Speech & Language Communication

Speech, Language and Social Skills (Communication)


Communication Problems:
» Speech, Language & Communication Skills (Communication)
» Comprehension
» Reading & Spelling
» Writing
» Organization / Executive Function
» Samonas Sound Therapy
» Behavior and Self-esteem

Speech – How sounds are formed and produced in the mouth

Poor speech articulation
A child may say “bat” for back;
An adult may have difficulty pronouncing sounds or words (“statistics, Presbyterian, aluminum”)
Phonological errors (sound patterns)
History of ear infections or language delays
Weak oral motor strength (dysarthria) or range of motion
Poor motor-planning for the sequencing of sounds, words, or sentences
Mumbles
“baby talk”
Sounds like he has an accent
Not confident talking with peers or other professionals

Receptive Language– Difficulty understanding (comprehending) what is heard, read or experienced.

Poor listening
Weak auditory processing of sounds
Difficulty listening/understanding with background noise
History of ear infections or language delays
Difficulty getting the main idea of a conversation or story
Difficulty learning, retaining, and using new vocabulary or concepts
Poor understanding
Difficulty with non-literal language and jokes

Expressive Language– Difficulty formulating thoughts and expressing those thoughts clearly.

Incorrect word order (syntax)
History of ear infections or language delays
Incorrect verb tense (grammar)
Difficulty using new vocabulary or concepts
Inability to accurately summarize what was heard, read, or experienced
Unclear written expression
Poor written expression
Difficulty with spelling and reading
Low self-esteem and low confidence

Stuttering

Repetition of sounds, words, or phrases
Inappropriate use of fillers “uh” and “umm”
Low confidence and self-esteem
Poor reading
Awkward pausing
Prolongation or “blocking” of sounds
Fear of speaking in public (e.g., ordering at a restaurant with a group of friends)
Other learning difficulties
Avoidance of certain sounds or words for fear of stuttering (circumlocution)
Development of facial tics or other movements as a compensatory strategy

Voice Disturbance or Disorder

Poor vocal quality
Weak voice or voice gets progressively weaker as the day progresses
Hoarse, breathy, or harsh sounding quality to the individual’s voice
Inappropriate voice pitch for: age, sex, or size
Reduced confidence in social situations and professional contexts
Positive history of vocal nodules, polyps or related diagnosis
Vocally abuses voice (speaking too long, speaking too loudly, excessively making non-speech sounds, using a pitch that is too high or too low, yelling)

Social Skills/ Pragmatic Language Skills (related to Executive Functions)

Unable to understand non-literal language and jokes
Poor problem-solving
Difficulty reading gestures and unspoken intentions and tone in others
Poor executive function
History of ear infections or of speech and language delay
Poor understanding and use of social rules
Weak comprehension
Difficulty initiating and maintaining conversations
Poor ability to ‘shift’ word choice or topic depending upon who he is talking to and the situation.
Limited friends or difficulty maintaining a friendship

What Our Speech, Language and Social Skills (Communication) Program Does:

Each student is evaluated, and an individualized program is constructed for maximum progress.  We work with student’s motivations, and we rely on a team approach and the parent’s expertise about their child.  We provide necessary tools for parents and older students to continue skills outside of our center.

COMPREHENSION Problems:

Difficulty recalling important facts and details
Feeling “dumb” or that she can’t keep up
Avoids reading or says that it is “boring”
Misunderstands what is heard; misses information while listening.
Unable to identify the main idea
Yawns while listening (indicates that listening is taking a lot of energy)
Doesn’t pick up on new vocabulary including slang used by others
Unable to read between the lines (inferencing)
Weak understanding
Reliance on impossibly trying to remember everything (often word-for-word)
Appears distracted or inattentive
Difficulty listening with background noise (fan, TV, students in a classroom)
Doesn’t get concepts easily
Inconsistent ability to follow multi-step directions and instructions
Says “huh?” often
Unable to pick out the most important (salient) information
Poor understanding of what is heard or read
Difficulty with understanding math and word problems
Difficulty predicting possible solutions or outcomes (cause and effect)
Difficulty expressing thoughts (missing details, or is out of sequence)
Weak auditory processing (incorrectly receiving auditory signals to the brain)
Poor test-taking even though he seemed to know the material
Unable to create strong mental images
Cannot follow along with fast-speaking peers

