Accent Reduction Therapy

May 12, 2010 at 6:06 AM | Posted in Interesting Information | Leave a comment
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accent reduction therapyAn accent is the way a group of people speak.  This may be a regional dialect such as a person from Boston will sound different than a person from Texas.  This may also be foreign such as someone from Mexico or Germany speaking English will sound different than a native speaker of English.

Many seek accent reduction therapy to reduce or eliminate their accent for a variety of reasons.  These reasons may include:

1) Others have difficulty understanding their speech
2) They may avoid social interactions in order to avoid being misunderstood
3) They feel frustrated at having to repeat themselves over and over in order for the other person to fully understand their message.
4) People focus on their accent rather than on their message

A speech-language pathologist is able to help a person learn to change their speech pronunciation thus reducing their accent.  There are many strategies that you can learn to address your sound production, rate, rhythm and intonation to reduce you accent.

If you would like to learn more about accent reduction therapy please contact one of our licensed, certified speech-language pathologists by phone at 1-877-480-7913 or by e-mail at info@independenetspeech.com

Online Speech Therapy provided by Independent Speech ~ www.independentspeech.com

Communicating Effectively As Our Loved One Age

May 10, 2010 at 6:32 AM | Posted in Learning | Leave a comment
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effective communication As our loved ones age, communicating effectively can require more time and thought.  As we age our physical, psychological and social things change occur in the normal process of aging.

Here are a few strategies for communicating with older people:

1) Reduce background noise.  Turn down the TV, move to a room with fewer people, etc.  This allows the person to better focus on you and what you are saying.

2) When you begin a conversation start with basic topics to help the person focus on you and become fully engaged in the conversation before discussing more important topics.

3) When engaged in a conversation try to stick to one topic, shifting quickly from one topic to the next may be confusing.  Use short and concise sentences, this helps the person focus on the meaning.  If possible discuss familiar topics things that you both know well, this helps both understand what the other is talking about because it is shared knowledge.

4) Be patient.  Allow them time to tell stories (even if you have heard it a dozen times) these memories and stories tend to be very important to them and it will make them feel good that you care enough to sit and listen.

5) Allow them a little extra time to respond to your questions as they may need an extra minute to think through their response. Make answering questions easier by providing options such as “Would you like to watch Jeopardy or Family Feud?” rather than asking “What would you like to watch on tv?”

6) Be very aware when you are listening.  Pay attention to gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice etc.  These clues can help you determine what they are talking about or what they want.

7) Help those around you and accept help from others.  If you find a strategy that works let others know so they are able to employ this strategy as well.  If you are having  trouble, ask others if they have any strategies they use that seem to be effective.

If you are concerned about a loved ones communication abilities you may wish to contact a licensed-certified speech-language pathologist who can work with you and your loved one to address your concerns so that you are able to enjoy communicating with your loved ones for years to come.

To speak with one of our licensed-certified speech-language pathologists please feel free to contact us at any time either by phone at 1-877-480-7913 or by e-mail at info@independentspeech.com

Online Speech Therapy provided by Independent Speech ~ www.independentspeech.com

What is Apraxia of Speech?

May 8, 2010 at 10:22 AM | Posted in Articulation | Leave a comment
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apraxia of speechWhat is Apraxia of Speech?  Well, it is a motor disorder that is caused by damage to parts of the brain that are related to speaking. It is characterized by a difficulty in sequencing sounds to form syllables and words.  The severity level is dependent on the nature and extent of the damage.

For someone who experiences Apraixia of speech, they know what they want to say but have difficulty coordinating the muscle movements to produce the words. They may say a word that is completely different from the intended word or may say a nonsense word (a word that isn’t real).  If they do notice the mistake, they may try again and produce the desired word or a completely different word altogether, thus causing the listener further confusion.  This can be extremely frustrating to the speaker.

There are some classic characteristics of Apraxia.  These include:

1) difficulty imitating speech (repeating sounds, words, etc.)
2) difficulty imitating motor movements (for example, sticking out their tongue, licking their lips, etc.)
3) a grouping or searching quality when trying to produce sounds
4) inconsistent errors, though can have some very clear rote phrases such as “how are you” that are automatic in nature
5) speak with a slower rate of speech

Speech therapy can help an individual with aprxia improve their speech skills and overall communication skills.  This therapy can take many forms and will evolve as the student improves or makes changes to their speech patterns.

Speech therapy can be very productive and effective for those who experience apraxia of speech.  If you would like to learn more about online speech therapy please contact one of our speech pathologists by phone at 1-877-480-7913 or by e-mail to info@independentspeech.com.

