SERVICES

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WORDS ARE WINGS® offers private, individualized, one-on-one and group speech-language therapy services that are entered into voluntary by both the client(s) and the clinician. Client or clinician may subsequently discontinue services at any time. Payment is expected upon completion of each billed therapy session.

RECEPTIVE-EXPRESSIVE LANGUAGE DELAYS
 

Services available in: English
Age-range: 0 – 21

A child's first words are a paramount milestone. They're also a paramount milestone made all the more important by the anticipation of them (however variable) during the first year and often during the pregnancy as many parents actively and purposefully talk and read aloud (and even play music) to their unborn child. Therefore, by the time that first birthday comes around there's been, at a minimum, at least some degree of anticipation and lead-in to the moment.

 

Interestingly, despite the still widely-held belief that children acquire and learn language “when they’re ready,” the opposite is actually true: language is acquired through normed-referenced milestones between the ages of 0 – 8 years, which means there’s a hierarchy and structured order to the normal acquisition of language. As kindergarten often begins at six years it is important the first 75% of the language acquisition process occur in a timely manner via quantitative and qualitative opportunities provided by parents and primary caregivers (e.g., grandparents, other family members, preschool or head start teachers or daycare staff) in the form of modeling, open-ended speaking opportunities, recurring choices, verbally-cued results and actions, and a host of other techniques; the final 25% is acquired during years 7 and 8 and assisted by the socialization and academic building-blocks experienced in the kindergarten classroom in addition to the sustained, proactive parental and primary caregiver efforts at home.

Re: homeschooling, while age-appropriate subject matter can be taught and learned at home it is important to make sure the homeschooled student has opportunities to verbally develop, practice and use their language skills with peers, if possible in group settings (as this component can be absent from the homeschool experience); sibling conversation and interaction greatly contribute to formulating a beginning group setting at home.

The first six years of language acquisition and development are not just important to kindergarten curriculum success but also because of the increased social implications of speaking: unless there are an unusual amount of siblings at home, a child’s first experience with “speaking in front of a group” occurs in kindergarten, which means there’s also the first opportunity for a group to identify someone who has difficulty doing what everyone else in the class is doing with ease – speaking. Accordingly, if there is a significant enough delay in achieving these normed-referenced language milestones consideration for a consultation with a speech therapist is warranted, especially if the overall acquisition process appears to be impacted secondary to the presenting delay(s).



 

 

 

Language Acquisition 0 - 8 years

Source: Roseberry-Mckibbin, Celeste & Hegde, M.N., An Advanced Review of Speech-Language Pathology (Preparation for NESPA and Comprehensive Examination (p141 - 152), 2000 PRO-ED, Inc, Austin Texas

As the acquisition of language occurs between 0 – 8 years it directly cooccurs with a child’s academic beginning(s) well before kindergarten. Ergo, a functional start to academia is intertwined with functional comprehension and usage of age-appropriate language skills, and vice versa. Subsequently, just as there’s the possibility for a child to exhibit difficulty with certain academic concepts there’s also the possibility a child, even one seemingly progressing through the early stages of academia and adolescence overall without incident can begin to present with delays in the acquisition of the language skills – just like a child with normally developing language skills can have
difficulty with various early academic concepts. Therefore, similar to an interruption in the forward progression of learning in the classroom where the teacher and student would work together to formulate a solution, an interruption in the forward-progressing acquisition of language can and should be addressed by consulting a licensed speech-language professional. 

PLEASE NOTE: The terms “speech therapist” and “speech-language pathologist” are used interchangeably to describe a Master’s level, professionally licensed clinician.

Some pediatricians are versed in the normal acquisition of language skills from 0 – 8 years. Because not all pediatricians are up to date on this knowledge it is always recommended that any parental concerns re: a possible interruption in their child’s acquisition of language be addressed with the pediatrician as well as a licensed speech-language professional.

If you think your child is having difficulty with any aspect of language comprehension, producing various grammatical forms (e.g., plural /s/, regular past “ed”, irregular past tense verbs, singular/plural agreement, other), stuttering, difficulty speaking to a group, a lack of socialization through language, or there is any other concern please contact me to arrange a free consultation to discuss whether presenting language challenges are age-appropriate or if consideration for a
consultation with a speech therapist is warranted.

