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Ways to know if your child needs a Speech evaluation

Every child develops their abilities to communicate at their own pace. Developmental milestones may appear before or after the typical age-ranges depending on the child. While some delays are common, others may be reason for concern and require specialized intervention as early as possible.  The question then becomes, how do you know when to seek out a professional speech and language evaluation?

At Milestone Therapy Group, we believe the first step to helping children with speech and language delays and disorders is early identification followed by suitable intervention. 

Below is a brief overview of typical communicative milestones to look for at every stage of your child’s growth. If you feel that your child is falling behind on their speech and language development based off of these milestones, it may be time to seek out a speech evaluation with Milestone Therapy Group. 

  At 12 to 15 months

 – Responds to a person’s presence with smiles or waves

– Follows simple spoken commands

– Speaks their first words

– Gestures or points to communicate

– Attempts to imitate words

At 18 to 24 months

– Speaks about 50 words

– Can identify familiar items including pets, toys and body parts

– Begins combining words into 2-3 word phrases

– Answers simple yes/no questions with a head shake or words

At 2 years

 – Answers simple “what” and “where” questions

– Begins combining words into 3-4 word phrases

– Uses over 100 words

– Begins using descriptive words

At 3 years

– Can follow simple 2 step directions

– Uses sentences of 3 or more words

– Asking ‘what’ and ‘where’ questions

– Responds to ‘who’ questions

– Sequences recent events

– Uses over 300 words

At 4 years

– Frequently uses full sentences to communicate.

– Understands the function of objects

– Uses personal pronouns

– Answers questions about quantity

At 5 years

– Follows three part instructions

– Understands concepts related to time

– Tells simple stories complete with a beginning middle and end

– Uses verb tenses correctly

– Learns to read

 We hope this article helps to familiarize you with the milestones of language development in children. If you feel that your child may be falling behind in acquisition of these language skills, contact us at Milestone Therapy Group. Our licensed and qualified speech therapist has helped countless children to increase their speech and language skills . Please feel free to book a consultation or speech evaluation with our therapists. Whether you have concerns about your child’s progression through these milestones or are looking to improve your child’s functional communication, we at Milestone Therapy Group are here to provide you and your child with the tools to communicate.

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How to help your child if he/she has a Lisp

A common type of  speech sound impairment that can be easily recognized is a Lisp. This functional speech impairment generally affects children and adults and their ability to correctly pronounce certain sounds. At Milestone Therapy Group, we’re committed to helping children affected by  Lisps through licensed and certified speech therapists with considerable experience in handling a range of speech and language disorders. Here’s a short compilation of facts and practices that will help you understand the problem of Lisping and take the right steps towards helping your child overcome this speech sound impairment.

The types

Lisping can be categorized into four primary types:

 * Frontal lisp – which occurs when the child pushes the tongue too far forward, making a “th” sound when trying to speak words with S or Z in them.

* Lateral lisp – which occurs when extra air slides over the child’s tongue when making S and Z sounds, making it sound like there is excess saliva.

*Palatal lisp – which happens when the child touches the tongue to the roof of the mouth when making S and Z sounds. 

 *Dental lisp – This lisp sounds like a frontal lisp. The difference is that instead of pushing the tongue through the teeth, it is pressing against the teeth.

The signs

*Inability to pronounce consonants like s, z, sh, l, r and ch

The possible causes

Some of the factors that can lead to a lisp are:

*Excessive thumb sucking

*Overuse of pacifiers

*Structural irregularities of the tongue, palate or teeth

*Mild hearing loss for a brief period

*Prolonged bottle feeding

Ways to reduce or eliminate a lisp in a child

*Don’t lose your patience

 Be patient and understanding when your child is trying to communicate and remain engaged as you do not want to impede or discourage their efforts to speak or communicate better. 

*Improve your child’s confidence and be supportive

Your child’s sense of self-confidence is directly linked to his/her feelings. So, try to make your child feel loved as much as you can and be supportive. When your child feels good, they will make an effort to speak or communicate better. 

*Ensure extra care 

You could help improve your child’s learning experience by speaking to your child’s teacher and requesting a speech and language evaluation to assist your child in learning strategies to help change their sound production. 

*Schedule periodic dental check-ups

Check for the alignment of your child’s teeth periodically. 

