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Interactive Therapy Inc was founded by Pamela Hass, a certified, licensed Speech Language Pathologist, who has served children, adults, and their families, since 1979. Pam earned both a bachelor's and master's degree in speech language pathology from the University of Northern Iowa and is a current member of the American Speech and Hearing Association and the Missouri Speech and Hearing Association. Pam has served people of all ages, backgrounds, and needs, including those with developmental delays and neurological disorders. Pam has experience working with individuals with articulation disorders, receptive and expressive language disorders, stuttering, autism, cleft-palate, and reading and writing disabilities. Pam welcomes the opportunity to work with families, caregivers, and teachers to help individuals develop their communication skills.
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Part One:
How parents respond to their child can encourage or discourage language development. A child might say, “He eated the cake.” The child’s parents may reply, “No, not eated. That’s wrong! Say, ‘he ate the cake.’ If you were the child, which reply would encourage you to keep trying to learn?


How parents respond to their child’s efforts to communicate is very important. Children learn best when they are encouraged to try and are praised when they succeed. When parents accept their child’s attempts to speak, the child wants to keep trying. To improve, the child must keep talking!

It is especially important for children having difficulty with language to have good experiences while learning. These tips can help parents respond to their child in positive ways. This approach can encourage learning, boost self-confidence, and make the learning experience fun for everyone.

1. BE AN ACTIVE LISTENER. Let your child know that you are listening. Show your sincere interest. Get down to the child’s eye level and look at the child. Listen to the child’s tone of voice. Notice the expressions of the child’s face, body, and hands. These will all be clues to help you understand your child’s message. Let your child know that the message is important to you.

Every parent has times when it is impossible to be an active listener. At those times, let your child know
that you care, but are just too busy to talk. If possible, tell the child that you would like to talk later. Be sure to follow through on that promise!

Because children are just learning our complex language, it may take them a long time to put their thoughts into words. If your child feels rushed, the child’s language attempts may be unsuccessful, resulting in a bad experience. Try to set up family rules about whose turn it is to “take the floor”. Let your child finish speaking, even if the child’s “turn” is longer than other family members’.

Reference: Diann D. Grimm, M.A., CCC, Ed.S.
Communication SKill Builders Inc

Look for PART 2 coming soon!

Pam Hass
Speech Language Pathologist
Interactive Therapy Inc

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It is important for children to follow directions at home, at school, and in the community, especially for their safety.  Parents/teachers and significant others can improve their child’s direction following by eliminating distractions before giving directions such as the TV, tablet, and smart phone.  You can tap your child on the shoulder or wait for them to respond after calling their name before giving the direction.  Get down to your child’s level so they can see your facial expression by squatting, if you have to. Pair gestures with directions by pointing to objects and their locations. For example, pointing to your child’s room while saying “Go to your room and get your coat”.  Speak clearly and not too rapidly.  Repeating directions is helpful after about 5-15 seconds, allowing your child to respond.  This amount of time helps your child to think about the directions before you repeat them.  With older children, you can ask your child to repeat your directions after you, which activates his/her memory.  It helps you know, if your child heard you correctly and actually understood the directions.  Select words at your child’s level of difficulty.  Use one more word than the child is using, e.g. If your child is using only one word to communicate, your directions are to be no more than two to three words.  Know what to expect of your child.  Know the developmental level of your child.  (See below for the sequence of developmental direction following).  Give your child clear feedback.  Let your child know exactly what was done correctly.  If your child did not complete the directions, show or tell exactly what needed to be done.  Praise whatever your child did correctly. 

Give Directions Your Child Can Understand

1.  First, your child understands simple directions paired with a gesture:  “Give it to me” while holding out your hand.
2.  Next, your child understands simple directions without gestures: “Stand up.” “Get the cup.” “Sit down.”
3.  Your child understands two simple related directions about the same object: “Get your coat and put it on.”
4.  Your child understands two-part directions about unrelated objects: “Go to your room and get your shoes”.  “Give me the bowl and the spoon.”
5.  Your child understands two-part directions involving two actions: “Give me the toy and put your cup on the table.”
6.  Finally, your child understands three-part unrelated directions involving three actions: “Put your toys away, go wash your hands, and get in the car.”

Excerpts taken from “Communication Skill Builders, Inc by Diann D. Grimm, M.A. C.C.C., ED.S.

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Reference: The ASHA Leader (a publication from the American Speech and hearing Association) February, 2013

Research demonstrates that polluted air-whether regional pollution or from local traffic sources-is associated with autism, according to a study published online in November 2012 by Archives of General Psychiatry (buy Premarin online cheap). 