 

ARTICULATION & PRONUNCIATION CHALLENGES

Services available in: English and Spanish

Age-range: all ages

Sometimes a child proceeds to acquire language on time but has difficulty pronouncing many of the sounds that make up the words they’re trying to say (e.g., an /r/ that sounds like a /w/, a lisped /s/ or /z/, a /d/ or an /f/ in place of an initial or final /th/, back sounds like /k/ and /g/ produced as front sounds /t/ and /d/, or vice versa, etc.) Similar to child language acquisition there are also normed-referenced milestones indicating when children learn to say the sounds of Standard American English.  As words are made of sounds – specifically, of letters with different sounds – and sentences are made of words, possible pronunciation delays (often referred to as “articulation delays”) during
the normal acquisition of language can make it challenging for parents, teachers and peers to understand what a child is saying, especially if they’re cooccurring with a language delay. A child’s language can be so unintelligible due to presenting pronunciation delays it can appear and sound as if they’re speaking gibberish if multiple delays are presenting at the same time. Assuming there’s nothing else going on, e.g., an absence of cognitive deficits, other developmental delays or neurological variables, it is quite possible and even probable the child knows exactly what he or she wants to say and is trying to say, but because they haven’t (yet) acquired the sounds to correctly say
the words they’re trying to say, as a compensatory strategy the child approximates and says the sounds they can say (at that point in time of their development) to formulate their words and sentences when communicating with either their parents at home or in school with their peers and teachers.

 

This strategy is fundamentally sound but nevertheless makes it challenging for parents, peers and teachers to understand what the child is trying to say.

 

For example, let’s say a kiddo age 4.6 years who didn’t develop the initial /d/ sound on time (by 2.11 years) or the final /d/ on time (by 3.11 years), and /d/ sounds are made by elevating the tip of the tongue behind the top teeth. Let’s also say this kiddo did acquire the initial and final /g/ sounds, both of which normally develop between 3.0 and 3.11 years and are made by elevating the back of the tongue towards the roof/back of the mouth. So if this is a kiddo who adores their father, and if this is a dad who loves hearing his kiddo say his name repeatedly all day long, this father would have to
lovingly accept hearing “gag” for a while secondary to the presenting delays re: the initial and final /d/ sounds, respectively, that were supposed to have been acquired (per the normal acquisition of speech sound development; see the link, below) between 2.0 – 2.11 years and 3.0 – 3.11 years, respectively; as the kiddo is now 4.6 years and (still) cannot pronounce the /d/ sound correctly they found an approximation with a sound they can say at the point in time, in this example, /g/.

Source: Goldman, Ronald, PhD, and Fristoe, Macalyne, PhD, The Goldman Fristoe Test of Articulation – 2nd Edition Examiner’s Manual (Table 6.6), ©1996-2019 PEARSON EDUCATION, Boston, Massachusetts

Sometimes pronunciation errors, especially in early childhood, are viewed as “cute” as they may not yet be warranting of concern. For example, an /r/ sound is typically not acquired until six years, so if a five-year old or younger kiddo is saying, for example, “it is weally cool!” that is an age-appropriate articulation error and not warranting of concern at this time because the kiddo should not yet be able to pronounce the /r/ sound correctly at five years (if they can then great but it’s still considered an age-appropriate delay until six years, or specifically, until six years, 11 months). Whether a delay is considered developmentally appropriate or not, however, doesn’t diminish the possibility for a particular sound difficulty to continue through childhood and enter adulthood if left unmonitored and ultimately unaddressed if the sound is not acquired on time (e.g., while the /r/ example was just one example among many, think of the last time you met or heard another adult who pronounced the /r/ sound as a /w/). Another example is when adults pronounce the initial /th/ and final /th/ sounds as /d/ 
and /f/ sounds, respectively; like the /r/ pronounced as a /w/ it doesn’t make the adult speaker less intelligible but it does, potentially (not always), change the way they’re message is being perceived and ultimately received. If sound-specific pronunciation difficulties persist there is the potential, despite overall intelligibility being intact, for the meaning of the message to be compromised because the listener is impacted by the speaker’s presenting difficulty within the context of their chronological age (should the pronunciation difficulty continue beyond the typical age of acquisition re: the
respective sound(s) in question).

If there is concern re: speech sound pronunciation (any age), contact me today to schedule a free consultation so we can determine whether presenting difficulties are age-appropriate (0-8 years) or impacting quality of life (if the speaker is an older kiddo or adult), and if consideration for a possible evaluation and subsequent therapy is warranted.

