What are Developmental Domains?

boy play

What are Developmental Domains?

by Becky L. Spivey, M.Ed.

From the moment of birth, children begin exploring their new world by touching, smelling, tasting, listening, observing, and playing. Through this constant exploration, they are rapidly developing the “domains” of their physical and mental abilities. The simplest of activities at every age level promotes stimulation and growth in their cognitive, social, language, and physical (fine and gross motor) skills. These four domains develop all at the same time.

Cognitive Development is learning and processing of information – our thinking and knowing. Cognition involves language, imagination, thinking, reasoning, problem solving, and memory. Our cognitive skills help us organize what we know and generalize that knowledge into other areas. School teachers understand how children learn and process information; therefore, they can recognize a breakdown in cognition. When a red flag appears, teachers may refer a child for an evaluation to pinpoint the breakdown – and the sooner, the better. This child may have a learning disability or some other deficit that needs attention. Help your child develop cognitive skills from an early age by having him/her work with puzzles, blocks, peg games, card games, patterns, and cause and effect activities.

Language Development is learning to express ourselves in order to communicate with others. We learn to express ourselves by learning sounds, combining those sounds into meaningful words, and putting words together into sentences to communicate our thoughts. Then we are able to interpret sounds from others. Talking to our children before they can talk, engaging children in conversation (even when they are just beginning to talk), and exposing children to books and reading to them are instrumental in developing later literacy and language skills. Reading, talking, and singing to children from birth, and providing books and language videos or DVDs for them when they are older will help children develop important language skills.

Social Development is learning to like ourselves and to get along with others. Being in an active environment teaches us to share, take turns, accept the differences in others, include others in play/ conversation, and the list goes on. Just by watching others interact, children learn valuable social skills. That is why the examples we set and the behaviors we display are important. Children are always watching and copying what they see others do.

Unfortunately, some children may develop serious emotional or personality problems at some point. These problems include symptoms of extreme anxiety, withdrawal, and fearfulness; or, on the other hand, disobedience, aggression, and destruction of property. If parents suspect their child’s social development is not going well (compared to his/her peers), discuss your observations with your family doctor or school counselor. From an early age, having your child interact with other children and adults as much as possible is the best way to help him/her develop socially. Playing games, having conversations in the car or at the dinner table, playing with friends, having parties, going out to eat, etc. are all invaluable ways to foster social development.

Physical Development falls into two categories – fine motor and gross motor skills. Fine Motor skills are activities occurring with the fingers in coordination with the eyes, such as reaching, grasping, releasing, and turning the wrist. These small muscle movements don’t develop overnight, but with time and practice. Fine motor skills help us perform tasks for daily living, such as dressing, eating, toileting and washing. In the early childhood years, children become independent and learn to dress and undress themselves without assistance; use utensils for eating; and pour liquid without assistance.

 The fingers learn to move in harmony and become strong enough to fasten buttons and snaps; and movement in the wrists helps take care of toileting.

Activities to promote fine motor control include: putting together puzzles with small pieces, peg board games, painting, drawing, cutting, stringing and lacing activities, construction and building sets like Legos®, Lincoln Logs®, buttons, snaps, and tying.

Gross Motor Development involves the larger muscles in the arms, legs, and torso. Gross motor activities include walking, running, throwing, lifting, kicking, etc. These skills relate to body awareness, reaction speed, balance, and strength. Gross motor development allows your child to move and control his/her body in different ways. It promotes your child’s confidence and self-esteem and allows the body to perform multiple demands beyond simple muscle movements.

At home or in the classroom environment, have children practice: walking on their toes or heels; walking with toes pointed in or out; walking or moving like a certain animal (crab, worm, bear, bunny, frog, elephant, gorilla, kangaroo, etc.); playing kickball, tetherball, volleyball, basketball, or skating; swinging, sliding, climbing on monkey bars, or playing on a tire swing; balancing while walking along a curb; walking forward, backward, sideways, and heel-to-toe; walking while balancing a book on the head; jumping, hopping, crawling, rolling, doing jumping jacks, and jumping over obstacles. Participating in sports groups help develop gross motor skills as well as cognition, as many sports require thinking and planning where and what their body needs to do next.