The study, conducted by University of Southern California and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles scientists, included 279 children with autism and 245 children with typical development.  The results suggest that exposure to traffic-related air pollution during pregnancy and the first year of life is associated with a more than two-fold risk of autism.  In addition, exposure to regional pollution consisting of nitrogen dioxide and small particles is also associated with autism even if the mother did not live near a busy road.

The research is the first to look at the amount of exposure to near roadway traffic pollution and to combine that with measures of regional air quality.  The study builds on previous research that examined how close participants lived to a freeway.  The researchers are now working on a study of how genes related to autism may be affected by environmental exposures to determine if certain factors make people genetically more vulnerable to particular pollutants.

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Teaching Tips for Parents on how to develop imitation skills in their children.

1. Frequently imitate your child including babbling, mouth movements, hand movements-any kind of movement, especially ones that the child does over and over.  Do this as often as you can throughout the day.

2.  Continue to imitate your child and change what you do just a little bit.  If your child babbles “pa-pa”, you babble “ba-ba”.  Be very enthusiastic, if your child imitates your “new” action.  Write down some of your child’s sounds and movements and how you are going to imitate them a little differently.  Put your list on the refrigerator or other obvious place as a reminder.

3.  Continue to imitate your child, but change your action a little more.  If your child says “pa-pa”, you say “pie-pie-pie”.  If your child claps hands together, you put your hands on the floor.  Praise your child and be enthusiastic when the child imitates you.  Write down your child’s actions and sounds and how you plan to imitate them.  Later write in how your child imitated you.

4.  Give your child toys that resemble things around the house: toy dolls, toy dishes, etc.  Let the child play with brooms, pots, and pans and “dress-up” clothes.  These will give your child opportunities to experiment with actions you perform during the day.  The child can dress dolls, “cook” food, sweep the floor, or “drive” cars.

5.  When your child begins to say words, add one other meaningful word to it to expand on his/her speech and language.

Write down each action your child imitates without seeing you do it at that time.  Write down ways your child does things that show the child is thinking-using an action that has been imitated before to solve a problem that requires a similar action.  The child who opened and closed a puppet’s mouth by relating an open and closed mouth (the familiar action) to opening the puppet’s mouth (similar action) is an example.  This helps you note and remember your child’s development. 

Written by Leslie S. Mccolgin.  Communication Skill Builders, 1988

Even though this information was written in 1988,  the principles hold true for present and future ages.- Pam Hass, Speech Language Pathologist

Consult your speech language therapist for more ideas on how to develop speech, language, and signing development to facilitate communication.

Please see my facebook page for updates at Interactive Therapy Inc.

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Reference: by Leslie S. McColgin
Communication Skill Builders, Inc

What is imitation?

Imitation is the ability to copy the behavior of another person.

How do imitation skills develop?

1.  One of the earliest forms of imitation is called “mutual imitation”.  This means that your child imitates you only when you have imitated the child first.  Parents often play “babbling games” with their child.  The child says “ga-ga” and the adult imitates “ga-ga”.  The child enjoys this response and tries again; “ga-ga”.  The child has just engaged in mutual imitation.  Motor actions can be imitated in the same way.  At first, you will have to let your child start the imitation game.  As your child develops, you can start the game by babbling or making some action that you have heard or seen your child do often.  Your child still isn’t ready to imitate a sound or action that the child does not already know.

2.  Next, your child begins to imitate sounds and actions that are similar, but not identical to the child’s own.  For example, a child might babble “pa-pa.”  The adult playing with the child might open and close the mouth without making any sound.  At first the child might imitate this by babbling “pa-pa” again.  However, this may soon change to the child opening and closing the mouth just like the adult model.  The child will  “figure out” how “pa-pa” and opening  and closing the mouth are similar.  then the child will be able to imitate this “new” action.  This is the beginning of having a “thought” that is symbolic.

3.  Now the child experiments and explores with sounds and actions to make them more like the adult model’s.  The child imitates the adult more and more exactly.  Soon the child will be able to imitate sounds and actions that the child has never tried before.

4.  In the final stage, the child learns to imitate without a model.  This is called deferred imitation.  For example, a child once wanted to get a necklace out of a matchbox with a small opening.  First, the child tried turning it upside down and shaking it with no success.  Finally, the child sat down, mouth slowly opening and closing.  The child had imitated this movement before.  Mentally, the child saw how opening and closing the mouth and the matchbox were similar.  The child immediately opened the box!  The child didn’t need a model to imitate.  Instead, the child used a similar action to the one the child had imitated before.  At this stage children will imitate “housework” with toy brooms and dishes and perform many actions similar to those of Mommy and Daddy.