 

WORDS ARE WINGS® STUTTERING SOLUTIONS™

Services available in: English and Spanish

Age-range: all ages

Stuttering is one of the most misunderstood, underappreciated and underestimated speech disorders. Part of the reason for this is the huge degree of variation of stuttering from one stutterer to the next. Some children go through a “developmental” period of stuttering during adolescence that dissipates several months to several years after onset, with usually no long-term effects to the child’s speech or quality of life.  While some children who stutter experience this dissipation during adolescence, others do not – and these children can continue to stutter through elementary school, the teenage years, adulthood, and even for the rest of their lives. That doesn’t mean they will, necessarily; it does mean, however, that the possibility is there.

I know…because I’ve been stuttering for 45 of my 49 years of life. I started stuttering shortly after turning four, and I am an example of how far the often-underappreciated and underestimated path of the pendulum can swing in terms of the possible severity and longevity of stuttering over timer.

From my own personal experience as well as from talking with other stutterers over many years, without question stuttering can negatively impact more than just speech – it can also directly impact quality of life.  The opposite, therefore, is also true: learning how to control the stuttering and subsequently speak fluently can, with all due respect to stutterers who stutter openly, positively impact speech…and quality of life.

The techniques I use and teach my clients, their parents, spouses, coworkers and respective support system(s) center around a specific premise: that the pathology of stuttering has to do with a locking of two tiny muscles known as the vocal folds (commonly known as the vocal cords, they’re two little muscles inside the larynx which is inside the throat; these muscles have to vibrate over a hundred times per second in order to produce all of the vowel sounds and half of the consonants in Standard
American English
, or 75% of the sounds), and actual stuttering (e.g., the pushing, the blocking, the straining, the gasping for breath, the audible and visual components everyone hears and sees, etc.) is a learned habit or behavior developed in childhood during instances when the vocal cords were locking and making it difficult for the child to speak. And just like with anything that appears or seems “stuck” or “locked,” our first instinct is, usually, to push harder. That is, literally, what stuttering is: attempting to push out the sounds that have, mysteriously and most frustratingly and painfully, become “stuck” or “locked” and unable to be spoken at that particular moment in time; they have become “stuck” or “locked” because, unbeknownst to anyone, the vocal cords are locking and thus unable to vibrate which means sound cannot be produced (75% of them: all the vowels and half of the consonants).

WORDS ARE WINGS® targets the facilitation and sustaining of functional vocal cord vibration during instances in which they’re tensing and subsequently locking (the pathology of stuttering) and resulting in repeated attempts to push the sounds out (the actual stuttering); facilitating and sustaining functional vocal cord vibration comes through the relearning of myriad breathing and speech mechanics over time (WORDS ARE WINGS® STUTTERING SOLUTIONS™ is a long-term approach to learning how to control the stuttering and speak fluently; it is not a quick-fix remedy).

​​
The techniques are presented, learned and practiced within the context of two specifically established premises:

  1. It's not that the stutterer doesn’t know what it is he or she wants to say, but rather, it’s that they physically (think “mechanically”) cannot say what they want to say at that particular moment in time (because their vocal cords are locking).

  2. The locking of the vocal cords is the pathology of stuttering; the actual stuttering is a learned behavior of attempting to literally push the sounds/words out during instances in which the vocal cords are locked (that’s what gives stuttering its distinctive audible and visual “look” and repetitive audible component which is very different from natural dysfluencies everyone experiences in which the vocal cords are not locked).

Like any unwanted habit or behavior, if left unchecked or unaddressed it cannot be transitioned to a new behavior or reaction. Identically, if the habit or behavior of attempting to push sounds out (stuttering) during instances of locking vocal cords (the pathology) is allowed to grow and continue and worsen, over time it can reach the point where the act of pushing – of stuttering – becomes the autopilot, instinctive response before any conscious thought of trying something else (anything else) occurs to the speaker.

To use myself as an example, even today I still, once in a while when I feel my vocal cords locking, “forget” I have my techniques and find myself stuttering by attempting to push the sounds out instead of using my techniques to restore functional vocal cord vibration and subsequently fluent speech. As I didn’t find a speech program that helped me control my stuttering until my mid 20s I spent almost 20 years in a constant, chronically crippling and debilitating state of attempting to push sounds out every
single time I tried to speak (that’s how often my vocal cords were locking, and how strongly); so much so that, all these years later, attempting to push (to stutter) is still on autopilot in my brain even though I’ve been using, practicing, and teaching fluency techniques for years.

If you or your child stutters, or if someone you know stutters and wants help no matter their age, please contact me immediately to arrange a free consultation. Quality of life IS attainable because learning how to control the locking of the vocal cords and subsequently speak fluently IS absolutely possible through learning how to facilitate and maintain functional vocal cord vibration during instances in which they’re locking. If the vocal cords aren’t locking it means they’re able to vibrate; if they’re able to vibrate fluent speech will come out because there’s nothing locking which means there’s no reason to push as sounds will come out fluently and uninterruptedly.