While the practices stated above may help bring about some degree of change or improvement, you would still need to visit a qualified and experienced speech therapy expert to help your child effectively overcome the problem of Lisping. At Milestone Therapy Group, we came into existence with the sole purpose of helping children with a lisp and other types of speech sound disorders find their path to normal and healthy childhoods. Our licensed and certified Speech Language Pathologist has successfully treated and helped many children. Book a consultation with us and let’s get started helping your child take those first steps towards producing clear speech sounds and increasing their confidence.

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How to know if your child needs an occupational therapy evaluation

As a parent, you want to see your child grow and develop without challenges. Therefore, you may feel concerned if you notice delays in your child’s skills at an age when these are either supposed to be forming or be in place. But how do you know whether what you are seeing needs a professional evaluation?

Many parents and caregivers have heard about Occupational Therapy services but aren’t quite sure exactly what an OT does. Occupational Therapy works with individuals on their Occupations and occupations look different at every age. In pediatric Occupational Therapy, the plan of care is to help support a child’s participation in daily routines and activities. At Milestone Therapy Group, we believe that the first step to helping children succeed is timely identification of needs and intervention. Below is a brief overview of some areas of development that an Occupational Therapy evaluation or ongoing OT sessions could address. 

  • Helping Infants Meet Developmental Milestones
  • Tolerating tummy time
  • Rolling, sitting, crawling and walking
  • Visually tracking toys
  • Reaching or moving to get to toys

Feeding and Mealtime Routines

  • Latching to accept breast or bottle for feedings
  • Introducing purees and table foods (accepting food off the spoon and progression of textures).
  • Self-feeding: finger foods and utensil use
  • Picky eaters: increasing the variety or volume of foods a child is eating
  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing food
  • Difficulty in drinking from a cup or drinking from a straw

Fine Motor

  • Difficulty reach, grasping and manipulating toys
  • Completing toys such as a shape sorter or puzzle
  • Grasp on crayons and pencils
  • Copying simple pre writing strokes and progressing to handwriting (forming letters)
  • Bilateral Coordination skills: lacing/stringing beads and snipping/cutting with scissors

Gross Motor 

  • Walking and Running
  • Jumping
  • Walking up and down the stairs
  • Throwing and catching a ball
  • Decreased balance and coordination

Social Skills

  • Difficulty at home, daycare, preschool or school with:
  • Following classroom routine and directions
  • Transitioning between activities
  • Sharing toys with peers
  • Sitting to attend to adult directed tasks
  • Prefers to be self-directed
  • Limited eye contact

Sensory 

  • Hypersensitive or under responsive to sensory input
  • Heightened sensitivity to sound, touch or movement
  • Doesn’t like to have hands, face or clothing messy
  • Under responsive to certain sensations like pain
  • Difficulty coping with change or transitions
  • Inability to stay calm
  • Constantly moving, jumping or crashing

Dressing

  • Difficulty cooperating in dressing and undressing routines
  • Unable to dress themselves independently (when age appropriate)
  • Difficulty managing fasteners: zipper, buttons and or snaps

We hope this article will guide you to understanding whether an occupational therapy evaluation is what your child needs at this moment. In fact, if you really want to be sure, you could even speak to us at Milestone Therapy Group. Our licensed and qualified occupational therapist has helped countless children meet their goals! Please feel free to book a consultation with us and let’s get started helping your child discover the path to healthy growth and development.

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Facts, Reasons and Practices if your child has Speech Delay – Alalia

Speech delay or Alalia refers to a condition where the child has difficulty using the lungs, vocal chords, mouth, tongue or teeth to produce sounds or speech. This condition causes the child to be slow in picking up words and also lack the ability to shape the mouth and tongue to produce normal speech. At Milestone Therapy Group, we’re committed to helping children affected by Speech Delay (Alalia) and  other speech disorders through licensed and certified speech therapists with years of successful treatment experience. Here’s a short compilation of facts and practices that will help you understand the problem of Speech Delay and take the right steps towards helping your child handle this speech disorder. 

The signs

*Absence of usual sounds by the age of 15 months 

*No talking by the age of 2 years 

*Inability to speak short sentences by 3 years 

*Difficulty putting words in a sentence 

*Poor articulation 

*Showing preference to gesticulation over verbalization

*Displaying difficulty in imitating sounds and actions

*Inability to follow simple directions 

The causes 

Some factors that may bring about speech delay in a child include:

*Physical abnormality in the mouth such as a deformed frenulum, lips, or palate

* Oral-motor dysfunction, which is a lack or delay in the area of the brain where speech is formed and communicated to the mouth and tongue

*Prenatal traumas (before birth)

*Perinatal traumas (immediately before or after birth)

*Difficult deliveries

*Hearing loss

*Viral and infectious diseases 

*Brain traumas in the post-natal period (after birth)

Ways to help a child with speech delay

*Use flashcards or labels 

Using flashcards to label objects around your home is a great way to help your child identify things and speak out these words. The more your child speaks and repeats new words, the better he or she will get at speech abilities. 

