The questions you’re too scared to ask your speech therapist (but really want to know!)

Q: Why did the emu cross the road? A: To prove he wasn’t a chicken. Sometimes as a parent in speech therapy sessions you might have some questions but feel too chicken to ask, such as: “Why does the therapist just play with my child?” “Why won’t she just get him to say some words?” “We’ve been in therapy for X weeks and my child’s still not talking! How long does this take?” “How many times do I have to repeat this? I feel like a broken record.” “Why does speech therapy cost so much? It looks like an easy way to make good money.” No one wants to seem rude or like they don’t care about their child, so often these questions go unspoken. So, rather than wait for you to ask those questions we want to make it easy on you and answer them upfront. Parenting is hard, and raising a child who also needs speech therapy is even more complicated, so we’re doing what we can to lighten your load. As a speech pathologist I sometimes feel a bit like a duck – I look like I’m gliding along floating on the surface but underneath I’m paddling like mad! Here are a few insights into what’s going on underneath the surface so that you and your child can understand and enjoy the therapy process more. 1. It’s not “just” play We seem to have a preconceived idea that playing is somehow goofing off and is in direct opposition to working and making progress. So when our child has trouble with something we expect them to have to “work” to learn it....

Thank you, thank you, thank you

2015 has been a great year at Chatterbugs and we just wanted to say thank you to the Toowoomba community. To everyone who has referred children to us so we could help them, thank you. To everyone who has trusted us with their special children as your speech therapy service provider of choice, thank you. To all the professionals we’re had the pleasure of working with in 2015, thank you. Because of you we are making a difference and helping children in the Toowoomba region to communicate, learn and eat more successfully. As you are probably already aware we are the largest speech pathology practice in Toowoomba dedicated exclusively to paediatric clinical care. In addition to speech and language skills our team also gets great results for children with literacy (reading/spelling/writing including dyslexia) and feeding difficulties. Here are just a few examples of the outcomes we are achieving: Here are a few of our highlights for 2015: We changed a child’s life every day – in 2015 we helped over 365 children learn to communicate, read and spell, eat and interact with others more successfully. We’re proud of the number of children we help, but more than that we are proud of the individual outcomes we can achieve for each child and their family. We recently worked with a 12 month old girl who was having difficulty chewing and after only 3 therapy sessions and her parent attending our “Transforming Picky Eaters into Peaceful Feeders” workshop we are so excited that she is now successfully able to eat a variety of table foods. Her Christmas was so much more enjoyable because of...

Joining words together – 3 strategies to help your child use two word phrases

When children are using lots of single words, they may need some help to learn how they can put words together to make short sentences. There are also a number of different types of two word phrases. As a quick refresher for those of you who can’t remember school English a noun is a naming word. Here are some of the different types and some example phrases for each type: Action + Noun eg. “running horse” Noun + Action eg. “boy is jumping” Noun/Action + Location eg. “teddy in” or “jumping the log” Descriptive Word + Noun/Action eg. “soft kitty” or “silly walk” or “one apple” Social language + Noun/Action eg. “ta Mum” or “more tickles” It’s important that children have lots of chances to hear a variety of these different sentence types used every day. Remember as a parent you are the best language teacher your child has and it’s more about talking throughout life rather than formal sit down practice that will make the biggest difference. Most children start joining words together at about 18 months of age. Here are a few of the strategies that we find consistently work with most children who have a number of single words (50+) and are ready to start moving towards joining two words together. 1. Model: Use 2 and 3 word sentences to demonstrate the sort of phrases your child could use. For example, when having a drink of juice you could use some of these phrases: All gone No more juice Drink juice Pour juice Uh oh! Spilled the juice. Cold juice Let’s pour slowly It’s your juice My juice. 2. Expand: Expansion is...

How Children Learn to Read

 This post will be decidedly more technical than most of our articles but we feel it’s a vitally important subject area for parents and teachers to understand despite it’s complexity so pardon the jargon (we’ve tried to explain terms throughout for you)! Learning how to read requires several skills working together in a complex, harmonious dance. There are many challenges children face as they learn how sounds are connected to print, as they develop fluency, and as they learn to construct meaning from what they read. The primary challenge is the complexity of the task at hand and the number of different skills that can affect reading development. Three primary skills are fundamental to successful literacy development: sounds to letter links; reading fluency; and reading comprehension. Sound to letter links In English,  individual letters on a page are abstract and meaningless by themselves. They must be linked to equally abstract sounds (speech pathologists call these “phonemes”), then blended together and pronounced as words and then ultimately connected to word meanings. To learn to read English, the child must figure out the relationship between sounds and letters. A beginning reader needs to learn the connections between the approximately 44 sounds of spoken English (the phonemes), and the 26 letters of the alphabet. Research has taught us is that in order for a beginning reader to learn how to connect or translate printed symbols (letters and letter patterns) into sounds, the would-be reader must understand that our speech can be segmented or broken into small sounds (phoneme awareness) and that the segmented units of speech can be represented by printed forms (graphemes). This principle is at...

My child has a speech problem…is it my fault?

An open letter to every parent who blames themselves for their child’s communication difficulties: Dear parent, Let’s just get this question out of the dark recesses of the back of your mother-guilt-ridden mind and out into the light. “My child has a speech problem…is it my fault?” I’ve seen way too many of you come to see me in clinic with your precious little person and as we finish up the assessment and I provide feedback of where your child is at and then we are just preparing a plan a solution, the tears start rolling down and then this phrase emerges from your grief stricken heart: “It’s my fault because…..” e.g. I knew something was wrong and I didn’t do something earlier, I work too much, I had post-natal depression, my genes are inherently flawed, I let him watch TV as a baby, I had to move him to escape an unhealthy relationship, I didn’t breastfeed her….feel free to insert your own guilt ridden thoughts here, as parents we all seem to have them. Well I want to tell you right now it’s NOT your fault. Unless of course your child has been personally neglected or abused by you, in which case you wouldn’t be the sort of parent who is desperate to help them develop the skills they need. You did the best you could with what you had at the time. No, it probably wasn’t perfect but no parenting is. Speech and language difficulties are not “caused” by any of the plethora of reasons I hear from parents blaming themselves every day. So, if you are blaming yourself for your child’s difficulties I just have two...