A newsletter for families
Fall 2006 The Speech Pathology Group
2021 Ygnacio Valley Road, C-202
Walnut Creek, CA 94598
Editor’s Note (925) 945-1474
By Pamela Bloch, MS, CCC-SLP www.speechpathologygroup.com
Back To School! Welcome to the Fall 2006 edition of the Speech Pathology Group’s newsletter for families with
children experiencing communication challenges. Back-to-school not only means thinking about parent-teacher
conferences, morning rushes, and nightly homework rituals, but also considering additional ways to help prepare
your child for success outside of your home. Thriving at school, as many children themselves very well know,
often means much more than learning the academic curriculum. To maximize the benefits of their school
environment--be it preschool or secondary education--students need to be in an optimal state of learning readiness
and be equipped with critical social skills. This Fall “Conversations” issue focuses on discussion of social skills
integral to school success, suggestions for sensory tools to help your child through the school day, and ways to
help promote early social communication development. As usual, we want to alert you to community events and
resources we hope will prove useful. We wish your family a fun and successful school year!
Adjusting to new fall routines can be a challenge. Help your child transition to changes in your
family’s schedules through visual supports that ease anxiety and promote improved understanding of expectations. Visit
our website at www.speechpathologygroup.com to review any of our past issues of “Conversations,” including our
Summer 2006 newsletter, which provided resources for printable pictures, schedule and choice board templates, and
practical tips on how to employ visual aids with your child.
Back to School: The Importance of constructive play towards an end result (blocks,
Social Success (Contributed by Lisa Legos, art projects, etc.), symbolic play (make-
Cameron, MS, CCC-SLP) believe and imitating others), or participating in
Many parents consider September as a time games with rules, e.g., board games.
to transition from summer fun to academic
focus and achievement. But did you know that a 2. Self-Regulation: Your child should have the
child’s social success in school may play the most capacity to regulate his/her level of alertness and
important role in self-esteem, which is then critical to attention in order to participate in
motivation and academic success? School-aged social situations, e.g., shift attention
children with communication impairments frequently between speakers in conversation,
have social difficulties, and may need help developing ignore irrelevant background or
skills not only to increase their academic success, but internal distractions, and/or watch
also to establish or improve social relationships with social situations as they unfold and be ready to
peers and learn to function within a community. Here respond.
are five critical areas of Social Competence (as
discussed in Williamson and Dorman, Promoting 3. Communication: Can your child
Social Competence, c2002, Therapy Skill Builders): communicate well enough to present
themselves to others, achieve personal
1. Play and Social Behavior: Consider how your goals, persuade others, and learn about
child plays. Most children should enjoy various others’ thoughts, feelings, experiences,
types of play, for example, physical play, and perspectives? Children also need to
learn how to initiate, maintain, switch and
conclude topics appropriately in conversation. feelings, and joining a new group.
They must learn to word messages according to
the needs of a given audience (e.g., speaking to a 5. Social Decision-Making: Is your
child versus an adult). Understanding and using child able to make choices
abstract/figurative versus literal language also regarding social situations,
become more important as children grow older. e.g., how to decide who goes first in
Finally, children need to acknowledge the needs a game, deal with teasing,
of the listener when telling about personal collaborate with others, or avoid future conflict?
experiences, and attempt to clarify
misunderstandings when they occur. Characteristics and expectations for all these areas
vary depending on each child’s stage of development,
4. Prosocial Skills: Notice if your child values and and typically may be addressed once he/she has
displays behaviors such as sharing, helping, and obtained a certain level of mastery with earlier social
taking turns. Can he/she give compliments? Use and linguistic skills. Talk to your child’s speech
polite terms? Other prosocial skills critical to therapist, classroom teacher, or developmental
social success include: introducing self, asking pediatrician to help determine whether there are
others’ names, saying, “Thank You,” recognizing concerns in any of the above areas.