*Turn play time into learning time

Kids are receptive to learning both verbal and non-verbal interactions when they play. Verbalizing play actions like ‘catch the ball’ or ‘give me the plane’ will help your child learn and speak newer words and phrases. 

*Keep it short and simple

Make sure that the words you speak with your child are short, simple and audible. This will help your child connect better with you, which in turn will impact the way your child learns to emulate your speech and language. 

*Use everyday situations

Try and talk to your child as much as possible about the things your child sees and hears through the day. For example, speak out the names of things that you purchase, the foods you prepare, the objects around your home as you do your cleaning routine and so on. 

*Read to your child

Use books, preferably the kind that’ll allow you to point and name pictures for your child to understand and pick up. 

The practices listed above may work to an extent in helping your child cope better with the problem of Speech Delay (Alalia). However, we recommend you book a consultation with a licensed and certified speech therapist to give your child the best chance of overcoming this speech disorder. At Milestone Therapy Group, we are passionately dedicated to helping children with Speech and Language Delay and other speech disorders find their path to normal and healthy childhoods. Our family of licensed and certified speech therapists has grown over the years and so has the number of children getting successfully treated under our caring and expert watch. Do feel free to speak with us and let’s get started helping your child take those first steps towards speaking without difficulties. 

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5 most common types of speech and language disorders

The ability of speech enables us to interact with the world around us; learn from it, bond with it, contribute to it and be a part of it. It’s an ability that’s programmed to develop naturally within us and yet, in some children, this ability doesn’t progress as well as it’s expected to. Speech disorders are common in today’s world and 1 in 12 kids and teens in the US are affected by the disability to make fluent communication. At Milestone Therapy Group, we’re committed to helping children affected by varying types of speech disorders through licensed and certified speech therapists with considerable experience in handling speech disabilities. Here’s a short compilation of the most common speech disorders afflicting children in America today.

1.

Stuttering or Stammering

This is perhaps the easiest to spot among a range of speech disorders. And fortunately, also the  least worrisome. Close to 10% of American children get affected by stuttering at some point, between the ages of 3 and 6 years. The good news is, a large percentage of these children are cured of this speech disorder by the time they turn into adults. But yes, both children and parents do have to go through the phase of social awkwardness, the extent of which would vary from child to child.

The watch-outs: *Repetition of consonants like K, G or T *Inclusion of ‘uh’ or ‘um’ a bit too frequently into sentences *Hesitation or pause before speaking *Stretching of certain spoken words *Excessive eye blinking *Lip tremors *Tension in the face and upper body *Stress in the voice

2.

Apraxia of Speech

Have you ever wondered how every time you communicate, your speech occurs at virtually the same time as your thoughts? It’s like the connection between your brain and mouth is instantaneous. This feat of human engineering  is made possible by the neural pathway between the brain and your speech muscles. In some children however, this neural bridge loses its functionality and as  a result, the messages of the brain do not get relayed to the muscles that ultimately convert these signals into full and proper speech. So, the child knows what to speak but is unable to convert his or her thoughts, emotions and experiences into words and sentences.

The watch-outs: *Different pronunciation of the same word every time *Shorter words spoken more clearly than longer ones *Stress on the wrong syllable or word *Distortion or change in sounds *Delayed language ability *Problems with reading, spelling & writing *Difficulty with fine motor skills.

3.

Dysarthria

Wake your child out of deep sleep and ask a question. Chances are you’ll get an answer that rolls out lazily or incoherently off the child’s tongue. But this isn’t Dysarthria, it’s just a case of broken sleep. Dysarthria involves something a lot more serious – muscle or nerve damage to the muscles that control the process of speaking, namely the diaphragm, lips, tongue and vocal chords. Conditions for Dysarthria can begin as early as the womb stage or shortly after birth, owing to conditions such as muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy.

The watch-outs: *Slurred or slow speech *Speaking either too soft or too loud *Rapid incomprehensible speech *Nasal, raspy or strained voice *Uneven or abnormal rhythm of speech *Uneven speech volume *Difficulty moving either the tongue or facial muscles.

4.

