Is Your Child Stuttering?

What is stuttering?

Stuttering is a communication disorder in which there are interruptions to speech.   The types of stuttering that may be present are:

  • Sound repetitions (e.g. t-t-t-teddy)
  • Word repetitions (e.g. my-my-my-my turn please)
  • Phrase repetitions (e.g. I want-I want a banana)
  • Blocking (i.e. getting stuck before the word)
  • Prolongation (i.e. stretching out the word)

Signs of tension or effort may also accompany these interruptions.  Stuttering can range from mild to severe and its onset may be gradual or sudden.  The severity of stuttering can also fluctuate over time.

How common is it?

Stuttering is common.  In their study, Reilly et al (2013) found that 11.2% of children were stuttering by 4 years of age.  Stuttering is more common in boys than girls however it is not known why this is the case.

What causes it?

The cause of stuttering is not known.  Current thinking is that it is most likely due to some difficulties in the brain activity involved in speech production.  It is not caused by anxiety, though feeling anxious can make stuttering worse.

It is known, however, that stuttering tends to run in families and therefore there may be a hereditary component.  There is no evidence to suggest that the way parents interact with their children leads to a child stuttering.

Will it go away by itself?

Some children will naturally recover from stuttering without any treatment.  Currently, it is not possible to predict which children will recover naturally.

When it comes to when to start treatment individual circumstances must always be taken into account.  There are certain characteristics that indicate immediate treatment is required.  As such, it is recommended to seek advice from a speech language pathologist if your child begins stuttering.

There are programs that have been proven to be very effective in the treatment of childhood stuttering.  The most widely used in Australia is a program developed by Sydney University’s Australian Stuttering Research Centre called The Lidcombe Program.  It is recommended that stuttering treatment begins during the preschool years.

If you are concerned your child is stuttering please feel free to contact the team at Talk Play Grow on (02) 9653 9955.

Our speech language pathologists are experienced in working with children who stutter and can provide you with advice and guidance.

References
Australian Stuttering Research Centre (2012).  What is Stuttering?  Retrieved 22 March, 2014, from http://sydney.edu.au/health-sciences/asrc/what_is/index.shtml

Reilly, S. et al (2013).  Natural history of stuttering to 4 years of age: A prospective Community-Based Study.  Pediatrics, 132(2), 460-467.  Doi: 10.1542/peds.2012.3076

Stuttering (2011).  Retrieved 21 March, 2014, from http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Stuttering?open

 


Toy Central - Shopping List

Playing Games Together

No doubt you’ve heard the message “play with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what games are good to play and how to play them.  Did you know it’s these two things – the what and how - that makes the difference to your child’s development?

So why take the time to play with your child? Well research shows us play allows children to use their creativity as they develop their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and social and emotional skills.  Phew! That’s a lot of areas play can influence. Play is also so important for healthy brain development. Most of all play is fun and a simple joy that children love and by playing with your child,  you are giving them time when they feel special.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how for playing with your child by telling you about a game we like to use in clinic and sharing our top three tips on how to play the game to encourage your child’s listening, talking and thinking skills.

Name of game

SHOPPING LIST by Orchard Toys

Image Credit: Orchard Toys

What’s it about?

The Shopping List lotto game is a colourful and simple vocabulary game which holds children's attention! Players take it in turns to turn over cards showing everyday items, from tomatoes to washing powder to pizza. If they match the pictures on their shopping list, they are encouraged to put them in their trolley. The winner is the first player to collect all the items on their list and fill their trolley or basket

This game is good for children ages 3-7.

Our top 3 tips

1. Take turns to fill the trolley

With younger children place the pictures face down and take turns to choose one, then see whose shopping trolley it should go in and help each other fill the trolleys. This is nice for encouraging social skills such as sharing, turn-taking and helping others.

2. Take turns being the shopkeeper

With older children, it can be fun to take turns to be the shopkeeper and encourage questioning and requesting skills. E.g. in response to ‘Hello what do you need today?’ – ‘I need tomatoes please’.

