Top 3 Proven Speech Therapy Tips When Your Child’s Speech Is Unclear

Do you have problem understanding what your child is saying?

Does she say “yion” instead of “lion” or makes mistakes with other sounds?

Is your child getting left out in school or at the playground because other children cannot understand him?

It is frustrating for both you and your child when you cannot understand her, and have to ask multiple questions just to clarify. Here are the main reasons we frequently explain to our speech therapy clients why your child has unclear speech:

Muscle weakness.

Various muscles are involved when producing speech, and sometimes the inability to move these muscles may cause speech to be unclear. For example, your child may not be able to lift up the tip of his tongue in order to produce the ‘l’ sound.

Control and Coordination.

The problem may not be muscle weakness, but rather your child has difficulties coordinating the movements. This is similar to people who are not able to dance. There is nothing actually wrong with their legs, but they dance ‘with two left feet’. So, your child may be able to say ‘l’ in ‘lion’ but unable to say ‘l’ in “caterpillar”. Or she might say ‘lion’ one minute and ‘yion’ the next, and ‘wion’ the next.

Phonological difficulties.

This is more about having a cognitive concept of sounds, as opposed to the physical aspect of producing speech. For example, if your child grew up speaking or hearing Mandarin Chinese, he may be say ‘hou-‘ instead of ‘house’ or ‘cat-‘ instead of ‘catch’.

It is not that he is unable to produce the ‘-se’ or the ‘-ch’ sound; it is simply because there are no such ending sounds in Mandarin and thus makes it more difficult for him to understand the concept that there are ending sounds in English.

Why Speech Therapy is Important

A speech therapist is a professional who is specifically trained to diagnose and treat speech problems in children (and adults). Speech therapy is important because it:

1. Makes your life easier

2. Eliminates the vicious cycle: unclear speech causes less interaction and therefore less speech input and worse speech and language.

When your child has unclear speech, this may result in less interaction with other children, which would result in even worse speech and language because of the lack of practice. Even adults attend speech therapy classes for this reason alone.

3. Affects how your child learns to read.

Instead of learning that the letter ‘s’ has the sound in ‘sock’, for example, if he says ‘tock’ instead, he may end up thinking that the letter ‘s’ has a ‘t’ sound.

The 4 Guiding Principles for Speech Therapy

Teaching a child with unclear speech may be different from how you teach other children in your family. You may need to repeat more often and emphasize the sounds more. Here are a few things we use regularly in speech therapy when tackling your child’s unclear speech:

Be aware that clear speech sounds comes down to the oral motor movements of the tongue or lips or other speech muscles. (It’s not ‘All about that bass’ it’s ‘All about the place’!) The placement of the tongue, that is.

We produce different speech sounds in tongue twisters (“She sells sea-shells on the sea shore.”) and in everyday speech because we are able to move our tongue to different positions within the mouth, and also by producing sounds in different ways. Some sounds are ‘quiet blowing sounds’ such as ‘f’, ‘s’, ‘sh’; some other sounds are ‘noisy sounds’ such as ‘z’, or ‘r’.

Be aware that some sounds develop earlier, some sounds develop later.

The general developmental order of speech is ‘from the outside in’. This means that it is easier for your child to use their lips and jaw than their tongue. Hence, it is important to note that some sounds don’t come as easily as the others.

Be aware that not all words that begin with the same letter or sound will be equally easy or difficult.

A child who is having difficulty saying “k” sounds will find it easier to say the sound in a word such as “kite” where the mouth is more open and there is more space for the tongue at the back of the mouth compared to saying it correctly in “key” where the mouth is more closed.

Be aware that getting from where he is right now to the target sound may take a few intermediate steps.

For instance, if your child cannot say “the” and says “ge” instead, she may need to learn to progress from ‘g’ to ‘d’ and then ‘th’. Anything that moves her in the right direction is progress.

Now that we’ve gone through the ‘why’, it’s time for the ‘how’:

Here are the top 3 speech therapy tips:

1. Slow Down, emphasize the sound and do everything you can to show your child the necessary tongue and lip movements.

If your child says ‘totate’ instead of “chocolate”, rather than just telling your child ‘No, say chocolate’, at your usual conversational speed, try to slow down, and emphasize the sound: ‘ch-ocolate‘. Exaggerate what you do with your mouth. Look in a mirror together with your child while you are teaching so that he can see what you are both doing.

If your child cannot say the entire word, at least try to get a small part of the word right, for example, just being able to say the sound on its own “ch-ch-ch” or even just the sound partly right, such as just being able to blow out the air, or just rounding the lips.

