This Week From The Library: In The Kitchen

With this pandemic, I feel like half of my life is spent in the kitchen. So, why not teach about it? 🍳🍽️

There were dozens of fun books about food and cooking to choose from. Favorite this week were definitely the “If you give a…” series and Dragons Love Tacos. Special treat – Pop-pop was visiting and got to read the Pop-Pop and Me book.

This collection also brought in some diversity to our lessons with characters and foods from different races and cultures. The King’s Taster is a funny book about a little one who snacks too much so he doesn’t eat food at mealtimes.

That could be a good one to read if you have a little grazer who refuses lunch or dinner because they are full!

*Hot Tip* We read Dragons Love Tacos before trying tacos for the first time at home for dinner. It actually helped him get excited about the new food (WILL YOU BREATHE FIRE TOO?! Let’s find out!)

You Are Expressive With Those You Love

And in case you were curious, no the baby did not have the Chinese food… Too much salt for him. Although he did scream and grunt at me for it. He had his own leftover pork and peas.The 3yo did have most of the food without too much hassle. He has learned to love lo mein after racing his dad to slurp up the noodles 🍜We do alot of play with new foods at this house to help him try new foods. New photo series coming soon on fun ways to play with your food. Stay tuned!!

This Week From the Library: Medieval Times

For a little fun, we catapulted into a week full of Kings, Queens, Dragons and Castles! 🏰🐲

My little prince 🤴 was entranced by these books all week. We even frequently wore crowns during our lessons and reading time 🙂

Prior to this week, he thought a crown just meant it was someone’s birthday! 👑

I often like to round out the week with a thematic movie. What’s your favorite movie featuring royalty and/or dragons? There are just so many to choose from! 📼

I’m offering free screenings at daycares and preschools

Calling all preschool and daycare parents ⚠I’m offering 🌟 FREE 🌟 speech and language screenings at local daycares and preschools!

Today, I went to Little Sprouts in Herndon and met some of the cutest little ones ever. If you’re looking for some reassurance that your kiddo is developing appropriately or you have some concerns and want me to have a listen… Call me up!

I’d love to find a time to come to your child’s natural environment for a screening. I can screen from ages 1 through 7. Message me for more details.

Remember – I do have both Pfizer doses of the vaccine and am continuing to take all standard precautions 😷

Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy: What Is It and Why Does Your Child Need It?

Guest Post By Erin Gaul

Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (OMT)- it’s a mouthful, and likely not a term you come across in everyday life! But it is an interesting topic within speech-language pathology, especially for parents of children who exhibit signs of [something]. In a nutshell, OMT is a special discipline of speech therapy focusing on addressing Orofacial myfunctional disorders (OMDs).

According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), “OMDs are patterns involving oral and orofacial musculature that interfere with normal growth, development, or function of orofacial structures, or call attention to themselves.”

Examples of OMDs include tongue thrust, mouth breathing, tongue tie, lip tie, cheeks tie, or an open bite. These disorders can affect a child or adult, leading to problems with breathing, swallowing, sleeping, and speaking (as well as dental problems!).

How can OMDs arise? The causes are diverse including both lifestyle based and physiological:

  • Thumb or finger sucking
  • Extended use of a pacifier and/or sippy cups
  • A restricted nasal airway due to enlarged tonsils/adenoids, deviated septum, and/or allergies
  • Structural or physiological abnormalities such as tongue tie, lip tie, or cheek tie
  • Neurological deficits and developmental delays
  • Heredity

OMD evaluation and treatment fall within the scope of a specially trained speech-language pathologist (SLP), usually in concert with a multidisciplinary team that may consist of dentists, dental hygienists, otolaryngologists, lactation consultants, etc.

In a nutshell, the goal of an SLP when it comes to treating OMDs is to achieve and maintain a functional oral resting posture to facilitate adequate breathing, swallowing, speech, and sleep.

The therapy, OMT, will consist of exercises designed to help restore normal strength and coordination of the muscles of the face and tongue. Programs can be intense and require commitment for in-office treatment sessions, often times multiple sessions a week, as well as at-home daily speech exercises.

Because of the focused nature of this type of speech therapy, not every SLP is able to deliver OMT. The field of speech-language pathology is very broad, as illustrated below in the “speech umbrella.”

Speech Umbrella

SLPs would have an impossible job if they were to be experts in all aspect of speech-language pathology! So every speech therapist develops their specialties – and usually develops a network of fellow SLPs to refer clients when other specialties are needed.

Personally, I specialize in motor speech disorders, speech sound disorders, and orofacial myofunctional therapy. If a potential client called my office asking for Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) evaluation and treatment, I would refer out.

While it is technically within the scope of any speech therapist, the experience gained and training undertaken by an AAC specialist is much better-suited for that client.

So it’s important to look for an SLP who is well-matched to your / your child’s particular needs. An SLP with OMT training has extensive knowledge of the muscles of the face, mouth, tongue, and subsequent structure and physiology of the orofacial mechanisms.

Here’s a good (and detailed) example of why OMT training matters: A five-year-old’s tongue rests low and forward, sitting outside of his mouth (tongue thrust). He’s being treated by a non-specialized SLP for /s/ placement (and likely, all other alveolar sounds).

Unbeknownst to that SLP, the child has an undiagnosed myofunctional disorder, and that is the root cause for the impaired speech sound production. So, the SLPs instructions such as, “Tongue up! Lift that tongue! Close your teeth and make the snake sound!” likely aren’t going to be successful.