If you think your child is experiencing developmental delays contact Christine Wilson today!

Guidelines for the Development of Self-Feeding Skills

03c42530Guidelines for the Development of Self-Feeding Skills


Self-care skills are the basic tasks we perform every day. Self-care skills are also known as Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). The self-care skills children learn early on are self-feeding, dressing, bathing, and grooming. This handout will give a basic guideline for the development of self-feeding skills.

Self-feeding provides a fun and easy way for a child to explore different sensory experiences and feels. This is a great opportunity for the child to play with and feel crumbly, rough, wet, squishy, spongy, and slippery textures. Foods also provide different sounds, smells, and tastes. Self-feeding can be messy, but being allowed to be messy will help a child gain confidence, become comfortable with different textures, and develop strength and coordination in the hands and fingers.

In addition, using forks, spoons, and cups are some of the earliest opportunities for a child to learn how to use tools. Learning to use tools is important as the child grows and starts to draw with crayons, write with pencils, and cut with scissors.

A child who is practicing and learning self-feeding skills is also improving:

  • Strength in his/her back, arms, and hands.
  • Using both arms and hands together.
  • Coordination in his/her arms and hands.
  • Eye-hand coordination.

Drinking from a Bottle/Cup



2 to 4 months

Moves hand/hands up to the bottle/breast while feeding

6 to 9 months

Holds a bottle with both hands Uses a cup with help

12 to 15 months

Holds a cup with both hands Takes a few sips without help

15 to 18 months

Uses a straw

2 to 3 years

Drinks from a cup (no lid) without spilling




6 to 9 months

Wants to help with feeding
Starts holding and mouthing large crackers/cookies
Plays with spoon; grabs/bangs spoon; puts both ends in mouth

9 to 13 months

Finger feeds soft foods and foods that melt quickly Enjoys finger feeding

12 to 14 months

Dips spoon in food
Moves spoon to mouth but is messy and spills

15 to 18 months

Scoops food with a spoon and feeds self

18 to 24 months

Wants to feed himself/herself

2 to 3 years

Stabs food with fork
Uses spoon without spilling

3 to 5 years

Eats by himself/herself

Children with impaired motor skills and/or developmental disabilities may have a harder time learning these skills. Let the child’s abilities guide the speed they acquire self-feeding skills and gradually progress from the simpler skills to more complex ones.


Imitation and play can also help children develop self-feeding skills. Include the following games/activities into your child’s day to help your child learn to feed himself/herself.

  • Scoop and pour water in the bathtub using stacking or measuring cups.
  • Use a spoon to scoop marshmallows.
  • Use scoops and shovels in a sandbox.
  • Put small objects through holes into containers.
  • Play with play dough—scooping, stabbing, cutting, and pinching pieces.
  • Pretend to feed a baby doll.
  • Have imaginary tea parties, picnics, or meals

© 2008 Super Duper® Publications • http://www.superduperinc.com

Speech Language Pathologist, Christine Wilson specializes in Pediatric Feeding/Swallowing/Oral Motor Impairments.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule an evaluation today, contact Christine Wilson Speech Language Pathology.

First Day of Fall

Five autumn Japanese maple leaves in a row.

The first day of fall is today, September 22nd.

The first day of fall welcomes changes in the seasons. The nights get cooler, leaves change colors, and the {favorite} scent in the air is pumpkin spice. As we welcome fall, let’s get cozy with some fun speech activities:


Fall Speech Therapy Activities #1: Vocabulary Development

Time to play outside!  Grab your jackets and rakes and head outside.  If you don’t have many trees around your house, you may want to take your children to a park for some Autumn vocabulary development.  While you and your children are raking and playing in the leaves, talk about what you are doing and what you see.  The more times your child hears these words, the more likely he/she is to retain and learn them.  Here is a list of common words you may be able to work into your play.  You can adapt this list based on your child’s level.  For younger children, stick to the more basic words.  For older children, use some of the more difficult words.



