimuli.

The experimental design consisted of 41 participants, 21 were mildly to severely affected by autism, and 20 were unaffected by the condition. Two tasks were completed for the purposes of this study. The first task involved inhibition of brain responses. The participants were instructed to look through binocular lenses that displayed a different image to each eye. “Typically, the brain switches between focusing on one or the other of the two images. This requires the brain to suppress one image.” Results of this task revealed that the 21 participants with autism took more time to distinguish between the two images than were the participants unaffected by the condition. This reflects the notion that individuals with autism have difficulty with blocking out distracting sights, sounds or other sensory input.

The next task involved, magnetic resonance spectroscopy to measure GABA levels in each participant’s brain. In the group of participants without autism, their abilities to suppress the competing image increased in direct proportion to GABA levels in their brains. On the other hand, in participants with autism, GABA levels did not change in proportion to test performance. Dr. Robertson stated, “This shows that the link between GABA and the ability to suppress competing images is completely absent in autism.”
This ground-breaking research may support the use of medication to increase GABA signals within the brain. Future medications may help to inhibit symptoms that occur in individuals with autism.

For further information on this ground-breaking research, you can visit

Alexis Granger M.A. CF-SLP TSSLD