Welcome Back to School

by Beth Burns

The speech-language pathologists have returned to school rested and refreshed.  They are already helping kids access their curricula to maximize communication in their classes.  While we have a few SLPs on maternity leave and a new face to our group, we also have moved to balance staff with workload.  Please look for the speech-language pathologist(s) in your child’s school.

We are excited to bring articles this year to help teachers, parents, and other speech-language pathologists.  We will also share blog posts, tweets, and Facebook posts that might be of interest.

There might even be some free materials!

Preschool Stuttering? 5 Easy Tips for Adults

by S. Michaels, H. Miller, P. Norwood, H. Petrusa, A. Samuels (CHCCS SLP Pre-K Team)

Everyone has normal dysfluencies, especially preschoolers.   Preschool age children are learning the “adult way” of forming sounds into words and sentences.  They do not yet have the speech motor coordination that mature speakers have acquired.  In other words, their mouths are trying to keep up with what their brains want to say.  Therefore, preschoolers may hesitate to speak, revise what they say, or repeat a word or phrase multiple times before conveying their idea.  You may wonder if this is stuttering – most often it is not.

According to J. Scott Yaruss (Yaruss, Scott. Young Children Who Stutter.  New York: National Stuttering Association, 2013. Print), there are a few red flags that indicate more than a typical dysfluency in a preschool child such as:

  • Part-word repetition (li-li-li-like this)
  • Prolongations (Loooooook at the snow)
  • Blocking (l….ike this)

This is not an exhaustive list.  You may see other behaviors or repetitions of sounds or words that seem outside the norm of other kids. There are many factors to consider when differentiating normal dysfluency from stuttering.  Talk to your speech-language pathologist about your concerns.  

Whether the child is experiencing normal dysfluencies or true stuttering, here are 5 suggestions for teachers and adults:

  1. Turtle Talk – Speak to children in a non-rushed manner all the time
  2. Pause, Think, Tell – Adult models a delayed response  – “Hmm, let me think about that….(3 seconds later)…Yes, I do like pizza.”
  3. Rephrase – Adult rephrases child’s message – “Oh so you did not like it when the dog jumped up and down”
  4. Praise – Praise child’s attempts at speaking! The message is for them to KEEP talking despite ‘bumpy’ speech i.e. “You have great ideas!”
  5. Reduce competition for simultaneous speaking – Remind others that it is this child’s turn to speak and then it will be the next person’s turn.  i.e “We have time to speak and time to listen.”

Study Promotes Traditional Toys For Language Development

by Beth Burns

The American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) recently tweeted about a study by Dr. Anna Sosa, an Associate Professor in Communication Sciences and Disorders at Northern Arizona University.  She was featured in the New York Times and an NPR broadcast.  Her study found that even with electronic toys and e-books that were advertised as promoting language development,  babies vocalized less and parents responded and commented less than with traditional toys.

3 Foolproof Ways to Save Your Hearing

by Mary Kent Hill, Delia Hudson, and Kara VanHooser

Photo by flattop341 (Flickr)

What is “hearing conservation”?

Hearing conservation means “conserving”, or protecting, your hearing.

Why is it important?

Loud noise can damage hearing. The level of the noise as well as the length of time exposed to the the noise can cause noise-induced hearing loss. Continued exposure to noise above 85 dBA (adjusted decibels) over time will cause hearing loss. How loud are the sounds around us? Normal conversation is about 60 dBA. A food processor is about 85 dBA.  An ambulance siren is about 120 dBA. For more information, see these resources about noise and environmental sounds.

How can we practice hearing conservation?

When you encounter a loud noise, take these steps to protect your hearing:

  1. Turn the sound down if you can.
  2. If you can’t do that, then walk away from the sound.
  3. Another option is to protect your ears with your hands, earplugs or earmuffs.

See these resources for more information about hearing conservation.


Noise. Available at: http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/noise/. Accessed December 3, 2015.

FIRST YEARS – Professional Development through Distance Education. FIRST YEARS – Professional Development through Distance Education. Available at: http://www.firstyears.org/lib/banana.htm. Accessed December 3, 2015.