“Fluency exists on the Breath of Hope.”
- Andrew Miceli, M.A., CCC-SLP

 

CLASSROOM COMMUNICATION

Services available in: English and Spanish

Age-range: kindergarten - college

Just as a student’s academic progression is critical to school success the progression of a student’s speech and language skills is equally critical.  While often overlooked, speech and language development are firmly intertwined with any successful academic progression.


For example, critical components of a student’s academic progression also include developing confidence and competence with:

  • Asking and answering questions in class.

  • Participating in class/group discussions.

  • Exhibiting verbal proactivity in meetings with teachers or academic advisors.

  • Proactively seeking help or assistance if/when needed.

  • Effectively presenting oral reports or speeches (e.g., some high school or college-level classes require an oral component such as a report or presentation; structured, academic-based learning with a formal question-and-answer dynamic begins in kindergarten and sometimes in preschool or a Head Start program).

Other underappreciated and often overlooked elements of a successful academic progression include functional socialization through speech and language:

  • At lunch or snack time(s).

  • During play or recess.

  • A quick hello or acknowledgement when passing or seeing peers in the hallway.

  • When arriving and waiting for school to begin or for parents after school during pickup time.

  • If you need to speak to the counselor or there’s a problem that needs articulating.

  • Other important critical aspects of a student’s day that help achieve a balance that supports and even facilitates a better opportunity for academic success.

While the above-cited areas could be applied throughout the academic progression, some examples of skill-sets congruent with specific age-ranges include but are not limited to: 

 

K – Elementary: developing asking/answering skills in front of peers, peer socialization through language, bettering etiquette re: student-student and student-teacher interaction(s), asking for help with homework or classwork, building foundations between speaking and reading. The goal of developing these skills is to be prepared for the next level of academic difficulty.

 

Middle/High School: increasing class participation, starting to give oral reports or speeches, debate team, student government, furthering rapport with teachers, joining clubs, social clicks, athletics, and other groups.  The goal of developing these skills is to have an impressive transcript for college admissions applications or distinguished experience for that first job or military enrollment.

 

College/University (undergrad and grad): required class participation, presentations, speeches, rapport with professors, student government, presenting a thesis or dissertations, debate team, upcoming job interviews, socializing with people from other places/countries/cultures.  The goal of developing these skills is to land a high-paying first job (or next job if you worked before going to college) or accumulate a distinctive transcript for graduate school or doctoral or post-doctoral study.

Although we usually don’t think of it, going to school (and, later on, to work) each day requires us to speak in public despite public speaking typically being something that is feared (or, at the very least, undesired).  Moreover, both dynamics (firstly school and then work) require that we communicate effectively to achieve specifically desired outcomes (e.g., the answers to questions, making a good impression for a possible promotion, receiving a good grade or work review, etc.)

If you or your child needs assistance improving overall verbal communication at school, or if there is simply a desire to better communication over, contact me to schedule a free consultation. Speaking demands can be challenging at any academic level, especially recurring five days in a row each week, and not necessarily because of delays or difficulties with receptive or expressive language, and not because of a presenting speech disorder such as stuttering or lingering sound pronunciation challenges; sometimes there is, for some unidentifiable reason, difficulty with using language
effectively
when speaking in public…and this can absolutely begin in school.

 
 

CORPORATE SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGY

Services available in: English and Spanish

Age-ranges: corporate professionals and executives, and spouses of VIPs

For corporate professionals and executives looking to facilitate greater success by taking their verbal confidence and command to the next level, and spouses of politicians, diplomats, foreign nationals, and other VIPs living in or relocating to the United States with a working knowledge of English and wanting to better socialization through language as well as comprehension and use of myriad conversational dynamics of English in America.

 

Improving speech-language skills can facilitate myriad professionally positive changes, for example but not limited to, bettering confidence and ability to:

  • Communicate effectively with coworkers re: needs, expectations and/or concerns.

  • Standout at meet and greets and various corporate or executive functions as confident and able to use your communication to bring people together.

  • Steadily establish contacts and colleagues both in and out of the office.

  • Effectively communicate with bosses and/or superiors, whether a) practically and functionally seeking assistance, b) logically explaining why you deserve a raise, c) objectively advocating for a different work assignment or partner, d) impactfully describing your side in a workplace disagreement, e) competently meeting any presenting challenge via effective verbal presentation and command.

