6 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Child’s Speech Therapy

girls talkingWritten by: Katie Yeh

As a speech-language pathologist, I am here to educate and support a child and his/her family to best help expand that child’s speech and language skills. But how can you, as a parent, get the MOST out of that time that is spent with your child’s speech pathologist? How can you best help your child through this process?

1. Get Educated

The world of special needs can be a confusing place. It quite literally comes with a whole new language: IEP, IFSP, OT, ST, PT, Special Day Class, least restrictive environment (LRE), goals, objectives, Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE), team meeting, receptive language, expressive language, speech, articulation, fine motor, gross motor, services, related services, etc.

The best thing you can do when you discover that your child has special needs, is to start to get educated. Read all you can and find out what resources are available in your area in terms of parent education. Talk to your local early intervention services or school district and see what kind of information they can provide. Find local support groups and read as much as you can.

That said, you also need to be very careful what you read online. You can find a lot of WONDERFUL information online, but you can also find a lot of misinformation. Here are some links and books I recommend to help get educated:

Articles specifically for speech and language:

  1. Resources for Parents at Playing With Words 365

Books specifically for speech and language for parents:

  1. Childhood Speech, Language, and Listening Problems
    by Patricia McAleer Hamaguchi

Websites for special education and children with disabilities:

  1. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Site
  2. Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
  3. American Speech-Language Hearing Association
  4. National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities
  5. National Center on Response to Intervention

2. Be Involved

I cannot express how important it is to be involved in your child’s therapy! From the assessment, to the goals, to the sessions, you should be an integral part in your child’s therapy. Yes, the Speech Pathologist will be teaching your child things that require their unique expertise, but that doesn’t mean you can not be a big part of your child’s success. You are the parent and you are the one who spends the most time with your child and knows him/her best. Be involved!

3. Ask Questions

Do NOT be afraid to ask questions! The only stupid question is the one you didn’t ask Speech pathologists are used to getting asked all KINDS of questions and we do NOT expect you to know the things we know. And….to be honest, we are human. Which means we sometimes forget that you may not know what some things mean. So make sure you remind us of this and ASK QUESTIONS! Ask as many as you need to, to feel like you understand what is happening. The more you understand about your child’s therapy, the better you can help him/her through this process.

4. Do the Homework

If your child’s SLP assigns homework, do your best to complete it. Typically, direct speech and language therapy is only an average of an hour a week, which by itself can definitely help your child make gains, but to make faster gains and see greater progress, it is essential to do the homework. Even just 5-10 minutes a day will help your child make SIGNIFICANT progress.

5. Be Your Child’s Advocate

I cannot stress this enough. Make sure to do the first three things I have mentioned above and then USE that information you have learned, be involved, and then ASK those questions and speak up. Be your child’s advocate, because you are the BEST person to advocate for your child. You know your child the best and spend the most time with him/her. So get educated, ask questions, and speak up!

6. Practice Practice Practice

I already mentioned how important doing the homework is. But don’t feel you have to stop there! Ask your child’s SLP how you can practice the skills your child is learning in therapy EVERY DAY within your everyday routines. This is the best way for your child to make steady and fast progress. Many speech and language skills can be addressed within normal, daily activities like meal times, reading, bath, driving in the car, etc. Ask your child’s SLP for tips on how to practice these skills all day, every day. Your SLP should have some specific tips for YOUR child to help you

Good Luck Addie!

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 10.19.41 AM
As some of you may know, Ms. Addie, one of our office managers, will be leaving us. She will be going to the University of Florida this fall to pursue her Master’s in Speech-Language Pathology. This is her last week at the clinic, so be sure to wish her good luck!  She wants to thank you for your patience and understanding as she has made mistakes and for your smiles that have brightened her day. She has enjoyed meeting each and every one of you and wants to thank you for all she has learned while working here!

Here are a few things Addie has learned about the “behind the scenes” of working at a speech clinic: Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 10.05.59 AM

Flexibility– Whether you are just starting to manage a speech therapy practice or you have been doing it for years, flexibility is key! This applies to scheduling clients who are continually changing, canceling or making appointments.  Try to be as accommodating as possible and keep a waiting list for clients who have specific appointment days/times they are waiting for. Flexibility also applies to the many daily tasks that get interrupted and re-arranged throughout the day. Sometimes a phone call will interrupt a task or a client will have a lot of questions that need to be answered. It is important to be patient and flexible while managing everything that goes into running a speech clinic. A clinic manager must also be flexible enough to see things from another’s perspective. This will result in high productivity, integrity and responsibility.