Social Language Summer Adventure Camp (Contributed by Brittany Struve, MS, CCC-SLP)
The Speech Pathology Group offered its first Social Language Summer Adventure Camp for school-aged
children this summer. The group, held twice a week for four weeks, was facilitated by two SPG
therapists, Lisa Cameron and Brittany Struve. Group planning meetings allowed our participants to
discuss logistics of the field trip, consider potential challenges, and review the outing from the previous
week by problem solving difficult social situations and reviewing photos of the trip. Visits included
Boomer’s for miniature golf, Diablo Lanes for bowling, The Golden Skate for
roller skating, and a private lake in Walnut Creek. The group was a great success
according to therapist, parent and child feedback! Information regarding next year’s camp
will be available in March 2007. Please contact Lisa Cameron at x102, or Brittany Struve
at x105 for more information.
Back-to-School Sensory Tools leg for receiving a smooth stretch in the midst of
You have already purchased your child’s lessons or homework. Resources such as
new back-to-school clothes, book bags, these can make all the difference in your
binders, and pencils, and are working on child’s on-task behavior throughout the
settling your family into the new fall distracting school day, improving his or her
routine. Now that you have a sense of ability to sit still for longer periods, focus on
how your child is responding to his or her new reading or writing with greater ease, or attend to verbal
classroom, you may also want to consider including information with less effort. Recommended websites
some sensory school tools into your child’s backpack to purchase such products include
in order to help compensate for any fine motor, www.abilitations.com and www.theraproducts.com.
attention, or sensory challenges he or she may A big Thank You to Gail Gordon and LeeAnn
encounter. SPG clinicians met with Orinda-based Williams for sharing their wonderful product and
occupational therapists Gail Gordon and LeeAnn activity ideas with all of us! Gail and LeAnn both
Williams this summer for hands-on experience with a work in Orinda, and can be reached at (925) 258-9935
range of tools designed to improve attention, alertness, and (925) 253-1347 if parents are interested in more
and learning readiness. Some of the sensory tool information on their occupational therapy services.
options we explored included pencil toppers that offer
visual and tactile stimulation to improve attention; seat Jill Walson, one of our SPG Speech Pathologists,
cushion options that provide sensory input; fidget toys will be collaborating with
that allow for socially appropriate ways Occupational Therapist Gail Gordon later this fall
to release distractible energy; textured/ to hold a parent training workshop that will
angled pencil grips that facilitate address how communication and fine motor skills
efficient hand grips and make writing can go hand in hand. More information to follow!
more legible and less fatiguing; and Questions may be directed to Jill at (925) 945-1474,
resistive bands to tie around a desk chair x101.
Communication Foundations: Early Social (raspberries, or “eee”). Follow your child’s lead
Development by imitating an action, facial expression, or
For children with emerging language, a range of sound that he/she starts: if your child sees you
behaviors such as eye-gaze, reaching, copying something silly, he/she will be more
pointing, gesturing, and vocalizing are likely to repeat it. Pair actions with sounds to
typically used to control the environment help transition from motor to sound imitation.
and sustain interactions with their partner.
These behaviors can send a range of 4. Turn-taking: Early turn-taking paves the way
messages--not just requesting objects or answering for later communicative exchanges, which are
questions, but also protesting, directing, commenting, based on sharing listening, waiting, gesturing,
seeking attention, and greeting. Below are five and speaking turns. Your child will first learn to
nonverbal skills that, although do not necessarily take nonverbal turns (looks at you expectantly
include language, can carry a great deal of or pats the ground), vocal turns (makes sounds
communicative intent. All five support positive when you pause your singing), and then verbal
caregiver and child interactions and pave the way for turns (says “Me” during a game). Work on turn-
later speech, language, and social development: taking as you: *take turns rolling a
ball back and forth * throw beanbags
1. Joint Attention: Your child’s ability to notice * put in puzzle pieces * build a block
various stimuli and share the experience with a tower * bang on a drum * stomp feet
communicative partner can be enhanced when * put hats on each other’s heads *
you: *talk face-to-face and at eye-level with make silly sounds * blow raspberries * exchange
your child * add a surprise element to your play tickles. Wait expectantly to signal to your child
* play with the same toy in different ways * that it is his/her turn by establishing eye-contact,
provide sound effects to your actions * engage leaning closer to your child, nodding
in social routines such as peek-a-boo * sing encouragingly, raising your eye-brows and
songs paired with gestures, e.g., Wheels on the opening your lips slightly.