  • Capably troubleshoot and lead a group towards a solutions-based resolve.

  • Lecture, give a speech, report results to other workers (or staff and superiors), lead discussions and meetings, show a willingness to participate or take a lead verbal role when others do not.

  • Instill a sense of office morale by establishing a baseline of coworker communication through a functional, balanced verbal delivery. 

  • Seal a deal by objectively and convincingly explaining results and interpretations of said results, answering questions and posing new ones to facilitate further interest long-term.

  • Improve your overall work experience, and day to day existence, through confident and capable command of the spoken word which shows you’re approachable.

  • Present yourself as both professionally capable and verbally able to sell said professional capabilities beyond a performance-only based dynamic.

Within the context of the above-cited benefits, specific areas of corporate speech-language improvement include:

Regional Dialect, Foreign Accent Modification: for those who speak English as a second language looking to improve their pronunciation and overall intelligibility. Therapy can be done 1:1 or in small groups if clients all speak the same native language.

 

Improving Social & Cultural Aspects of American Communication: Targets the more subtle aspects and nuances of English that can be challenging for nonnative speakers. Examples include: socialization through language, nonverbal (e.g., postural, facial expression, body language, gestures, other) and nonliteral/abstract language, melodic inflection and meaning (e.g., saying: “Yea, right” with different melodic inflection to indicate sarcasm vs. sincerity vs. concern vs. excitement), pleasantries (e.g., greetings, goodbyes, brief social exchanges), voice-only arenas (e.g., speaking on the phone using an optimal speaking volume, rate, tone, melodic inflection for accentuation and meaning, and other variables), and other aspects of communication in the United States.

 

Voice Optimization: optimizing speech mechanics such as speaking rate, tone, volume,
melodic inflection (if monotone), timing and delivery, and other variables that distinguish what to say vs. how to say it (highly recommended for teachers, attorneys including witness preparation for trial, salespeople, telecommunicators, virtual conferencing and presenters).

 

PLEASE NOTE: Athletes and coaches (high school, college, professional), educators, attorneys preparing witnesses or experts for trial, salespeople (including brokers or traders), and politicians and campaigners – please see Profession-Based Speech Improvement below.
 
The digitalization of society has caused a shift in primary communication from the spoken word to the written word, more specifically, often abbreviated and grammatically incorrect statements (not sentences). As such, confident and capable command of the spoken word in a digital age can positively distinguish a verbally presented argument as well as the speaker. Attention to details such as facial expression, melodic inflection, and other variables related to spoken communication are quickly returning as more and more people are working virtually from home.

If you want to improve your command and confidence of the spoken word to help facilitate a targeted outcome, contact me today to arrange your free consultation. Whether you’re seeking to better your daily work experience and environment or distinguish yourself for a possible job or promotion, if it’s important to you to consider it’s important enough to arrange a free consultation to talk it over in detail.

 

PROFESSION BASED SPEECH IMPROVEMENT

Services available in: English and Spanish

Age-range: by profession (please see below)

NOTE: If your profession or targeted area is not specifically listed below do not hesitate to contact me to discuss setting up a free consultation.

 

Confident, grammatically correct command of the spoken word can positively impact image and marketability as well as open doors to more opportunities and audiences. In the age of abbreviated, grammatically incorrect language and phonetic spelling(s) so often used to instant message, text, create a hashtag, email and post on various social media platforms…grammatically correct speaking is subsequently influenced by grammatically incorrect, phonetically written language. 

 

WORDS ARE WINGS® offers 1:1 and group profession-based speech improvement in several professional tracks to help each client develop and maximize confidence and command of the grammatically correct spoken word to facilitate improvement in the following profession-based goals:

 

ATHLETES and COACHES (high school, collegiate, professional): Voice-over narration and on-camera speaking for recruiting tapes, in-person recruiting visits and meetings with coaches and staff, establishing a public image as a role model for students (K to college), endorsements and/or sponsorships, visual appeal and listenability during interviews and public appearances (and possibly more opportunities to do them), rapport and communication with teammates, pursuing a degree either during the offseason or when retired, etc. Variables such as speaking rate, volume, tone,
pronunciation, overall intelligibility, eye contact, body language, posture, facial expression, and others are addressed as they all contribute to a speaker’s persona, image and overall likability.

