Family Speech Services is pleased to announce our partnership with a Vaughan Literacy Centre that provides Specialized Tutoring in early literacy. Register your child now for specialized and individualized instruction by a highly experienced Ontario Certified Teacher with extensive knowledge in Special Education and Early Literacy development. They offer high-quality instruction in phonics/phonemic development, reading comprehension, reading fluency and writing. Is your child getting ready for EQAO this year? They can help with that too! Evening and weekend appointments are available for your convenience. Call today for more information about this great opportunity to help your child with reading and writing (416) 450-4699.
Family Speech Services was thrilled to be a part of Toys 'R Us' BabyFest 2014 in the Vaughan Mills location. Thanks to everyone who came out to ask questions about their child's speech and language development, get information about our services and support us! We are looking forward to participating in another BabyFest coming soon!
Ear infections are one of the most common illnesses in young children. Ear infections, or “otitis media”, occurs when the middle ear canal becomes inflamed and fills with fluid. This prevents the tiny bones in the ear drum from moving properly, and this can have an impact on the child’s hearing of sounds. Middle ear infections are often treated with antibiotics; however, studies have found that the fluid build-up in the ear can last over six weeks. There are many children that experience frequent and recurrent episodes of ear infections.
As Speech-Language Pathologists, we are often asked about the impact that ear infections have on a child’s speech and language development. Research has shown that ear infections can impact a child’s speech and language development in various ways, especially if the ear infections are frequent, recurrent and longer lasting in duration. Imagine trying to listen to someone speak while under water – the sounds are muffled, faint and difficult to hear. That is somewhat similar to how children hear during an ear infection. These infections can cause mild to moderate temporary hearing loss while the fluid accumulates in the ear canal. It is therefore not surprising that frequent and recurrent ear infections may have a negative impact on a child’s speech and language. Some children with frequent ear infections have a difficult time hearing and producing certain speech sounds such as /s/ or using grammatical markers such as “ed” or plural “s”.
So what are the signs of an ear infection?
A child may experience the following:
- Pulling on the ear or telling you that his ear hurts
- Drainage from the ear
- Difficulty sleeping
How can I help my child to listen and speak?
- Get your child’s attention before speaking to her.
- Get down to your child’s level by sitting or kneeling to encourage good listening and
watching your mouth as you speak.
- Speak slowly and clearly.
- Emphasize important words by making them just a little bit louder. Repeat these important
- Decrease distractions and limit background noise.
What should I do if I am concerned about ear infections and my child’s speech and language development?
It’s a good idea to speak with your pediatrician or a Speech-Language Pathologist if you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, and your child experiences frequent and recurrent ear infections. You may wish to have your child’s hearing tested by an Audiologist to investigate your child’s hearing status.
Bluestone, C. , & Klein, J. (2001). Otitis media in infants and young children (3rd. ed.). Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Co.
Gravel, J., & Hunter, L. (1999). Otitis media and hearing loss. Seminars in Otitis Media, 2, 3–10.
Roberts, J. & Hunter, L. (2002, October 08). Otitis Media and Children’s Language and Learning. The ASHA Leader.
As a Speech-Language Pathologist, I am asked very frequently by parents if using a pacifier will cause their child to have a speech delay. Despite much research in this area, findings are still inconclusive and there continues to be much debate over the implications of using a pacifier. So when answering this question, there are a few things we need to consider to decide whether or not a pacifier is right for your child.
We know that pacifiers are often helpful as a sleeping aid and to help calm and comfort your baby. What we also know is that the use of pacifiers comes with some consequences, especially with long term use:
Increase risk of dental problems (e.g., misalignment of teeth)
Increase risk of ear infections – It is important to remember that ear infections have been linked to speech and language delays
Encourages immature movement patterns of the tongue – Over a long period of time, a child may experience a delay in developing more mature tongue movements, resulting in sound production difficulties
So, there is no conclusive evidence that using a pacifier will lead to a speech delay in children. What most professionals do agree on is that a child’s opportunity for making sounds, babbling and engaging in conversation are reduced if the child has a pacifier in his/her mouth for a lot of the time. If you have questions or concerns about the use of a pacifier, or your child’s speech, language and hearing concerns, consider consulting a Speech-Language Pathologist or your pediatrician to discuss these concerns.
BabyCenter editorial staff (2004). The Ins and Outs of Pacifiers. http://www.babycenter.com
Marshalla, P. (2001). How to Stop Thumbsucking: Practical Solutions for Home and Therapy.
Kirkland: Marshalla Speech and Language.
It’s natural for a lot of parents to speak to their baby using “baby talk” or “parentese”. We often use a higher pitched voice, slow our speaking rate, use simpler vocabulary, and exaggerate words and facial expressions. But does using this “baby talk” help or hinder a child’s language development?
Research has shown that babies in fact prefer “baby talk” because it helps them pay close attention to speech. “Baby talk” also helps to make it easier for the child to figure out how language works and which words have the most meaning.
There’s just one catch – make sure your “baby talk” is grammatically correct. Research has found that using “telegraphic speech” – speech that involves using little or no grammar such as “Where doggy?” or “That mama cookie” – may hinder a child’s grammar and language development. Experts agree that parents should use short, simple sentences with proper grammar when speaking to children.
So, there’s no need to worry about “baby talk” hindering your child’s language development – go ahead and “baby talk” – just make sure it’s with proper grammar!
Fey, M. (2008) The (mis-)use of telegraphic input in child language intervention. Revista de Logopedia, Foniatría y Audiología 2008, Vol. 28, No. 4, 218-230
Weppelman, T., Bostow, A., Schiffer, R., Elbert-Perez, E., Newman, R. (2003). Children’s use of the prosodic characteristics of infant-directed speech. Language & Communication, 23, 63-80.
As parents, there are a lot of things you are keeping track of as your child grows – eating, sleeping, moving, learning. There are a lot of resources out there about developmental milestones, and it seems that people around you are constantly asking questions like, “Did he start walking yet?”, “Is he eating solids yet?”, “Does he say any words?”. It can sometimes be overwhelming to take in all of these questions and sift through an abundant amount of information on the internet. If only the early signs of communication concerns were widely known and understood, it would be so much more helpful for worried parents to figure out if they should seek help for their child who isn’t talking yet.
In an attempt to raise awareness of early warning signs of communication disorders, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has provided some guidelines that will help to educate parents and caregivers about speech, language and hearing issues.
The following are some key signs of communication disorders in children from birth to four years of age:
· Does not interact socially (infancy and older)
· Does not follow or understand what you say (beginning at 1 year old)
· Says only a few sounds, words or gestures (18 months to 2 years)
· Does not use at least 20 words (by 18 months)
· It is difficult to understand what they child says (18 months to 2 years)
· Does not combine words such as “mommy up”, “more cookie” or use at least 100-200
words (starting at 2 years old)
· Struggles to say sounds or words (3 to 4 years)
· Becomes frustrated by his difficulties communicating
If you have any concerns or questions about your child’s speech, language and hearing abilities, please consult a Speech-Language Pathologist or pediatrician. At Family Speech Services, we can help you identify what is age-appropriate and what are areas that your child may need help with. Remember, early intervention is effective intervention.