Posts Tagged ‘speech’

Why reading aloud to your baby is so important

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

AA baby mom dad brother in NICU.jpg.resizedDid you know that reading to your baby helps promote language skills? Science has shown that reading to your baby helps build vocabulary, speech, and later reading comprehension, literacy and overall intelligence. Yet, less than half of children under the age of 5 are read to every day.

Reading aloud to your child is such an important aspect of language development that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers guidance on how to read to your child, including book suggestions for every age.

But what if your baby is in the NICU?

Even if your baby is in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU), it is still incredibly valuable to read to him. The March of Dimes is partnering with Jack and Jill of America, Inc. to provide books to families who have a baby in a NICU. Parents are encouraged to choose books and read to their babies as often as they can.

In this resource, the AAP explains “Why it is never too early to read with your baby.” They say: “When parents talk, read, and sing with their babies and toddlers, connections are formed in their young brains. These connections build language, literacy, and social–emotional skills at an important time in a young child’s development. These activities strengthen the bond between parent and child.”

Why start reading today?

Today is World Read Aloud Day, a perfect time to start a new routine of reading to your child.

If you’re not sure what to read, you can ask your local librarian in the children’s room. You can also acquire books for a home library at second hand stores or even recycling stations. The “dump” in the town where I raised my kids has a book shed where you can drop off or pick up used books for free. And don’t forget, garage or yard sales are great places to get books for nickels. Having a mini-library at home has been shown to help children get off on the right academic foot.

But perhaps the best reason to read to your child is because it brings you together. The snuggles and cuddles, laughter and silliness that may result from reading a wonderful book, brings happiness to both parent and child.

Whether it is in the NICU or at home, reading aloud to your child is one of the most powerful things you will ever do. So grab a book, snuggle up, and enjoy!

 

Preemies and hearing loss

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

baby's earNearly 3 in 1,000 babies (about 12,000) are born with some kind of hearing loss in the United States each year. Most babies get their hearing checked as part of newborn screening before they leave the hospital. Newborn screening checks for serious but rare conditions at birth.

If your baby doesn’t pass his newborn hearing screening, it doesn’t always mean he has hearing loss. He may just need to be screened again. If your baby doesn’t pass a second time, it’s very important that he gets a full hearing test as soon as possible and before he’s 3 months old.

The risk of hearing loss is significantly higher in babies born with a very low birth weight (less than 1500 grams). However, hearing loss can be caused by other factors, such as genetics, family history, infections during pregnancy, infections in your baby after birth, injuries, medications or being around loud sounds. See our article  to learn more about the different causes of hearing loss.

Possible treatments

Different treatments are available depending on your child’s level of hearing loss, his health, and the cause of the hearing loss. They include medication, surgery, ear tubes, hearing aids, cochlear implants, learning American Sign Language and receiving speech therapy.  The article on our website discusses each of these types of treatments.

If a child needs speech therapy, it can usually be provided through the early intervention program for babies and toddlers. Read this post to understand how to access services. The sooner your child gets help, the sooner language skills will emerge and improve.

If you need more detailed information, check out these sites:

Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) Program

Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act 2004 (IDEA 2004)  

Hearing loss treatment and intervention services

Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” in the Categories menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date (just keep scrolling down). We welcome your comments and input.

 

It’s good – no, it’s GREAT – to read to your baby

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

reading programRead to your baby- it’s fun for both of you. And now the AAP says it is important for your baby’s language and brain development, too. Sounds like a win-win to me.

Someone once asked me how old my children were when I started reading to them. Honestly, it was not like I flipped a switch and then pulled out a book. I read to them as soon as they could open their eyes. I remember my son being on my lap and barely able to hold his head up as I read him a soft “baby book” with huge, colorful shapes and pictures. He sat there enthralled, gazing at the colors with wide eyes. Sometimes he would lunge forward to touch the colors. He was barely three months old.

When I gave birth to my daughter two years later, I would sit on my large blue chair with my son on one leg and my daughter nestled on my arm on my other leg. My son would turn the pages and I would read to both of them. I treasured our special time together, and my kids absolutely loved it. Even though my kids are in their twenties now, I still have the “reading chair” and just sitting in it evokes the sweetest of memories for me. But, perhaps the best part of this bonding ritual was that both my children grew to love reading at a very early age.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is actively urging pediatricians to tell parents to read to their child from infancy. Reading aloud helps to promote language skills – vocabulary, speech, and later reading comprehension, literacy and overall intelligence. The AAP suggests that pediatricians extol the virtues of reading to children at each “well child” visit. Reading to your child is right up there with proper nutrition and vaccinations. Yup – according to science, reading aloud to kids is good for them.