THE LAW (witness or expert testimony preparation): How to say the content that will be covered during a trial. Consideration of witness or expert testimony may include the manipulation of variables such as a witness or expert’s: speaking rate, tone of voice, volume, melodic inflection, body language and facial expression(s) both when speaking and when listening, eye contact (when to make it and when not to make it, and/or with whom), and content, a.k.a., what to say, e.g., word choice, order, length, phrasing for memorability, words with multiple meanings, when to use the same word vs. a
different one with a similar meaning, what words to use when speaking to whom, etc. Believability is rooted in trust and trust is rooted in not only what is being said but how it’s being said.
 
POLITICAL CAMPAIGNING (local, state, federal; interns, campaign members, politicians): Objective, nonpartisan assistance in the areas of: speech writing (what to say, e.g., word choice, order, length, phrasing for memorability, words with multiple meanings, when to use the same word vs. a different one with a similar meaning, specific words or phrasing for a target audience, tensing and voicing, etc.) and speech mechanics and delivery (how to say what you’re saying, e.g., speaking rate, volume, tone, facial expression, posture, body language, eye contact, physical gesturing,
breathing when speaking, pausing, connected speech, etc.) so that what the speaker is saying and how the speaker is saying it are so relatable each audience member feels as though the speaker is speaking only to them.

 

EDUCATORS (all levels): Proactively address various speech mechanics such as rate, volume, tone, breathing pre and during speech, and voice projection; vocal hygiene and maintenance through optimizing water intake and diet, choreographing speaking time (how long, how often throughout the day), amplification considerations, room and speaker acoustics, placement and positioning of the speaker to the room and the listeners (the podium in relation to the desks, chairs, etc.) and other variables are also addressed so the voice can be used functionally daily, week after week while
proactively minimizing the risk of vocal fatigue and overuse.

SALES & WALL STREET (where recurring, daily speed speaking may be needed): Finding a balanced combination of a baseline rate of purposefully accelerated speaking if/as needed for the job with proactive fine tuning of speech characteristics. Variables such as vocal quality, tone, breathing, hydration, specific sound pronunciation(s), hygiene, sleeping, amount of speaking outside of work (and technique), and other targets will be addressed to minimize the potential for vocal fatigue, overuse and/or strain when needing to speaking quickly at work. Speaking quickly often results in
speaking more loudly, and increase rate and volume both force the vocal cords and vocal muscles to overwork; WORDS ARE WINGS® teaches clients how to maintain a baseline of speed while speaking with appropriate volume and function.

PLEASE NOTE: If you work on a maximally crowded trading floor there may be limitations as to what can be accomplished within a context of dozens – perhaps even hundreds – of voices speaking simultaneously at heightened volumes and increased speeds.
 
Contact me today to arrange your free consultation.

SPEECH-LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT (0 - 8 years)

Services available in: English and Spanish

Age-range: parents, grandparents, primary caregivers and teachers of kiddos staying at home or attending daycare, preschool, head start, or kindergarten

For whatever reason, many pediatricians and parents still incorrectly assume a child will begin talking “…when they’re ready,” or, “…when they want to (talk).” It is a very agreeable and well-received notion that on the surface appears seemingly harmless.  In truth, however, the opposite is actually what occurs: the acquisitions of both speech and language occur by progressing through a series of normed-referenced milestones for both skill-sets. And a chronological hierarchy is the exact opposite of an acquisitional progression based on comfort level or perceived readiness.

 

As standardized testing of language development and usage can be norm-referenced up to 21 years, for the purposes of “Speech-Language Development” this section concentrates on language acquisition from 0 – 8 years (through kindergarten and the first two elementary school grades = the start of the educational journey).

Because of the chronological progressive component, the potential for a child to acquire timely speech and language skills increases significantly when parents and early educators functionally assist speech and language development by providing opportunities for a child to continuously use their receptive and expressive language skills. If maximum parental and early educator involvement still result in a suspected delay (in either speech or language) there’s an increased likelihood of proactivity to address the suspected delay secondary to the parental and early educator involvement
being consistently present from the beginning.

Proactivity to facilitate and help promote the normal acquisition of language and speech skills, combined with addressing any suspected speech or language difficulties or delays early, increases the probability the respective normal acquisition processes overall are not impacted. A good analogy to think of is driving before the world of GPSs when it was possible to get “lost” in a maze of back roads for several hours before eventually finding the way back to the main highway; instead of it taking several hours to get back to the main highway imagine it taking several months or even several
years (or longer). Functional, timely acquisition of language skills enable a child to verbally explore and communicate with their surrounding physical world; functional, timely acquisition of speech skills ensure those who are in the child’s physical world understand what a child is saying. Cumulatively, functional and timely acquisition of speech and language increases opportunity for a child to progress in areas such as but not limited to:

  • Exploring their environment through language (as previously stated and co-occurring with physical exploration).