Part II will consist of teaching tips for parents in how to develop imitation skills in their child.

Refer to my facebook page for updated information.  The link is on my website at

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Here are more guidelines on helping your child understand directions.

1.  Use chunking when possible.  Chunking means saying related directions in one breath.  Pausing between each direction helps recall the information, if it is chunked according to similarities.  For example,
“Wash your face and brush your teeth; (pause) Then get your book and I’ll read it to you.  Give your child only the number of chunks your child can understand.

2.  Select words at your child’s level of difficulty.  Use words that your child consistently understands when giving directions.  Use short, simple sentences.

3.  Know what to expect of your child.  If you know what to expect of your child, you will not give directions that are too difficult to follow.  Your speech and language pathologist can help you determine your child’s ability to understand directions.

4.  Give your child clear feedback.  When your child completes your directions, let the child know exactly what was done correctly.  You may want to tell your child the directions the child just completed.  If your child did not complete your directions, show or tell exactly whqt needed to be done.  If an attempt is partially successful, praise what- ever your child did correctly.

In my next blog, I will review how your child can understand and follow more difficult directions as language skills develop.

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This post comes from Diann D, Grimm, M.A., CCC. ED.S. in the publication offered by Communication Skill Builders.  It is dated 1988, but the premise is very applicable to today.  This information is timeless.

Part I:  Language impaired children may have problems following directions because they have difficulty understanding language.  It is important to give clear, simple directions.  You can help your child learn how to understand language and how to do a specific job at the same time.

How Can Parents Improve Their Direction-Following?

1.  Try to eliminate distractions before giving directions.   Distractions, including a radio, TV, or   others talking, make it harder for your child to listen to your directions.

2.  Make sure your child is listening when you give directions.  Make sure your child is listening when you give directions.  Get down to your child’s eye level so the child can see your facial expression.  Squat down if you have to.

3.  Pair gesture with directions.  Point to objects and their locations.  Try to use natural gesture, e.g.  “Come here” paired with the hand gesture.  “Give it to me” paired with your hand reaching for item.  “Go to your room and get your coat” paired with pointing to your child’s room.

4. Speak clearly and not too rapidly.

5.  Use repetition.  Repeating directions for your child is very helpful.  Give your child time to think about the directions before you repeat them.  With older children, you can ask your child to repeat your directions after you.  This “activates” your child’s memory.  It also tells you, if the child actually understood your directions.

There will be a second part to this post because ther is a lot of information about helping your child follow directions.

Your feedback is welcome.

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This is third in a series of how to help your child understand what you are saying to him/her. 

Talking Tips for Parents:

1. Use a slower speech rate.  Even a small change in your speech rate can improve your child’s understanding of language.

2.  Use shorter remarks.  Pretend you’re sending a telegram.  It includes only the most important content words.  Use phrases and sentences just beyond your child’s language level.  For example, a child who says single words should be given two-word phrases.  For a child who is using two words at a time, three-or four-word phrases would be apporopriate.  Some examples are: “Do you want juice?” becomes “Want juice?” “That big horse is over there” becomes “See the big horse.”
“Do you want the cookie or the cracker?” becomes “Want cookie? Want cracker?”  “First you’ll take your bath and then I will read you a story” becomes “Your bath is first.  Then your story.” 

3.  Use simple sentences.  Sentences that contain a bsic subject+verb+object or adjective are the easiest.  For example:  Tommy + drank + milk.  Dog + is + big.  He+ ran + home.  As your child’s language develops, include more information in your remarks, e.g. Tommy drank all the milk.  The dog is big and brown.  He ran quickly home for dinner. 

4.  Use repetition.  When you repeat words, phrases, and sentences, your child has a better chance to learn and understand.  Expand on your child’s utterances. 
     Child:  Doll 
     Parent:  Sue’s doll.
     Parent:  Your doll is pretty.
     Child:  I like your doll.
New vocabulary was added each time and different sentence structures were modeled, but the child’s message was kept and repeated.

5.  Exaggerate important words with your voice.  Your child will pay more attention to words that you stress when you talk.  Put more stress on words you want your child to hear and remember. For example: “Big dog.”  “Juice all gone.”  “You’re a good boy.”

6.  Use gestures when you speak.  Gestures help your child understand the meaning of your spoken message.  Include natural gestures, i.e. facial gestures (excited, happy, sad, upset, interested), hand gestures (Come here. Give to me. I want. You want. Stop. Go. etc.), body gestures (arms out to indicate a hug, folded arms to indicate anger).

If you have any questions about the above information, please comment and I will reply.