Online Speech Therapy by Independent Speech ~ www.independentspeech.com

Communication disorders as we age

May 5, 2010 at 8:52 AM | Posted in Interesting Information | Leave a comment
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Communication as we ageCurrently, there are more than 70 million Americans who are 55 years old and older and more than 20% of those who are in this age group experience a communication disorder.  That is approximately 1.4 million people who experience some form of communication disorder.   As we age, there are normal changes that occur in our hearing, memory, speech-language and swallowing skills.  In addition, the instance of other diseases and disorders (ALS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimers, etc) also increase, which also negatively impact one’s communication skills.

There are several “warning signs” to keep a look our for:

1) You are always turning up the TV

2) You continuously need to ask people to speak louder or to repeat themselves or misunderstand what others are saying.

3) You have difficulty remembering how to do familiar task

4) You feel that you are more forgetful such as losing keys, missing appointments, getting lost, etc.

5) You can’t come up with the right words

6) You have trouble with saying what you mean or want to say

7) Your voice sounds harsh or gets weaker throughout the day

Of course, these are just a few of the areas you or a loved one may be experiencing difficulty.  If you have any concerns about communication please contact a speech pathologist.  They can talk with you about your specific concerns and make recommendations in regards to the next steps based on your specific needs and concerns.

The key to treating any communication disorder is early intervention.  The earlier you begin working on your communication skills the easier it is to make changes and learn effective strategies to aid in daily life.

To speak with one of our speech pathologists please feel free to contact us at any time.  We would enjoy the opportunity to discuss your concerns and provide information about how online speech therapy may be of benefit to you.  You can reach us by phone at 1-877-480-7913 or by e-mail at info@independentspeech.com

Online Speech Therapy provided by Independent Speech ~ www.independentspeech.com

Safe Kids Week

May 3, 2010 at 5:43 AM | Posted in Interesting Information | Leave a comment
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The first week of May has been set aside as Safe Kids Week.  It was determined that summer is the most dangerous time of the year for kids.  This is probably due to the increase in the amount of outside activities children are able to engage in during the warm months and with no school they are able to be outside more often and often with less supervision.

Safe Kids week was started by SAFE KIDS USA an organization dedicated to preventing unintentional injury, death and disability in children primarily between the ages of 1 and 14.  You can visit their website to learn more about how you can keep your children safe at home, in the car and during a variety of activities both indoors and out.

Take this opportunity to think about how you can protect your children this summer months.   We hear about so many bicycle accidents, car accidents, swimming accidents, etc throughout the summer (and the whole year).  There are many simple ways to help keep your kids safe this summer such as making sure they wear helmets, are supervised when swimming (at all times) and are aware of what activities are safe and unsafe.  For example, riding your skateboard down the street is safe but trying to jump your skateboard off a home-made ramp may not be so safe.  If your child is interested in things like this find safer ways for them to participate.  Continuing with this example, there are many indoor and outdoor skate parks where kids can learn how to jump and flip properly and if they do fall there are trained personnel there to provide immediate assistance.

Why be concerned/cautious?  One of the things to be aware of is a TBI.  TBI stands for Traumatic Brain Injury and happens more frequently than one would think.  A TBI is an injury to the brain caused by a blow to the head.  This could be caused by falling off a bike, skateboard, scooter, etc. or any number of other accidents.  Some are mild and may go undiagnosed for a period of time.  Some children may be afraid to tell their parents that they bumped their head or may downplay how serious it was so they don’t scare their parents or not be allowed to participate in the activity. Some don’t know how serious head injuries can be and concussions are often dismissed as “nothing serious”.  For more information about concussions please read our blog post titled “Concussions Need to be Taken Seriously!”

When looking at children between 0 and 14 years of age.  It is estimated that each year a TBI causes:

  • 2,685 deaths;
  • 37,000 hospitalizations; and
  • 435,000 emergency department visits.
  • About 75% of TBIs that occur each year are concussions or other forms of mild TBI (these are cases that might not be seen immediately because people don’t think they require medical attention).

Of course, these numbers do not take into account those people who do not seek medical attention for their concussion or blow to the head so they may be lower than the actual numbers across the country.

Numbers are one thing, but the reality of a TBI is the long-term effects of a brain injury.  These effects are life-long and can impact every part of a person’s daily life. A TBI can cause difficulties with:

  • Thinking (i.e., memory and reasoning or problem solving);
  • Sensation (i.e., touch, taste, and smell, hearing);
  • Language (i.e., communication, expression, and understanding);
  • Emotion (i.e., depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, acting out, and social inappropriateness).
  • TBI’s can also cause epilepsy and can increase the risk for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other age related brain disorders.

Many people who have experienced a TBI find speech therapy helpful in learning how to compensate for deficiencies or difficulties in their language skills, thinking skills and social interaction (pragmatic language) skills.  Speech therapy can provide the person with much needed tools and strategies to help them function in everyday tasks and situations as well as in academic situations.