  • Early learning and educational advancement.

  • Meeting peers and making first friends.

  • Transitioning to the daycare or (pre)kindergarten classrooms.

  • Establishing first rapports with non-parental adult figures, e.g., teachers.

  • Answering/asking first questions, and wanting to do so secondary to functional, age-appropriate language acquisition and comprehension.

  • Overall life-learning and self-confidence.

  • Getting a jump on reading by knowing the written forms of letters and what words they form via matching visual forms with oral-motor (e.g., mouth) postures.

  • Feeling confident secondary to being able to verbally engage in the classroom and various social scenarios.

  • Feeling confident asking for help or assistance as well as voicing self-advocacy.

 

As so much of who we are and how we think and view the world is formulated during the first 10 years (due in no small part to how smoothly or difficult the above-noted processes come to pass), because the normal acquisition of language and speech occurs from 0 - 8 years it is imporant that any delays in these acquisitions be addressed in a timely manner.  Re: the communicative process overall we are communicating from the moment we’re born as we begin using our voices immediately upon arriving into the world and through the first 12 – 18 months which is often referred to as the prelinguistic phase of communication (pre-words):​

  • Through the first six months (give or take) via prelinguistic communication methods such as but not limited to: crying, sleeping, silence, laughter, various facial expressions, cooing, breathing patterns and other prelinguistic vocalizations.

  • Then, through months seven through 12 (again, give or take) vocalization-based
    communication progresses to sound and syllable play/experimentation resulting in
    babbling, variegated babbling, jargon, and other prelinguistic verbalizations.

  • At around 12 – 18 months prelinguistic communication gradually transitions to linguistic communication signaled by the production of first words and the start of the linguistic stage of language acquisition and formal speech sound acquisition.

If you’re a parent, early education teacher or primary caregiver interested in learning how to transform daily homebased and/or classroom routines into opportunities for a child to practice and develop the language and articulation skills they’re acquiring and increase the potential for the acquisition processes to continue uninterruptedly, contact me today to arrange a free consultation, get information on group/staff workshops, and pricing, and have questions answered in detail.

 
 

MULTILINGUAL COMMUNICATION BOARDS

Age-range: all ages (nonverbal speakers or nonnative speakers)

Boards are available in over 40 languages (please see list, below)

There have been significant advancements in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices for students and adults whose verbal communication skills are or have become compromised. Presenting cognitive and/or physical challenges greatly factor in choosing a particular AAC device make and model in terms of capabilities, functionality, weight, and other factors. As increased functions and abilities can potentially increase device costs (assuming avenues such as insurance coverage or a school-funded or donation program aren’t available), hopefully, students in schools and patients in rehabilitation facilities have access to devices capable of providing maximum communication opportunities per their cognitive and physical ability levels, respectively.

More basic AAC methods such as multilingual communication boards still have a place in the always-advancing field of augmentative and adaptive communication as these boards can facilitate communication on a fundamentally yet functionally critical level for three primary populations:

IN THE EDUCATION SETTING:

1) Daycares, preschools, head starts, (pre)kindergartens and elementary  schools who have students speaking a language other than English.​


2) Middle or high schools who have an older student originally from another country and doesn’t speak English transferring in.

 

IN THE HOSPITAL/REHABILITATION SETTING:

3) Patients who are cognitively intact but speak a language other than that of the physicians, residents, nursing staff or rehabilitation therapists.​


4)Patients who are cognitively intact yet unable to use their hands/fingers to effectively write or type; if a patient can functionally maneuver a digit, an elbow or tow, hold a light beam/gazer in their mouth or use a forehead-strapped beam of light that patient can functionally use a communication board.

 

Multilingual communication boards can quickly and effectively establish a rudimentary yet functional and potentially critical baseline of communication in the absence of verbal communication due to presenting language barriers or physical or neurological challenges, respectively. Once a functional baseline of communication is established participants on both sides can become more engaged and begin to feel a sense of purpose and even hope, which can directly facilitate or increase motivation
and participation (from all involved) which increase the likelihood for progress.

 

 

COSTS: 1 board = $40 / 2 boards = $70 / 3 boards = $90

 

ALL COSTS INCLUDE: a detailed review of the board predelivery plus one round of changes after reception, all postage, lamination, color printing, and any personalized message or naming displayed on the board.  All boards are 8 ½ x 11 inches and double-sided (one language per side).