* One fun way to work on verbs is by making a pile of leaves and then practicing different actions through the pile.  For example, you can tell your child to march, stomp, skip, run, or roll through the pile.

-Color words-green, red, orange, yellow, brown

Fall Speech Therapy Activities #2: Following Directions/Sequencing

Now it’s time to make a Fall speech therapy activities craft!  For this, you will need some paper, glue, leaves, scissors, and a writing utensil.  First, grab some dried leaves and crumble them with your hands or cut them with scissors.  Then, glue the leaves to the paper.  Your child can glue them on randomly or try to make a scene with them by drawing a tree and gluing the leaves on or using their imagination to create a different picture.  Here’s how you can use this craft to work on following directions and sequencing:  Set the activity up so that there are steps the child has to complete.  For older children, you can tell them the directions out loud or give them written directions.  For younger children, you may want to take pictures of you doing each step as well as break the steps down so that you only give them one or two directions at a time.  Try doing it this way: think about what would help your child do this activity easily, and then make it just a little bit harder.  For example, if you think “my child could do one step of this at a time easily”, then you need to give them two directions at a time.  Or, if you think “my child could do this whole thing with pictures of each step”, then try to give the directions out loud and don’t use pictures.  Here are the steps to the activity that you can use to create the directions for your child:
1. Collect leaves
2. Crumble or cut leaves
3. Draw a picture on paper (for younger children, skip this step)
4. Put Glue on Paper
5. Put leaves on Glue
6. Place your picture in a safe place to dry

* After you’re done, make sure to talk about the project with your child.  You can talk about what you did first, next, and last.

Fall Speech Therapy Activities #3: Speech Sound Development

Speech Sound Development (/l/)
Is your child having trouble saying “leaf”?  Here are some ideas about helping your child produce the /l/ sound:

How to teach the “l” sound: To produce the /l/ sound, your child needs to place the tip of the tongue directly behind the top front teeth.  Show your child your /l/ sound and help him/her focus on your tongue by describing what you’re doing.  You can say “That’s the “L” sound, we need to put our tongue right behind our top teeth like this, watch me.”  Then help your child practice making that sound by itself over and over again.  If your child is having a hard time finding the right place to put his tongue, try putting a little peanut butter (or something else sticky) on the spot and have him lick it off.  Then you can remind him to put his tongue back in the place where the peanut butter was.  Once your child can say the sound by itself, have him practice saying the sound in a syllable, like “luh”, “lah”, or “lee”.  Once he can do this, you are ready to put the sound in a single word, like “leaf”.  This process may take a while, sometimes several weeks, so have patience and keep working!

These activities and more can be found on Speech and Language Kids!


If you or a loved one are looking for speech therapy, contact Christine Wilson today!


National Deaf Awareness Week

Screen Shot 2017-09-14 at 8.51.15 AM

Did you know, the last week of September is National Deaf Awareness Week? National Deaf Awareness Week is September 18th – 24th this year, which began THIS WEEK!

Deaf Awareness Week

Deaf Awareness Week, also called International Week of the Deaf (IWD), is celebrated annually the last full week of September (Monday through Sunday) and ends with International Day of the Deaf on the last Sunday of September. Deaf Awareness Week is celebrated by national and regional associations of the deaf, local communities, and individuals worldwide.


The first International Day of the Deaf was first celebrated by the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) in 1958. The day of awareness was later extended to a full week, becoming the International Week of the Deaf (IWD).

The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) is an international, non-governmental organization of national associations of Deaf people and is recognized by the United Nations (UN) as their spokes-organization to promote the human rights of Deaf people. The WFD is composed of 130 national associations of the deaf and represents approximately 70 million Deaf people worldwide.