Where to get books

You don’t need to own a large library to read to your child. Kids love repetition and will ask to hear the same story over and over again. (How many times did I read Go Dog Go by P.D. Eastman?!!!). But if you just can’t pick up that same book again, head to your local library where the children’s section is sure to bring out your inner child. As your baby gets older, make reading interactive – have him point to the truck when you say the word. Then have him repeat the word or say it with you. Watch as his vocabulary begins to grow. You can practically “see” the connections being made.

Another place to acquire books for a home library is at second hand stores or even recycling stations. The “dump” in the town where I raised my kids has a book shed where you can drop off or pick up used books for free. And don’t forget, garage or yard sales are great places to get books for nickels. Having a mini-library at home has been shown to help children get off on the right academic foot.

When your little one is a toddler, check out library story hours for parents or caregivers and children. It may soon become the highlight of your week.

Bottom line

It is never too early to start reading to your baby or too late to start reading to your child. Not only will reading aloud help to boost language skills from an early age, but it will promote bonding and closeness between you and your child. Who knows what world a book may open up to you and your baby?

So, grab a book, snuggle up and start reading. You’ll never regret it.

 

Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” in the Categories menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date (just keep scrolling down). We welcome your comments and input. Email AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

A social skills tip for kids with special needs

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

2-kids-playing-togetherOften a child with special needs has trouble relating to her peers. The developmental delay or disability may make it hard for her to communicate at an age appropriate level. Moments at daycare, preschool, on play dates or at mother/child play groups may bring stress and anxiety to a child (not to mention loneliness and isolation).

If this is the case for your child, don’t despair. She is not alone. Many children with special needs require help with socializing. It does not come naturally to them. And, if they have a speech or language delay, or another kind of communication challenge, they may feel very frustrated at not being able to talk and play with peers.

What can you do?

Here is a tip that has helped some children I know (including my own daughter):

Many pre-teens or young teenagers love spending time with younger children. Ask a teen from your neighborhood to come over and “pretend” to be a child again, and play with your child. Have her get down on the floor next to your child and build with blocks or Legos, play with dolls, have a tea party, or do whatever your child usually likes to do. (Try to avoid having them sit and watch videos or TV, as that is non-interactive.) Let the teenager engage your little one on your child’s level. Hopefully, your child will take the cues and respond back to her. A teen will be more patient with your child than a peer would be, making it a more successful and fun playtime.

It may take a while to facilitate a relationship, but the goal is for the skills learned with the teen playmate to transfer (in time) to that of children nearer your child’s age. And, the confidence gained at learning how to play and have a conversation will help her when she plays with a child her own age.

Start with short periods of time, such as 15 – 30 minutes. Gradually work up to longer periods. The goal is to get your child to slowly move from parallel play (playing beside another child but not interacting with him or her), to interactive play (when two children talk to each other and play together).

What about social skills classes?

Of course, formalized social skills classes or therapeutic play groups are also great ways to help your child learn to socialize, but often these classes are not convenient or are costly. If your child has an IFSP or an IEP, ask the team about creating specific goals to address social skills. Many times schools will offer social skills classes that include typically developing children and developmentally challenged children in one group. The social worker or facilitator guides the group with fun activities as social skills are learned and mastered.

Bottom line

With any kind of delay or disability, relating to peers can be very challenging. Try giving your child the opportunity to practice social skills with a pre-teen or teenager. The reciprocal skills learned in their play periods may boost your child’s confidence and skill level enough to be able to cross the threshold into successfully playing with her peers. It is certainly worth a try.

What has worked for your child? If you have a tip that was helpful, please share it.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. Go to News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” on the Categories menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. As always, we welcome your comments and input.

What is a Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician?

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

doctor-and-child2Is there a difference between a Pediatrician and a Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician? In a simple word – yes.

A Pediatrician is a medical doctor (MD) who is specifically trained to care for children (from birth through teen years). If you have a baby, child, or a teenager, you have probably had her seen by a Pediatrician for her healthcare needs. This would include well-care visits as well as sick visits.