2. Help your child to hear what it’s not and what it is.

Help your child to avoid mistakes and say sounds correctly by showing them what it is not and what it is. For example, “I don’t have any coyour pencils, these are all colour pencils. What would you like?” Your child will be more likely to say “colour pencil” correctly.

It is also important for you to give them very clear feedback. This includes mimicking what your child is doing, or describe the sound in a language your child can understand. For example, you could say: “If you say ‘-op’ your friend may not understand you. It’s a quiet sound ‘h-op’.”

3. One Game Changer Tip: Teach it aloud, then say it silently, then say it aloud again.

One great speech therapy tip I found with my experience is to focus the on the movement of the mouth. Ask your child to say the word, for example, ‘strawberry’ with you. On the second attempt, just mouth the word without saying it aloud.

Encourage your child to move his mouth in the same way. This allows your child to focus more on the movements of the mouth. Using a mirror can help your child see exactly how they are moving their mouths.

Please understand that correcting unclear speech through speech therapy exercises is a process. Being able to do it slowly is better than not being able to do it at all. Speech therapy for learning the necessary lip and tongue movements is more like learning to dance or how to play the piano rather than learning a new language.

Just knowing the word is not the same as being able to move the tongue quickly enough to say the word. It takes practice and the more you practice, the better you get. So you want to try to get your child to say the word more than just once. One time is NOT practice.

Remember: your child is where he is right now because of how he learns so far. If your child learns speech differently, he needs to be taught differently. Seek help from a professional and consult a speech therapist.

Working along with a speech therapist will save you and your child a lot of time and frustration. More often than not, your child will also enjoy the speech therapy sessions too!

10 Tips to Choose Online IAS Coaching

Many a time, varying circumstances simply don’t allow an IAS aspirant to attend classes at a traditional IAS coaching center. Thus, they opt for online IAS coaching. However, many find it a complicated task to opt for the best institution. They are highly confused as to what online IAS coaching they should opt for.

The choice should be made in a careful manner. The reasons are several and should not be ignored. The syllabus prescribed by UPSC is highly vast. Moreover, the Civil Services is the most popular career option among Indian youth. Apart from all that, IAS happens to be the most sought after of the cadres that UPSC offers.

All of these factors make the IAS exam the toughest of the tough with the fiercest of the competitions. Thus, it is obvious that the choice of online IAS coaching should not be taken lightly.

Though a lot depends on the discretion and the requirements of an IAS aspirant, the tips given below would definitely help you choose the most suitable of the online IAS coaching to crack the IAS exam with great competence:

Videos: It is always advisable to go ahead with the online IAS coaching that provides you with the latest i.e., the updated video classes. Hence, you would get to attend the same classroom sessions that are being provided to the regular students in the classrooms.

Faculty & Mentorship: It definitely makes more sense to opt for online IAS coaching where the faculty teaching online is highly experienced and eminent. The faculty that has a tight grip on the subject and also considerable experience of teaching the same as per the requirements of the UPSC Syllabus is more likely to equip you with the skills required to crack the IAS exam successfully. Besides, if the online coaching institution allows you to be benefitted by the guidance of the eminent mentors, you should consider yourself a fortunate IAS aspirant.

Misc. online resources: Apart from a lecture on a video, it is advisable to explore other resources including the lectures on YouTube.

Online Test Series: The Online Test Series is highly important. They put your skills to test. The better you score, the more confident you feel while you actually face the IAS exam. Besides, you get to know your weak points as well as the strengths and prepare accordingly. Thus, it is wiser to look for the online IAS coaching that offers the most competent of the Online Sectional Tests. Besides, most of the Online IAS Coaching institutions provide scanned copies of the evaluated tests. The queries and the doubts of the aspirants are also well taken care of.

Current Affairs: Knowledge of current affairs plays a decisive role if you have been planning to join IAS. Thus, while opting for online IAS coaching, it’s best to opt for the online institution that not only equips the students with a thorough knowledge of the current affairs but also keeps them updated.

Customer support: As you plan to study online rather than getting yourself enrolled in a regular classroom coaching institution, you should make sure that the entire team of the online institution comprises professionals offering a good customer care support. It would help you approach the faculty as the team would be of great help taking your calls and forwarding your mails as required helping you get the time of the faculty so that all your queries and doubts are answered well.

Query Solving Sessions: In case you feel that you need a little more time and guidance by the faculty members so that all your queries are solved, you should convey the same to the customer care team of the Online IAS Coaching institution. It is highly important to gain an absolutely clear knowledge of all the subjects and topics covered by the syllabus prescribed by UPSC. Thus, it is only logical to opt for the online IAS coaching institution that provides you with the provision for the query solving sessions as and when required.

