Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Year Cometh

Free your spirit and dance with life - from Finding Joy by Charlotte Kasl
My mom and my mother-in-law are great ladies!  They are the true meaning of moms with all the cliches - and I mean that in the most loving way!  Even for the holidays, they always, for as long as I can remember have gotten something for everyone on Christmas or for Chanukah; and. . . . if there is a last minute guest. . . . that is not a problem. . . they are included with a gift. . . my moms make, and still do. . . make everyone feel loved.

Which brings about my thoughts for a quick blog regarding the new year.  A couple of years ago, my mom-in-law presented all the ladies with a small, delicate sun catcher - each one with a quote.  I received the one which I quoted above, it's from the author Charlotte Kasl.  If you know this author, you know she writes in regards to having a balanced, richer life.

I loved the quote when I received it and after setting things back in place after the holidays (basic holiday cheer being put away) the sun catcher caught my eye and I fell in love with the quote once again.  For soon, it will be a new year and I sit back and think about the year that was, did I dance all through the year?  Probably not. . . some little bumps along the way.  Then I think about how much time and thought is spent on the things that made me stop dancing. . . seconds, minutes, hours, days. . . . . any time would probably be too much if it made me stop dancing. 
Children are quite different, they could dance late into the night if we let them, and that is why I love spending so much time teaching and talking to them.  They make me think about life and fun and freeing the spirit.  That is why I want to teach them to communicate those feelings and ideas and thoughts of wonder with the best words I can give them - or make them want to say.  That is why I love to share with families - there is so much dancing left to be done and so many free spirits wanting to be heard! 

Do parents spend time during the year not dancing?  Of course we do, we have so many other things to worry about and take care of - especially when it comes to our children.  Parents want the best for their children.  Parents want their children to have what they didn't - we all strive for that everyday.  We strive for what we didn't have, but along the way, we sometimes sell out and stop dancing.

We have to remember to relax with our children and have some fun.  I know how hectic the holidays and everyday can be. . . with all the rushing and so much fussing.  But we can open a book and take a look, or sit in a chair and share, or even . . . .
talk about dancing and give them the words to dance.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Getting back to Language

Wow! The holidays have come and gone - soon the year will do the same; we will be in the midst of 2012!  It seems I've forgotten how to blog during this time - uhhhh ohhhh!

Although, I will find the time to post and/or blog more for the new year.  Sharing of ideas, learning, listening and language is all a part of now and always.

I have an idea which evolved from reading one of my favorite blogs this morning, thought about it all day and want to put it in writing this evening.  I believe it will be great for my students at school and even better as something to put into action at home.  The power of language can be a gift, and if you can have a conversation you can pass the gift of language from one person to another, and from there the gift will grow.  As it always has been, old teach the new. 
The first unit I'll work on when children return to school will be winter; cold, snow, snowman, seasons and clothes.  The children will build vocabulary and use it in simple to complex sentence patterns and structuring language.  The introduction will begin with the older students discussing and reading a story about one of the mentioned topics for the unit.  For instance, Jan Brett's The Hat, has animals and clothing-those can be categories learned for younger students.  This story also has idioms presented by each of the animals in the story and are great for older students to learn and understand.  Another story by this author for second and third graders - Hedgie's Surprise,  great as Reader's Theater, but even better at sequencing a story and again, learning about animals along with their babies.  We'll have a great time re-enacting the story, developing vocabulary and deciding on repeated sentence patterns; even discussing the meanings of repeated lines with idioms. I guess this part of language building makes me the elder and them the young ones - Ah ha!  Anyway, I digress, we will then make a gift box with items from the story and the older students can decide from there how to show or use the items with the younger students.  All of it must spark language and a conversation to begin between them.  What the older students do from there is up to them - but I'm crossing my fingers and I'm hoping they insist on creating amongst themselves.  Adults not invited until they are finished!
What about parent and child - the same concept in hand; can you imagine!! Jan Brett's book, The Hat, has the animals running around the farm yard trying different pieces of clothing to become their perfect warm winter hat. Kind of like that 'Easter bonnet' you are suppose to show off!  Can you imagine!!! you, the parent/caregiver, running around the house with your child running after you, to find the perfect hat. 
I can imagine 'the language coming and is turning into conversation'!!!
 The gift of language is alive and doing well and the conversations of 2012 will be great!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Words Have Meaning

The English language is such a complex system!  While I attended graduate school for my Masters in Speech Science, I didn't think I was ever going to get through development of, or the system of our language.  It was definitely a love/hate relationship!  In those years, I learned words have meaning - in sooooo many different ways.

