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Come by and say Hello!

June 15, 2017 Contributed by Admin

Smile Speech Therapy is hosting an Open House on Saturday, June 26. 

This is a great opportunity to speak with an experienced Speech and Language Pathologist and ask some questions. Kids are welcome and they can explore our clinic space. It will also be a great time to socialize and chat with fellow parents. 

We are also very excited to be working with some great partners for the open house. 

One of them is Discovery Toys, a company that specializes in making educational toys that inspire parents and children to explore play together. One of their consultants will be on hand to talk about their toys and answer questions about products and strategies that will enhance your child’s development.

To satisfy your sweet tooth, we will be providing a spread from KCNY Treats  They have been baking overtime in preparation for the open house and will debut their latest creation…the Fidget Cookie  

It will be a lot of fun, and we’d love to have you.

Our Open House in on June 26th, from 6:30-8:00pm

Feel free to drop by, or RSVP at info@smilespeech.ca 


18-Months: An Exciting & Important Age For Toddlers

May 29, 2017 Contributed by Admin

It’s no secret that kids grow up fast, but they grow up REALLY fast between the ages of one to two. That’s the time when a child transitions from infant to toddler, and it is a period of rapid physical and developmental growth.

18 months is usually the age when toddlers are recommended to see their doctor for an enhanced well-baby visit. It is an opportunity for parents to discuss their child’s development with their health care provider, and ask questions about their motor, behavioural and communication skills.

At a year and a half, a child has usually moved on from “goo goo gaga” to using actual words. At a typical developmental rate, an 18-month child is expected to have at least 20 words, be able to make four consonant sounds and point to three body parts when asked. Keep in mind that kids reach these milestones at their own pace, and there is no need to be overly worried if your child is not at that stage.

But if your child has not reached these milestones, and you want to make sure their speech and language development is on the right track, a Speech and Language Pathologist can help.

Here at Smile Speech, we will sit down with your toddler to assess his or her speech skills. All this is done in a fun, engaging and stress-free setting, in order to get the best gauge of your child’s communication development.

For parents who choose therapy, we have a qualified and diverse roster of professionals to fit your child’s personality and needs. They know all the tricks to bring the best out of your child. We will also work to accommodate your schedule to make the therapy process as convenient as possible.

18 months is an exciting time for both toddler and parents. It is an age where a child begins to engage with their parents in a more meaningful way, a rewarding payoff for all those sleepless nights and diaper changes.

Make the most of it by helping your child express him or herself.

Contact us to speak to a Speech and Language Pathologist about your questions or concerns.

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Keeping Speech Skills Sharp Over the Summer

May 9, Contributed by Admin

Summer is time for kids to have fun, recharge and enjoy the few months of hot weather Canada provides us. But more and more, studies have shown that summer is an opportunity-rich window for children to maintain and grow their knowledge and skills. One such study outlines the benefits of summer learning:


Rigorous studies of voluntary summer programs, mandatory summer programs, and programs that encourage students to read at home in the summer have all found positive effects on student achievement. combined evidence from these studies suggests that all of these types of summer learning programs can mitigate summer learning losses and even lead to achievement gains.

*Make Summer Count - Rand Education/The Wallace Foundation, 2011. 

With that in mind, Smile Speech Therapy is providing a new program aimed at giving kids a fun and effective way to pick up some new skills over the summer. It is called the Summer Speech Boost. 

Learning to say new sounds and practicing speech is hard work, but kids are always motivated by their peers and that’s what the program provides. It gives kids daily exposure to speech therapy, but in a more fun, group environment. While your child is engaged in games and fun activities, they are also learning from our experienced therapists. We are offering a FREE 30 minute eligibility screening for those interested in the program. Call to schedule your appointment. Space is limited. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Let’s Take a Closer Look at Articulation: Articulation Disorders and Articulation Therapy

April 10, Contributed by Christina Boni

Articulation is a term that professionals in the field often use to describe an individual's speech. It includes the totality of motor processes that are involved in the planning and execution of sequences of overlapping gestures that result in speech. Sounds are learned at different ages depending on how difficult they are to say. How do you determine whether or not your child is producing an age appropriate articulation error?  The chart below shows the age range during which each sound is learned.






• Sounds are not typically worked on before the “age when treatment is indicated” column.

* Please note that different error patterns may be present on /sh/ during the preschool years and that t/sh should be resolved by approximately 4 years of age, while s/sh or th/sh is considered developmentally appropriate for this age group.

Adapted from handout provided by Markham Stouffville Hospital.