3. Talk about the items with additional information

This helps extend your child’s vocabulary and concept knowledge e.g. I’ve got carrots…do you have any vegetables in your trolley? My carrots are orange? Can you tell me something about the things in your trolley? This is fantastic for encouraging categorising and describing skills.

Remember the most important thing is to have fun!

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Book Central - Where is the Green Sheep?

No doubt you’ve heard the message “read books with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what books to read and how to read them.  Did you know it’s actually these two things – the what and how - that makes the difference to your child’s development?

We know from research that children who are not read to have poorer understanding of language, their vocabularies are smaller and their thinking skills are less advanced.  And this means they go on to have trouble learning to read themselves.  So, reading the right books in the right way to your child is critical to their development.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how or book reading with one fantastic book and our top three tips to make sure the way you’re reading is helping your child communicate, connect and succeed!

Where Is The Green Sheep? by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek

What’s it about?

This is a fun and colourful book that will have your child hooked from the start! It follows a wildly wonderful adventure in search for the green sheep. Before you find the green sheep, you and your child will be introduced to many other sheep along the way who are doing wild and wonderful things. Each page will leave you wondering when the green sheep will be found.

Our top 3 tips

1. Talk with your child about what is happening on each page.

As this book has limited print, it encourages the reader to be creative and generate their own descriptions and discussions for each page. Ask your child to describe the sheep on each page and why they have been given their name (e.g. “the bed sheep”, “the band sheep”). Your child will learn specific vocabulary related to the text and encourage their use of descriptive language.

2. Point out the different concepts and descriptors on each page (e.g. little, big, high, low, tall, short, etc.).

You can link them to real life examples to help solidify their learning (e.g. “Look this sheep is tall like a giraffe”).

3 Use the text as conversation starters (e.g. “so sheep really go swimming?”).

This will help your child extend their language by using reasoning and higher-level thinking skills.

 

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5 Skills Your Child Must Have Before Starting School

Are you wondering if your child is ready for school next year? This is an important article that could make the world of difference to your child’s schooling success.

 

“Children who know numbers, can write their name and read letters before starting school are no more successful than those who can’t.  You need to know the critical skills children must have before school to be successful.”

 

If children have not developed these critical skills and have not received effective intervention from a passionate health professional then they will struggle to learn at school, lack self-confidence and as they get older the gap won’t be able to be reversed.

When your child sees a health professional, someone who lives and breathes treating delays in development every day, someone who is passionate and celebrates your child’s wins, you’ll finally be in the right hands. Your child will then develop the critical skills they need and in doing so gain confidence, make friends and succeed at school.

 

“Forget about your child knowing numbers, letters and colours and the plethora of ‘school readiness’ programs out there.  There is NO evidence to show these make a difference to a child’s academic, social or emotional success”

 

If you want to set your child up for success at school then keep reading. Knowing about these next five skills might just change your child’s life.

#1 Language skills

These skills are proven by research to impact on a child’s academic achievement.  Children need to be able to put sentences together, ask and answer questions, tell short stories, use correct grammar and more in order to thrive at school.

#2 Resilience

This is all about being able to ‘bounce back’ after a challenge and research has also shown this is a critical skills for schooling success. Children need to be able turn around their thoughts and self-talk when the going gets tough and think positively.

#3 Fine motor skills

Another set of skills proven to have an effect on a child’s learning is their fine motor skills. They need them to do up buttons, unzip their jumper and write with a pencil.  All incredibly important things to be able to do at school.

#4 Concentration

Concentration is another key skill children must have for success both at school and in life.  They’ve got to able to focus and pay attention to learn new things and complete tasks.  And this includes being able to concentrate on story books.

#5 Social skills

Both in and out of the classroom, school days are filled with taking turns, solving problems, negotiating and understanding other people’s points of view.  These social skills are essential for children to achieve success at school.

