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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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Reference:  Los Angeles Times at best place to buy generic Premarin online… By Marissa Cevallos, HealthKey/For the Booster Shots blog 7/11/11

Here’s another reason not to light up around little ones: Not only are children who are surrounded by secondhand smoke at greater risk for asthma and other health problems, but they may be more likely to have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or learning disabilities, too.

The new analysis comes from a national phone survey in which parents were asked whether they smoked and if they’d been told by a health professional that their child has any of three problems: ADD or ADHD;  learning disability; or a behavioral or conduct problem.  Out of the more than 55,000 children under the age of 12 in the analysis, about 6% of the children were exposed to secondhand smoke, corresponding to about 4.8 million children nationwide.

Researchers, led by the Harvard School of Public Health, found that children in a smoking home had a 50% greater likelihood of having at least two of the three disorders.  Boys were at higher risk than girls.  And the researchers estimate that 274,100 such disabilities could have been prevented if the children were not exposed to secondhand smoke.  The full results were published online Monday in Pediatrics. 

The study doesn’t prove that secondhand smoke causes neurological and behavioral disabilities.  Though the authors took factors like poverty status, race and the mother’s education into account, the authors acknowledge other variables, like whether the mothers smoked during pregnancy, could confound the results.  And it’s difficult to know how accurately parents answered questions over the phone.

But other studies have hinted at the link between mental health disorders and secondhand smoke.  A study in April found a link between ADHD symptoms in children and teens and blood levels of a nicotine byproduct.  Still, the symptoms didn’t add up to a single diagnosis that could be linked to secondhand smoke.

Here’s what the authors conclude in their paper:

“These health and economic burdens might be reduced significantly if voluntary smoke-free home policies are vigorously encouraged.  Nevertheless, additional evidence is warranted in additional population settings for entirely evidence-based health policy decision making.”

As if there weren’t enough evidence that smoking around children is a poor idea.

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Reference: Learning Disabilities of America May/June 2011 Newsletter

Healthy Children Project

Article by Maureen Swanson
Healthy Children Project Coordinator

At the beginning of April, a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee decided that there is not sufficient evidence to support a link between artificial dyes in foods and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  The committee failed to recommend any ban or regulation of dye additives in food products.  They did call for more research.

There are seven primary food dyes used in the United States: Red #3, Red #40, Blue #1 & #2, Green #3 and Yellow #5 and #6.   There are two limited use dyes: Orange B used in hot dog and sausage casings, and Citrus Red 2 allowed only for coloring orange peels.  The dyes are used to make foods, candy and drinks more appealing, especially to children.  European countries already have banned some food dyes, including Blue #1 and Yellow #5 and #6.  In many cases, manufacturers now use natural colorings for food products in the European market.

According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, Yellow #5 may be more likely to cause problems with attention and behavior than other additives.  Yellow #5 is found in beverages, candy, ice cream, custards and other foods such as macaroni and cheese mixes.  The FDA requires manufacturers to label foods that contain Yellow #5 in the list of ingredients.

Many parents and teachers have their own anecdotal evidence that food dyes and preservatives seem to contribute to a child’s hyperactivity, behavior or attention problems.  LDA often takes a position that it is better to err on the side of caution when it comes to children’s health and learning.

If you want to avoid food dyes and preservatives for your family, summer is a great time to change eating and food shopping habits.  Foods to avoid include brightly colored, processed foods, which are most likely to contain one or more food dyes.  Another good rule of thumb is that if you cannot understand or pronounce the ingredients in a food product, you shouldn’t eat it.

To quote Michael Pollan, well-known author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “Food Rules”, one of the best ways to ensure a healthier diet is to “Eat Real Food.”

By real food, Pollan means fruits and vegetables, grains, dairy and meat that have not been “processed” with other ingredients into packaged foods.  In summer and early fall, farmers markets and backyard gardens make this kind of eating much easier.  If possible, load your plate with locally grown fruits and vegetables.