If your child is producing articulation errors that are no longer developmentally appropriate, the speech and language professionals at Smile Speech Therapy can help!

Articulation therapy involves demonstration on how to produce the sound correctly, learning to recognize which sounds are correct vs. incorrect and practicing those sounds in various words. The process of traditional articulation therapy goes through the steps of teaching the target sound in isolation, syllables, words, sentences, stories, conversation and eventually generalizing the target sound in all contexts.

1. Isolation: When working at the isolation level, the therapist will work with your child to practice the target sound all by itself without adding a vowel. For example, if you are practicing the /t/ sound say /t/, /t/, /t/. When the target sound is mastered in isolation, the therapist will move on to syllables.

2. Syllables: When working at the syllable level, the therapist will work with your child to pair the target sound with a vowel in all positions (beginning, middle, end). For example, initial position: ta, to, te, etc., final position: at, it, ot, etc., medial position: atta, etta, otto etc. When the target sound is mastered in syllables, the therapist will move on to words.

3. Words: When working at the word level, the therapist will work with your child to practice the target sound in various word positions. The therapist will often begin with the target in initial position of the word and will practice with your child until the target sound is said correctly at least 80% of the time. The therapist will then proceed by practicing the target in both final and medial word positions, applying the same mastery criteria of 80%.

4. Phrases/Sentences: When working at the phrase level, the therapist will begin with what is referred to as a “carrier phrase.” In a carrier phrase, the sentence stays the same while only the target word changes. For example, the sentence might read, “I see a toy” or “I see a top.” The therapist would then rotate all of their target words through the sentence. Once carrier phrase sentences are mastered, the therapist would encourage more spontaneous sentences allowing for greater opportunities to practice the target sound in various word positions. When the target sound is produced accurately at least 80% of the time, the therapist will move your child on to stories.

5. Stories: When working at the story level, the therapist will select a story with the target sound appearing frequently. The story is read a loud multiple times until the target sound is produced correctly at least 80% of the time. If your child has not yet begun to read, the therapist will work with your child to produce his/her own story, while ensuring that the target sound appears frequently. Once accomplished, the therapist will encourage the retelling of the story in your child’s own words. Once mastered, the therapist will practice the target sound in structured and less structured conversation.

6. Conversation: When working at the conversation level, the therapist will creatively center the conversation topics around previously mastered target words. As inaccurate productions of the target sound come up, the therapist will correct your child and encourage the accurate production of the target.

7. Generalization: Once the target sound has been mastered in words, sentences, stories and conversations, it is important to look out for generalization across all contexts of language. This is often referred to as “carry over.”

Screen Time and How It Relates to Communication Development

December 1, 2016 Contributed by Christina Boni


The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently updated and revised its guidelines for children and adolescents revealing information on screen time and how it relates to communication development.  For infants and toddlers, age 15 months to 2 years, it is recommended to watch and engage in the technology use alongside your child by repeating what the video says and/or drawing attention to what is on the screen. Screen time should not replace interaction with family and peers, as there is research that suggests language delays correlating with earlier solo viewing of educational videos.

The new guidelines have been modified from “avoid all screens under age of 2” to “avoid solo media use in this age group.” The reason for this is because the act of learning from a screen takes twice as long as it would if that child was learning through direct interaction. The most beneficial learning experience for young children is through imitation. Parents can find out if their child is learning from the information gathered from the screen by asking their child to imitate the various actions they have seen.

Lisa Guernsey (2012), an early education researcher and author, asks parents to consider the “3 C’s”: content, context and the individual child, when thinking about using technology as a learning tool.

1. Content: Is the show/application easy or difficult for your child to understand? As the content becomes more complicated, children often experience difficulty paying attention, focusing and problem solving. Ensure that the shows and applications chosen for your child are curriculum based and appropriate to your child’s current learning level.

2. Context: What is happening around your child while s/he is watching the screen. Are you engaging with your child? By interacting with your child and discussing what your child is seeing and is interested in, you are providing opportunities to relate the information presented to your child’s previous experiences and knowledge making connections between the new information and existing information.

3. The Individual Child: Remember that every child is unique and it is important to consider your child’s age, interests, skills and abilities when choosing media. For preschoolers ages 2 to 5, research demonstrates that the ability to transfer information from screens to the real world is greater, contributing to early literacy and math, as well as positive social-emotional skills and behaviours.

It is suggested that parents choose educational programming/applications that can be used together with their children. By offering opportunities for hands-on exploration and social interaction, parents are able to target the development of their child’s cognitive, language, motor, and social-emotional skills. By targeting a child’s developmental milestones, parents are able to work on functional skills or age-specific tasks that most children can do at a certain age range.