 My husband, to this day, tells my son on every consultative conversation they have: "Your words have meaning, son - make sure you are saying the right thing - you need to convey exactly what you mean"; or on every 'man-to-man' discussion, "Your words have meaning - make sure you don't hurt the person you are talking to. . .'

As the years keep moving by, I've realized (once again) how much language matters and how so very important it is to tell parents and the students I work with. . . words have meaning.
As baby develops, language and speech develop.  They learn (as a part of brain development) their sounds and voice convey a message because some noise always gets them noticed.  A caregiver knows the baby's language and speech are developing because they have learned that each message is evolving into something they understand!

Those individuals with a hearing loss, lose some of that information and lose it at varying degrees depending on onset of loss and degree of loss, but words still have meaning. . . . that doesn't change.
So I teach children and parents to convey that meaning early on. . . in varying situations. . . in a 1000 different ways.  As an activity is introduced within a therapy session, I always write in my notes how to use or implement at home.  From there, the parent and I brainstorm about how to incorporate into other areas of life, activities and/or language - because words have meaning.  i.e. 'up' - pick me up, let's go up, put up, pick up (noun vs. verb - think about it!), dress up, move up. . . it's exhausting! Of course start with what you do for the baby first, but think of introducing all those other language, speech, idioms as the baby gets older and is a child, tween, teen, adult!

Here is an example of the season; (bless their hearts) - a therapy session with three or four 2nd/3rd graders diagnosed with language/speech impairment secondary to hearing impairment.  We are going over holiday vocabulary and try to think of synonyms for particular vocabulary words.  The word 'Santa' comes up from the vocabulary deck - not one child realized; besides the word 'Santa Claus', that 'St. Nick', 'Jolly ol' St. Nick', or Nicolas are various words for Santa. They've heard the songs and read the words, but they just thought it was some man who liked the holidays!  Guess what the lesson turned into!

Words have meaning. . . . we want to give every opportunity to teach what we know and love - language! That being said,

May the meaning of the season mean all you want it to - and be a true part of your family's language.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

There's only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's  your own self.  So you have to begin there, not outside, not on other people.  That comes afterwards, when you have worked on your own corner.                   Aldous Huxley
 Well, here we are, December!  The students love it, I love it, and everyone else. . . . well, it is December! 

I love this time of year because my house changes, the city changes, and the weather changes - all for the better.  At least I think so, and I think so because this is the time of year when I think about starting anew.  The year is almost over and I can throw it out the window.  I can think of all the things I didn't finish and/or accomplish and say - "Oh well, let's see if I can do this again." 
Maybe you think of this part of the year as just the end of the year.  Maybe you have another part of the year you enjoy better.  That really is okay - because everyone is different and everyone has choices.  Everyone likes what they like; change what they feel is important.  This time of year is my choice and where I begin to think about change.

The one item I won't change - is my love for my work and working with children - it is all consuming at times, a sleepless night sometimes, and exhausting sometimes.  But for me it is all worth it.  I do use this time to reflect on families (mine and those I work with) to realize just because I have done something for me and mine, doesn't mean those I work with have to follow it exactly.  Variety is the many facets of life!  Variety and change are several facets . . . waiting for the work that comes.
For those I have pushed my judgements on and my way of thinking; I am truly sorry, for those I have moved into thoughts which have changed their way of thinking and they liked it - yea!!
And for those I have lost for being so pushy - those are the ones I'll miss the most.  But I am learning, I am learning that my corner has to be the one that needs improving first - and if you learn something along the way - yea!!

The last item for December and the new item for the new year - improving my corner with new ideas and teaching and working therapy. Short and sweet and to the point - oh what a plan that should be!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sometimes it Takes a Village

At least several minutes out of every hour, my mind is on a trillion different things.  When I write I attempt to focus on what I'm writing but that doesn't always work out.  This time I have had this in the back of my mind for several days and feel this is a great time to blog about it.  Sometimes it takes a village to make things come together and not just for the love of what is being done, but for the support and connection of professionals who believe in the same thing.