To have healthy, locally grown produce available year-round, one option is to can fruits and vegetables.  Another way to preserve some fruits and vegetables is to freeze them – this works well with blueberries, corn, beans, peas, rhubarb and many other fruits and vegetables.  For a “how-to” guide on freezing fresh food, see the charts at the following website: where to purchase Premarin

While European governments seem more willing to take precautionary measures to protect people, especially children, from the possible harmful effects of food dyes, the FDA’s recent ruling means that in the United States, we have to take our own precautionary measures.

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Reference:  ADVANCE for Speech-Language Pathologists & Audiologists, February 7, 2011 

Eighteen-month-olds who played with a broader array of objects named by shape learned new words twice as fast as those who played with more similar objects, according to a new study at the University of Iowa.

Outside the lab a month after the training, toddlers who had been exposed to the diverse objects were learning an average of nearly 10 new words per week.  Children in the other group were picking up four a week, which is typical for that age without any special training.

All of the children given extra training with words figured out that shape was the most important distinguishing feature when learning to name solid objects.  Typically, this attention to shape is not seen until later in development.  However, the researchers believe that children exposed to more variety took the knowledge a step further and learned when not to attend to shape.  For example, children in the variable group learned to focus on material rather than shape when hearing names for non-solid substances.

“Knowing where to direct their attention helps them learn words more quickly overall,” said lead author Lynn Perry, a doctoral student in psychology.  “The shape bias enhances vocabulary development because most of the words young kids learn early on are names of categories organized by similarity in shape.”  In addition, developing the ability to disregard shape for non-solids helps them learn words like pudding or milk. 

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Reference from Perry, L.K., Samuelson, K.k., Malloy, L.M., et al. (2010). Learn locally, think globally: Exemplar variability supports higher-order generalization and word learning. Psychological Science, 21 (12):1894-1902

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Reference: ADVANCE for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists, April 4, 2011

Infants are auditory learners.  When parents talk and read to them, babies learn about communication and how to interact with others.  “Spending quality time and bonding with an infant are always important, no matter what the activity is,” said Hannah Chow, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.  “But with reading the benefits increase.”

Reading to children at a young age encourages a passion for books and learning, improves vocabulary, stimulates creativity and imagination, and improves a child’s concentration which improves attention in school.

“Although reading books to children is wonderful when infants are small, it’s not so much what you read, but how you read it” said Dr. Chow.  Parents can read the Wall Street Journal to their babies as long as they use voice inflection and interact with them while reading.  “It’s a wonderful chance to just be together,” she said.

The reading material becomes more imporant as children age.  Infants and toddlers enjoy staring at people, especially babies, so books should be colorful and simple, with lots of pictures.

“Most toddlers don’t want to sit still while an entire book is read, so reading part of the story lets them wander off and explore for a while and then return to the story a little later”, Dr. Chow said.  The experience just needs to be purposeful and a part of their routine.

Children should be allowed to pick which book they want to read, she said.  “If it’s the same one over and over again, just keep reading it.  Kids learn from repetition.”

Parents should try to have books with them at all times as they are always available to children whenever there is down time, such as riding in a car or sitting in a waiting room.

The most important part of reading as an activity for young children is the quality time spent with parents, Dr. Chow said. “Parents should interact with their kids while reading, asking them questions about the words or pictures.  It’s fascinating what kids are interested in and the amount of detail they can remember.”

Children mimic their parents’ behavior, she noted.  “If reading is a priority to parents and they see them picking up a book instead of turning on the TV, they will most likely do it, too.”

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Reference: Pediastaff Inc Pediatric and School Based Discussion Group April 20, 2011

According to the dictionary, a stutter can be defined as “distorted speech characterized principally by blocks or spasms interrupting rhythm.”  In the U.S. alone, over three million people are affected by this disorder says the Stuttering Foundation of America.  While this may be a reason for some to be shy or anti-social, often times this isn’t the case.  Many other people find ways to overcome this impairment.  Through classes, practice and other methods they prevent this from hinering their lives.  You probably wouldn’t think that theater and acting would be a potential solution; but one student here at Fredonia found this worked for him. 