Upgraded content: Like almost all are aware that the style and the pattern of the UPSC question paper keep changing and you are never sure how many of the questions can be asked from a specific topic in the exam, it is best to look for the online IAS coaching that encompasses the changing patterns and styles. The online coaching institution must encompass the changes in the sectional tests, Current Affairs and wherever required.

Honing the Answer Writing Skills: It should never be forgotten that you are going to face the exam in order to join the Indian Administrative Services. Thus, UPSC is going to assess your skills as a potential administrator chiefly by what you write in the exam. The answers should show an alert, aware, analytical and unprejudiced mind. These are the qualities that make up a good administrator. And also these are the qualities that UPSC requires in a potential administrator. So, opt for an online IAS coaching that sharpens your answer writing skills and conveys all of your administerial qualities to UPSC by means of the answers that you pen down in the exam.

Fee: Most of the online IAS coaching institutions are economically viable as compared with the regular classroom coaching institutions. However, it is best to make sure that the online coaching institution that you opt for does equip you with all the skills required to crack the IAS exam.

The last, but not the least, it is wiser to follow what your mind says after carefully considering all of your requirements before you finally opt for an online IAS coaching institution. There is no point in joining an institution simply because one of your friends did so. Consider all the options and choose carefully. The tips given above would definitely help you do the same.

Parenting Tips On Sensory Diet For Sensory Integration Disorder

Does your child with autism become sensitive to sounds, smells and is a picky eater? Does your child with another disability become hyperactive, when asked to sit for a long period of time? These are all signs of sensory integration disorder (SID). This article will discuss the sensory diet that is used for children with SID.

Sensory Integration Disorder is the inability of the brain to correctly process information brought in by the senses. SID can show itself in many different ways. A child with SID may be over or under sensitive to sounds, smells, may be a picky eater (does not like the way certain foods feel in their mouth), may not like the way certain clothes feel on their skin. Many children with autism and learning disabilities have sensory integration issues.

Children with SID may also have motor skill issues such as; difficulty with fine and gross motor skills, difficulty imitating movements, or has trouble with balance.

Treatment is usually carried out by a occupational therapist, with experience in treating children with sensory integration disorder. A sensory diet can also be put together, specifically for your child. The diet can be used at home as well as at school.

A sensory diet means that you are including sensory activities, within your child’s day; at home and at school. Each child’s sensory diet is different, depending on your child’s specific SI needs. Ask your child’s occupational therapist to help you set up a sensory diet, to meet your child’s unique needs.

For Example: If your child becomes hyperactive on a regular basis, or perhaps prone to hitting or pinching, or being silly, or laughs for no reason a sensory diet may help. Giving your child sensory activities on a frequent regular basis, will help him to remain focused and in control more often.

A sample sensory diet is listed below:

At critical points during your child’s day:

1. Swinging in a special swing or on a playground

2. Chase games such as tag, or running races

3. Jumping jacks, stretching, sit ups, balance beam

4. Trampoline, tire swing, exercise ball

5. Squeezables such as nerf balls, silly putty etc.

Every half hour if possible; to include the above:

6. Smelling scents game

7. Rubbing/or brushing with a specific type brush (Ask occupational therapist for type of brush to use, and how to do this technique), not to include the stomach.

8. Jump rope

Calming activities that you can use at home:

a. Morning: Bath, brushing, deep pressure.

b. After school: Child’s choice (biking, running, skating).

c. Evening: Supper, bath, deep pressure.

Using a sensory diet on a child who has SID, can cause a dramatic improvement in their behavior and ability to focus. The items listed are easy to do at home and school. You may have to advocate for sensory breaks for your child, but remind special education personnel about how much it could benefit your child.

Tips for Parents & Teachers: How to Criticize Kids Constructively

Criticism is one word that raises your eyebrows and sulks you down. Arguably, it has no positive connotation for most of us. So, it is never received in a healthy way either. So the matter of concern is, when we as adults can’t handle criticism, what about the kids, who are subject to severe and regular criticism. Everybody who is somebody in their life, comments and takes the liberty to pass judgement on their each and every act, unfortunately most of which is in critical form.

So how to safeguard them or how to prepare them so that this unwarranted criticism does more good than harm to them.

Criticism, or if they can be called Feedback, are both constructive and destructive. Receiving feedback is a skill, and like most skills, it requires practice, and a willingness to change and improve. Most children get plenty of practice. Ironically, adults need to help them make that practice count – by giving them feedback on how they handle criticism.

