Great Games

As therapists, we are always on the lookout for fun games to use in our treatment sessions. With temps hovering well below freezing, pulling out some board games might help you make the most of your time indoors!  I’ve whipped up a list of our favorites:

Zingo Bingo ZingoBingo

Sunny Day Pond Sunny Day Pond

Pop Up Pirate Pop Up Priate

Race to the Treasure Race to the Treasure

Robot Face Race RobotFaceRace

Guess Who? Guess Who?

SuspendSuspend

Mystery Dish DinerMystery Dish Diner

BlinkBlink

Frankie’s Food Truck Fiasco   Frankie's Food Truck Fiasco

What are some of your favorite games? We’d love to hear them!

-Elizabeth Clark McKenzie, MS, CCC-SLP

 

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MYTH BUSTER: AAC

 

Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) is an umbrella term that refers to any set of tools or strategies used to solve communication challenges for those who have limited or no intelligible spoken language. There are many different kinds of AAC including picture boards, sign language, low-tech and high-tech devices. Here at Skill Builders, we are proud to offer an expert AAC team.  Our practice is one of seven “LAMP Centers of Excellence” in the country, and the only one in the state of Virginia! We pride ourselves in striving to constantly seek out the latest research and technologies in this field.

AAC can be a fantastic tool to facilitate communication, but we’ve found that there are some myths surrounding AAC that need to be debunked! Here are some common misconceptions:

  1. “AAC is a last resort”

AAC is just a tool, like any other that we would use in therapy.  Studies show that introducing children to AAC earlier in the process actually supports acquisition of language skills and spoken language skills.  Therefore, we do not have to wait until all other interventions have failed in order to start exploring AAC.

  1. “An AAC device will prevent my child from speaking. “

You might think that if a child uses a device to communicate, he won’t be motivated to try to speak. However, research shows the opposite to be true! The majority of studies of the effects of AAC on speech production in children with autism reveal an increase in speech production, and none of have shown a decline in speech production. This is perhaps due to increase in communication opportunities for the child, reduced physical and social demands to speak, and consistent multi-sensory feedback from the device when communicating.

  1. “My child does not show joint-engagement so he cannot use an AAC device.”

Joint attention is actually not a prerequisite for communication, as once believed. Studies show that introducing an AAC device often leads to an increase in joint-attention, as well as in engagement and play skills.

  1. “My child has challenging behaviors.”

If a child does not have a reliable, effective way to communicate, he/she has no other choice but to use behaviors to express themselves. Appropriate, functional, comprehensive communication is necessary for “appropriate” behavior. AAC can decrease the frequency of challenging behaviors by easing frustration and supporting /providing a means of communication.

  1. “My child can already express his basic wants and needs. He doesn’t need an AAC device.”

Basic needs are such a small piece of what people communicate about. Think of all the things you say throughout your day, and how many of them are actually basic wants and needs? Very few! We use communication to transfer information, ask questions, engage in conversation, and socialize with other people. Our goal is for an AAC user to access to the same functions of communication as anyone else. An AAC device can allow the child to participate in everyday routines, which helps reduce loneliness, and fosters meaningful relationships.

  1. “My child is too young for an AAC device.”

Communication is much more than saying words. The first three years of life are crucial for brain development and foundational language learning.  No studies have been found to suggest a minimum age requirement for introducing AAC. The American Journal of Pediatrics does not recommend screens for children younger than 18 months, so for these children low-tech systems can be utilized until reaching this age.

  1. “My child is too cognitively impaired to use an AAC device.”

Communication is a vehicle for expanding cognitive skills. AAC intervention is designed to meet the child at their current level, and work up from there.

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If you have questions about AAC, or are considering exploring this for your child, we are here to talk to you! Feel free to contact our AAC team, or come to one of our AAC Parent Support groups to hear stories from other families.  Contact our lead AAC therapist, Amy Bereiter at Amy@skillbuildersllc.com.

 

Elizabeth Clark McKenzie, MS, CCC-SLP

Information adapted from a presentation created for Skill Builders by Kaitlyn Jones.

5 Steps Towards Better Behavior

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Around this time of year, it is very common for kids’ behavior to take a nosedive. If you stop to think about it, we place a lot of demands on children during the holidays: many changes to the schedule, lots of extra stimulation and excitement, pressure to engage with friends and family members, and time away from teachers, therapists and classmates. It is easy for the whole routine get thrown out the window!  This can be stressful for any child (or any adult…am I right?!) but it is THAT much harder for our little ones who have sensory, language, cognitive or social deficits.