Organization– In addition to flexibility, organization is probably the most important thing about working at a speech clinic! This speech clinic requires knowledge of billing, coding, ERA’s, advertising, use of EMR’s, scheduling and insurance policies. A clinic manager will likely interact with insurance companies daily to ensure that claims are being paid, authorizations are completed, and medical records have been sent. He or she may also handle electronic scheduling, manage point of sale transactions and score test evaluations. It is crucial to create your own system to keep all of these duties organized. Writing lists, making folders and setting reminders are helpful ways to help prioritize tasks and keep everything in order.

Marketing– While it is possible to have a thriving speech practice without an online presence, a website is an incredibly useful tool. Getting your clinic’s name out to the public is necessary for building and keeping a client base. In addition to a website, the office managers at this clinic post monthly newsletters and weekly blogs to be posted on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook and WordPress. Not only does this help promote our clinic and our services, it also helps potential and existing clients learn more about who we are and what we do.

Building relationships– As a clinic manager, clear and appropriate communication amongst coworkers and clients is part of the job. Emails and phone calls must meet the professional standard of your clinic. A clinic manager should also be also polished and friendly when interacting with clients and clients’ parents as he or she is often the first impression people get of the clinic. Have a warm smile, provide clients with necessary information and show an interest in their lives by asking questions. This will help clients have a pleasant experience and give your clinic a positive reputation.

Self-initiative, critical-thinking and problem-solving skills– These skills are used in many areas of life, whether the issue is big or small, and a clinic manager knows this very well. Resolution starts with identifying the problem, looking for any possible solutions and making and implementing a decision. This process often requires creativity, dedication and composure. A clinic manager must be open and receptive to feedback as well in order to keep improving and benefitting the clinic.

If you are interested in learning more about our clinic, check out our website! http://www.newtampaspeechtherapy.com

3… 2… 1… ACTION!

02I938743… 2… 1… ACTION!

Using Videos to Develop Speech and Language Skills

Article from Handy Handouts®

Try making a video! Cameras are everywhere, including smartphones, tablets, and other handheld devices. Kids can create videos to address their articulation, fluency, voice, and language goals.

Ways to Incorporate Videos into Speech Therapy:


  • Write and produce a play! Make sure the dialogue includes words that contain your child’s targeted sound(s). Children will love to watch themselves on screen!
  • Film your child practicing their targeted sounds at the word, phrase, sentence, or conversational level. They may read from decks of articulation cards, stories, or textbooks. Review the video with him/her, and provide feedback regarding his or her productions (e.g.,”You did a good job putting your tongue between your teeth to make the /th/ sound”).
  • If your child is able, let him/her take data! Allow them to review his or her video recording and take data on his or her own productions. The parent and child should record data, marking whether each production of the sound was correct or incorrect. The parent can then compare the two data sets, and discuss any differences in data. Save and review previously recorded speech samples with your child. It can be rewarding for your kids to see and hear their own progress over time.


  • Help your child create a video that informs his or her classmates/siblings/friends about stuttering. Topics could include types of dysfluency, myths regarding stuttering, or famous people who stutter.
  • Create a video of your child engaging in a conversation. Review the video with him/her, and discuss the types and frequency of his/her dysfluency.


  • Children can create videos to educate their classmates/siblings/friends about good vocal hygiene.
  • Make a video of yourchild producing connected speech (e.g., conversing with classmate or retelling a story). Review the video with your child and discuss whether or not he/she used appropriate pitch and volume.


  • Create videos to model good social skills, such as maintaining eye contact, staying on topic, and taking turns in conversation. Children may also make a video to demonstrate appropriate paralinguistic features, such as facial expressions, tone of voice, and volume.
  • If your child is struggling with a particular social situation, record and review a video of your child role-playing that situation.
  • Using a graphic organizer, allow children to develop a narrative (including setting, character, problem, events, solution, and closing). Create a video of your child retelling/acting out the narrative. Review the video, discussing all of the story elements.

There are many fun ways for parents to practice Speech Therapy at home! 

Speech-language Pathologist, Christine Wilson, requires her patients to practice home programming, on top of attending speech therapy sessions weekly. We see the most progress in the patient’s who come to speech therapy at least twice a week and those who practice home programming. A home program does not need to be a major time commitment on the parents part, but it IS important. Try to practice with your child for 15 to 30 minutes a day. Even five or ten minutes every day will benefit your child. We work as a team at Christine Wilson’s Speech Clinic! Practicing language skills at home will bring your child closer to their speech goal/s!