What Our Comprehension & Meaning Program Does:

Our structured process helps children, adolescents, and adults, to develop critical foundations for comprehending what they hear and read. Good comprehension of what we hear and read depends upon receiving a clear, accurate, and complete message to think with.  This program is completed one-to-one so that students are guided at the exact level needed, and they are immediately corrected, so that they cannot practice new skills incorrectly.

Significant improvements in reading, understanding, verbal expression, and organization, result from our Comprehension and Meaning program.

The comprehension building blocks are foundational in helping students in the following ways:

  • Improved auditory processing
  • Hearing the flow and phrasing of language while reading and listening
  • Developing verbal inner language (“hearing” it in his mind) to improve auditory memory
  • Visualizing as the language comes in, in order to improve visual processing and comprehension
  • Showing understanding of the gestalt, or whole idea, and how the details relate to each other
  • Identifying critical story details and elements (helps with predicting and comprehending)
  • Analyzing and answering vocabulary and questions (using higher-levels of reasoning, problem solving, and analytical skills)

 

We expect to see progress each and every class that a student is with us.  We closely monitor this progress and the progress that the student and parents are noticing at home, school, and work.  The systematic teaching and practice directly correlates to academic expectations.

The end results after completing the Comprehension and Meaning program include:  less confusion, significant improvements in listening and reading, learning is easier, verbal expression is more organized, and confidence skyrockets!

Reading and Spelling Problems:

Early Years

Difficulty labeling and recognizing the alphabet and the sounds
Difficulty with phonemic awareness
Blending sounds that are heard
Segmenting sounds apart that were together
Difficulty learning and recalling early sight words
Poor spelling of short sound combinations and early words
Avoids reading tasks; frustrated with reading
Had delayed speech or language development, or history of ear infections
Unable to comprehend what was read
Yawns or fatigues easily (reading takes too much energy)
Feeling “dumb”
Guessing at words instead of sounding them out

Later years

Difficulty decoding (sounding out words)
Difficulty blending sounds together that are read
Avoids reading tasks
Yawns or fatigues easily (reading takes too much energy)
History of speech, reading, or learning challenges within the family
Guessing at words instead of sounding them out
Poor spelling
Difficulty reading multi-syllabic words (these are especially common in core subjects in school and specialized areas of work)
Slow reading fluency (accuracy & rate)
History of special class placements or reading problems
Had delayed speech or language development, or history of ear infections
Reading is choppy
Poor comprehension of what was read.
Feeling “dumb”; low self-esteem; lacking confidence

SPELLING
Does poorly on spelling tests
May do well on spelling tests (good visual memory), but the correct spellings do not carry over into written work
Writing usually contains words that are shorter and easier to spell, when compared to the student’s oral (spoken) vocabulary
Hates to write
Struggles with written expression
Difficulty processing auditory information correctly
May have speech articulation errors
Guessing at spelling of words
Difficulty learning and retaining the spelling of words
Relies on spell-check on the computer
Asks others to spell words for them

What Our Reading & Spelling Programs Do:

The purpose of reading is to comprehend something meaningful!  Our reading programs address the challenges that an individual has in a logical, meaningful, and sequential manner.  After determining the cause of the reading challenge, and the exact reading weakness, an individualized plan is developed by using one or more structured programs.  If the individual’s testing reveals auditory processing or visual processing deficits, these will be therapeutically addressed in conjunction with the reading program.

Beginning Level

Our beginning reading level is designed for any parent who would like their child to have a head start in reading, as well as for a child who is struggling with reading.  We begin right where the student is and use: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile methods. This multi-sensory approach connects what is seen with what is heard, and the result is accelerated learning.