So, with this in mind take the time to think about what activities your children are going to engage in over the summer and how you can help to make them a little safer.  They may grumble now but when they grow up and have children of their own they will begin to understand that you only wanted them to be safe because you loved them!

If you (or a loved one) has experienced a TBI whether mild or severe and are experiencing any of the difficulties mentioned above or are wondering if you could benefit from speech therapy please contact one of our speech pathologists to discuss your concerns and to see if speech therapy may be beneficial for you.

Please feel free to contact us anytime.  You can reach us by:

Phone at 1-877-480-7913

E-mail to: info@independentspeech.com

or through our website at: www.independentspeech.com

Better Hearing and Speech Month

May 1, 2010 at 5:31 AM | Posted in Online Speech | Leave a comment
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May is Better Hearing and Speech Month

It is Better Hearing and Speech Month!  This month we will feature many posts providing education about speech and hearing disorders/delays and their effects on people’s daily lives.  These posts will also provide some helpful ideas that can be used in daily routines and activities.  Please check in often to read the latest posts. If you or a loved one suffers from a communication delay or disorder please do not hesitate to contact a speech pathologist.  They can provide helpful information about your specific needs/concerns.  They are there to answer any questions you may have about online speech therapy and how it can work for you!

To contact one of our speech pathologists you can:

Visit our Website:
www.independentspeech.com

Send us an E-mail:
info@independentspeech.com

Or Give us a Call:
1-877-480-7913

Kindergarten Day

April 21, 2010 at 5:44 AM | Posted in Interesting Information | 1 Comment
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Kindergarten DayApril 21st has been declared as National Kindergarten Day. This day should highlight the importance of kindergarten and what it is all about.  Kindergarten is very different from elementary school as the kids are just beginning their school journey.  They are unsure of what school is or what they are suppose to do there.  Kindergarten teaches children the basics and gets them ready to begin elementary school.

So what makes a good Kindergarten classroom?  According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children there are 10 things to look for when evaluating a Kindergarten classroom (or program):

  1. Children are playing and working with materials and/or other children. The activities have some structure and interaction to them, the children are not wandering  around or being asked to sit quietly for long periods of time.
  2. Children still have the ability to choose activities they enjoy or are interested in at that time.  For example the use of  “centers” where the child can play with what they want in a controlled environment.
  3. Children get to work with the teacher individually, in a small group and in a whole class group during the day.  They benefit from learning how to work effectively in a variety of situation and may need more or less one-on-one help for different skills and activities.
  4. The classroom is visually appealing to children and their artwork, stories, etc. are displayed around the room.
  5. Children learn numbers and the alphabet through of their everyday experiences. Exploring the  world of plants and animals, cooking, taking attendance, and serving snack are all meaningful activities to children and needed skills can be embedded in these daily and fun activities.
  6. Children work on projects and have free play time as well (such as recess) they need to have a balance between being a “student” and being a five-year-old who needs to play.  Children learn a great deal through free play such as social skills, problems solving skills, etc. and this should be incorporated into their day.
  7. Children have an opportunity to play outside every day that weather permits. Children need to be able to explore the world around them and time outside should never be removed or reduced so there is more “teaching time”.
  8. Teachers read books to children throughout the day.  This might be in group time or story time but should also be spontaneous as well.  For example, during center or free play time the teacher could be available to read to one, two or several students if that is what they want to do.
  9. Children come from different backgrounds and have had different experiences.  Teachers should automatically adapt to help those who need more assistance as well as to move along those who have already learned that skill  and should be able to do this with ease so children don’t feel singled out (on either side of the coin).
  10. Both the children and their parents should look forward to going to school.  They should be excited about going to school and being able to play and learn in that environment.  Parents should feel safe leaving their children there knowing their needs are being met throughout the day.

Kindergarten is only required in 12 states and the District of Columbia.  While all states offer kindergarten to those who are interested, I hope parents strongly consider having their children attend.  Kindergarten is a valuable thing for children to experience.  Sure they learn the basic skills such as numbers and letters but they also learn about routine that is common in a school day, they become accustomed to thing that happen in a school and thus are better equipped to deal with these when they enter elementary school.  They learn about how to interact with their peer and what to do when they have a problem and how to communicate more effectively with peers and teachers.

If you have a child with special needs, kindergarten is a very important step for them.  They may experience difficulties in one or more of the areas mentioned above and thus really need the year in Kindergarten to learn these skills before being thrust into first grade.  In addition, they are able to receive special services at school such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, etc. which can help them better access the curriculum not only in kindergarten but throughout their education.

So, take today to think about enrolling your children in kindergarten. Many school districts are beginning enrollment for next year around this time.  Call your local school district and learn more about their program, if you have concerns ask to visit the classroom and meet the teacher.  They should be more than willing to accommodate this request (and many have a night designated for new parents to come to the classroom and learn about the kindergarten program) to help answer questions and highlight the benefits of their program.  If you do not like the school districts program (or just want to see what else is available) you can look into private kindergartens that are run by companies rather than by the state.