If you would like to schedule a speech and language evaluation today, CLICK HERE!

How to Teach Vowel Sounds

Written by: Heidi Hanks

When Vowels Typically Emerge
Vowels are typically the first sounds that emerge from our precious little ones and most often not a concern. Starting around 2 months babies begin to “coo” making sounds in the back of their mouth like “ah-ah-ah” and “oh-oh-oh.” By 6 months they have progressed to babbling which involves making sounds with the tongue and the front of the mouth like, “da-da-da-da” and “ma-ma-ma-ma.” At 10-12 months the anxiously awaited first real words will typically make their debut.

What if My Child Doesn’t Say Their Vowels?
But what happens when your child doesn’t follow this developmental sequence? What if your child never really babbled or cooed? What if your child has difficulty even producing the vowels, has very few words if any or is highly unintelligible? If this is the case there is likely something more going on and you should see a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) for a speech and language evaluation.

The Speech Pathologist will assess the child to see if they can determine the cause of the delay. Difficulty with the production of vowels may be due to a number of things, including hearing loss, a cognitive deficit, or a motor speech disorder like Apraxia or dysarthria. Knowing the cause of the delay will help the SLP as she works with the parents to create a treatment plan.

Teach the Early Vowels First (uh, ah, ee, oo and oh)
So if it is determined that your child produces only a few vowels, or is inconsistent with their vowel productions teaching vowel sounds is a good place to start. To teach the vowel sounds start with the 5 earliest developing vowels uh, ah, ee, oo and oh. Modeling these vowels with hand cues is a great way to provide more visual feedback and help teach the vowels. I’ve linked a helpful video below of Pam Marshalla, an SLP and expert in motor speech disorders demonstrating the hand cues she uses to teach these vowels.

Click here to watch the video “Pam’s Place Cues – Vowels”

Teach Diphthongs From the Early Vowels (I, ou, oye and you)
As you saw in the video, once the first five vowels are mastered use them to teach the diphthongs I or eye, ou, oye, and you. For example, to teach “I” or “eye” start with a short “ah” vowel and follow it with a long “ee” vowel. As the “ah” transitions into the “ee” the tongue naturally glides creating the y sound between the two vowels ultimately producing our desired vowel diphthong or the word “I” or “eye.”

Finish with the Short Vowels
You can use hand cues to teach the short vowels as well (“i” as in kiss, “e” as in pet, “a” as in bat, “oo” as in book, and “ah” as in caught).vowels3

In the video Pam uses the ASL alphabet signs for these but you can make up any signs you’d like. She uses the sign language sign for “i” as a cue for the short i, the sign for “e” as a cue for the short e, the sign for “a” as a cue for the short a, the sign for “u” as a cue for the “oo” as in book, and finally the sign for “c” as a cue for the “ah” vowel.

From High Vowels to Low Vowels
Another way to teach the vowels is to shape them from the “ee” and the “oo” if the kids have already mastered these. When the “ee” is said the tongue is at its highest position as you lower the tongue just slightly it is now in the correct position for saying the short “i” sound. When you lower it a little more it is in position for the long “a” sound, a little lower and you can say the short “e” sound and even lower you can say the short “a” sound.

Below you can see the Vowel Diagram (or Quadrilateral) showing the North American English Vowel Placement. You can download this diagram here.


If you start with the “oo” vowel and then lower the tongue just slightly you can say the “oo” (as in book), a little lower you can say the long “o” sound (as in boat), even lower you can say the “ah” vowel.

Teaching Vowels With Visual Feedback
If you watch closely you can see the jaw drop just slightly each time a lower vowel is said. Sometimes this is enough and if it works with the child, perfect, you can move on.

If you need more visual feedback and you want to get a clear visual representation of high and low vowels and the relationship between the vowels Vowel Viz, an app by Complete Speech is an innovative speech mapping tool that displays vowel production in real-time and is available for the iPhone and iPad. It is an amazing tool for teaching vowels and shaping vowels and diphthongs from other vowels.

Creating Words From Vowels
Meaningful communication should be our goal with these kids that have few, if any words or are highly unintelligible. So I want to share with you these word strips I created for 8 words you can teach from vowel sounds alone that you can download and practice with your child.

Download the vowel word strips here.