But if your child has any kind of need beyond the “typical” health issues common for her age, you might wish for her to see a pediatric specialist. A Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician (DBP) is a Pediatrician with advanced specialty training in the physical, emotional, behavioral and social development of children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says “Developmental-behavioral pediatricians are medical doctors who have completed
• Four years of medical school
• Three years of residency training in pediatrics
• Board certification in pediatrics
• Additional subspecialty training in developmental-behavioral pediatrics
In 2002, the American Board of Pediatrics began certifying developmental-behavioral pediatricians via a comprehensive examination process.”

When should your child see a Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician?

If you have concerns about your child’s development in any area – social, emotional, behavioral or developmental – you should ask your child’s health care provider about consulting with a DBP. Often a Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician works with a team of pediatricians or pediatric health care providers. This team approach can provide a more in-depth perspective for a parent, which will ultimately help your child be the best that she can be.

You may benefit from having your child see a DBP if your child has (or you think she may have):

• Delayed speech and/or trouble understanding language
• Delayed motor skills (crawling, walking, eating, riding a bicycle)
• Poor social skills
• Trouble sleeping (including bedwetting)
• Trouble feeding or eating
• Sensory sensitivities
• Trouble at school (paying attention; learning to read, write or do math)
• Cerebral Palsy
• Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or ADD (without hyperactivity)
• Learning disabilities
• Anxiety disorder
• Depression
• Tics or Tourette Syndrome
• Spina Bifida
• Autism Spectrum Disorder
• Intellectual disability
• Other chronic conditions, serious illnesses, or complications due to prematurity

A Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician may suggest additional testing or input from other pediatric specialists or therapists. Then, she will review the results and take all the different pieces of the puzzle and put them together to make a plan of action. The result is a comprehensive evaluation with treatment recommendations which will give your child the best chance at making progress.

The AAP has a great one-page sheet that describes all of the ways that a DBP can help you and your child.

How do you find a DBP?

To find a Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician near you, visit AAP’s physician locator or ask your child’s health care provider for a referral.

Bottom Line

Often a visit with a Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician will help to clarify complex issues. If your child is having difficulty in an area, it may be very beneficial to gain the insight from another pediatric specialist.

Note:

This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January and appears every Wednesday. Go to News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. As always, we welcome your comments and input.

Have questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Did you hear me? Know the signs of APD

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

child-covering-earsGetting kids to listen, understand and follow directions can be a challenge. But some kids have more difficulty with these tasks than others due to an underlying delay or disorder.  How do you know if there is a problem or not?

The language process

As your child grows from an infant to a toddler, he is exposed to verbal language. First he listens, soon he understands and finally he begins to imitate and speak. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “one in every ten to fifteen children has trouble with language comprehension and/or speech. For some children, the problem is caused by hearing difficulty, low intelligence, lack of verbal stimulation at home or a family history of speech delays. In most cases, though, the cause is unknown.”

Sometimes a child has a language problem due to an auditory processing disorder (APD) which means it takes him more time to process language. Other names for APD include central auditory processing disorder (CAPD), auditory perception problem, auditory comprehension deficit and central auditory dysfunction.

With APD, there may be nothing wrong with your child’s hearing – that is – he can hear your voice and sounds around him just fine. It is his ability to process those words and understand the language that slows him down. He “hears” the words, but has trouble distinguishing differences in the words and interpreting the meaning.  As a result, he needs more time to decipher meanings, make sense of the language, and then more time to form his response.

What are the signs of APD?

As your child moves from toddlerhood to preschool and beyond, a language processing issue may become more noticeable. You may wonder why you are seemingly ignored when you say something to your child, or why your child does not respond in a timely manner.  In reality, he may be still processing the first sentence of your three sentence request, and has not gotten to the last part of it when you were expecting an answer. The noise in a room may distract his thought process or a combination of factors may make it hard for him to pay attention, understand and respond to you. Your child may struggle to keep up with the fast pace of his life often resorting to tears and tantrums out of frustration.

Here are some signs that your child may be suffering from an auditory processing problem:

• Trouble paying attention
• Trouble following directions
• Poor listening skills
• Trouble with language – confuses words and doesn’t understand – can’t follow  a  conversation
• Needs more time to process information
• Gets upset in noisy environments or bothered by certain sounds
• Behavior problems
• Easily forgets information that was taught previously
• Trouble with reading, spelling, comprehension and vocabulary (when your child is in school)

What should you do?