Senior acting major Matt Nersinger of Webster, NY may be known for his stage roles but at one time his stutter defined him.  Since childhood, Matt struggled with a speech impediment that he wouldn’t address until late middle school.

Growing up, Matt never thought he would be an actor.  He assumed that his impairment would keep him down and prevent him from this art, or as he puts it, “I couldn’t even talk or form a sentence at the time.”  Before he discovered the stage, he admittedly didn’t think theater was for him and even mocked the art.

It wasn’t until his freshman year of high school that he got his first stage experience, sort of.  He decided to join his friends on stage crew for his school’s fall production.  This behind the scenes experience changed his attitude toward the stage for the better.  The upperclassman actors of the show treated him very kindly even as a younger crew member.  This kindness convinced him to try out for the school’s spring show.

This opportunity really broke him out of his shell.  Before this he rarely ever wanted to even talk to others, in fear of his stutter getting in the way.  While being on stage made him nervous, knowing what he was going to say helped him not fumble his words.  A combination of his speech therapy and acting roles allowed him to do this.

Another concept that helped Matt was the simple act of singing.  He figured out that when he sang his words he didn’t stutter as much and was more fluent.  This prompted him to puruse singing throughout his high school years.   He saw this as a type of “therapy” for his impediment.  There were times when he even sang within his household, although, “my sister hated that, she’d be like stop singing,” he said.

You might be wondering why he went to school for acting if he was more interested in singing.  It began senior year when he developed what he called calluses on his throat, similar to ones you would get on your feet or hands.  This prevented him from singing and even talking for a period of time.  He eventually dropped the idea for the sake of his voice and concentrated on his acting skills.

When choosing potential colleges for his acting future Matt didn’t take much time to look.  He became familiar with Fredonia through visits he made with friends while in high school.  “I didn’t really put the needed time into college searching,” Matt said.  While he somewhat regrets not looking more into this, he sees Fredonia as a blessing in disguise.

He started as a theater major and instantly fell in love with the program.  “People are what make this school,” he said.  “They are just so nice, welcoming, accommodating and accepting.  I was always terrified of auditioning because I would just get very nervous.  When my nerves, go, I start to stutter and that makes me more nervous,” Matt said.  Overcoming his stutter to get into the theater program was one of many steps he took toward self-improvement.

Aside from his stage roles, Matt is involved in other activities on campus as well.  He has been involved in another performance group, the Guerillas, for a few years now.  Since high school, he always wanted to be involved in an a capella group.  His time with the group has allowed him to expand his performance skills and utilize his previous passion of music.  He’s also a member of Alpha Psi Omega, an upperclassman honor society for theater students.  Another resource Matt utilized to help his speech is the Youngerman Center.  This on-campus speech clinic offers therapy to those who inquire.  At first he was not interested in this prospect.  “I did not want to think of my stutter as a handicap,” he said.  He slowly changed this view after his fluency began to take a tumble.

By his junior year he finally decided to inquire.  He made an appointment with one of their specialists and started the process of speech recovery.  These classes acted as a “refresher” course for him.  Combined with his theater lessons, he created his own sort of speech therapy.  One of his future missions is to open a theater therapy clinic to further assist those with stutters and impairments as a way to give back to the art that helped him so much.

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Reference: ADVANCE for Speech Language Pathologists- March 20,2011   
Adults with memory problems who participated in a home-based physical activity program experienced a modest improvement in cognitive function, compared to those who did not participate in the program, according to Australian researchers [JAMA, 300, (9): 1027-1037].

As the world population ages, the number of older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease is estimated to increase from the current 26.6 million to 106.2 million by 2050.  “If illness onset could be delayed by 12 months, 9.2 million fewer cases of Alzheimer’s disease would occur worldwide.  For this reason, attempts have been made to identify individuals who are at increased risk of Alzhiemer’s disease and to test interventions that might delay the progression of prodromal symptoms [early non-specific symptom, or set of symptoms] to full-blown dementia,” the authors wrote.