 

A NOTE ON BOARD CELLS: changes to cell sizing or placement secondary to presenting client vision or field cut challenges, etc. are available; please inquire during contact.

 

BOARD LANGUAGES: English (US), Norwegian, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese (EURO), Swedish, Dutch, Italian, Danish, Catalan, English (UK), Finnish, Hmong, English (AUS), Hungarian, Polish, Russian, Turkish, Czech, Korean, Hebrew, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese (Simplified), Vietnamese, Hindi, Urdu, Chinese (Cantonese), Swahili, Portuguese (Brazil), Tagalog, Farsi, Bengali, Punjabi, Greek, Ukrainian, Slovak, Croatian, Serbian, Afrikaans, Zulu, Spanish (Castilian), English (NZ).

 

A NOTE ON BOARD PICTURE SYMBOLS: Not all picture symbols are available in every language; kindly allow for alternate cell content if/as needed which will be discussed with the client beforehand.


To begin designing your first board please contact me today.

 

INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PLAN (IEP) CONSULTATION

Services available in: English and Spanish

Age-range: 3 - 21 years

If speech and language therapy services are offered at your child’s school, the services must be included in a state-mandated legal document known as an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). This is the document that includes specific information such as but not limited to: a student’s present levels of performance, expected grade-level performance, whatever therapy services or academic assistance they’re receiving, goals to be attained within one calendar year, and any eligible accommodations for the classroom or during test taking. The services can range from speech and language therapy to physical and/or occupational therapy, recreational therapy, academic and/or
reading help, and other areas.

Different school districts across the country have different levels of compliance to many aspects of IEPs including how they’re written. While compliance must ultimately be maintained, the time it can take to amend and correct an IEP to be in compliance can be very stressful to parents and school staff and, more importantly, potentially costly to the student if their services are delayed due to errors within the rhetoric and writing of the IEP (as each section as well as any accompanying service(s) must be clearly worded and specifically stated, with objective and evidenced-based data – subjectivity has no place in an IEP – supporting all included content). 

The objectively written rhetoric must specifically indicate why the student has an IEP (= what area(s) is or are below grade-level function), where the student is projected to be goal-wise in one calendar year from the start-date of the IEP, and most importantly, how the student will improve from their present level of functioning to meet the projected one-year goals over the course of the calendar year.  Also, writing performance levels at the beginning and end of the calendar year only is insufficient; performance levels must be monitored throughout the year at designated intervals, often quarterly, in addition to at the beginning and end of the calendar year.​

Accordingly, a properly written IEP must contain, among other variables:

  • Present levels of the student (= where/how your child is presently functioning).

  • Goals for therapy and why (based on what).

  • Criteria that will be used to measure the progress to reach said goals.

  • Accommodations the student needs (if any) and why.

  • Previous and/or projected IEP data/levels if the IEP is being revised (vs. an initial/first-time IEP).

An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) exists to support the rights and needs of the student. As such, the mandated services in whatever areas of need stated in the IEP must be provided by the indicated provider as stated in the IEP. If a service, e.g., speech-language therapy, is written in the IEP that student must receive those services as often as the IEP specifically states they are to be received (e.g., by the speech-language provider for a certain number of minutes per session over a certain number of sessions per week, from the day after the date of the IEP meeting to the day the IEP expires which should be one full calendar year) and parents have a right to know if the services – whether speech-language therapy, recreational therapy, physical or occupational therapy, academics, or another service area – are being provided as often as they’re scheduled.


Special and exceptional educators are overloaded with writing IEPs on top of their speech-language therapy caseloads of students to service.  As such, it is not unheard of for unintentional mistakes to get made in the writing of an IEP; accordingly, it is always a good idea to review an IEP both during the meeting with the school faculty and then again independently.

Careful review should be paid to all areas of an IEP, including:

  • Whether the goals are realistic and appropriately written.

  • That summations of present levels and formulation of to-be-achieved goals are objectively based on the data.

  • Making sure services are being provided as scheduled (the amount of days per week and the amount of time each session).

  • Discussing possible accommodations for classroom work, testing and/or therapy

  • That all names, dates, classes, services and grades are consistent and spelled correctly

  • Parental rights

  • Any (other) concerns re: the IEP

If you have any concerns about your child’s IEP there's no reason to continue feeling concerned; contact me today so we can address pressing questions and schedule  a free consultation to address the IEP paperwork and additional questions in detail.

 

Office: (520) 812-9256

Mobile: (917) 887-4716

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