International Week of the Deaf is recognized by Deaf communities internationally. The World Federation of the Deaf celebrates International Week of the Deaf the last week of September to commemorate the first World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf, which took place in September 1951. Many countries, like the United States, also celebrate the International Week of the Deaf the last week of September, but there are some countries that choose to observe the week at a different time.

National affiliates and regional partners of the World Federation of the Deaf help to lead International Day of the Deaf across the world. The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) represents the United States at the General Assembly and World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf and they promote Deaf Awareness Week in the United States.


The purpose of Deaf Awareness Week is to increase public awareness of deaf issues, people, and culture. Activities and events throughout Deaf Awareness Week encourage individuals to come together as a community for both educational events and celebrations.

Messages during Deaf Awareness Week include:

  • Celebrate the culture, heritage, and language unique to deaf people of the world.
  • Promote the rights of Deaf people throughout the world, including education for Deaf people, access to information and services, the use of sign languages, and human rights for Deaf people in developing countries.
  • Recognize achievements of deaf people, including famous deaf individuals.
  • Educate about the misconceptions of being deaf and the challenges the deaf population face during everyday life.
  • Learn about types, degrees, and causes of hearing loss.
  • Be exposed to sign language and other ways deaf and hard of hearing people communicate.
  • Learn about the types of educational programs, support services, and resources that are available to the deaf and hard of hearing community, including children.
  • Gain a better understanding of deaf culture.
  • Understand that deaf and hard of hearing individuals are just as capable, able, and intelligent as hearing individuals. There is a difference in the way those that are deaf and hard of hearing communicate, but it is not a handicap or disability.

This article can be found on https://www.signingsavvy.com/deafawarenessweek!

Speech Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

College Student with Disability

Written by: Jeff Rasansky


Speech Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy often affects the muscles of the mouth and tongue making it difficult or impossible to speak. Communication is just as important as mobility in helping a person with cerebral palsy live an independent lifestyle. Socialization depends on a person’s ability to interact with their peers. Since language is the primary form of communication, deficiencies can lead to isolation and depression.

Speech therapy is a very helpful and effective development tool for those with cerebral palsy. It helps many to communicate their thoughts and ideas on a day to day basis with the world.  CP affects the language centers of the brain which control speech.  Even a child with a mild case of cerebral palsy can have difficulty in choosing the correct words, and in most extreme cases someone’s capability to convey what they wish to say can be severely impeded.  These skills will assist them with learning, assisting on projects, communication skills with others, as well as make the individual feel as an important asset to the community in which they are involved in.

To help better the quality of life with a person with cerebral palsy, speech and language therapists are primarily focused on the individual’s communication skills, where they currently begin communication wise, and the potential of growing in the future.  Starting speech therapy early in a child’s life can benefit communication skills throughout their early adolescence, and continue into adulthood.

Communication skills are a combination of both conveying what one is wanting to say, as well as understanding others and the environment around them.  Speech therapists focus on both communication skills when working with a child.  Developing skills in understanding language, be it understanding verbal language or needing the use of simple clues of the situation at hand, are beginning stages in developing speech therapy.

Using aids in developing speech therapy is a way of learning that can be comfortable with someone with CP.  Activities such as encouraged speech, signing while speaking, electronic aids or a picture board are all useful learning aids when developing speech therapy with a child.  Children who communicate using more than one method of speaking, such as signing as they are speaking or pointing to objects to help describe what they are trying to say, are more likely to increase speech development skills over a child with CP who does not.

Studies have shown that a child with cerebral palsy, with the assistance of a therapist, can increase their oral motor skills and communication abilities by exercising the brain to both pronounce and interpret individual words, gestures, sounds, as well as everyday situations.  In addition, speech therapy can help improve the throat muscles in a child with CP, which will improve the function of the mouth, throat and movement involving breathing and swallowing – all of which can develop to be difficult later in adult life.

Cost of Therapy

Of course, speech therapy is one more expense, and can be out of reach for some. Many families were never able to successfully recover compensation from the doctor or hospital which caused the child’s cerebral palsy in the first place, placing the entire cost of therapy and care on the family.