Nicola T. Lautenschlager, MD, of the University of Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues conducted a randomized controlled trial to test whether a physical activity intervention would reduce the rate of cognitive decline among 138 adults age 50 years and older at increased risk of dementia.  The participants, who reported memory problems but did not meet criteria for dementia, were randomly allocated to an education and usual care group or to a 24-week home-based program of physical activity.

The aim of the intervention was to encourage participants to perform at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, which participants were asked to complete in three 50-minute sessions each week.  The most frequently recommended type of activity was walking.  The intervention resulted in 142 minutes more physical activity per week or 20 minutes per day than with usual care.  Cognitive function was assessed with the Alzheimer Disease Asssessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale (ADAS-Cog; a measuring tool that consists of a number of  cognitive tests) over 18 months.

The researchers found that by the study’s end, participants in the exercise group had better ADAS-Cog scores and delayed recall than those in the usual care control group.  Participants in the physical activity group also had lower Clinical Dementia Rating scores than those in the usual care group.

“To our knowledge, this trial is the first to demonstrate that exercise improves cognitive function in older adults with subjective and objective mild cognitive impairment.  The benefits of physical activity were apparent after 6 months and persisted for at least another 12 months after the intervention had been discontinued.  The average improvement of 0.69 points on the ADAS-Cog score compared with the usual care control group at 18 months is small but potentially important when one considers the relatively modest amount of physical activity undertaken by participants in the study,” the authors write.

“Unlike medication, which was found to have no significant effect on mild cognitive impairment at 36 months, physical activity has the advantage of health benefits that are not confined to cognitive function alone, as suggested by findings on depression, quality of life, falls, cardiovascular function, and disability.

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Reference:  ADVANCE Magazine for Speech Language Pathologists, March 17, 2011

Mental function improves after certain kinds of socializing.

Talking with other people in a friendly way can make it easier to solve common problems, but conversations that are competitive in tone, rather than cooperative, have no cognitive benefits, a recent study shows (Social “Psychological and Personality Science, online, Oct. 13, 2010). 

“This study shows that simply talking to other people, the way you do when you’re making friends, can provide mental benefits”, said lead author Oscar Ybarra, PhD, a psychologist at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.

Researchers examined the impact of brief episodes of social contact on executive function, a key component of mental activity.  Previously, Dr. Ybarra had found that social interaction provides a short-term boost to executive function that is comparable in size to playing brain games, such as solving crossword puzzles.

In the current series of studies, he and colleagues tested 192 undergraduates to pinpoint which types of social interaction help and which don’t.  They found that engaging in 10-minute conversations in which participants simply were instructed to get to know another person resulted in boosts to subsequent performance on an array of common cognitive tasks.  But when participants engaged in conversations that had a competitive edge, their performance on cognitive tasks showed no improvement.

“We believe that performance boosts come about because some social interactions induce people to try to read others’ minds and take their perspectives on things,” Dr. Ybarra said.  “We also find that when we structure even competitive interactions to have an element of taking the other person’s perspective, or trying to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, there is a boost in executive functioning as a result.”

In addition, the improvement in mental function was limited to tasks assessing executive function.  Neither processing speed nor general knowledge was affected by the type of social interaction engaged in by participants.

“Taken together with earlier research, these findings highlight the connection between social intelligence and general intelligence,” he said.  “This fits with evolutionary perspectives that examine social pressure on the emergence of intelligence and research showing a neural overlap between social-cognitive and executive brain functions.”

The research also has some practical implications for improving performance on certain kinds of intellectual tasks.  If you want to perform your best, having a friendly chat with a colleague before a big presentation or test may be a good strategy.

Blogger comment:  I can attest to having more energy after I have socialized with friends in a noncompetitive way.  It seems to help my frame of mind and I am more productive.  In this high technology world and with emphasis on texting and social media, it is refreshing to know that face to face contact with people is and always will be beneficial to all of us.

