Archive for October, 2017

Red Flags of Autism

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

Autism Kid

  • No babbling by 11 months of age
  • No simple gestures by 12 months (e.g., waving bye-bye)
  • No single words by 16 months
  • No 2-word phrases by 24 months (noun + verb – e.g., “baby sleeping”)
  • No response when name is called, causing concern about hearing
  • Loss of any language or social skills at any age
  • Odd or repetitive ways of moving fingers or hands
  • Oversensitive to certain textures, sounds or lights
  • Lack of interest in toys, or plays with them in an unusual way (e.g., lining up, spinning, opening/closing parts rather than using the toy as a whole)
  • Compulsions or rituals (has to perform activities in a special way or certain sequence; is prone to tantrums if rituals are interrupted)
  • Preoccupations with unusual interests, such as light switches, doors, fans, wheels
  • Unusual fears
  • Rarely makes eye contact when interacting with people
  • Does not play peek-a-boo
  • Doesn’t point to show things he/she is interested in
  • Rarely smiles socially
  • More interested in looking at objects than at people’s faces
  • Prefers to play alone
  • Doesn’t make attempts to get parent’s attention; doesn’t follow/look when someone is pointing at something
  • Seems to be “in his/her own world”
  • Doesn’t respond to parent’s attempts to play, even if relaxed
  • Avoids or ignores other children when they approach

How a Speech Therapist Can Help

The Speech Therapist will assess the child’s speech, language and communication skills and provide services to effect significant changes within the following areas:

  • Speech – articulation and intelligibility of speech
  • Language skills – the understanding and use of language (also known as receptive/comprehension and expressive skills)
  • Communication skills – requesting skills, commenting, conversational skills, etc.
  • The social use of language – pragmatic language skills
  • Reading skills – the ability to decode words and read with meaning/comprehension
  • Written language skills – the ability to write for a variety of purposes
  • Vocal quality – the rate, rhythm, and speaking style
  • Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) – sign language, Picture Exchange Communication System, voice-output devices such as GoTalk or iPad/iPhone with Proloquo2go.

Therapy sessions can be individual, or can take place in a small or large group settings.

It is so important to keep in mind that no one person with Autism is the same. Each person is unique in their strengths and areas of difficulty and there is a wide range of levels of impairment. Many children with Autism are quite intelligent and can be successful and competent adults.

This blog post is written by
Jasmine Mallik
Speech Language Pathologist

Toddler Talking Tips for Parents!

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

Toddler with Mother

  • Read! Choose colourful books with large simple photos or drawings. Talk about the pictures rather than reading the text.
  • Wait! Don’t anticipate our child’s needs. Delay your response to your child’s pointing, gestures or babbling when he wants things. Pretend you don’t understand what he wants. Allow enough time for him to process information and find the words that he needs to say.
  • Self Talk. Talk out-loud about what you are seeing, hearing, doing and feeling when your child is in earshot, this will help increase receptive language.
  • Parallel Talk. Talk out-loud about what is happening to your child. Describe what he is doing, seeing, hearing and feeling when he is in earshot.
  • Praise your child. Respond to your child’s speech attempts with non-verbal and verbal praise. This will encourage his to try and communicate more.
  • Expansion Modelling. Try and add one to two words to what our child says when responding back to him. For Example: Child says “daddy” and you say “daddy home.”
  • Sing to your child. Children love music! Songs promote vocal play, imitation, attention, listening and speech. For example: “The Itisy Bitsy Spider,” “Twinkle, Twinkle little star” or “The Wheels on The Bus.”
  • Use Sign Language. The use of sign language can help bridge the gap between language and speech. Sign language has been found to encourage language development not hinder it. It improves IQ by 13 points!
  • Ask open-ended questions. You want to encourage your child to use his words and to avoid answering yes/no questions. For example ask; “What do you want?” as opposed to “Do you want the ball?”
  • Don’t pressure your child. Communication should be fun and interactive. Don’t ask your child more than 3 times to answer a question. Children tune out when they feel pressured.

Tips for helping your child with speech clarity

Maybe YOU can understand your child but no one else can. Speaking clearly takes a lot of brain power, and a lot of coordination. Think about it, every time you want to say something, your brain has to think of the words, think of how to put the words together, then your brain has to tell your lips and tongue where to go and how to move for EVERY SOUND! It is complex and as adults we take it for granted. When young children are learning to talk, speech clarity often takes a back seat. When children’s sounds are developing, omissions, substitutions or inconsistent productions are common.

Before 3 years of age, the following sound errors or patterns are very common.

Deleting final consonants (e.g., “ha” for “hat”)
Deleting the unstressed syllable (e.g. “nana” for “banana”)
Consonant Assimilation (e.g., “tat” for “cat”)
Repeating sounds or syllables (e.g. “baba” for “bottle”)
At 18 months of age you should be able to understand your child 25% of the time, at 2 years of age, 50-75% of the time, and at 3 years of age you should be able to understand your child 75-100% of the time.

Early 8 Sounds

Emerging development between ages 1-3 with consistent production ~3
/m/ as in “milk”
/b/ as in “baby”
/y/ as in “you”
/n/ as in “no”
/w/ as in “we”
/d/ as in “dada”
/p/ as in “pat”
/h/ at in “hi”

Middle 8 Sounds

Emerging Development Between ages 3-6 1⁄2 with Consistent production ~age51⁄2
/t/ as in “toe”
/ng/ as in “hopping”
/k/ as in “cup”
/g/ as in “go”
/f/ as in “fan”
/v/ as in “van”
/ch/ as in “chop”
/j/ as in “jump”
/s/ as in “see”

Late 8 Sounds

Emerging Development between ages 5 -7 1⁄2 with Consistent production ~age71⁄2
/sh/ as in “shoe”
/th/ as in “think”
/th/ as in “that”
/r/ as in “red”
/z/ as in “zipper”
/l/ as in “lap”
“zh” as in “measure”

Below are some ideas on how you can help a child who has unclear speech. It will give you some general ideas before seeing a Speech Therapist.

  • Get down to your child’s level, so your child can see your mouth. Visual models can reinforce how to properly say certain sounds.
  • Speak in a slow but natural way so your child is encouraged to speak at the same rate. Speaking quickly requires more refined coordination.
  • Instead of asking your child to repeat the word, model the word back emphasizing the sound in error correctly (e.g., Your child says, “I want the big tar”, you can say, “You want the big Car?”.
  • If you know your child can say the sound, you can give him/her choices (e.g. Do you want the “tar” or the “car”?) If they aren’t able to say the sound, offering choices would not be very helpful.
  • If you have understood part of his sentence/conversation, repeat it back to him/her so he/she knows you have understood him. Building confidence is important so he/she keeps trying.
  • Don’t’ pretend to understand but rather ask your child to “show you” what he/she wants.
  • Use contextual and environmental cues as well as facial expressions and intonation to help you to figure out your child’s message.
  • Promote good hearing. Good hearing is essential for the development of normal articulation. If you are concerned with your child’s articulation skills, it is always a good idea to have his/her hearing assessed.


This blog post is written by
Jasmine Mallik
Speech Language Pathologist