 

If you want to check your child has all the critical skills for schooling success then you’ll be glad to learn that we’ve developed the ‘Get Set for School’ checklist.  It’s an easy to follow checklist to help you set your child up for success.  It covers the critical skills proven to improve your child’s academic, social and emotional success at school as well as ways you can help your child develop these critical skills at home.  To get it, simply click here  and you’ll get access to your FREE download.


Toy Central - Mr Potato Head

Playing the right games in the right way

No doubt you’ve heard the message “play with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what games are good to play and how to play them.  Did you know it’s these two things – the what and how - that make the difference to your child’s development?

So why take the time to play with your child? Well, research shows us play allows children to use their creativity as they develop their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and social and emotional skills.  Phew! That’s a lot of areas play can influence. Play is also so important for healthy brain development. Most of all play is fun and a simple joy that children love and by playing with your child,  you are giving them time when they feel special.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how for playing with your child by telling you about a game we like to use in clinic and sharing our top three tips on how to play the game to encourage your child’s listening, talking and thinking skills.

Name of game

Mr. Potato Head by Hasbro

Image Credit: Hasbro

What’s it about?

Mr. Potato Head is a game that allows children to use their imagination to mix and match different combinations of outfits for Mr. Potato. This game is great for our toddlers and preschool-aged children who love to build. Mr. Potato Head now comes in a variety of outfits and themes such as Avengers and Star Wars.

Our top 3 tips

1. Focus on vocabulary

Mr. Potato Head is filled with so many opportunities for developing basic vocabulary. Singing the nursery rhyme ‘Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes’ is a great way to encourage our toddlers to learn and use common words such as ‘shoes’ and ‘eyes’. Once your child is able to sing along with you, leave some words out of the nursery rhyme and encourage them to fill it in. Setting up predictable patterns of language, such as nursery rhymes of common phrases like ‘ready, set, go’ is a great way to encourage language use for toddlers who are late to talk.

2. Have more than one

If you are lucky enough to have two sets of Mr. Potato Head, you can build on your child’s visual-matching abilities by first completing a Mr. Potato head yourself then letting your child copy. This is also a great one for introducing the concept of ‘same’ vs ‘different’. For preschool-aged children, you could also deconstruct your Mr. Potato Head then ask your child to recreate it the same way you did. This helps them use their visual memory skills.

3. Practice requesting

Mr. Potato Head can be used as a resource for developing your child’s ability to request. A simple activity you can do with Mr. Potato Head is to have all the pieces in front of you, while your child only has Mr. Potato’s body. Your child is then has to ask for all the pieces using their talking skills (e.g., “Can I have a nose, please?”). See if you can extend your child's request by 1 word. For example, if your child is currently requesting by saying "nose", you can model "want nose" then wait and see if they'll copy your words.

And don't forget the most important thing: HAVE FUN TOGETHER!

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Book Central - The Very Brave Bear

Reading the Right Books the Right Way

No doubt you’ve heard the message “read books with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what books to read and how to read them.  Did you know it’s actually these two things – the what and how - that make the difference to your child’s development?

We know from research that children who are not read have a poorer understanding of language, their vocabularies are smaller and their thinking skills are less advanced.  And this means they go on to have trouble learning to read themselves.  So, reading the right books in the right way to your child is critical to their development.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how or book reading with one fantastic book and our top three tips to make sure the way you’re reading is helping your child communicate, connect and succeed!

The Very Brave Bear By Nick Bland

What’s it about?

This book is a part of a series of books that follow The Very Cranky Bear and his adventures. In this book, the bear is back and this time he is facing Boris Buffalo in a battle of bravery. But something surprises them both resulting in them fleeing through the forest in fear. This book is full of vibrant illustrations and a fun, engaging story which children will love to read aloud.

Our top 3 tips

1. Focus on rhyming words

As you’re reading with your child, point out the rhyming words, talk about how/why they rhyme and ask them to try to think of another word that rhymes. This will help strengthen their phonological awareness skills which they must have to learn to read successfully.