Lisping

Another common type of disorder that can be easily recognized is lisping. To explain this condition with an example, the word ‘lisp’ itself would be pronounced as ‘lithp’ by the affected child. This disorder is characterized by the inability to correctly pronounce the sounds of letters like ‘s’ or ‘z’, known as sibilant consonants. In fact, a child with a lisping disorder would substitute the sibilant consonants with a ‘th’. Other sounds that get affected include sh, l, r and ch. The probable causes of lisping range from overuse of pacifiers to thumb sucking to prolonged bottle feeding to structural irregularities of the tongue, just to name a few. Treatment for lisping includes pronunciation training, speech muscle strengthening and other specialized techniques.

5.

Speech Delay – Alalia

A child’s first spoken word is something every parent eagerly waits to experience. From ‘mama’ to ‘dada’, these first words also indicate that the child’s development is taking place at the appropriate pace. Now, if speech development proceeds normally, a child should be speaking 3 to 5 words by the time he or she is a year old and 15 to 20 words by 15 months of age. Any lesser means the child is suffering from speech delay, also referred to as Alalia. Some factors that may bring about speech delay in a child include prenatal traumas (before birth), perinatal traumas (immediately before or after birth), difficult deliveries, hearing loss, viral and infectious diseases and brain traumas in the postnatal period (after birth).

The watch-outs: *Absence of usual babbling by the age of 15 months *No talking by the age of 2 years *Inability to speak short sentences by 3 years *Difficulty putting words in a sentence *Poor articulation

If you have a child who exhibits any of the above-mentioned speech disorders, you need to begin speech therapy as soon as possible. At Milestone Therapy Group, we come with a fully certified and vastly experienced team of speech therapy professionals, a culture of healing that involves the fun-play approach and above all, the drive to give your child a better and happier childhood. So, schedule a call with us at the soonest and do give us the opportunity to help your child overcome his or her challenges on the path to a happier and better life.

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Symptoms, Causes and Ways to help treat your child’s Apraxia disorder.

This speech disorder is characterized by the child’s disability to convert thoughts, emotions and needs into words and sentences. A child with an AOS disorder knows what to say but has trouble moving the lips, jaw or tongue in the proper way to say it. At Milestone Therapy Group, we’re passionately driven to helping children affected by Apraxia of Speech (AOS) and other speech disorders through licensed and certified speech therapists with years of successful treatment experience. Here’s a short compilation of facts and practices that will help you understand the problem of Apraxia and take the right steps towards helping your child handle this speech disorder.

The signs

*Different pronunciation of the same word every time

*Shorter words spoken more clearly than longer ones

*Stress on the wrong syllable or word

*Distortion or change in sounds

*Delayed language ability

*Problems with reading, spelling & writing

*Difficulty with fine motor skills

The causes

Apraxia of Speech may have any of the following causes.

Brain injury: It may be the result of neurological conditions such as an injury, stroke or infections.

Genetic disorder: Apraxia may also result due to a genetic disorder, syndrome or metabolic condition.

Ways to help reduce Apraxia in children

*Use Alternative or Augmentative Communication (AAC)

One way to help your child improve consistency of communication is by using gestures, sign language, pictures or even a communication device. Helping your child find more means to communicate will bring down anxiety and frustration and improve the way he or she communicates.

*Turn your questions into comments

When a child finds it hard to speak or communicate, asking too many questions may feel demanding for the child and lead to anxiety and possibly, even a breakdown. One way to tackle this challenge is to turn your question into a comment. For example, instead of asking “What is that?” you could state “That is a dog” or instead of “What color is your shirt?” say “You’re wearing a green shirt today!”.

*Avoid the wrong times to communicate

Do not attempt to make your child communicate when he or she is in a tired or emotional state. At such times, use alternate ways of communication like gesturing to interact with your child, instead of making your child feel forced to speak.

*Get your child in a ready state to learn

You could help your child feel more excited or ready to learn new things by ensuring proper sleep, play and rest routines. Children feel calmer when they get used to routines that they like and so making learning feel like a part of an interesting routine will help your child approach communication with a more open attitude and a less anxious mind.

While the practices stated above may help bring about some degree of change or improvement, you would still need to visit a qualified and experienced speech therapy expert to help your child effectively and permanently overcome the problem of Apraxia of Speech. At Milestone Therapy Group, we came into existence with the sole purpose of helping children with AOS and other types of speech disorders find their path to normal and healthy childhoods. Our family of licensed and certified speech therapists has grown over the years and so has the number of children getting successfully treated under our caring and expert watch. Do feel free to book a consultation with us and let’s get started helping your child take those first steps towards speaking without challenges.