Recently, I’ve been finding myself having conversations with parents about behavior challenges, and I just happen to be living with a feisty little two year old who sometimes gives me a run for my money! I’ve come up with five small changes that yield big results:

  1. POSITVE WORKS BETTER THAN NEGATIVE

It is our instinct to tell our children “No!” a lot—“Don’t touch that,” “No climbing,” “Stop throwing,” etc.  For many children, a natural reaction to hearing “no” is to dig their heels in.  Instead, try giving a positive direction. For example, instead of “Stop throwing,” say “Put the blocks in here.” or instead of “Don’t touch that,” try asking “Can you hold this for me instead?

2. BE SPECIFIC

Similarly, it is really important to be specific with children. As adults, we naturally read between the lines and make inferences about what behavior is expected of us, but this can be really challenging for kids. I constantly overhear parents saying vague things like “Listen!” or “No, Ma’am” or “Behave!” When you think about it, what does any of that even really mean?  When we’re at someone else’s house (usually someone who doesn’t have small children), I tend to follow my daughter around saying “Don’t touch.”…”Nope”….”No Touch.”…”No No.” Why am I not giving her something that she CAN touch?  Be specific about what you want your child to be doing right now. Instead of saying “You need to listen,” try something like “I want you to stand next to me and hold my hand while we wait in line.” This way, you are setting your child up for success, and reducing his chances of making another wrong choice.

  1. OFFER CHOICES

For some reason, we tend to ask children a lot of YES-NO style questions when we really just want them to follow instructions.  As a therapist and as a parent, I catch my self asking “Do you want to….?” or “Can you ……?” And what do you think is an easy answer to those questions? “NO!” Then what?! I try my best to offer choices as much as possible. Instead of saying “Can you clean up the blocks for me?” I will say “Which color block should we clean up first?” Offering choices not only reduces the likelihood of getting a refusal, but also makes the child feel like he is in control.

  1. MAKE A PLAN

Children often don’t have the ability to think ahead, especially when in the midst of a power struggle with Mom.  It is easy for them to get so focused on the item or frustration at hand, that they forget about all other things. Remind your child about the things that might motivate her to have better behavior. Walk her through what will happen if she follows the direction now: “First, we are going to put on our shoes, and then we will get in the car, and when we get to the school, you get to play with the sand table!

  1. RIDE OUT THE STORM

It’s sad but true—tantrums happen, from all kids. This time of year, they seem to happen even more! I like to think of temper tantrums like a hurricane; You can see them coming, and there is not a whole lot you can do to stop them. When a hurricane strikes, we don’t try to rebuild homes while the storm is still happening, right? It is only once the hurricane has passed that we can start to really help. Tantrums are the same way!

Did you know that children under five do not have the emotional maturity or cognitive skills to logically talk themselves out of a tantrum? At a certain point, it is so beyond their control that the child might not be able to even identify what sparked the tantrum in the first place.  The best strategy for tantrums is to be present, letting the child know that you are here to listen, and avoid telling him to stop. Avoid walking away or getting angry yourself. Instead, take a deep breath and wait for the child to start to calm down. Once calmer, validate their feelings by stating what you see. (ex: “I am so sorry that you are disappointed.” or “You are really mad that it is time to go home.”). Once you’ve opened the door of communication, you can start to explain why or give instructions. It’s not about giving into what the child wants, but more about teaching her that communicating will get her further than just throwing a fit.

I always preface my advice with “These strategies work MOST of the time.” 😊  Sometimes, bad behavior is unavoidable, and as therapists, caregivers, and parents, we need to give our selves some grace when we have those less-than-stellar moments. The most important thing is that we challenge ourselves to continue to work with our kids, and never give up on teaching them. Putting in the effort to really manage behavior now will result in decreased frustration, more constructive interactions, and most importantly, more time for fun! Here’s to a calm and joyful holiday season with our kids.

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Elizabeth Clark McKenzie, MS, CCC-SLP<<<<
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Gifts that Give Hope

It is hard to believe it is already November, and the holiday season is upon us! In this day and age, our kids are bombarded with materialism. It can be challenging to instill a sense of gratitude and generosity when there is such an emphasis on “stuff” – especially during the holidays.