A child or person with cerebral palsy can greatly benefit from speech therapy, both personally and with those they associate with daily.  It has also been shown that development in speech skills can aid in physical and mobility skills as well; any development in mental functioning will benefit the individual.  Speech therapy is strongly encouraged for all children living with cerebral palsy.

Football Speech Therapy Activities!

footballIt’s that time of year again, football season!!! As preseason comes to an end we celebrate the beginning of week one on September 7th, 2017. As the players tackle one another, let us tackle our speech therapy. Here are some fun football themed speech activities you can work on at home from Speech and Language Kids:

Football Activities #1:

Playing Catch While Practicing Speech: Speech Sound Practice

One of my favorite things to do when teaching a child a new sound, is to incorporate movement into the practice.  If you can get your child moving while practicing a sound or word, it will activate more parts of the brain and make the activity more enjoyable.  If your child enjoys football, try throwing a football back and forth while he practices.  Pick one sound for your child to learn at a time and work at your child’s ability level:

  • Isolation: If your child can’t say the sound in words yet, start with just saying the sound by itself.  You may have to talk your child through how to produce the sound (such as by saying “bite your bottom lip and blow” for the /f/ sound).  You can practice it in front of the mirror a few times to help your child learn how to say it.  Once he can do that, you will want to practice it over and over again so that it becomes natural for him.  This practice can be done while throwing the football back and forth.  For example, you could just say “fff” every time you throw the ball.
  • Syllables: If your child is able to say the sound by itself consistently, have her make some non-sense syllables with the sound while throwing the ball.  She could say “fuh, foh, foo” or “uhf, oof, eef”.
  • Words: Once your child can say the sound in syllables, have your child try the sound in words.  Practice one word each time you throw the ball.  You can do the same word several times in a row or pick a new word each time.  Try saying a word when you throw it and have your child imitate it back on his throw.
  • Sentences: When your child can consistently say the sound in words, have your child make up a sentence for a word that contains their sound each time they throw the ball.

If your child gets bored with this, try working in some fun into these football activities.  For example, after 10 throws, let him run the ball in for a touchdown!

Football Activities #2:

Answering Questions

Now, let’s work on answering some different “wh-“ questions during football activities.  This is a skill that is very difficult for many children with speech and language delays to learn.  You can help them by practicing at home and specifically teaching them what each “wh-“ question means.

  • Where Questions:  Tell your child that you are going to work on “where” questions.  Tell her that “where” means place so whenever she hears a “where” question, she should come up with a place.  Now, play hide and seek with the football.  Put the football in a location and ask your child “where is the football?”  When she finds the football, she will have to answer the question with a place: “It’s in the closet!”
  • Who Questions:  Now tell your child you are going to work on “who” questions.  Tell him that “who” means person so whenever he hears a “who” question, he should come up with a person.  Get your family (or friends) together and play some music while you pass the football around the circle.  Whenever the music stops, stop passing the football.  Ask your child, “Who has the football” and have your child name the person who has it.

If your child is working on “wh-“ questions at a higher level, try mixing the different types of questions together (sometimes ask where, sometimes ask who) or ask a variety of questions about a football game while you watch it on tv.  You could also look up pictures/videos of football games online and ask your child questions about those.

Football Activities #3

The Talking Football: Making Plans and Recalling Past Events

For this activity, you will need to pass around a football and have a prompt that everyone must talk about when they have the football.  For example, you could pass around a football at the end of the day and everyone must say one fun and exciting thing that happened in their day.  Or, you could pass around the football in the morning and everyone must talk about one thing they plan on doing that day when they get the football.  Just make sure that the person who has the football has the stage and everyone else must listen to the person with the football.  This will make sure your child gets a chance to speak and be heard.  That is often something that our children with speech and language delays miss out on because they can’t keep up with the speed of a normal conversation.


If you or a loved one is in need of speech therapy, look no further. Please, do not hesitate to contact Christine Wilson today to start your game plan for speech therapy!