This is because we haven’t treated the underlying issue, the tongue thrust, which affects oral resting posture. We need to first set the stage for proper speech production by teaching the tongue its proper “home,” the alveolar ridge.

We must do this before expecting accurate speech sound production. For any child with a frontal lisp, be it a myofunctional-based tongue thrust or a developmental lisp, I will teach oral resting posture FIRST before speech sound practice.

Orofacial myofunctional therapy sets the stage for successful breathing, sleeping, swallowing, dentition, and speech sound production. If you’re unsure about whether your child has an underlying or unidentified OMD, it’s important to discuss with your SLP.

Erin Gaul MS, CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist and owner of Your Speech Path, LLC in Lower Gwynedd, PA. Erin specializes in Childhood Apraxia of Speech, speech sound disorders, and orofacial myofunctional therapy.

Try This Fun Snowman Activity

The set up

Today in speech therapy I made a snowman with one of my kiddos.

I’ve created a canvas with contact paper and painters tape (I should just put those on Amazon subscription!) We will put cotton balls on as the snow, construction paper pieces as the face, and tiny buttons.

This activity is excellent for body part recognition and labeling as well as core, functional vocabulary!

➡ On / off➡ More➡ Up / down➡ Help (can he reach the top?)

We will also work on “sticky” and “stuck” and thematic vocabulary like snow, snowman, cold and buttons. This is an excellent fine motor activity with exposure to various textures and tiny pieces.

The finished product

How cute?! Little man labeled and imitated body parts and said “more” and “no” for snow.

This is very age appropriate and so great to hear him using words. I’m also impressed because this activity kept his attention for almost 10 minutes 😲

Other SLP Blogs I Like

If you like reading my blog, you may like some other speech and language blogs by some amazing practitioners. Add these blogs to your bookmarks to get great tips.

1. Blog: Speech Reads by Erin Gaul, Your Speech Path, LLC. Erin specializes in Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS), other Speech Sound Disorders, and Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy.

2. Abramson AAC blog by Jennifer Abramson, Abramson AAC.  Jennifer is an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) specialist, Adjunct Clinical Instructor at the MGH Institute of Health Professions, author and international lecturer. Check out her post on enhancing communication during the time of Covid here!

3. All Things Communication Blog by Brittany Monroy, M.C.D., CCC-SLP of All Things Communication. All Things Communication blog posts cover a range of topics including: speech fluency, receptive language, expressive language, and prelinguistic skills. This blog is intended for parents and professionals working with young children ages birth to preschool.

4. Building Better Speech and Language by Miranda Wolff.  Miranda specializes in early intervention and focuses on functional and meaningful goals to support children and their families. Check out some activities and topics about everyday life and overall language development in the early years.

My Board Game Recommendations For Language Development

I love Candyland as much as the next mama and SLP (we play it at least 5x, every night….), but if you’re looking for new (albeit last minute) game ideas, I’ve got some suggestions for the 2-4 year old crowd!

🎖️RACE TO THE TREASURE: Take turns in this cooperative game building a path to the treasure before the Ogres get there. Great for turn taking and visual motor skills, I have clients that ask to play this game every week.

📍 ZINGO: This game is fantastic for early vocabulary and sentence building. “I got the bat” “Not a match” are just a few of the sentences to practice. Your child learns to match pictures with this game, too. Too easy? Get the sight word version!

🐿️ SNEAKY SNACKY SQUIRREL: Practice color identification, labeling and matching with this game. It has squirrel tweezers too for fine motor skill practice.

🐧 THIN ICE: Need a game to support speech sound practice at home? This game is great for multiple repetitions (“Say a speech homework word before each turn.”) It also can reinforce color names and is so fun to watch a child’s excitement grow as the tissue stretches thinner!

Kids learn through play. Remember, sometimes we need to work up towards the full attention for a board game too. If your child isn’t immediately excited to play a new game, that’s OK! Sometimes, they just need a little practice to really understand what’s going on. And then, you’ll play it again and again and again and again 😉

My Book Recommendations For Language Development

There are few gifts that you can give a child that are more meaningful and supportive than books.

Did you know the Fairfax library now tells you how much money you save by using the library? We’re at over $5k, just by checking out weekly books for my 3 year old over a few months!!

PRESS HERE: Here’s an awesome interactive book, where your toddler can’t man-handle the pages and destroy the cute little flaps. In this book, help your child learn various action words (press, turn, push) and modifiers (gently, a little bit) while they perform magic on the pages! This book is great for little ones who struggle to pay attention to longer texts.

Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?: Research tells us that many little ones imitate sounds before they do words. This book is perfect for that! My husband jokes that I “moo” for a living, but hey if it engages a child and gets them to communicate, I’ll quack, moo, and vroom all day long!

Poke-a-Dot: Another great option for children to interact with a book! Poke-a-Dots have engaged even my most inattentive clients because they get auditory and tactile feedback from this text! We practice counting and following directions with these books too.

Where Is Baby’s Belly Button?: I love a good book with flaps, so much so that the majority of mine have been surgically repaired with multiple rounds of scotch tape! The “Where Is Baby’s?” series is excellent for attention to stories, following directions, basic vocabulary, and prepositions (in, on, under).

If all else fails, get books on your child’s favorite subjects. In addition to the library books on our weekly theme, my 3 year old and I read the same books about Lightning McQueen and Paw Patrol every single night. He can’t get enough of them. If I mess up one word, he catches me!