Communication Breakthrough for Autism?

Communication Breakthrough for Autism?

Parents of autistic children have many questions. How much does my child understand? Does he know what’s going on? How much is getting through? When a child can’t communicate in a traditional way, it can be difficult to make a connection or even understand basic needs and wants. But much in the way mothers can understand the pre-speech needs of their babies, they may also be able to understand communication clues from non-verbal autistic children.

A new video test aims to study autistic toddlers and children to shed light on the extent to which autistic non-verbal children understand communication. A video-article published in JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments) demonstrates language comprehension assessment in toddlers and young autistic children. Read More

The Best Speech-Language Pathology Schools in the Country

The Best Speech-Language Pathology Schools in the Country

The U.S. News and World Report put out a listing of the highest ranked SLP schools in 2012. Schools are ranked based on indicators of academic excellence, using a weighted scale to identify the importance of each of the 16 considerations. Here are the top schools. Read More

Building your Brand as a Practitioner

Building your Brand as a Practitioner

When you think “brand,” you probably picture iconic symbols, like Coca-Cola, Starbucks, or FedEx, right? Do you think of your own name and reputation as a brand? If you don’t, you’re behind the curve and losing ground fast. Today’s market is all about credibility, and to build credibility, individuals and small businesses must establish and build a personal brand. It takes diligence to establish a reputation, but the potential payoff is big. Really big. Career-making big. And thanks to the Web, all you have to do is share your experiences and knowledge. Read More

Special Needs Students Where ESL is a Factor

 Special Needs Students Where ESL is a Factor

Students with speech and language difficulties, hearing or cognitive impairment, physical limitations, or neurological disorders are always a challenge, but what happens when the student’s native language is not English? Add ESL issues, and treatment can really get sticky.

Making generalizations is difficult, because Limited English Proficiency (LEP) students come from diverse ethnic, economic, and home environment backgrounds. Some potential factors that affect a student’s ability to respond to therapy include:

  • Age – Older children will have a harder time adapting to a new language and an unfamiliar environment. Children under 12 typically acquire language more easily. Than older children and adults.
  • Native language – the language spoken at home is a factor. Some languages are closer to English in origin, structure, and pronunciation and inherently easier to understand as a result. Another factor is the student’s literacy in his native language.
  • Literacy in the home –  The education and literacy level of the parents can have a direct impact on the student’s ability to assimilate a new language. Illiterate parents are often unable to provide support at home in their first languages…much less in English.
  • Psychological factors – The reason for the student’s immigration might provide valuable insight into the fears and anxieties students may exhibit.

Approaching Therapy

Helping ESL students with speech-language barriers requires a highly sensitive and individualized approach. Visual apps for tablet  computers will be invaluable.

Understand that most LEP students go through an adjustment phase where verbalization is rare. While they need verbal practice, allowing them time to adjust and get comfortable in their new surroundings is ultimately more valuable.

It’s important to consider modeling language over language correction, and to expect patient repetition of even the simplest concepts. At the same time, respect the student’s age by choosing age-appropriate materials. It may be tempting to use a preschool program like Dora the Explorer to work with a 10-year-old Spanish speaker, but insulting a child’s intelligence is a certain path to therapy failure. You may even consider asking the student his preferences. His answers may reveal likes and dislikes, dreams and ideas that can open new avenues for communication and valuable insights into the mind of the student.

Where to start? Want to share some pointers on this difficult subject? What would you do in this situation?

Engaging the Parents in Your Teletherapy Practice

One of the most common questions SLPs receive from parents is, “How can I help my child improve?” While the answer often depends on the individual child, there are some easy ways that parents can become active participants in the language development process.


The simplest answer is often the best – and one of the most enjoyable. Reading with a child on his level and about his interests is a crucial step in both social and skill development. Choose books that are colorful and engaging for young children, and offer language-based challenges. One of my favorite books is Many Luscious Lollipops by Ruth Heller. The text is simple, but challenging, the pictures are huge, glossy, and brightly colored, and it’s giggly fun for the little ones as they try to pronounce alliterative adjectives. Read More

What are Telespeech Paraprofessionals or eHelpers?

Telespeech paraprofessionals, also known as eHelpers, are a very important part of providing effective telespeech services to clients everywhere. They have several different duties, which help the actual speech-language pathologist to better serve their clientele.

What do Telespeech Paraprofessionals Do?
eHelpers do several different things. In an educational setting, the eHelper will: Read More

Differences in States in Tele-Practice Legislation

The advent of telepractice poses unique problems with regards to state licensing, and many states are struggling to build the legal groundwork to allow access to treatment while still maintaining a standard of protection for residents. The problem lies in distance. A telepractitioner is not restricted to in-state practice, and can serve anyone in any location. While the efficacy of the treatment has been proven time and again, the traditional medical model calls for individual state licensing. Read More

ASHA’s New Special Interest Group for Tele-Practice

In October 2010, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) formed a new special interest group (SIG 18) with the admirable goals of education for telepractice professionals, leadership, and advocacy for the industry.

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How Teletherapy Can Combat Speech Therapist Shortage

Within the next 10 years or so, there is an expected shortage of speech therapists. In part this is due to an increased demand, but it is also due to the large number of speech therapists that will be retiring. Additional complications arise from the increase of patients who have a native language other than English. One way this shortage can be combatted is by utilizing the relatively new delivery method of teletherapy. Teletherapy can be especially beneficial for multilingual patients. Read More