If you suspect that your child has an auditory processing problem, speak with your pediatrician. The AAP says: “If your pediatrician suspects your child has difficulty with language, he’ll conduct a thorough physical exam and hearing test and if necessary refer you to a speech/language or early-childhood specialist for further evaluation. Early detection and identification of language delay or hearing impairment is critically important, so treatment can begin before the problem interferes with learning in other areas. Unless you and your pediatrician identify the difficulty and do something about it, your child may have continuous trouble with classroom learning.”

You can also request an Early Intervention assessment. Read my blog post on how to have your child evaluated for free if he is under three years old, or if he is age three and older. Possible interventions may include speech and language therapy, visits with an audiologist, specialized training devices, and the use of auditory training techniques.

How can you help your child?

In addition to a thorough assessment and treatment if appropriate, here are some tips:

• Speak slowly and directly to your child – establish eye contact
• Keep directions simple and short, and repeat if necessary
• Have your child repeat directions
• Wait for your child to process and respond – don’t rush him
• Encourage your child to ask questions or request help if he does not understand
• Provide verbal praise frequently

My daughter suffers from APD. She is now 23 years old and has learned how to deal with her auditory problems. She is an Assistant Teacher at a Childcare Center working with 2 year olds. She has noticed that a couple of the kids at the Center need more time to process and respond when they are spoken to. She urges me to tell parents to slow down, wait and don’t rush your child as he is trying to answer you. By being impatient you may cause unnecessary anxiety in your little one, which will only complicate issues.

For more detailed information, the NIH has information on the topic as well as resources to explore. You can also read more about how APD can affect your child throughout his life on NCLD’s website.

Bottom line

Listening, deciphering and responding to language are exhausting for a child with a delay or auditory problems. If you suspect an auditory problem in your child, seek help earlier rather than later. Patience, time and therapy may help him to overcome hurdles.

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started on January 16, 2013 and appears every Wednesday. Go to News Moms Need and click on “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. As always, we welcome your comments and input.

Have questions?  Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Baby’s first word

Friday, January 8th, 2010

“Light”! It was as clear as anything. It was 2am when Hannah woke up20139952_thb crying. I went into her room, lifted her from her crib, she pointed to the ceiling and said it. Twice! I was thrilled. Exhausted, but thrilled. She says it regularly now. When she crawls into a room she looks up, points and says it. Although, it’s sounding more and more like, “ight”.

Here are some tips to help your baby’s language skills along. Create a nurturing communication environment by including these things:

Talk.  Speak to your baby whenever you’re together. Describe what you’re doing, point things out, ask questions, and sing songs. Some “baby talk” is OK, but don’t over do it. Your baby will learn to speak well by listening to you speak well.

Read. Reading to your baby is a great way to expose her to new vocabulary, the way sentences are put together, and how stories flow. Your baby loves the sound of your voice and to be cuddled. Reading together is such great bonding time for families, too.   

Listen. When your baby talks (or babbles) to you, look at him, smile and be responsive. He’s more likely to speak up when he knows you’re interested in what he’s saying.

Kid vocabulary

Friday, October 17th, 2008

I was visiting a friend the other day and had the absolute best time I’d had in quite a while.  Her toddler was walking around blathering away to her dolls, to us, to the dog.  She has an enormous “vocabulary” of mostly unique words.  It got me remembering what my kids and grandkids used to say, and my friend and I chuckled for an hour.  Here is a list of some of the funnier and sweeter ones:

Yaiyo=yellow,    Kingergargen=kindergarten;    Dip-dip=ketchup
Draclia=that scary vampire dude,    Airdishing=airconditioning
Tawapiwa=caterpillar,    Hangumber=hamburger
Chaytoes=potatoes,    Samiches=sandwiches,    Stunk=skunk
Fence=pheasant,    Perkle=purple,    Princels=pretzels
Pisgetti=spaghetti,    Valilla=vanilla,    Underweird=underwear
Forometer=thermometer,    Happy annigrocery=anniversary
Patties=hands,    Rebrella-umbrella,    4 sleeps=4 days
Weetards=leotard,    Casesuit=suitcase,    Beeps=chips
Enlelope=envelope,    Moop=milk,    Ambliance=ambulance
Coffwoff=washcloth,    Big Bunder=thunder,    Reboons=balloons

What verbal goodies have your kids given you?