Feedback – both positive and negative – is challenging because it hits us in the vulnerable soft spot between our desire to grow and our deep need to be accepted and respected. The key to take a feedback in a positive manner, is to adopt a “growth mindset.” People with a growth mindset believe that effort and challenge make us better, stronger and smarter, while those with a “fixed mindset” believe that our inherent assets are static no matter what we do.

But, not all of the criticism kids face is constructive. Some of it is born out of ulterior motives or dark intentions, but the good news is that a growth mindset can protect kids from this sort of feedback as well.

A growth mindset is the best gift we can give our children. Thus armed, they can be brave in the face of constructive criticism, believing it can make them better, stronger and smarter. They won’t need us to safeguard their interest because, given a growth mindset, kids can handle the truth all by themselves.

So, what to do?

Don’t hesitate to criticize:

Many kids have trouble hearing feedback because they don’t experience it often enough. While it’s natural to want to protect children from pain, when we protect our kids from criticism or focus excessively on praise, we push them toward a fixed mindset.

Stop constant praise:

An effusive praise may encourage a fixed mindset and consequently discourage children from taking on new challenges. Worse, it can deflate, rather than shore up, self-esteem in some kids. Children need to get used to hearing constructive feedback, and it’s our job to teach them how.

Mind your body language:

Non-verbal communication is part of delivering feedback, and can help kids hear it more effectively. Uncross your arms, get down on kids’ level, smile and keep your face relaxed. If you are tense when you hand out criticism, they will be tense when they receive it.

Switch up your pronouns:

Instead of framing feedback in terms of “I’m so proud of you”, turn the statement and anchor feedback in the pronoun “you,” as in, “You should be proud of yourself,” or “What did you feel best about?” or “What one thing would you like to change?”

Empower for change:

Lessen your control and hand power over to the children and help them adjust their efforts to use feedback effectively. Ask, “Is that how you’d hoped this would turn out?” or “What would you do differently the next time?” Help them see the way forward with comments like, “How do you think you could take this project from good to awesome?”

Set new goals after a big failure. Once they have picked themselves up, help them pick some new goals based on what they have learned from the situation at hand. Their goals should be their own, devised by them, based on their experience.

Criticism comes to everyone, eventually. It’s inescapable, and more relevantly, it’s a necessary part of growing up. As we can’t protect children from it, the best we can do is ensure that they are equipped with the emotional fortitude and strength of character they will need to forge ahead, stronger, smarter and braver for the experience.

5 Effective Tips To Teach Math For Slow Learners

Slow learners are not any different from the normal students in their intellectual abilities except that they are too distracted and the normal teaching methods do not help them comprehend what is taught. This is why you need special teaching methods for them. When appropriate method is adopted with adequate understanding and support from parents and teachers, these slow learners can turn out to be highly successful in all aspects of life.

There are several approaches and techniques that involve individual and group teaching based on the learning ability of a child, some of which are used by programs of learning centers for such children. These centers have specially trained teachers who use specialized software tools and teaching methodologies to make math and numbers more interesting. Here are five effective tips that professionals believe can help teach math for slow learners:

  1. Practical Lessons: Even normal students do not enjoy confined space for learning and it’s a higher challenge with slow learners. One of the best ways to get math into the child’s head is to make him do little additions, subtractions or multiplications that involve people, things, flowers, fruits, and other practical things that surround him during a walk or a drive.
  2. Teaching in Small Groups or Individually: Since students with slow learning ability require special attention, teaching them alone or in small groups would let the teacher focus on the specific inability of the student. Also, leaning in a group, with peers, would increase the social abilities of the child.
  3. Customized Plan: Students love classes filled with fun and creativity. That’s why several learning programs for slow learners have customized plans to polish the specific skills that these children lack. Hence, seeking professional help and having appropriate follow ups to help at home would be a great idea to teach mathematics to these children.
  4. Sound Therapy: This has remained one of the most successful methods, which involves using sounds and tools that stimulate auditory pathways and thereby aid listening and focus. Sound therapy also helps to enhance the auditory transmission process in brain by stimulating the muscles around the ear passage and helping to regain the original power or capability.
  5. Cognitive Training: The PACE or Processing and Cognitive Enhancement training program enhances the level of perception or cognition and helps the slow learners have increased attention span and focus, which is especially helpful in learning math. It also boosts the neurological connections and offers significant growth in the student.

How does the slow learner benefit

  • Adapting all the above methods and applying the right training program offers the following benefits:
  • Improved math computation skills
  • Better sequential processing and simultaneous processing
  • Sustained attention and working memory
  • Auditory processing and discrimination, which in turn boosts comprehension and more.

Complete support and appropriate methods of teaching can help any slow learner to be a math genius. So, be patient and use these tips to see how a slow learner starts loving and enjoying mathematics.