Bus * remove competing distractions from the
environment * 5. Initiation: Initiations can be nonverbal (your
child touches your hand to continue a desired
2. Eye contact: Communicative eye gaze can be action or signs “help” spontaneously), vocal
encouraged if you: *hold desired objects up (obtains your attention by making vowel
near your face rather than down in your hands * sounds), or verbal (spontaneously asks for
make exaggerated facial expressions, mouth “More juice”). Often the most powerful way to
movements and sound effects * use different encourage your child to initiate is to WAIT!
vocal volumes and pitches * wait a moment for Pause after performing an action to allow time
eye-contact before giving your child something for a reaction via facial expression, gesture, or
or performing a desired action * sing * play vocalization. Avoid asking questions or taking a
peek-a-boo with surprising items * play dress up turn for him/her. Try not to anticipate your
with hats and glasses * use noise-makers or hold child’s every need or help as soon as he/she
instruments near your face * appears “stuck.” Follow your child’s lead by
responding enthusiastically to new actions,
3. Imitation: Establishing imitation is essential to gestures, and sounds. Interpret gestures/
speech and language learning, and vocalizations: your child may not have intended
begins with gross motor/physical to communicate anything particular, but if you
movements, oral imitation, and respond as if she/he did, your child may begin to
sound play. Encourage your child to use that initially random gesture/sound in
imitate physical actions (clap hands), meaningful, communicative ways.
actions with objects (put sock on
head, knock over blocks), oral
movements (puff cheeks with air), or sounds
Frederick Rosen, M.D., an Ear Nose and Throat doctor specializing in pediatric Otolaryngology, recently met with SPG
therapists to share information about his services at a few East Bay sites, including the Contra Costa Ear Nose & Throat group next
door to our Walnut Creek clinic. Specialty areas include drooling, frenulectomy, adenoid and tonsillectomies, velopharyngeal
insufficiency, and swallowing disorders. Dr. Rosen can be reached at (925) 685-0917.
The Speech Pathology Group
2021 Ygnacio Valley Road, C-202
Walnut Creek, CA 94598
Working Together to Make a Difference
Upcoming Community Events
October 5th, 2006: 6-8pm. We Care’s Autism Family Support Project in Concord is
holding its Parent Group discussion on Communication Development. www.wecarebmcc.org.
October 28th: Special Workshop: Helping Parents to Understand the Special Education System. Presentation by
Cathy Nicoll, Ph.D., Contra Costa SELPA. Sponsored by the CARE Parent Network in Martinez. Free, with
pre-registration required. Call (925) 313-0999 for more information.
November 10th: 5:30-8pm. Family Nights Out: Communication Development. In addition to its Parent Groups, We
Care Services for Children offers “Family Nights Out,” providing activities for autistic children, typically developing
siblings, and parents within an environment that encourages family interaction and support. This Family Night Out will
incorporate information presented during the October 5th Parent Group discussion on communication development.
November 13th: 7-9pm. SPG’s Lisa Cameron and Brittany Struve will be at the downtown Walnut Creek Barnes &
Noble bookstore presenting on our clinic’s Social Language Group Program, which places a strong emphasis
on communication, and utilizes a combination of dyadic and small group practice for preschool and school-aged children.
Learn more about our program and see the Barnes and Noble parent support group’s complete calendar of events by visiting
December 1st: Organizing Strategies to Help with Homework and Real Life (San Jose, California). Presented by
Michelle Garcia Winner, a speech pathologist and specialist for high-level individuals with social cognitive deficits,
including those with High Functioning Autism, PDD-NOS, Asperger Syndrome, and NLD. Michelle will present other
workshops within her series on October 10th, 11th, 12th (Sacramento), and on November 30th (San Jose). For more
information, call (408) 557-8575 x303, visit www.socialthinking.com,or email email@example.com.