• Cognition involves a child’s ability to think. This includes learning, understanding, problem solving, reasoning and remembering.
• Language has to do with a child’s speech, the use of body language and gestures, communicating, and understanding what those around them are saying.
• Motor can be broken down into two categories: gross motor and fine motor. Gross motor involves the use of large groups of muscles required to sit, stand, walk, run etc., keeping balance, and changing positions. Whereas fine motor involves the child’s ability to use their hands to eat, draw, dress, play, write etc.
• Social-emotional has to do with the child’s interaction with others, maintaining relations with those around them including family, friends, teachers etc., cooperating with those around them, and responding to the feelings of others.

For children that fall within this age group (2-5 years old), it is recommended that screen time is limited to an hour a day. Similar to the guidelines for infants and toddlers, it is critical that parents co-view with their children to help make sense of the information and apply it to the real world.

Here are some tips and suggestions on how parents can manage technology use while placing an emphasis on the importance of communication:

1. Commit to times when everyone is required to disconnect. This could be during dinner or before bed. Be sure to establish rules and make a commitment to honour them.

2. Resist the urge to immediately turn to technology as a source of entertainment and tune into some of the greatest opportunities for conversation and learning.

3. Don’t overestimate the value of such applications. Remember that optimal learning environments involve talking, conversing, and reading. Technology should be used as an avenue to practice such skills while they are under development and used as a form of reinforcement to motivate the learning.

4. Join in and have fun! Turn screen time into a conversation and offer different avenues to learning in terms of acquiring content, processing, constructing, and making sense of ideas. Be mindful of your child’s readiness levels, interests, and learning profiles and develop learning opportunities to achieve maximum growth as a learner.

5. Limit the daily intake of screen time. Use this opportunity to teach your child how to be accountable for their time by prioritizing and being aware of their set time limit.

6. Be consistent! Enforce and maintain the parameters for screen time.

7. Always practice safe listening! Be sure to keep the volume at a safe level to avoid noise-induced hearing loss (do not exceed more than half volume) and to encourage listening breaks.

8. Be the example. Model the technology habits that you want your child to adopt. Remember that a child’s best opportunities for learning is through exploration of the real world and through interaction with others.

Educate yourself about the signs of communication delays/disorders regardless of your child’s technology use. If you have any questions about your child’s speech and language development, please do not hesitate to contact us at Smile Speech Therapy.

References:

American Academy of Pediatrics (2016). “Where we stand: screen time.” Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/Media/Pages/Where-We-Stand-TV-Viewing-Time.aspxKamenetz, A. (2016).

“American academy of pediatrics lifts ‘no screens under 2’ rule.” Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/10/21/498550475/american-academy-of-pediatrics-lifts-no-screens-under-2-rule.Milestones and miracles. (2015).

“How to keep REAL communication a priority – tips from ASHA to manage….”.  Retrieved from http://milestonesandmiracles.com/2015/05/08/how-to-keep-real-communication-a-priority-tips-from-asha-to-manage-kids-screen-time/Radesky, J., Christakis, D. (2016).

“Media and young minds.” Retrieved from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/138/5/e20162591Stein, T. (2016).

“Creating safe(r) screen time for your child.” Retrieved from http://www.hanen.org/Helpful-Info/Articles/Creating-Safe(r)-Screen-Time-for-Your-Child.aspx

Mommy Connections Midtown visit for a free trial of the Language and Literacy Class at Smile Speech Therapy!

November 4, 2016 Contributed Vivian Yau

Mommy Connections is a fabulous program which connect moms and their tots to their community.  Moms and their children can try out a variety of fun and educational programs in their  neighbourhood including our early literacy classes at Smile Speech Therapy.  Recently, Mommy Connections Midtown came with thier kiddos and we had a blast focusing on early reading skills and building vocabulary!

Here is a link to an article I wrote for them called “Early Literacy Skills: Sowing the Seeds of Reading Success in Young Children”  Hope to see you at our classes in the new year.  Please contact us to register.

New LANGUAGE and LITERACY classes for 2 and 3 year olds—FREE trial

FREE trial class being offered on October 18th and October 20th in the morning. There is no commitment to sign up for additional classes.  Call or email us to register for a morning of fun and learning for you and your child.
 