2. Spark a conversation

Have a discussion with your child about each thing that the bear and buffalo do on each page. Ask some questions but not too many. Questions like 'Is that scary?', 'what would you do if that happened?', 'how would you feel about that?', 'Is the bear brave or is the buffalo brave?' and 'What does it mean to be brave?' are great for sparking conversation and expanding your child’s emotional vocabulary.

3. Ask your child to retell the story

After you have finished reading the book together, ask your child to tell back the main things that happened in the story. Help them to remember the correct sequence of the activities that the buffalo and bear completed to show how brave they are. Encourage them to use words like first, then and last. This will help them to understand the structure of stories and make up their own.

 

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Clear speech: 3 tips to help your child say the 'f' sound

Do you have a child who can’t say the ‘f’ sound?

Perhaps they say ‘pish’ for ‘fish’ or ‘cottee’ for ‘coffee’. These mistakes can definitely sound cute when they’re young however once your child gets to a certain age they need to be able to say these words correctly. If you let your child say words the wrong way for too long it can make the mistakes harder to fix. And if you leave it until they start school, your child is very likely to have trouble learning to read and spell. And we know you don’t want that for them so keep reading for 3 tips on helping your child say the ‘f’ sound correctly. 

So when is the right time to try to fix the ‘f’ sound?

The answer is once your child is older than 3 years of age. If your child isn’t 3 years old yet don’t try to fix it. They won’t be ready and it’ll just end in frustration for both you and them. But if your child is older than 3 then now is the time to work on getting it right. There are many ways to teach children to say sounds correctly and here are 3 of our top tips for the ‘f’ sound:

Show them how to say it

The first tip in teaching your child to say the ‘f’ sound is to get down on their level and show them how to say the sound. Say just the sound itself and be right in front of them. Don’t try it in words like ‘fish’. That’ll be too tricky for them, they won’t succeed and they’ll either get frustrated or not want to try again. Ask them to copy you and see how they go.

Explain to them how to say it

Some simple instructions on how to say the ‘f’ sound can be really helpful for your child. Now, different instructions work for different children so be prepared to try a few ways. You could tell them to “bite your lip and blow” or “make a rabbit face and blow”. If one work, stick with it! 

Use a mirror for visual feedback

Your child will really benefit from seeing what they’re doing with their mouth so use a mirror. If you’ve got a mirror on your wardrobe just sit on the floor in front of it or head to the bathroom and use the mirror there. Just make sure they can see themselves. You may need a small step. You make the sound and see if they can copy your mouth movements to make the sound too. Give them the instructions on how to make the sound at the same time. 

Please be aware the above does not replace professional advice. If you’re worried about your child’s speech please contact a Speech Pathologist. Click here to send our Speech Pathologists a message today.


3 ways to help your child play well with others

Is your child having trouble playing with other children? If you answered yes, then keep reading!

If your child is having difficulty playing with other children, this can impact their ability to form and maintain meaningful friendships and thrive in day-to-day activities. By developing this skill, you will have a child who can build long-lasting friendships, feel confident in understanding and talking about their emotions and can support and respect others when playing together.

So, if you’d like to help your child play well with others, check out our top 3 tips below:

Play a game that requires taking turns

Children typically love playing games and you will sometimes find they would much rather take all the turns themselves than share them around, especially when they’re younger. Playing a game that requires them to have to take turns is a great way to introduce the importance of turn taking and encourage your child to say whose turn it is in the game, for example ‘my turn’, ‘your turn.’ Using direct language to explain to your child what they’re expected to do in a game helps them to learn how to appropriately take turns.

Talk about emotions and help your child to tell you how they feel in different situations

We all experience lots of emotions throughout our everyday lives and the same goes for children, especially when they're playing (and possibly losing). However, for children these feelings can be quite scary and overwhelming at times. Talking about how your child is feeling and labelling their emotions allows your child to develop a healthy understanding and acceptance of their feelings and know it is normal to feel different emotions during different situations.

