One way children learn language is through modeling. When children first begin to communicate they often use gestures. It is natural to just accept the gesture and respond to your child’s wants. These times are a perfect opportunity to model language and model the words that go with the gesture. The following are ways you can help enhance your child’s language development,
- Praise-When your child says or attempts to say the word you have been modeling, it’s important to praise them and let them know they have done a good job. Praising your child will reinforce the behavior/language.
- Require your child to communicate– Once your child has the ability to use some words to request, ensure they continue to use words and language to communicate, this may be hard for some parents, especially those who know what their children want just by the child’s actions. Requiring them to communicate will help the child understand that this is what they need to do to get what they want.
- Parallel talk/self-talk-This is an easy strategy that involves narrating the action you are doing as well as stating the actions the child is doing as they do them. If this is done repeatedly, then the child will begin to make the connection between the words and the actions.
- Expansion and extensions-This technique involves the parents building upon what the child has said. For example if the child labels a toy or an object, the parent will build upon that and say a sentence about that object.
- Set up the environment– Set up your child’s environment so they are tempted to use language. One way to tempt your child to use language is to put a toy in the child’s view but out of reach, then they will have to use communication to request that item. Another suggestion is change up your child’s routine. If you forget to do something the child does every day, the child will attempt to express that this specific task was forgotten by communicating.
Michelle Weiman MA CF-SLP
Aphasia is a language disorder that is caused by an injury to the brain, typically the left side of the brain. Impairments occur in four primary areas. These areas include; spoken language expression, spoken language comprehension, written expression and reading comprehension. There are different subcategories of aphasia. These include fluent and non-fluent. A person with fluent aphasia is able to produce connected speech, however their speech may not have much meaning. This is also known as Wernicke’s Aphasia due to the area of the brain that has damage. People with non-fluent aphasia have effortful speech; grammar is impaired however their speech frequently has meaning. This is also known as Broca’s Aphasia.
Some causes of Aphasia include, traumatic brain injury, brain tumors, brain surgery, progressive neurological diseases such as dementia and stroke. There are two types of strokes. These include ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic strokes are caused by a blockage that interrupts the blood flow to an area of the brain. A hemorrhagic stroke is caused by a blood vessel that ruptures and causes damage to the brain tissue surrounding that blood vessel. The most common cause of Aphasia is stroke.
Symptoms vary based on severity and location of the damage. A person with aphasia often has difficulty with both expressive and receptive language. Anomia is another symptom often associated with aphasia. Anomia is difficulty with naming and word finding.
Treatment will vary based on the extent of damage and the individual needs of the patient. Treatment can either be restorative or compensatory. Restorative treatment aims at restoring functions that the person previously had, but are now impaired. The goal of compensatory treatment is to compensate for functions that were lost and cannot be regained. Two useful treatment strategies for patients with non-fluent aphasia include; Melodic Intonation Therapy (MIT) and Script Training. MIT is a technique that utilizes the musical elements of speech to improve language production. This technique is based of off the idea that music is processed in the right side of the brain, which is undamaged. Patient’s begin by singing short phrases and then slowly increase sentences lengths and eventually decrease their reliance on music to speak. Script Training is a technique that relies on the repeated practice of a script that has been created by the therapist and patient. The script should be something that is highly relevant to the patient’s everyday life. The goal is for the scripted speech to become automatic and less effortful.
Michelle Weiman MA CF-SLP
Children who present with sensory difficulties can have nutritional deficiencies. It is important to ensure your child is getting the proper nutrients necessary to stay healthy. There are two types of eaters, picky eaters and problem eaters. A child is considered a picky eater when he/she eats more than 30 different foods. They generally eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean meats etc. They’re selectivity regarding foods is usually behavioral rather than a sensory issue. A problem eater is a child who eats less than 20 foods. These children usually have either hyper-sensitivity or hypo-sensitivity. Children who are hyper-sensitive often gravitate towards bland foods, such as breads and pastas where as children with hyper-sensitivity tend to prefer foods that are stimulatory such as spicy or hot food.
If your child is a problem eater, the following techniques may help introduce new foods into your child’s repertoire:
- Use a food processor, to make soft foods such as creamy chicken.
- Let your child pick their own condiments, this will give the child some control as well as pair a preferred food with a new food.
- For those children who are color sensitive regarding food, try hiding nutrient filled food into their preferred color food. For example blending vegetables into brownies.
It is best not to pressure your child into trying new foods but encourage them to explore new foods at his/her own pace.
Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) is an eating disorder characterized by failure to meet nutritional needs. This can lead to the following, significant weight loss, significant nutritional deficiency, dependence on taking nutritional supplements, or the placement of a feeding tube and an interference with psychosocial functioning. Along with the aforementioned the following are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder-Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as diagnostic criteria; the eating disturbance is not due to a lack of food in the child’s environment, the eating disturbance is not due to body image and the eating disturbance cannot be attributed to a co-occurring medical condition. A child with ARFID may experience anxiety around certain food items or texture, which can result in avoidance of those foods. These kids also can have illogical thoughts regarding food, for example “If I eat that I will choke”.
There are several types of treatments that can help a child with ARFID. Cognitive behavioral therapy paired with feeding therapy is a common course of treatment. Cognitive behavior therapy will address the underlying thought processes leading to the eating disturbance. Feeding/exposure therapy can help patients learn to tolerate the anxiety provoking foods.
Michelle Weiman MA CF-SLP