If you’re like me, every new word your child says is cause for a celebration, especially when we as parents have to wait an exceptionally long time for those words to come!

If you are still waiting for those first words, and the vowels have been difficult in coming, work with your SLP together and try some of these techniques, including the 8 words from the word strips included above.

Best of luck working on these super fun vowel sounds and remember to be patient and always make it fun. You can do it!

Article is found on http://mommyspeechtherapy.com/?p=2495

Water Play for Special Needs

Let’s Get Wet: The Benefits of Water Play for Children with Special Needs

Written on 2017/07/07 by: Ilana Danneman

summerIt’s summer, and though you don’t have to own a pool (which can provide a full-body water experience), water activities are a tremendous asset to a starved or overactive sensory system. Water can energize, and yet it can also calm. Water therapy can come in a variety of forms, from staring at a bubble tube, swimming, aquatic therapy, a shower or bath, and washing dishes at the sink to a great rainy day and puddle-stomping. You can also head to the beach, lake, river, or creek.

Just this past week, I found myself canyoning down a waterfall in Costa Rica. Though that may seem extreme, the new experience, which was challenging to say the least, provided a keen awareness to a challenged sensory motor system and a deep appreciation for the great outdoors and creation (not to mention my ability to stay upright!).

Let’s look at a few ways to maximize your child’s time near or in the water this summer.

Pool Therapy

If you are heading to the pool with your sensory avoider, try encouraging him or her to get wet first. This will not only keep your pool maintenance people quite happy, but also allow your child’s sensory system to adjust before a full plunge. You can wet a small towel and rub your child down; take a shower before coming out to the pool; or just sit by the side and let your child kick and splash near the edge. If you have a scheduled time, you may want to get to the pool a bit early to allow your child to adjust before going into a full aquatic therapy session.

Baby Pools

Though not always the most sanitary of pools (check first), a baby pool can afford an emergent walker an opportunity to work on gait training and balance skills using a ring or float, much like a floor walker. Kids who are more advanced can walk and play around without the ring. Do not assume that your baby pool is safe; you’ll want to keep your eyes on your little one. Still, a baby pool is a great place to learn to put your face in the water while finding objects on the bottom and to balance along the edge or while walking around.

Indoor Water Fun

You can get a lot out of your indoor water. Have your child help wash dishes and get the benefit of not only water contact but also new skills and pride in helping out (even if you do have to wash them again). You can also get a sand or water table and some space sand to use for a great hands-on sensory experience. And don’t forget to maximize your bathtub or shower as a place for a great sensory workout.

Rainy Day

If you can catch a good rainy day, don’t pass it up. With buckets, sponges, and umbrellas, your kids can have a sensory blast out in the rain. You might just have to sit and watch, but if you need to go out in the rain too, do it. There’s nothing like a warm summer rain to calm the sensory system and heighten sensory awareness. Try puddle-stomping, singing in the rain, filling up buckets, and even playing with some squirt guns.

River Rocks

A trip to a river or creek with close supervision can be a sensory delight and encourage motor planning, balancing, and an appreciation for the great outdoors. Find a safe spot and allow your kids to walk across the rocks, wade out into the creek, or reach down and find small rocks. Watch the fish swim by or sit and observe the water flowing down. If you need to find a great spot near you, just Google, “creeks or rivers near me.”

Lakes Are Great

If you want to try a boating experience or fishing, head out to a lake nearby where these activities are available. Kayaking, canoeing, rowing, skiing, and swimming are great summer activities for everyone and can encourage motor planning, balancing, and sensory integration as well as body awareness and proprioception. You can ask for adapted lessons as well. While learning new skills or trying a new skill, our spatial awareness becomes more developed. Not only does this help now, but also can help prevent injuries in the future, as those subtle balance reactions are fine-tuned. Learning new skills is a great brain trainer for everyone.

No matter where you choose to find water, appreciate this wonderful gift and be safe using appropriate safety precautions and gear. Be patient, as a new skill can take many opportunities to perfect and to enjoy. And if you are specifically seeking sensory impact, allow yourself time to just experience and enjoy the outing.

Friendly Reminder!


A friendly reminder for our clients:

Our office WILL be open July 3rd and 4th. The office will be CLOSED July 5th – 7th. If there is any confusion, please refer to the schedule we handed to you at your last office visit. We hope you all have a spectacular Independence Day and safe travels to those going out of town!


-Paige, Addie, and Mrs. Christine