Whatever path you choose I hope you and your child(ren) get to enjoy the wonders of kindergarten!

Online Speech Therapy provided by Independent Speech ~ www.independentspeech.com

Take Your Daughter and Son to Work Day

April 19, 2010 at 5:04 AM | Posted in Interesting Information | Leave a comment
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Get Ready, April 22 is Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work Day.  Formerly these were two separate days (take your daughter to work day and take your son to work day) and have now been combined into one day.  This year’s theme is:

1 Youth 1 Dream 2Morrow's Leaders

According to the Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work website this day is being “Designed to be more than a career day, the Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work® program goes beyond the average “shadow” an adult. Exposing girls and boys to what a parent or mentor in their lives does during the work day is important, but showing them the value of their education, helping them discover the power and possibilities associated with a balanced work and family life, and providing them an opportunity to share how they envision the future and begin steps toward their end goals in a hands-on and interactive environment is key to their achieving success. Each year, we develop new interactive activities and partnerships that will assist us in taking girls and boys to the future they dream of.”

Take our Daughters and Sons to Work

Taken from website

The website offers many valuable tools for planning this day so that everyone benefits and enjoys the day.  They have activities, resources and even promotional items such as a participation certificate and t-shirt.

This is a very beneficial thing for kids to experience.  Many do not really understand what you do at work all day long simply becuase they have never experienced if for themselves.  Make sure this day is enjoyable for both you and your children, try to arrange the day so that your children are able to participate in normal activities but be sure they know the rules.  For example, if they are attending a meeting with you have them write down questions and you will answer them after the meeting because you won’t be able to do so during the meeting.  If both parents work see if you can split the day between the two so the children get to spend time with both parents and get to experience what they do all day.  They will enjoy seeing what you do and will happily tell everyone about going to work with you that day!

Online Speech Therapy provided by Independent Speech ~ www.independentspeech.com

Morgan’s Wonderland

April 15, 2010 at 6:17 AM | Posted in Interesting Information | 1 Comment
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Morgans Wonderland

taken from website

A special, new amusement park  just north of San Antonio, Texas opened on April 10th. Morgan’s World is the first theme parks that has been designed for children with special needs.  This is a huge 25-acre park that helps all enjoy an amusement park together.

This park was designed specifically for children with special needs thus it does not consist of things that have been modified but things that have been specifically designed to accommodate children with a variety of special needs.

They do require reservations to enter the park as they limit the number of guests so as not to overwhelm their guests.  They know that many can become overwhelmed at places such as Disneyland or LegoLand where there are many guests which lead to a lot of noise, commotion and long lines for attractions.

They do not have restaurants but do have picnic places so you are able to bring your own food for lunch or snacks but they do have some convenience (pre-packaged food) and vending machines.

They charge extremely reasonable rates  and thus welcome donations and of course are always looking for volunteers to help out!

Some of the activities you will find at Megan’s Wonderland include:

  • 3 playscapes
  • Train rides with wheelchair-accessible cars
  • Ultra-accessible carousel
  • Catch-and-release fishing
  • Water cannons & remote-controlled boats
  • Walk and Roll Path around lake
  • Water Works – water play area
  • Off-Road Adventure ride
  • Music Garden
  • Swings (several types including wheelchair swings)
  • Sand Circle™
  • Sensory Village™
  • Garden Sanctuary with Memorial Wall
  • Several rest stops, picnic areas & pavilions

and more, to learn more about the attractions or Megan’s Wonderland in general please visit their website at:

http://morganswonderland.com/index.html

Interantional Moment of Laughter Day

April 14, 2010 at 5:20 AM | Posted in Interesting Information | 2 Comments
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Laughter is the Best MedicineApril 14th has been declared International Moment of Laughter Day.  It is important to remember to laugh though most of us do not laugh as much as we could throughout our day.  We get busy and bogged down with the intricacies of life and all to often don’t take the time to enjoy the simple things.

Laughing can not only brighten your day but it has been proven that the old expression “laughter is the best medicine” is really true.  Research has shown that laughter can strengthen your immune system, counteract stress, reduce food cravings and increase your threshold for pain.  There is new research indicating that humor therapy can help people heal more quickly.  Thus humor therapy is being conducted to find out more about this possibility.

In addition to positive medial outcomes, laughter can turn a stressful day around, it can put you in a better mood and make you feel better all around.  So, take time out today and do something silly, play a silly game with your child(ren), tell a joke to a coworker, watch a funny movie or TV show and enjoy the laughter and all the health (both physical and mental) perks that go along with it!

Online Speech Therapy provided by Independent Speech ~ www.independentspeech.com

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