Tip: Repeat Back The Error

You can absolutely take a break or vacation from weekly therapy.

But that doesn’t mean supporting growth and improvement in your child’s speech needs to stop.

No need to bring worksheets or speech games.

Instead, if you have a little one working on articulation of certain sounds, use their conversational speech to help them make corrections.

One of my fav speech tips when a child can produce a sound correctly but struggles to generalize it is to repeat back the error.

Example :
My little guy struggles with L. Technically, this is an age appropriate error. But, he CAN say a perfect L when I remind him.

On our trip, while exploring you don’t know how many times I heard “Wook, mommy, Wook”

So, I said back “Wook” and as clear as day he’d say back “No, LOOK!” Yay! This gives him practice in his very natural setting with his sound as well as increase his awareness of the sound across environments – a big step in generalizing the new speech sound.

This tip is really best for kids who have almost mastered a sound in therapy (or natural development, like my little guy with his L) but don’t yet use it independently. For kids who CANNOT say their target sounds without cues from their therapist, I would hold off on this activity, for now.

Family Style Meals Help Picky Eaters

When families come to me for feeding therapy, they are often at the end of their rope and do not even know where to start.

They have bought 30 bags of their child’s favorite chicken nuggets and have “given in” to making those every night.

It doesn’t have to be that way, and I can help!

One of my first suggestions to support better feeding behaviors at home is to serve all meals family style. Here is an example of how I served this week’s dinner family style.

We had “Deconstructed Tacos,” and each family member (except for baby) was able to serve themselves as much or as little of each food, with the expectation that every food at least is on their plate. 

What you may not realize is that even having the food on the table, or better on your child’s plate, is helping desensitize them and normalize novel foods! 

Feeding Success Is One Step At A Time

Research tells us it can take 10+ exposures to a new food before a child accepts it into their repertoire.

An exposure doesn’t necessarily mean taking a bite either. 

It can be as simple as allowing in on the dinner table on a parent’s plate for some kids. For others, a first exposure can be smelling it or touching it.

This little girl has been with me for a few months and her initial exposures have improved from cringing at novel foods when I bring them out in therapy just when she looks at them, to willingly grabbing them with her whole hand and often times, bringing them towards her nose or lips immediately.

She’s not quite comfortable enough to take a bite of a new food yet, but that’s ok. We have already broken down alot of barriers.

Thanks to her mom for continuing the hard work at home. Having your child help you meal prep is an excellent, low pressure way to expose them to new foods. The child gets to look at, touch and smell new foods without the anxiety or pressure to eat any. 

Plus, they get first hand experience watching how foods transform… and that can be so cool!

Craniosacral Therapy Is Cool!

Spent the day observing the amazing Keri Smith CMT at @nurturingtouchandwellness . The work she does for my littlest clients, and even some bigger cuties, is incredible.

If you have questions about infant massage, craniosacral therapy, or visceral manipulation and how it might help your child, start with Keri. She’s a wealth of knowledge and support.

Curious? Craniosacral therapy has been shown to help children with:
➡️ breastfeeding difficulties
➡️ tongue and lip ties
➡️ constipation
➡️ sleep issues
➡️ feeding difficulties
➡️ ADHD, Autism and other developmental disorders
➡️ And so so much more!

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 😲