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As iPod or MP3 use among children grows at an unprecedented rate fueling concerns that many are using the technology unsafely, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) Listen to Your Buds website (cheap Premarin online) aims at empowering parents and protecting children from noise-induced hearing loss and other communication difficulties.

Protect your child’s hearing by teaching three basic principles: keeping the volume down, limiting listening time, and watching for warning signs of hearing loss. 

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This is an older article from Jan. 11, 2010, but I found it fascinating.  It is taken from ADVANCE for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists.  I have deleted some of the content due to time restrictions, but have included the main points of the article and the implications of the study. 

This study suggests that verbal apraxia symptoms are part of a larger syndrome.  It reveals that a new syndrome in children presents with a combination of allergy, apraxia and malabsorption.  Autism spectrum disorders were variably present.

Verbal apraxia had been understood to be a neurologically-based speech disorder, although hints of other neurological soft signs had been described.  The recent study suggests the symptoms of verbal apraxia are part of a larger, multifactorial neurologic syndrome involving food allergies, gluten sensitivity and nutritional malabsorption-at least for a subgroup of children.

“While it is critical to treat verbal apraxia symptoms that often include severe delays in expressive speech production with speech therapy, we need to start asking why these kids are having these problems in the first place so we can identify mechanisms we can target to treat the cause of the symptoms,” said Claudia Morris, MD, of Children’s Hospital and Research Center in Oakland, CA.  She conducted the study in conjunction with Marilyn Agin MD, a neurodevelopmental pediatrician at Saint Vincent Medical Center in New York.  The study takes a major step toward identifying the potential mechanisms that may contribute to apraxia symptoms. 

The symptoms that the children demonstrated were a common cluster of allergy, apraxia and malabsorption, along with low muscle tone, poor coordination and sensory integration abnormalities.  The children also revealed low carnitine levels, abnormal celiac panels, gluten sensitivity and vitamin D deficiency, among others. 

The data indicate that the neurologic dysfunction represented in the syndrome overlaps the symptoms of vitamin E
deficiency.  While low vitamin E bioavailability may occur due to a variety of different causes, neurological consequences are similar, regardless of the initiating trigger.

The study suggests that vitamin E could be used as a safe nutritional intervention that may benefit some children.  Growing evidence supports the benefits of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in a number of neurodevelopmental disorders. 

Anecdotally, children with verbal apraxia often demonstrate leaps in speech production when taking high-quality fish oil.  The addition of vitamin E to omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in this cohort of children induced benefits that exceeded expectations from just speech therapy alone, according to parental report.

“While data from a case series is by no means conclusive, the results clearly point to the need for further attention to this poorly understood disorder and a placebo-controlled study to investigate the potential role of vitamin E and omega-3 supplementation in this group of childreen,” said Dr. Morris.

Children with an apraxia diagnosis also should receive a more comprehensive metabolic evaluation than what is current practice, she pointed out.  Many nutritional deficiencies like low carnitine, zinc and vitamin D are treated easily.  If nutritional deficiencies are not addressed, children will continue to experience significant medical consequences. 

The underlying cause of these deficiences and a fat malabsorption syndrome should be determined after deficiencies are identified and treated.  In the meantime, the new study provides the essential foundation for identification.

“By identifying the early red flags of this syndrome, we have provided a way to get these kids treatment at the earliest possible moment,” she said.  “While 75 percent of the kids identified as late bloomers are just that, the rest have a true pathologic condition.  To miss it is to miss critically valuable time for early intervention.”

Children who have all these symptoms are likely to fall into the 25 percent who have a condition that needs further evaluation and treatment, Dr. Morris stated.

Morris, C.R., Agin, M.C. (2009) Syndrome of allergy, apraxia, and malabsorption: Characterization of a neurodevelopmental phenotype that responds to omega 3 and vitamin e supplementation.  Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 15 (4)

Atladottir, H.O., Pedersen, M.G., Thorsen, P., et al. (2009).  Association of family history of autoimmune diseases and autism spectrum disorders. Pediatrics, 124: 687-94.