Are Ye Ready? Pirates are Not Just About RRRRRRRR’s Me Heartie!

Posted by on Sep 16, 2017 in Articulation Disorder, Blogs, Early Intervention, Emergent Literacy, Language Delay/Disorders, Speech-Language Therapy, Therapy Activities | 0 comments

  As International Talk Like a Pirate Day approaches (September 19th, this year and every year!), I am inspired to talk about how much fun it is to use a pirate theme in speech-language therapy, with younger kids and older kids, alike. Lessonpix is an amazing resource for pirate pictures (and many other themes) which you can use to make custom materials for your kiddos. I am attaching some samples here for you to check out. I like to use a pirate treasure map to work on following directions, pirate stick puppets to work on pronouns, grammar and syntax, pirate actions or roleplaying to work on particular sounds, and pirate sorting to work on pronouns or the possessive “‘s”. The list of pirate fun is endless and children of all ages seem to love it, thanks to popular culture such as Pirates of the Caribbean and Peter Pan. Another resource I would like to mention is Tar Heel Reader, good for younger children but especially useful for older school-age kids. What is a Tar Heel you say? At least that is what I said when I heard this term for the first time. It is the nickname for a person from North Carolina, originating back to the Colonial days of the state when tar was a major product extracted from the extensive pine forests. Tar Heel Reader is an amazing website providing a collection of free easy-to-read books on almost any topic. Well, shiver me timbers, I found an excellent pirate story on Tar Heel Reader for working on the  “r” sound with school-age children, written by Jane Farrall, called R is Really Important. My favourite line from the book: “Every pirate needs a chart, but without the R it’s just a chat”. Pirate cleverness in it’s finest form! I hope I have inspired you to have some pirate fun, whether it’s for speech-language therapy, or just in playing with your children. Enjoy International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and get your pirate on!   Fare thee well and thanks for reading! Cindy McCallum, M.Sc., R.SLP, SLP(C) Registered Speech-Language...

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“Toy Story”: Which Toys are Better for My Child?

Posted by on Apr 2, 2016 in Blogs, Early Intervention, Language Delay/Disorders, Social Skills, Speech and Language Development, Therapy Activities | 0 comments

We live in a technological world and technology is everywhere, including children’s toys.  There are talking toys, baby laptops, children’s cellphones and blackberries, noisy toys, robotic toys………the list goes on. But are these actually the best ones for our children in terms of developing their speech and language skills? It turns out the answer is a resounding “no”.  Recent research out of Northern Arizona University compared both parent language and child language during play with traditional toys, books and electronic toys. The results showed that electronic toys result in less language and a poorer quality of language for both the parents and children. Traditional toys and books are simply better! The researchers go so far as to discourage using electronic toys with children. Check out the article at the websites listed below. As a parent and a speech-language pathologist, I have never been drawn to noisy electronic toys.  I have an affinity for books and good old-fashioned toys, both of which I use in my therapy. Of course I still use games like Pop-Up Pirate and Hungry Hippos, but these are not really high tech! The Melissa & Doug puzzle set pictured here is my latest addition to my therapy stash of traditional toys, and my young toddler clients love it!  The possibilities for language and speech development are endless, and it can be used in so many different ways for a variety of communication goals. One of the reasons I think traditional toys may be better, is that there is so much more to say about them, whereas electronic toys do the talking for you. Or due to the noise other toys make, there is no need for either the parent or child to talk. Plus traditional toys provide so many more options for developing creative pretend play, also linked to language development. So pull out those old-fashioned, traditional toys, play with your child, and watch your child’s language bloom!   Thanks for reading , happy playing and happy spring! Cindy McCallum, M.Sc., R-SLP, SLP-C, CCC-SLP Registered Speech-Language Pathologist   Sources: Basic, Non-Electronic Toys May be Better for Parent-Toddler Communication...

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Happy New Year!

Posted by on Jan 10, 2016 in Blogs, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Happy New Year from WiseOwlSpeech! As many of you know, 2015 was a year of big change as we moved from Denver, Colorado back to Calgary, Alberta. As well, my WiseOwlSpeech Facebook page reached a new milestone in 2015 with over 200 “Likes”! Having this many readers enjoy and support my page has been amazing and rewarding, and totally unexpected. Thank you so much for your support! As you can see from this picture, my little owl family continues to grow, thanks to my clients and friends. So from all of us, to all of you, best wishes for a fantastic year in 2016! Cindy McCallum, M.Sc., R.SLP, SLP(C), CCC-SLP Registered Speech-Language...

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“Asperger’s is Not a Disability”

Posted by on Dec 15, 2015 in Asperger's Syndrome, Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Blogs, Social Skills | 0 comments

While I was living in the United States for the past 6 years, I missed listening to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, aka CBC Radio. Now that I am back in Calgary, I look forward to listening to CBC as I drive across the city to see my clients for speech-language therapy. Believe me, that’s a lot of driving and therefore, a lot of CBC! Call me a nerd, (and you wouldn’t be the first to do so!), but I love the interesting, original and poig…nant stories CBC produces. Take today for instance. As part of an ongoing segment on autism, they interviewed an 11-year-old boy from Alberta, about what it’s like to have Asperger’s Syndrome, and he read his story live on the radio. His story brought tears to my eyes, not due to his autism, but due to how he is treated because of his autism. Here is Devin’s story. Let me know what you think. Thanks for reading, Cindy McCallum, M.Sc., R.SLP, SLP(C), CCC-SLP Registered Speech-Language...