We begin by teaching the letters and sounds in a fun, interactive, way.  The focus is on phonemic awareness, blending sounds that are heard and written, and introducing sound families. We build visual memory skills by teaching simple, complex, and multisyllabic words.  We also introduce grapho-motor activities such as printing and copying to reinforce what is learned.

Basic Level and Advanced Level

These individualized programs are appropriate for individuals in elementary, junior high, high school, college, and adults who are experiencing challenges with decoding (sounding out words or word-parts), blending sounds, or comprehending what is read.  All work is one-to-one.  Utilization of engaging and interesting stories, passages, and books, increase motivation.

The activities address: phonemic awareness, direct instruction in sound-letter relationships, building vocabulary, and pointing out spelling tendencies and rules.  In addition, visual memory for words and word parts, and strategies to read multi-syllabic words are addressed.

Multi-syllabic words are common in core classes such as history (constitution), science (fahrenheit), and math (perpendicular).  When reading improves, subject areas improve since accurate reading allows learning new information in subject areas.  For example, to complete a math problem, the student must read and understand the directions correctly in order to set-up and answer the question.

The end result includes significantly improved reading skills and self-confidence!

WRITING SKILLS Problems:

  • Writing takes forever
  • Thoughts don’t flow- difficulty generating thoughts
  • Poor punctuation and capitalization
  • Weak language skills
  • Poor organization skills
  • Weak spelling skills
  • Incorrect word order or incomplete sentences
  • Difficulty writing expository essays (informs the reader) or research papers
  • Poor working memory, or long-term memory
  • Sentences lack variety
  • Written expression is significantly weaker than verbal expression
  • Unable to write a summary of a familiar story
  • Poor attention
  • Difficulty with problem solving or taking another person’s or character’s perspective
  • Missing key details when writing
  • Poor grammar
  • Fine motor weakness for writing (graphomotor)
  • Can’t get started by herself

If a student exhibits 1 or more of the above, then it is likely that he or she would benefit from our Writing Skills Program

What Our Writing Skills Program Does

Our one-to-one writing skills process is:  structured, systematic, logical, and it follows the sequential progression of skills to be an independent writer.  In general, the programs help children, teens, college students, and professional adults to:

  • Write clear and concise sentences
  • Organize sentences into paragraphs
  • Link paragraphs together into narrative writing and cohesive essays
  • Write with intention for her audience and write in her own “voice”
  • Independently plan, research, organize, and write complete essays

Beginning and Basic Writing
A student struggling to create and write good sentences with appropriate capitalization and punctuation will benefit from the beginning writing program.  The basic writing program focus is on developing and writing simple sentences to paragraphs and even includes creative writing.  Many students lack sentence variety and are unable to expand their sentences beyond subject-verb-object (e.g., The boy caught a ball).  We help students to add descriptors and rich details in order to expand their sentences (e.g., The brown-haired boy caught a pop-fly ball in the outfield before the game started.)  We focus on mechanics as well as imagination.  Students are encouraged to write from what they are mentally imagining.

Advanced Writing
Students who are ready to learn to write quality complex sentences, paragraphs, and essays are ready for our advanced writing program.  Spelling tendencies are pointed out during this program.  The program is excellent for students in 6th grade through college, as well as for professionals who want an edge on writing clear emails and other professional documents.  We help students to think about their audience and to develop their point-of-view and authentic “voice” in their writing.

The following common paragraph & essay types are taught and practiced:

Narrative Writing: Writing or retelling stories.  This type of writing includes: characters and a setting, a problem, solution and ending in a logical sequence.  This is the most common type of writing done in school at the elementary level.

Expository Writing: Writing that informs the reader.  There are several types of expository writing (paragraphs and essays) including:

  • Informative– Provides factual information about a specific topic.
  • Operational– Explains how to do something along with the steps, materials and what the reader needs to know
  • Persuasive– How to convince a reader to act or believe in a certain way.
  • Comparison and Contrast– Describes the similarities and differences between people, characters, things, places or ideas.