See the flyer below for more information about the newest class being run at Smile Speech Therapy that will enrich your child’s language and early literacy development. Groups are kept small so please register early by contacting us if you are interested in attending.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Speaking in Pictures

August 20, 2016   Contributed by Vivian Yau, Stephanie DeCiantis

Have you ever heard the term AAC before? It stands for Alternative and Augmentative Communication and it refers to any method of supporting someone's ability to communicate with others. A few examples are: a book with pictures, an iPad application, or a dedicated device with a voice output function. A child who has significant difficulty with his or her pronunciation skills or who may be non-verbal for other reasons may benefit from the support of an AAC system.

An AAC system may be needed as their main form of communication or it can serve to support them for when their message is not clearly understood by others.  Our own Smile Speech Therapy's Stephanie DeCiantis created a communication book for one our young clients who needed support with his expressive communication. It is called a "Flip and Talk" and is organized by functional categories such as: quick messages, questions, people, activities, places, activities, foods/drinks, feelings, actions.  

Here is a photo of the full version of the individualized "Flip and Talk” below:


Parents participated in designing the book by helping identify vocabulary that is motivating and integral to the child's daily life. The communication system should allow a child to communicate for a variety of reasons (requesting, greeting, commenting, asking questions, rejecting, etc.). Parts of the book can be hidden and revealed as the child learns to recognize and use more and more icons to communicate.

Here is a photo of the "Flip and Talk" with parts of the pages masked to make it easier for them as they are learning:


In addition, family members are responsible for keeping the AAC support always accessible. These are the child's words and you wouldn't take their words away from them and put them on a shelf! Our therapist will teach parents how to model the use of the book, just as a parent would model words for a child who is learning to talk.

If you feel like your child would also benefit from AAC support and you reside in Toronto, you can inquire if he or she would qualify for government-funded services through the AAC clinics at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehab Hospital or The Surrey Place Centre. (Click on the links below for more information).

Holland Bloorview Kids Rehab AAC Service
Surrey Place Centre Augmentative Communication and Writing Aids Program 

Of course, we would be happy to discuss your child's communication needs by contacting us at Smile Speech Therapy.  Hope you have gained some valuable information about helping your child develop into the best communicator he or she can be with the support of AAC!

Smile Speech Therapy YouTube Channel

July 15, 2016

Here’s a short welcome video on our new Smile Speech Therapy YouTube channel that I want to share with you. Click on the image below to view. Hope you enjoy learning a bit about our wonderful practice and seeing the speech clinic!

Smile Speech Therapy youtube channel

Tee-ball and Sequencing Activities

May 24, 2016  

The sun is starting to come out these days in Toronto finally!  I'm at the park watching my boys get ready for the upcoming tee-ball season. They run from first base to second base to third base and then to home and I keep on thinking about the sequencing activities I've been doing recently with some of the kids in speech and language therapy.

I love doing sequencing activities with kids. Am I able to say that without sounding like a complete speech therapy nerd? By sequencing activities, I mean anything from a simple 2-step "first-then" (e.g., First we read a book, then we sing goodbye), to organizing and talking about the multiple steps of how to set up and play a bowling game (e.g., First, we set up the pins in a triangle. Second, we roll the bowling ball. Third, we knock down all the pins. Last, we say "Strike,"). For children that have difficulty organizing and attending to more complicated tasks, they really benefit from the task being broken down into simple, step-by-step components.

In addition to using clear, simple language to describe each step, I especially like each step to be paired with a visual. Here are some examples of visuals I made using www.boardmakeronline.com for a rocket ship game and a super hero Mr. Potato Head activity.

I also like to use ready-made sequencing picture cards such as the ones from SuperDuper Publications.  In addition, here are some free worksheets I found online that you can print out to use with your child.

Sunflower growing 5-step sequence

Birthday cake 4-step sequence
 

A few 3-5 step sequence worksheets 


At your home, try to think of what tasks you normally do with your child that can be broken down into steps. What about a daily routine like getting the tub ready for a bath? First, let's put the plug in the tub. Second, fill the tub with water. Third, put the bath toys in the water. Last, we are ready to take a bath! Repeat the same sequence for the activity with your child every day in this simple, organized manner and pretty soon they will either be helping you follow the steps, filling in the words, or describing the whole sequence by themselves.

Here are some other ideas of activities that you and your child can do together and talk about in sequenced steps--Going on a slide at the park, making a sandwich for lunch, preparing for bedtime, getting ready to go outside.

Hope this post gets you thinking about how to score home runs with speech and language sequencing activities this week!

Clinic location:
532 Eglinton Avenue East
(Lower Level),
Toronto, ON M4P 1N6 

Phone: (416) 488-7807

Fax: (416) 488-7815