Gifts that Give Hope Logo
http://www.giftsthatgivehope.org/

Skill Builders is very proud to be sponsoring the Children’s Fair at a fantastic event called  Gifts That Give Hope, which will take place on Saturday, December 9th at Discovery Elementary School in Arlington. GTGH is an alternative gift fair that promotes meaningful gift giving, and raises awareness of both local and global areas of need. Shoppers meet and learn about a variety of non-profit organizations, make a donation to organization(s) of their choice in honor of a friend or loved one, and receive a card to present as a gift. Much more meaningful than a candle or scarf!

Donating money can be very abstract for children to understand, so GTGH also offers a Children’s Fair, which aims to make donations more concrete and tangible. Children can shop a variety of items, all which cost $5, and purchase them for someone in need. Examples of these items include:

  • A pack of diapers for a newborn in need
  • A pair of socks for a homeless man or woman
  • A gift for a child in need to put under the tree for his or her parent
  • A board book for a child with special needs
  • School supplies for an orphan in Haiti
  • Dog treats for dogs in an animal shelter
  • ….and more!

As you can see, there is a variety of causes, and the idea is that kids choose gifts that speak to them. This is a wonderful way to introduce the concept of charitable giving to even the youngest of kiddos!

To kick off the countdown to the big event, we are promoting a Kindness Challenge-complete 30 acts of kindness in 30 days! We are challenging all of our families to join the movement. What better way to get in the holiday spirit than teach our kids to think of others?

Here is our Kindness Challenge Calendar, with a suggestion for each day. You can use our ideas, or come up with your own kind acts! Be sure to post pictures on social media using #NovaKindKids so that we can see your family in action. 🙂

Kindness Calendar

Join us as we spread a little kindness throughout our community!

For more information on Gifts that Give Hope, contact Children’s Fair Director Elizabeth McKenzie at elizabethm@skillbuildersllc.com.

 

FIDGETING

WHAT IS FIDGETING?

Have you ever caught yourself drumming your fingers on your desk, or clicking the top of your pen to open and close it repeatedly during a long meeting or just a day at the office? How about bouncing your leg up and down repeatedly or squeezing a stress ball on your desk to help you refocus?

These are all examples of fidgeting! The majority of people fidget on a day to day basis as a way to relieve stress and help focus on the task at hand. Fidgeting provides our bodies with extra motoric activity and sensory input that we may need to help our minds focus and attend. As adults, we have had extensive practice with years of school, lectures, and meetings to develop fidgeting strategies that help us attend without causing more of a distraction to ourselves or others.

Children, on the other hand, may need some guidance in this area. Many kids require additional sensory and motor input to help them attend, yet they don’t always know effective and appropriate ways to satisfy their fidgeting needs.

HOW CAN WE HELP?

Finding the perfect fidget is tough! This is mainly because fidgets are not “one size fits all”! Finding a fidget that works for your child is going to take some trial and error. With all the different options out there, it can be tough to know where to begin!

A few of the most popular fidget toys at the moment include:

Stress Ball Picture
Neliblu Pull and Stretch Squeeze Stress Ball and Puffer Ball Assortment (Amazon)
  • Stress Balls/Squeeze Balls
    • Pros: These are great because they provide calming proprioceptive input to the hands, which can lead to improved modulation and the ability to “reset” the body to a calm and attentive state when needed.
    • Cons: They can be hard to keep track of! Since it is a ball, kids may be tempted to toss them around with their classmates, causing a distraction. If this is the fidget that works best for your child, teach her to keep the ball in her pocket, or use a safety pin to attach a piece of string or yarn and attach the other end to your child’s belt loop, so it stays with them at all times.

 

Fidget Spinner Toy
Anti-Stress Spinner (Amazon)
  • Fidget Spinners
    • Pros: These provide consistent motoric activity for the fingers, are light-weight, and can easily fit in a pocket or cubby.
    • Cons: Spinners can be visually distracting, which may take away from your child’s ability to visually attend to the task. Also, because of their popularity, they can be distracting to other children in the classroom.

 

Tangle Toys
Tangle Jr. Brain Tools- Combo Pack (Amazon)
  • Tangle Toys
    • Pros: Children can twist these toys in several different ways, providing a variety of motoric activity. These can also be worn around the wrist for safe-keeping.
    • Cons: These toys can snap apart and parts can get lost, or they can be a choking hazard for children who tend to put items in their mouth

 

 

Fidget Cubes
Fidgy Fidge Fidget Cube (Amazon)
  • Fidget Cubes:
    • Pros: Like tangly toys, fidget cubes provide a variety of motoric actions for children, as there is something different on each side. For children with good finger dexterity, they do not require visual attention to the toy itself.
    • Cons: For children who have limited finger dexterity, fidget cubes may require more visual attention than other fidget toys. Fidget cubes also tend to be more expensive than other fidget toys, and although they can fit in a pocket, they are bulky and can be uncomfortable for our more tactilely defensive kids.