I love my work and the area of specialty I serve - children with a hearing loss and their parents.  Part of this love is my supporting an organization I believe in greatly.  En Voz Alta, which in Spanish means, 'In a Loud Voice'.  It is a group comprised of parents and professionals that strive to educate, advocate, and support the area community of hearing impaired individuals or parents of children with a hearing loss.
This group has sponsored two bi-national medical symposiums focusing on distributing information to those parents and professionals who had been looking but couldn't find what they needed in regards to help and contacts within this area.

There is so much more to rave about when it comes to this dedicated group - but if you need information and/or want contacts.  Here is the link: - look on the left hand column and click Focus Funds, then find En Voz Alta - it will give you more than enough to get you started with contacts. 
Because Sometimes it Takes a Village

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A New One

"Why wish for the Privilege of living your past life again? You begin a New One every morning."
Robert Quillen
You begin anew every morning.  I really was taken aback when I first read this and then this smile came across my face.  Wow - the thought of starting over everyday has never crossed my mind before.  I could easily keep up the same thing from day-to-day; or even review things from last week.  Or. . . 
what a concept! Start fresh everyday!!  
I guess it's all a matter of how you approach the day and the things that need to get done.

One of the things I need to get done, new lessons and approaches for the children I have in my therapy sessions.  I love the activities I teach and there are those lessons I wouldn't trade for any new activity with all the 'bells and whistles'.  I have activities I know will get the child's attention and keep it all through the session. . . .well, most of the time. . . then there is the child in which no activity engages them.  Start anew!  Think of something!  I can't always think of something - my mind does not always work as fast as some kiddos!
New lessons every morning? Well, no - but how about new apps after the activities have not worked and you're looking around to decide what to try next.  Sometimes I forget that I, being the dinosaur in a generation of constantly changing technology, have the answers at my fingertips.   Recently, I learned the art of apps for students to learn, and I'm learning the art of apps for listening and spoken language.

My strategy for all lessons is auditory first, visual if needed, and then return to auditory to build memory for the student/client.  The second strategy for all lessons is Observe, Wait, Listen and find out what the student/client needs or seeks.  If my activities are not working for the student then I use the apps that build off of my activity, and they all involve listening - yea!!!  I just had to take the time to start anew and think about today's new life.  On top of that - sessions move smoothly and clients are interested.

Starting anew everyday for me is moving outside the box-that is for me- the dinosaur box, and begin using what is fresh and new for the times.  There are educational apps for speech, language and listening to develop the auditory means and language gains that go with auditory learning.  Some of those for children are free and easy to find - use your Internet and go surfing.  I love . . . 'Moo Box', 'Little Farm' and 'Where's Mommy?' for toddlers and Pre-k kiddos.  Parents can find the apps under the name; Approved4Kids for their elementary child and there are so many stories and language games for Kindle and/or The Nook.  Even adults can use audio books and music memory tunes to keep their auditory memory, discrimination, and perception keen and fresh.  

So. . . . 'why want the past over again, when you have the opportunity to begin new every morning'

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Managing: Work, sleep, and thankfulness

Oh my - work has taken over my life!  Something I promised myself would not happen again.  Alas, some areas of my life become sooooo consuming if not 'stayed on top of '.  Work, unfortunately is consuming - so many items to be taken care of and so little time.

Managing areas of life is a part of all of us - don't you think?  My area of work in which I don't do well is managing the paperwork and time lines associated; which causes the domino effect.
I do believe we are all victims of the domino effect in our lives in one way or another.

As parents managing our children and their life's - we can definitely feel the domino effect.
The entire reason I do parent classes and/or include parents as part of the therapy session, is for them to see why it is so important they change their persona and become teacher.  So they do manage - and do not feel the domino effect with their child.  If a parent does not take the teacher role during rehabilitation of their child's speech and/or language, if they wait and say the therapist/teacher can do this part; sooner or later,  the domino effect will rear its ugly head.  A child has to feel the parent is not only vested in the therapy but that the therapy is worth the practice to make the child better.  A parent should know and understand, if you don't 'buy in' 100% - 24/7 - in child and practice - time will release the domino and their child will continue to have problems that may manifest itself into more difficulties - in more areas - and more challenges.