 

Writing a formal letter- Includes all of the components that are needed to write a formal letter.  This type of letter will typically contain one or more of the expository writing types listed above.

We focus on mechanics as well as imagination.  Students are encouraged to write from their mental images.  Our writing program is often done in conjunction with our Comprehension and Meaning Program since students who struggle with written expression also struggle with mental imagery.  The end result of the program is written expression that has direction and flow, and a student who now has the confidence to express themselves and their ideas!

ABOUT ORGANIZATION & EXECUTIVE FUNCTION SKILLS:

Executive Function has been called the “CEO” of our brain.  It covers a collection of interrelated functions responsible for purposeful and goal-directed behavior.
Most executive function difficulties are identified in middle school when organization and independent work are required. However, young children who have difficulty transitioning from one activity to another, or experience trouble following a sequence of instructions (such as getting ready in the morning, or completing homework assignments) are likely demonstrating problems with executive function.
Developing executive function skills helps children, teens, and adults become more independent and to manage their life better.  This allows the following to become easier, logical, and faster:  school work, homework, social life, work life, balancing multiple responsibilities, goal-setting, and planning for the future.
Some of the difficulties with executive function have been associated with conditions including: ADHD, Tourette’s Syndrome, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, Depression, Learning Disabilities, and Autism Spectrum Disorders. (Bradshaw JL, 2001)
Younger students exhibit fewer signs of difficulty, because parents and teachers manage their academic and social activities. As higher-levels of organization and independent problem-solving become required in middle school, high school, college, and in adulthood, individuals become more challenged.

ORGANIZATION & EXECUTIVE FUNCTION SKILLS Problems:

  • Constantly needs reminders
  • Thinking, schoolwork, or homework takes too long
  • Impulsive (verbally or physically)
  • Difficulty predicting possible consequences or outcomes (cause and effect)
  • Poor test-taking (understood it during homework, but teacher changed format of the test)
  • Loses track of what she is doing
  • Literal thinking- doesn’t get jokes, humor, and slang
  • Poor attention
  • Difficulty coming up with logical solutions
  • Disorganized (work, physical space, communication)
  • Difficulty planning or staying on schedule
  • Wants immediate gratification
  • Poor time management; poor prioritizing of activities and work
  • Poor memory (information, instructions, phone numbers, directions)
  • Difficulty with active listening
  • Poor reading skills (especially comprehension)
  • Limited study skills
  • Poor emotional control; difficulty controlling reactions, or reactions to change (cries easily, temper tantrums, easily angered)
  • Rigid thinking; not mentally flexible, can’t shift mindset
  • Doesn’t plan ahead
  • Difficulty organizing materials and physical space
  • Doesn’t self-monitor social interactions
  • Test anxiety
  • Difficulty prioritizing and managing long-term projects
  • Difficulty seeing another person’s point-of-vie

 

What Our Life Prep University Program: (Brain & Behavior-Building & Management-Before and After Graduation) Does:

Executive function skills are high-level thinking skills that depend upon getting complete and accurate information to think with.  If a student has weak processing or learning skills, they should be addressed prior to doing the executive function program.

This extensive, one-to-one, individualized program, is geared toward students in 6th grade to adolescents and adults.  The practice activities, and teaching, match the responsibilities, assignments and activities that are typical for the individual’s age.  The actual activity content is drawn from the individual student’s own life, so that the proactive activities are as relevant and applicable as possible.

Each student doing the program has a workbook to highlight, to take notes in, and to keep as a reference.  The dialoguing between the Therapeutic Learning Coach (TLC) and the student is instrumental in developing and internalizing the concepts and strategies presented.

ABOUT THE SAMONAS SOUND THERAPY PROGRAM:

Samonas Sound Therapy is a therapeutic, highly specialized, and exquisitely recorded, series of CDs (nature sounds and classical music) that are used to improve:

  • auditory processing
  • coordination and organization
  • attention
  • listening and communication
  • thinking and learning
  • emotional connections

Each program is individually prescribed, to support the goals and needs of the student.  Young children through adults benefit from Samonas.

