Monthly Archives: October 2010

WHY GROUP THERAPY?

For years we have been hearing about the benefits of private one-on-one therapy and need for individual support, however recently there has been a lot of talk about group therapy. Why choose group therapy for your child? How will your child get the attention they need if there are other children around?

Group therapy is a functional way of helping your child learn new things and practice their goals in a realistic setting. For example, if you are training to become a professional swimmer you can weight train and go for daily runs but the true test is when you get in the water and race alongside your competitors. Group therapy takes on a similar path. It is important to get the one-on-one support you need to gear up for the real world but mastering and transferring your goals to the real world takes place when you practice what you have learned outside of one-on-one settings. We all know therapy rooms with two people, free of distractions are quite different from our childrens’ classrooms, play groups and birthday parties.

What group therapy offers:

• Modelling and support and from a registered Speech-Language Pathologist to help your child reach their goals

• Support from peers and building of confidence through newfound friendships

• Peer communication within a realistic social settings

• Practice in a setting that mimics a real world environment (a classroom, play date with friends)

• The ability for your child to teach and learn from others

• Cost efficiency

Whether group therapy is targeting social communication (turn taking, staying on topic, initiating conversations) or building language skills, it is an exciting way to help children reach their full potential. Group therapy offers a supportive network and trusting environment where children can grow with and from each other.

Written by: Ashleigh Wishen, Speech-Language Pathologist, The Speech Therapy Centres of Canada Ltd.

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TELL ME A STORY

When children begin school, they need to extend their language skills to include reading and writing. Telling and listening to stories provides a bridge between the oral language skills of early childhood and the more formal language of print. With the ability to tell stories develops the ability to talk about things outside the here and now, to understand how we use language to express cause and effect, and to talk about feelings and motivation. Story telling skills are used in social situations, for understanding Math word problems and even for writing up Chemistry lab reports.

By the time a child is five, his or her stories should have a clear beginning, middle and end. To encourage this ability in your child, ask her to retell a story you have just read. Ask questions like, “Who is in this story?” “What happened first?” “What happened in the end?” Use puppets and other props to help your child retell the story. As your child improves in her ability to tell stories, you can ask questions and make comments about cause and effect and feelings, such as, “How did he feel when that happened?” and “I wonder why she did that.”

Difficulty with understanding and producing stories can be a sign of a learning disability. A speech-language pathologist can help your child to develop the story telling skills that will help him to succeed in school and social situations.

Written by: Suzanne Bassett, speech-language pathologist, The Speech Therapy Centres of Canada Ltd.

PRACTICAL TIPS FOR WORKING ON SPEECH AND LANGUAGE AT HOME

For many parents, juggling work, school, homework and extra-curriculars is an exhausting feat. Now on top of all that your child is seeing a speech-language pathologist and they are giving you more HOMEWORK!

Below are some practical tips that I give to my client’s parents on how to work on speech and language without adding hours to the day.

TIP #1 – Incorporate “speech time” into your pre-existing, everyday routines. For example, on your drive to school find words that start with your child’s goals and talk about them on your ride. If your child is working on the “k” sound, then have your child say “car” every time they see a car. If your child is working on the pronouns “he/she” have him/her talk about what people are doing. For example “he is walking the dog”, “she is washing the car”.

TIP #2 – Keep practice time short. Five to ten minutes of practice is long enough to make a difference but short enough that it is manageable. Do not try to correct your child all day long. This will drive everyone crazy. Keep the practice to your “speech time”.

TIP #3 – Enlist the help of older siblings. Show your child’s older brother or sister what sound/concept you are working on and let them help out when you are busy. Most older siblings are able to provide a good speech and language model and enjoy helping out when it involves games and toys.

TIP #4 – Set realistic goals. Come up with a schedule that works for you. If Wednesdays are your busiest day then do not put pressure on yourself to practice on that day. You will only feel upset and guilty if you don’t get to practice. Set a schedule and try your best to stick to it. Understand that some practice is better than no practice. Aim for 3-5 times a week at first, and then if possible increase that to 7 times a week.

Stay positive and encourage your child to do the same. Remember, slow and steady wins the race!

Written by: Carolyn Davidson, speech-language pathologist, The Speech Therapy Centres of Canada Ltd.

WHAT ABOUT ME?

Sibling rivalry and jealousy is common in all families. But when it comes to dealing with siblings of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), stresses can be far more complex.

Many siblings, especially those of children with ASD, feel that the focus is always on their brother or sister. Even the idea of a sibling coming for therapy may make the sibling not in therapy feel as if their brother or sister is more “special” than they are. After all, they get to go to appointments and play with toys!

Below are a few tips to help the jealous sibling be more understanding:

1. Give your child(ren) insight into their sibling’s world. Explain why their brother or sister acts differently than them, remembering to highlight all the things that they also have in common.

2. Create activities where the sibling(s) can “lead” to make them feel important. Encourage their brother/sister to join in or sit with them and read them a book.

3. Designate 5-10 minutes of every day to spend exclusively with each child. Talk about their day, and provide examples of how they have helped or guided their sibling.

Children that have siblings with ASD are exposed to many complicated issues that most people have never come into contact with, and as a result may have many difficult questions they want to ask. Assist them through the journey. Let them know that their sibling looks up to them, regardless of the age difference, and allow them take an active role in their sibling’s development.

Recommended books:

“All About My Brother” by Sarah Peralta

“Sometimes my Brother: Helping Kids Understand Autism Through A Sibling’s Eyes” by Angie Healy

Written by: Ashleigh Wishen, Speech-Language Pathologist, The Speech Therapy Centres of Canada Ltd.