My area of work releases the domino to sleep and soon I am exhausted because I am playing the 'catch-up' game and not resting.  Even my blog is effected!
A parent will see - hopefully sooner rather than later - their child is effected - in so many ways.

Thankfully, vacation days come.  At this time of year I am thankful -for so many things.  This year I am thankful for the days to 'catch up'.  Shame on me for doing it that way, but this year - it works.  As a parent, those vacation days come in handy at some time or another.  I urge parents to take advantage of them every once-in-awhile.  I also point out, it should not become the answer.  Time is of the essence for children with a handicap to overcome.

This year, I have noticed on social medias, the idea of using each day to make a statement about being thankful for something.  Mine is still a list, a reminder I have so much - hopefully, you do as well.

I am thankful for: family who cares, friends who never disappear, work that is always there, and sleep that may or may not appear.  I am thankful for: An army of men and women who watch over us constantly and a country I am concerned over regularly, doctors who find cures to illness purposefully and patients who live their lives fully.   I am thankful for: my beliefs, my morals, my life - no matter how mismanaged I make it at times.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

October!! You're Kidding!!

No way! October already? Last time I had some time (which I don't right now, but I miss the blog!) - it has been well over a month; school was just getting started; and then everything began moving like a tornado!  School life really makes you lose track to time, and school life plus private therapy really makes you lose track of life! Hahaha. . . .

But as I have said in previous blogs, my family is what makes me realize life (and work) can make the living so much more fun and it's the balancing act that counts!

I love this time of year. Things begin to change and children can just feel it in the air.  Holidays are around the corner, going to school now means dressing a little bit warmer because mommy puts a sweater on you in the morning, and color changes remind you that summer does not last forever!  And
I get to help teach the children about the fun sounds they will hear and learn for this time of year.

For the young child just learning to use their listening skills - we do a great deal of singing to teach and learn about the rhythm, pitch, and intonation of speech.  The rise and fall of song also takes place with mom and/or care giver in the raise and fall of speech during interactions with child.
As you take a nature walk and notice the leaves falling from trees you can sing: (to the tune of 'The Farmer in the Dell') The leaves are falling down! The leaves are falling down! Red, and orange, and yellow, and brown, the leaves are falling down!  Or another tune to have fun with. . . (to the tune of Row, Row, Row your Boat)  Falling leaves, falling leaves, falling from the tree.  Rake them up then jump right in - have fun with falling leaves!
Point out leaves on the ground and the few leaves left in the trees.  Point out the crackling sound they make as you step on them under your feet or crackle them in your hand.  Have your child listen as you rake leaves in a pile.  Have them listen as you put them in a bag, basket, and/or wheelbarrow.  Push, push, push your child around in a wheelbarrow, or wagon with fall leaves.  Wheeeee!
For the young children in the classroom - play musical chairs with those songs.  As they listen, they walk around - when you stop singing - they sit down!  Or. . . what I really love - is singing this song as the children are playing in a pile of leaves (you can buy a couple of bags of fall leaves in any hobby or crafts store in the artificial plant/flower area) and when you stop singing. . . they stop raking, or jumping, or throwing the leaves!  Go on. . . . have some fun!

I love this video - thanks to

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Summer Shifts to School (Life)

It has been some weeks since I have been able to blog and I do find myself missing it and missing the read. . . 

These weeks have caught me off guard, trying to get back into the swing of my full-time job with my part-time job.  Whew!  As I try to make my life balance out again, I found another quote that brings a little clarity.
There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live.   ~James T. Adams
My thoughts; one should teach us the learning process and the other how not to forget to live fully.   Along with the balancing act, I am reminded along the way that life goes on and we need to enjoy both the learning process and the process of life. 
My students remind me of two items.  1) Summer is a time of fun and we have 'some catch-up' with listening and language.  2) We will get it done.  On the flip side, my family reminds me of two more items.  1) How not to forget to live.  2) How not to forget to listen (to language).