 

TAKE-AWAYS:

When searching for a fidget toy for your child, the main goal is to find a one that will provide additional sensory and motor activity, without causing more distraction. When searching for the right fit, it’s important to:

  1. Try different fidgets in different settings: in school, in the car, at the doctor’s office, etc. Your child may benefit from different fidgets in different settings, as external sensory input your child is already receiving varies across environments and activities.
  2. Talk to your child about what he likes best. Make sure it’s something he is able to use, interested in using, and doesn’t make him feel different from their peers in a negative way.
  3. Consult with your child’s occupational therapist and teacher about options for fidget toys and which ones might work best for your child, based on needs.
  4. Be open to changing fidget toys from time to time – like most things, children may out-grow their fidget toys and may need new options as they grow and develop skills.

As always, we at Skill Builders are happy to help! If you have any questions about your child’s fidgeting needs, please contact Cassie at cassie@skillbuildersllc.com.

 

-Cassie Hawkins, MS, OTR/L

SCREENINGS!

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We’ve been BUSY this month here at Skill Builders. Twice a year, we conduct screenings at local preschools. Screenings are used to determine whether or not a child presents within the average range, as compared to same-aged children. We like to think of screenings as a way of catching kids before they fall. Identifying potential areas of weakness or delays early on can help start the intervention process sooner, rather than waiting until academic or social problems arise. A screening is not a formal assessment, but a tool used to identify whether a formal evaluation is needed. Screenings are an important part of well-child health care, and can be a valuable tool for both parents and teachers

So what is a screening?

Prior to the screening, we collect a brief case history form from the parents that alert us to any pertinent medical history or diagnoses, as well as any previous therapy services. This form also allows for parents to express concerns or ask questions so we can take an extra look at certain skill areas.  

Additionally, we often collect a short questionnaire from the child’s classroom teacher to get an idea of how the child presents in class, as well as any areas of concern that the teacher might have. 

Each screening takes approximately 15-20 minutes. Clinicians will often pull children in groups of 2-3 in order to make them more comfortable. We use a combination of standardized assessment tools, as well as our own clinical observations as we engage the children in tasks that showcase various skills. The activities are play-based and fun, and our goal is for the children to perceive the experience as just “playing with a new teacher”! 🙂

After the screening is over, the clinician will write up a short report to summarize the findings. If areas of concern are identified, a formal evaluation may be recommended. Sometimes, if a skill area appears “on the cusp”, we recommend that a child’s skills be monitored, and re-screened in 6 months. If all looks age-appropriate, we recommend that children still participate in screenings once a year until they reach elementary school. At Skill Builders, we offer the option of scheduling a brief phone call with the screening therapist to ensure parents understand the results, and to address any additional questions. 

Skill Builders offers three different types of screenings:

1.       Hearing Screening

A Pure Tone Test is a “pass/fail” test that determines if a child can detect a range of frequencies in each ear. If the child passes, it is presumed that there is no hearing loss. If the child is not able to detect one or more frequencies, a comprehensive evaluation conducted by an audiologist is required. If a child is not cooperative, or does not appear to understand the task, we may recommend that he have a repeat hearing screening at his pediatrician’s office.

2.       Speech and Language Screening

*Articulation

*Oral Motor Skills

*Expressive Language

*Receptive Language

*Auditory Processing

*Fluency

*Voice

*Pragmatic/Social Languag

3.       Occupational Therapy Screening

*Fine Motor

*Pre-Writing Skill Development

*Visual Perceptual Skills

*Sensory-Motor Processing

*Balance

*Bilateral Coordination

*Frustration Tolerance

*Body Awareness

*Visual Attention

We love doing screenings because it allows us private practice clinicians a glimpse into classroom life, and it gives us a good refresher of what typical development looks like. Skill Builders enjoys partnering with area schools and parents to promote early identification and intervention in important areas of development. 

If your child’s preschool is interested in offering screenings, please contact Cari Syron at cari@skillbuildersllc.com.