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New Ways to “Carve” a Turkey: It’s All About Misunderstanding

Posted by on Oct 31, 2015 in Blogs, Early Intervention, Language Delay/Disorders | 0 comments

Happy Halloween from Wise Owl Speech! I love this cute cartoon which seems appropriate given that today is Halloween, and that Thanksgiving in Canada was not too long ago and approaching quickly in the United States. As a speech-language pathologist, I can see that there are a couple of things going on here, aside from the possibility that the guy had a few too many glasses of wine before dinner! The well-meaning gentleman clearly did not understand what his wife meant by the word “carve”, which happens to have more than one meaning in the English language, depending on the context. English is fun like that! So many words have different meanings, which is one of the reasons English is so hard to learn. Language comprehension is a critical component of successful communication and it involves many different aspects all working together, such as hearing, listening, attention, memory, language processing, vocabulary, sentence structure, and context. So complicated! No wonder many children prone to learning difficulties have language comprehension challenges. Language comprehension is an area I frequently target with my preschool clients. Building comprehension is extremely beneficial for so many other skills, and for children to learn successfully in school. Since comprehension of oral language is the foundation for all other aspects of successful communication, such as oral language expression, reading and writing, what should parents look for in their young children? When does comprehension start to develop? I’m sure that it is no surprise that language comprehension begins to develop at birth. The early stages involve such behaviors as responding to voices and sound at 1 month of age and responding differently to angry voices versus pleasant voices by age 3 to 5 months. But then, language comprehension seems to explode, as young babies of 8 months are able to understand “no” and their own names, and “bye-bye” by age 9 months. By 11- 12 months of age, most children are able to follow simple instructions, such as “get your shoes” or “give that to me”. By age 3 to 4 years, children understand up to 1500 words and complex sentences, and by age 5 to 6 years, 2500-2800 words and very complicated sentences. Once school-aged, a child starts to learn and be able to talk about language itself, such as the fact that words can have different meanings, depending on the context, even though they sound the same and have the same spelling. If you have concerns about your child’s comprehension, please get your child’s hearing checked and have him or her seen for a complete speech and language assessment by a qualified speech-language pathologist. Early intervention is critical for helping your child catch up to peers. For more information on language development and the development of comprehension, please check out Speech-Language and Audiology Canada (SAC) and the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA). Thanks for reading! And enjoy Halloween. Next time you carve a turkey, you may want to be a little more creative! Cindy McCallum, M.Sc., R.SLP, SLP(C), CCC-SLP Registered Speech-Language...

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“ARRRR!”: Pirate Talk and a Speech-Language Pathology Challenge

Posted by on Sep 19, 2015 in Articulation Disorder, Blogs, Early Intervention, Speech and Language Development, Speech Delay, Speech Language Pathology, Speech Sound Disorders, Speech-Language Therapy | 0 comments

Avast Me Hearties! And Happy “International Talk Like a Pirate Day”! Yes, this really is an annual, bona fide event, and one that I have been waiting for all year.  And I happen to have friends that are experts in “pirate lingo”, the key to which is a great /r/ sound. ARRRR! The /r/ sound is one that is a common error sound for many children, and one that children may not outgrow. Although 75% of children master /r/ by age 4 years, I see children and adults all the time wherever I go and on television, who did not outgrow their /r/ problem. They tend to substitute a /w/ sound or produce a sound that is half-way between a /w/ and an /r/. I can’t help but think, oh, I could help that person! /r/ happens to be one of the most difficult sounds in the English language to learn, if not THE most difficult. It’s no wonder that /r/ is challenging. There are many reasons for this, the first being that for other sounds in the English there is a definitive contact point for the articulators. For the /l/ sound, the tongue needs to touch the alveolar ridge directly behind the upper central incisors. For the /p, b, m/ sounds, the lips are pressed together. For the /k, g/ sounds, the back of the tongue rises up to touch the roof of the mouth or the palate. And so on. Not so for /r/. The /r/ sound does require that the sides of the back of the tongue spread out and touch the upper back molars, but that is the only point of contact, and that is not enough! As well, the tongue needs to either bunch up towards the back of the mouth or curl up and back, in the center of the mouth with no other point of contact. And there needs to be strength or tension in the tongue. To complicate matters further, there are many different /r/ sounds depending on the word position and the preceding vowel. It’s enough to make a grown pirate cry! My own daughters substituted a /w/ for an /r/ as preschoolers. Being the keener SLP that I am, I wanted them to master the /r/ sound before they entered kindergarten. We never ever sat down to work on /r/; rather I approached it indirectly, such as pointing out objects that had the /r/ sound during daily activities such as driving or reading. Every once in awhile, I asked them to imitate a word containing /r/. After about 6 months, they each mastered the /r/ sound when they were exactly 4 ½ years old! Genetics playing a role here? Probably! Some children will be able to learn /r/ in an indirect approach like this, but most will need speech therapy. Even though /r/ typically develops at around age 4, a child needs to be older to participate in /r/ therapy, usually around age 7 years. This is because /r/ is complicated to learn and the child needs to be able to follow complex instructions on tongue placement. Therapy for /r/ can be challenging and take some time, but the end result is worth it! Speaking clearly with a good /r/ sound is important for many reasons. Children may be bullied due to speech differences, and academic performance could be affected. Older children and adults with articulation errors may be stereotyped as being less intelligent or less capable. So…..shiver me timbers! Weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen! Don’t hornswaggle ye lads and lassies! In other words, if you have a...

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