Pragmatics is the social communication of language.  Children whose hearing is intact get the pragmatics of language with every interaction they have from the time of birth.  Children whose hearing has been compromised from birth or seeking habilitation for a hearing impairment are taught pragmatics.   This is an area I work very heavily with parents and students.  It is an important aspect we can't forget during summer months and I can't forget during family time.
Interaction between two individuals is full of language - give and take, lean in and lean out, push and pull, listening and talking, talking and listening.  The easy way out when our life is busy - is give and take or push and pull.  Is there any listening or talking involved?  Think about it.  Listening and talking takes time.  We have to observe a situation, wait for our communication partner and really listen to the language.  Children in the summer - push and pull because they want what they want and they want fun now!  Adults push and pull because life goes on and they are busy and they want their children to have fun now!  We don't always remember to expect language in return. In comes school and I want listening and language that was intact before school let out for the summer.  That does not always happen.

Yet my family does find the way to tell me, school is education and when you are home, family is life. It is the combination of the two that makes life full of living.  Always trying to remember the listening and the language play a part, and always trying to remind my parents to incorporate while I try to remember to love both parts equally.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

School Time for Me and Everyone Else

I have so many new things awaiting me this year.  Now I know what my students feel like when they begin a new year with new teachers and the possibility of making new friends.  The program I work with is now on a new campus with new teachers and I, am not only on this campus with new teachers, but have a whole new staff to work within my program.  I wonder if I am asking the same questions as the children.  Will they like me?  Will they work with me?  Will they listen to me?  Will I hear what they say?  Remember, I work with children with a hearing impairment and as they become aware that they are a little different - these questions are very real for them as they are for other children, but magnified because of what they feel is different.  And then I think of their parents - What questions do they have going through their mind?  Will they make friends?  Will they have a good day?  Will they be able to listen and hear the teacher?  Will my child know what is going on around them?  Sound familiar?

I guess it does all feel the same in different ways.  I have to remember when I counsel my parents I tell them their children are waiting to come alive with communication.  We just have to give them the tools to make it happen.  Listening comes first, localizing that sound and finding it.  (Listening to others comes first, localizing the people that want to learn with me and making friends)  Then we move into modeling the sounds and language for them, and the child quickly takes the cue to copy those sounds and words.  (We show the friends are new program, or we show people we can listen and model what they want from us.)  Then we move to turn-taking and sharing of information. (You've seen me write about this before - it never changes with the situation - new school, new program, new friends that share information and ideas and fun.)  What is the difference with how I feel and how parents feel and then how the children feel?  Sometimes I feel the world is cold. . . my parents sometimes feel the world is cold. . . children feel the world is cold and we teach them to make it their business to build fires - taken from Horace Troubel

I do hope everyone has a great beginning of another school year!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Another Day. . . . another ????

Okay, you fill in the blank - so much has happened since my last blog and in two short weeks I will be returning to school/work along with some family members and all the other people that love working with children as much as I do.  It is just getting ready for it that I dread and then thinking about all the side notes of teaching and therapy that boggle my mind!  Can anyone say paperwork!!!

Anyway,  these past few days have opened my eyes to changes again and the feeling of being lost in everything that comes about. . . but then that feeling of change is also always followed by the fact that G-d commands those changes and it is not my path to follow but His - there is a reason for what is about to come.  For me, that is a calming effect and I focus on not panicking.  From what I see, I am not the only one with changes coming their way.  My husband has begun a new path in his job, he is very excited.  My son has challenges everyday, for life in general; he's young and life for him brings ups and downs.  But I got to spend a glorious weekend with him and we challenged the thought of all those roller coaster rides.  I have family coming home and I have family celebrating, and my friends are all making some kind of change - job or family.  What a summer!!

