Playing With Food: Why and How We Need to Teach Our Children to Play with Food

As most of us know, our children can get very messy when they eat!  Did you know this is actually the best way for them to learn about and try new foods?  

Picture yourself at a new restaurant.  You order something off the menu that someone else recommended but when it comes to the table it is different from anything you’ve ever eaten before. What do you do?  Do you dive right in and take a huge bite?  Probably not.  You likely interact with the food first.  Maybe you simply look at the food, observe all the different colors on the plate.  You may even cut the food open and/or push it around the plate to observe its different properties (e.g., squishy, dry, wet, crunchy, etc.).  Next, you may smell the food.  Is it a good smell or is it making you want to push the plate away?  Finally, you may take a little bite off to taste it before eating an entire fork/spoon full.  

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Increasing Communication Opportunities for Language Learners

We’ve all been there. Your language learner is indicating they want something. They might be crying, vocalizing, reaching for, or gazing at the item of their desire. As caretakers, we often anticipate their needs and are readily available to help. In this space between their indication and your response, however, is a great language learning opportunity. Our goal is to increase language use by: capitalizing on these organic moments, purposefully creating opportunities for communication, and providing models of language. Here are some helpful tips and tricks used in speech therapy sessions that can be used in the home and out in the community: 

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Echolalia, Echolalia… What Do You Mean?

 

Like most things, the views on echolalia lie on a continuum. They range from considering its use non-functional, to tolerating it, to really accepting and celebrating it. We, as parents, caregivers, clinicians, and professionals, can facilitate further acceptance by understanding language learning differences, embracing echolalia, and educating others! 

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Supporting Emergent Literacy

 

Did you know that before your child can even pick up a book they are already practicing emergent literacy skills? Read on to learn how to support your child as they begin to explore reading!

What is emergent literacy?

Emergent literacy skills are foundational language based skills that support future literacy, academic success, and social communication. Emergent literacy is a stage of development beginning at birth in which children explore and learn skills that lead them to reading and writing in the future (Roth et al., 2006). This is vital for early language and literacy development and can be supported daily! 
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Starting with AAC? Here are Some Tips!

Now that some Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) myths have been busted (see the previous blog post), it’s time to introduce, support, and use AAC with your child! Your speech-language pathologist and therapy team can help determine which systems and modalities are most appropriate to trial. Once you have these trial systems in place, here are some considerations, strategies, and tips to think about when supporting your child on his or her AAC journey.

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AAC Myth Busting

Augmentative and Alternative Communication, or AAC, is instrumental for effective, efficient, and successful communication, especially for those with communication and speech disorders. Myths surrounding AAC can prevent families, individuals, and even some therapists from supporting AAC usage. Here are some of the top myths about AAC and why these myths are indeed, just myths.

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Let’s “talk” about AAC!

What does smiling at a neighbor, sending a text, and ordering food by pointing to menu pictures have in common? They are all examples of AAC. By writing this blog, I am utilizing AAC to convey this message to you. So, the question is…

What is AAC?

Augmentative or Alternative Communication (AAC) refers to all the ways that we convey our thoughts and feelings without talking. Our world is full of AAC and for good reason- AAC is essential for well-rounded and effective communication across all stages of life. 

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Phonological Processes: What are they and is my child using them?

Do you find yourself asking your child to repeat what they said, utilizing your detective skills to figure it out, or perhaps acting as your child’s commentator for people that are less familiar with their speech? We know that children can sometimes be difficult to understand when they are learning to speak. It can be tricky to know if this is part of typical development or if your child would benefit from support. In this post, we will help you understand phonological processes and their potential impact on your child’s overall speech intelligibility.

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What’s Inside the Mystery Box?!

Let’s make a mystery box!

It’s no mystery that families and children been spending more time at home than ever before. When we are constantly surrounded by the same scenery, including the same toys and games, it can be difficult to brainstorm ways to mix it up (without constantly rushing to the store or clicking ‘buy now’ on Amazon).

As a pediatric therapist, I am always seeking new ways to turn every day household items into fun, motivating, and enriching toys. I’ve found that some of the best toys are not ‘toys’ at all. One of my favorite non-traditional toys is a do-it-yourself mystery container/box!

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