Listening is a function of the entire brain.  When we listen, we listen with the whole body.  Alfred Tomatis, M.D., the original pioneer and researcher in the field of sound therapy, indicated that the voice cannot reproduce what the brain cannot hear.

The Samonas program is very powerful and has been life-changing!  This “sound diet” allows students to receive a greater range of sound frequencies, and it supports and stimulates the brain.

Individuals with the following challenges will benefit from a Samonas Listening Program:

  • comprehension difficulty
  • mispronounces words,
  • low energy; difficulty staying alert
  • gets confused with auditory information
  • poor fine motor skills (speech and writing); poor gross motor skills
  • low confidence
  • misunderstands when listening to information from others
  • sound sensitivities
  • poor spatial awareness (knowing where he is in relation to people or things)
  • has difficulty sounding out words while reading
  • speaks with poor inflection
  • “engine” runs too fast or too slow
  • speaks with a monotone voice
  • poor balance; vestibular difficulty
  • auditory processing disorders
  • anxiety; unable to relax
  • poor body organization

Purpose:

Once the brain is processing a greater range of frequencies in sound, the listener will have better energy and better input with which to think and learn.
This type of “sound therapy” increases the brain’s ability to pay attention to a wide range of frequencies in sound.

Lower frequencies in sound are especially important for coordination, movement, rhythm, feeling “grounded”, attention, and organization.
Mid-range frequencies are especially important for hearing and reproducing speech sounds.
High frequency sounds are energizing to the brain and are critical for attention, thinking, and learning.  They also carry the detailed information that make it possible to discriminate between similar speech sounds and words, tone of voice, and different instruments and voices.

Format:

A prescriptive and individualized therapeutic Samonas Listening Program is provided for each student, depending upon his needs and goals.   During the detailed Listening Orientation with our Listening Consultant, parents and students are provided with the materials and the directions for the program.

The materials that students keep include:  high-quality headphones (these are comfortable, open-ear, headphones that can handle the full range of sound frequencies up to 25,000 Hz), 5-7 CD’s, a personal CD player, timer, protective carrying case, and a home journal with information about the program and the benefits to expect from each CD.

Students generally listen at home for 15-30 minutes twice per day.  Every two weeks, a new CD is introduced to the student in the office.  Long distance programs are handled differently.  We monitor changes and progress daily, weekly, and monthly.

The music selections have been chosen in order to target the student’s specific goals and needs. We gradually build the tolerance of higher-frequencies.  The last two weeks of the program are a “fade-out” period, where the student continues to listen, but the intensity level is reduced.  We teach the student and his family how to continue benefitting from the CD’s once the prescribed program is over.

Behavior and Self-esteem PROBLEMS:

  • Shows signs of anxiety
  • Bright child who is underachieving
  • Complains of: headaches, stomach aches, not wanting to go to school, interrupted sleep, nightmares, expresses worries
  • Low frustration tolerance
  • Poor mental flexibility
  • Avoids school, schoolwork (coping strategy)
  • Individual tries hard with minimal outcome
  • Poor/ low-self esteem
  • Recognizing he is struggling more than peers
  • Feels confused
  • Appears lazy and unmotivated
  • Angry- taking frustrations out on others unnecessarily, affecting relationships
  • Lacks confidence
  • Requires a parent, or tutor, to help her get through school work
  • Poor posture (may appear lazy)
  • Difficulty maintaining attention

Many of these behaviors are symptoms of another problem.  Parents are often surprised by the changes in these problems while completing our communication and learning programs!

Since everything we do and think about begins at the neurological (or brain) level, we find that as we make changes, and form new neuropathways in the student’s brain, that past challenges and symptoms are often resolved, or significantly improved.

Be assured that we would make a recommendation to another professional, if we believe that the student’s challenges in behavior and self-esteem are significant enough to warrant a referral to a counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, or other professional.