 

-Elizabeth Clark McKenzie, MS, CCC-SLP

Graduate Student Internships

The school year has started and around here, that means a fresh batch of graduate student interns! As a reputable private practice in the area, Skill Builders feels honored to be trusted as an internship site for many prestigious universities including George Washington University, James Madison University, Gallaudet University, and Northeastern University. As our internship program has grown, we’ve made our selection process competitive and thorough to ensure that we are hosting the best of the best!

We like to think that our interns are fortunate to get to experience a practice like ours, and we know that Skill Builders offers a rigorous and unique experience. But as a parent, what’s in it for you?

Here are 6 reasons why having a graduate student on board is a wonderful thing!

   1. Students work their tails off! 

Students are eager to please, and are working hard to earn a good grade, as well as a good recommendation for future employment. They go the extra mile to plan creative activities and prepare fun, individualized materials for each client. This means your child gets to reap the benefits of that!

     2.  Your therapist works harder!

I don’t know about you, but when I have an audience, I tend to make sure that I am putting my best foot forward. I want to make sure my interns get to see all the tricks up my sleeve! Having to explain the rationale and process behind each technique really challenges me to think critically about my caseload, and helps solidify my own understanding of the approaches that I am using. Interns frequently present me with tough questions, so I really need to be extra prepared and know my stuff. This makes ME a better clinician too!

      3.  A fresh face!

It is amazing what a fresh face and a different personality can add to the mix! I find that having an intern can really shake things up- in a good way! For many of my clients, it is essential that they learn to generalize skills to use with less familiar adults, and so having a new person in the room really lends itself to carry-over. Interns are also often “young and hip”, and they bring a fun energy to our sessions. (They also seem to know about all the latest cool pop-culture references…unlike some of us old folks!)

   4. Up to date information!

Interns keep us “in the know” about all the latest research and developments in our field. We love hearing about what students are learning in class, and every semester, I find myself learning something new. Who says that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? 😊

   5. Two for the price of one!

I get excited when I have an intern, because there are certain activities that are better executed with a third person in the room. I can prep my students before the session to help create situations for learning opportunities, and use them to strategically sabotage or alter a game to allow for application of specific skills. I also love having a third person to work on conversational and social skills! These are situations that I often can’t create in the one-on-one environment. Additionally, it is pretty darn helpful to have an extra set of hands helping with set up, data collection, and clean up- this means more efficient sessions, which means more time directly focused on my client.

   6. Sending better therapists out into the world!

At one point, we were all interns! There is no way that I would be the therapist that I am without the guidance, mentorship, and support of phenomenal supervisors who really poured into me when I was a student. It is both a duty and a privilege to get to return the favor to the next generation of therapists. We hope that by providing a challenging and intensive experience at Skill Builders, our students will enter the work force more prepared, and with a passion for providing high quality services.

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So if you notice a few new faces around our office- fear not! It is our goal that our internship program will only enhance the therapy process. We greatly appreciate how welcoming Skill Builders families are to the students who come through our doors. It is because of you that we have become such a popular internship site!

For more information about our internship program, contact Michael Lemieux, Skill Builders’ Internship Coordinator. (Michael@skillbuildersllc.com)

 

Fall 2017 Graduate Interns

 

-Elizabeth Clark McKenzie, MS, CCC-SLP

 

Baby Talk!

I love working with babies and toddlers. It is amazing the amount of learning and change that occurs in just three short years!  Parents often ask me what they can do to help encourage their child’s speech and language skills along, and over the years, I’ve developed this list of skill areas to focus on:

 

 

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  1. Playing with Sound

Infants begin exploring their mouth and playing with vocalizations at a very early age. Initially, we see babies “coo” with mostly vowel sounds, and later, this evolves into “babbling” with consonant sounds. Rather than focusing on specific vocabulary words, feel free to just play with sounds around your baby. Those “oohs,” “ahhs,” and “shhh” sounds you are making will encourage your baby to do the same. Make sound effects, blow raspberries, and sing a silly string of sounds. Show your baby that making sounds is fun!

 

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  1. Vocalization on Command

Around the same time that babies start to babble, they figure out that they can control the sounds that they make. They start to understand the back and forth dynamic of communication, and you might notice that your baby starts to “talk back” when spoken to. You can encourage this by leaving ample pauses in your interactions to allow your baby to vocalize. I call these “windows of opportunity.” As you are playing, be sure to periodically provide windows in order to give your child a chance to chime in. You can also try waiting for a vocalization before handing your child a desired toy or snack. Don’t worry about the specific sound at this point—just wait for your baby to vocalize, and then reinforce by promptly handing over the item.