Make sure you win the game sometimes

We’re all guilty of it, letting your child win every game that is played to avoid them getting upset or having a tantrum. However, making sure you win the game sometimes is super important so they can learn to cope with a loss. Showing them how to react and manage disappoint is a great way to teach this skill. Providing them with a number of opportunities to practice will help your child learn how to deal with loss and disappointment in a game, as well as teach them good sportsmanship and respect towards others they are playing with.

If you’re worried about your child’s play skills, a paediatric speech pathologist can help. Please feel free to send an email to info@talkplaygrow.com.au and we will be sure to get back to you.


3 ways to support children with Autism

As part of Autism Awareness Month we thought we’d share with you 3 of our top tips for supporting children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). There’s a saying that if you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism. And it’s so true! By its nature, autism is a spectrum, with each child having their own combination of strengths and difficulties. Even though every child is unique, there are some key ways we can help support all children with autism so they can reach their goals, whatever those may be.

So, here are 3 of our top tips for supporting children with ASD...

TIP #1 - Create a consistent routine

We all tend to enjoy some consistency and routine in our lives however for children with ASD this is even more important. Consistent routines are something they rely on to understand their world and feel calm. Regularity in mealtimes, school, therapy appointments, and bedtime makes their day more predictable which reduces anxiety and increases calm. Disruptions will happen from time to time but try to keep them to a minimum and stick to your schedule. If a change to your routine is needed try to give your child as much notice as possible beforehand and talk about it regularly with them in the lead up to the change. 

TIP #2 - Use visuals to support understanding

The problem with words is they’re so transient. Spoken one second and gone the next! This puts an enormous load on our brains to process the information quickly and remember it. For children with ASD we know this is much harder from them to do. Visuals, or pictures that represent words, lighten that load. The pictures stay put and your child can refer back to them whenever they need to. Visuals can be used throughout your day. They can be used to show your child their routine for the day, the steps they need to complete for everyday tasks (e.g. going to the toilet), understand abstract concepts like emotions and more.. 

TIP #3 - Use their interests to teach them new skills

All children have things that interest them more than others. Children with ASD are no different. There’ll be things that interest them a lot and things they’re not interested in at all. Finding out their interests and incorporating them when you’re playing or talking to your child will help them pay attention and learn from you. Some parents worry that entertaining their interests will make them fixate on them even more however this is not the case. Using their interests will help them to engage with you and when they’re engaged you can gently introduce new ways of playing or new topics to talk about.

We hope you found this article useful? Please feel free to click the share button and help spread the word. All children deserve to be supported to achieve their full potential.

 


Should I use baby sign with my child?

If you’re deciding whether to sign with your baby then keep reading because that’s just what this article is about. There are a bunch of baby sign programs out there that come with claims that signing will make your child talk sooner, give them bigger vocabularies, better thinking skills and reduce frustration. The problem is that they just don’t have the evidence to back them up. 

 

Whilst teaching your child some simple signs won’t be detrimental to their development, most children don’t need them. Ultimately, the choice is yours. Whether you choose to use sign or not here are 3 tips that will help your child learn to communicate:

 

1. Get down to your child’s level

This simple act shows your child that they have your full attention. And they can give you theirs in return because they’re not craning their neck to look at you. It’s also super useful for helping your child look at your face and tune in to your expressions.

 

2. Keep it simple 

You don’t have to use a formal sign program.  You may find you’re already using a bunch of gestures when you talk to your child. It’s very natural to do this! So, stick with what comes naturally and it’ll help conversation flow smoothly.

 

3. Say the word with the sign

Whenever you use a sign or gesture make sure you’re saying the word too. This will help your child connect the object or action to the corresponding sign as well as the spoken word. They need to make these connections to learn to talk.

 

There are times that a child will need a more formal signing program. However, this should only be introduced under the guidance of a paediatric Speech Pathologist.  If your child is having trouble learning to talk, seek help from a profession as soon as possible.  A paediatric Speech Pathologist will be able to do a thorough assessment and work out what help your child needs to communicate effectively. 

 

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