Dangerous Decibels – A public health partnership for prevention of noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus. Dangerous Decibels The Solution Comments. Available at: http://www.dangerousdecibels.org/about-us/the-solutions/. Accessed December 3, 2015.

New e-book from the Stuttering Foundation

by Beth Burns

vakantie Madeira oktober 2001The Stuttering Foundation recently tweeted exciting news for teachers, parents, and speech-language pathologists.  “The Girl Who Stutters” is a free e-book for elementary or middle school students.  If you have a child/student who stutters, this could be an excellent resource.

The Girl Who Stutters


Difference or Disorder? When should I refer my language-learning student?


by Jennifer Kirschner & Rebecca Fox

How does a teacher know when a student whose first language is different from the ELL Photolanguage of instruction is appropriate for a referral for a speech-language evaluation?

Some stages of language development can seem concerning but are normal patterns.

Other times, there might be red flags you should not discount, regardless of language background!

Typical Second Language Development

  • Silent period: This first part of language acquisition can last as long as a year! Young children can have long silent periods.
  • Interference/ transfer: Student’s English errors mirror normal first-language structure.
  • ⇒ “house red” instead of “red house.”
  • Code-switching: Changing language in the middle of a phrase or sentence.
  • ⇒ “I like tu camisa.”
  • Grammatical errors: As a child learns a second language, you may hear mistakes similar to those a toddler makes when learning their first language. These are considered developmental.
  • Language loss: If a child does not use their first language, they will lose it! This can impact overall language ability.  Encourage families to use their native language at home to give their children a rich language experience.

red flag       RED FLAGS!          red flag

  • A parent is concerned about child’s language and communication.
  • A family history of language disabilities.
  • Student has a history of ear infections.
  • Student has a history of learning problems in their primary language.
  • Development and/or language skills are delayed compared to siblings.
  • Student’s growth seems lower compared to other students with a similar cultural and language background.
  • Lack of progress with interventions.
  • Inappropriate social skills.


Essential Facts About Eligibility in Schools

by Beth Burns

boy w busSometimes there is confusion regarding speech-language therapy at school vs. private speech-language therapy.  Many parents and pediatricians think that if a student cannot produce certain sounds correctly and a speech-language pathologist (SLP) works in their child’s school, the child could logically be enrolled in speech therapy at school.  SLPs in schools really do want to work with and help children.  However, certain eligibility criteria must be met according to “Policies Governing Services for Children with Disabilities” published by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI).  To be considered eligible for an IEP, three “prongs” to eligibility must be met.  The student must have:

  • a disorder
  • evidence that the disorder has an adverse affect on educational performance
  • evidence that the disorder requires specially designed instruction

Eligibility for private speech-language therapy is much simpler and less defined than therapy at school.  A private SLP can work on any speech or language issue the parent wants improved.  Private SLPs do not necessarily need to document a disorder for the child’s age, unless they are billing insurance for the service.



Is My Young Child’s Speech Normal?


by Sarah Michaels, Heather Miller, Phyllis Norwood, Heather Petrusa and Amy Samuels (CHCCS SLP Pre-K Team)

The production of speech is an amazingly complex process.  Speaking involves 3 systems: the respiratory system (lungs), the laryngeal system (vocal cords),  and the articulatory system (tongue, lips, teeth, nose).  Speech begins as a thought and then with the help of a perfectly timed sequence of all three systems, sounds are produced.  Our lungs provide air that enters the larynx for voicing and then travels up to the articulatory system where changes in the mouth shape produce the actual sounds.    

In the English language, we make over 40 individual speech sounds, including both vowels and consonants.  Each sound varies by place in the mouth (e.g., lips, behind teeth, soft palate), voice (voiced or unvoiced), and manner in which it’s produced (e.g., continued air, stopped sound, nasal sound).  

african american child

Given this complex system, it is understandable that many children experience difficulties with sound production as their speaking develops.  There is much variability regarding when speech sounds are acquired.  Below is a link to a chart that shows when speech sounds typically develop in most children.  Ninety percent of children produce the sounds within the age band by the indicated ages.  A disorder exists if a child hasn’t acquired a given sound one year beyond the expected age listed.   If you are concerned that a student is not able to produce age appropriate sounds, then follow up with a Speech-Language Pathologist.