 

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  1. Anticipation

Once your baby starts engaging more with you, he will start to figure out that language can be predictable. He will start to anticipate when you are going to say something. The best examples are “Ready Set GO” and “Peek-a-BOO.” Try leaving a long pause after “Peek….a…..”.  Wait for your child to vocalize before you say “Boo!”

 

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  1. Bombardment

As your child starts to understand how to control her vocalizations, she will begin to imitate sounds and words that you say. The best way to encourage this is to provide repeated models of the same target, without a lot of extra “fluff.” For example, while building with blocks, simply model the word “on” each time you stack a block on the tower. While it might be your instinct to narrate every little detail (“Watch mommy put the blue block on top of the yellow block!”), your baby will actually be more likely to imitate if you give him repeated opportunities to attempt the same sounds. This is also an easy thing to do with books! Instead of reading the actual words on the page, pick a word to say, or an object to point out, on each page.

 

Brown Bear Brown Bear by Eric Carle

5.  Predictable Sequences

Children love predictability! As you are playing, create predictable sequences with language that is appropriate to the context. For example, while playing with a slide, model “Up, Up, Up, Up, Weeeeeeeeee, Down!” as your child (or a doll!) climbs up the ladder and slides down. This is also great to do in books! Choose books that say the same word or phrase on each page. (ex: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury or Brown Bear Brown Bear by Eric Carle)

 

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  1. Verbal Requesting

Once your child has a few words, you can start to encourage him to use these words to request. Place objects on high shelves or in containers that he can’t open himself. Wait to perform a desired action or give a desired object until he verbalizes. We naturally tend to teach kids the names of things (nouns) first, but I actually recommend that we teach a “core vocabulary” of action words first. These are words that can be applied in many contexts. For example, if I teach my child the word “eat,” that can apply to many different things: “eat apple”,”eat noodle”, “more eat”,”mommy eat”, “all done eat”, etc.  If I teach my child the word “cracker”, he can request and label a cracker….and that is about it! By teaching words that can be used in a variety of contexts, we are give our child the advantage of more opportunities in a day to use that word successfully.

 

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  1. Carrier Phrases

After your little one develops a sizeable repertoire of words, she will start to string words together, and soon after that, use two-word phrases. You can encourage this by modeling “carrier phrases.” Take one word and pair it with many different words:

With a noun: “ball in,” “roll ball,” “kick ball,” “my ball,” “ball all gone,” “blue ball,” “big ball,” “ball go,” etc.

With a verb: “open door,” “open mouth,” “open eyes,” “mommy open,” “open please,” “don’t open,” etc.

With a preposition: “foot in,” “in house,” “mommy in,” “ball in,” “in again,” “not in,” etc.

With an adjective: “big house,” “big truck,” “big bite,” “too big,” “not big,” etc.

 

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  1. Expansion

Now the fun begins! Once your toddler is putting two, three or even four words together, now is the time for expansion! When he makes a comment, add one-to-two words and throw it back to him. For example, if he says “Firetruck!”, you can say “Red firetruck!” or “Firetruck go fast!” You can also use this to model more complete sentences. For example, if he says “Dog run!”, you could say “The dog is running!”

 

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  1. Connection

As all of these wonderful speech and language skills are coming together, your child will start to make connections between different concepts. You can help her with this by commenting on the things she says. For instance, if she points out an ice cream shop, you might remind her that she ate ice cream at the beach last week. This will foster conversational skills, as well as help solidify concepts such as categorization, and comparing, and contrasting.

 

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  1. Conversation

As your child approaches the age of three, you will see that he is starting to sound more and more like a little person! Move away from “yes-no” questions, and start asking “what,” “who,” “where,” “when,” “how,” and “why?”. Try to keep your child talking about the same topic for at least three-to-four exchanges before moving on. For example, instead of asking “Did you have fun at school today?”, try asking “Who did you play with at school?”, “What did you play?”, “Where did you sit?”, etc. This strategy leaves the door open for language learning.

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Of course, it is important to remember that every child is on his or her own timeline. Some kids sail through these phrases with ease, while others seem to chug along at a slower pace. These strategies are intended to empower parents to be proactive with their child’s language development. If you feel your child ‘s speech and language skills are not where they should be, a pediatric speech language-pathologist can perform an assessment, and advise whether or not therapy might be beneficial.

 

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Happy chatting!

-Elizabeth Clark McKenzie, MS, CCC-SLP