What does any of this have to do with Another day?  Well - to me - it has to do with learning and with what you make of another day.   Samuel Johnson said;
The chief art of learning is to attempt but little at a time.  The widest excursions of the mind are by short flights frequently repeated, the most lofty fabrics of sciences are formed by the continued accumulation of single propositions.
. . . which to me has a couple of meanings.  Our lives are so busy that we don't realize the constant change, and when we do - it sometimes takes our breath away that time passes us by.  Not really, those changes are the short flights frequently repeated and G-d must have a plan for me learning it.  The other meaning I try to explain to my clients and parents as much as possible, it makes so much sense when we realize it is a part of our lives.
As our children try to overcome whatever obstacle that has 'stalled' their learning - practice, practice, practice - and then practice some more!  If that part of the brain didn't grow, or got the wrong signals, let's make a new path of learning by showing our children over and over again, in sooo many different ways, the new information they need.
For me, children's paths are also governed by G-d and as parents and teachers/therapists, we can help correct an obstacle they need to overcome for their path.  Perhaps you were meant to make the 'flights repeated' so they may make the 'continued accumulation' into a single 'Aha!' moment.
Isn't that what it is all about. . . another day and another ????

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Recognizing Behavior vs. Technology

My area of interest in my profession is children with hearing impairment and I love to work with these kiddos and their parents.  Parents have made changes and decisions since their baby was diagnosed with a hearing loss and one of those decisions they have made is to learn language by listening and verbalizing.  That, in turn, opens up for me so many areas of my job that I love and so many areas of my job that I have fun with - but there are also times I don't enjoy myself so much and neither does the client, obviously!  I always go back and review my notes and decide if the session was a good one and what I could have done differently if needed.  I promise myself to find two good items in a session and reteach an area that didn't go so well.

In the meantime, while I attended this outstanding research symposium, a point came across that hit me hard. It hit me hard because I am guilty of the point.  A question I have not asked myself, or taught to  the parent, in a long time! The question? When you see the client not performing the way you expect or not getting the language that should be coming - what's the problem?  When the client does not perform consistently over time and the parent is beginning to feel discouraged because the client is not achieving points from the lesson or acting as though they hear any language - what's the problem?
And the next question I should be asking. . . ?  When was the last time the technology was checked?  My first thought should go to technology - is it working correctly, hearing aids or cochlear implants?
Yes we do a Ling check (six phonemes within a speech spectrum/frequency to monitor that they are hearing speech) and then I do check (observe) through the lesson.  But when things begin to change - even the slightest change you wouldn't expect to see - the first question should always be - How's the technology?  If you don't know - send them to the audiologist for the check.

Professionals should be more diligent in being the behaviorist and noting whether the reaction the child is having is because of equipment, not because the child is acting out or having a bad day.  Start asking questions of the parent and see if you can pin point the problem - and the questions and checking of equipment should always be the first move.  Parents are great at watching their child's behavior and will be honest about how the child is doing.  If the parent is telling you their child is not leaving  hearing aids on or pulling off the cochlear implant, then investigate.  Yes, a child does need to get use to their equipment but that is short-lived if the parent is consistent and expectations don't change.
Check the equipment, don't keep telling the parent 'It's okay, just keep putting the technology back on.'
If the parent is telling you that lately the child doesn't answer or verbalize; or they are telling you the child's voice has changed; or they voice their concern in their child's behavior - then check the equipment and teach the parent the basics of checking equipment.  We, as professionals, owe it to the parent to pay attention to certain 'new' aspects of their child.  We, as professionals, owe it to the parent to teach them how to advocate for their child and get the professional to realize something is up.  We should not, professional or parent, be quick to assume something else is wrong.  It is not always a behavior problem and it is not always something else terrible for the parent to worry about.
Lesson learned: Check the equipment!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

How Do Things Happen?

I am always amazed at how things happen?!  Even if I know how they happen it never ceases to amaze - listening or watching the magic of things.  Sometimes while I watch or listen, I can feel the tears come because I am so overcome by the thrill of what just occurred.  Yet the question always comes - How Does That Happen?
I attended a research symposium these last four days and loved the papers that were presented.  Even listening to statistics and reasons given; I enjoyed it!  What I enjoyed even more is knowing what I do counts and I learn more 'things that happen' and share with parents and children every chance I get.  Parents ask a question I have always thought interesting and wondered 'why do I expect this question to never come?' - so once again - I have decided to be amazed at how things work . . . .

When I work with parents of and their children that have a hearing loss, it is always assumed by the parent that once the hearing aids or cochlear implants are activated the child will hear, talk, and perhaps even read.  Well, not all at once. . . but it sure is expected to happen quickly.  At times I am a little upset that parents expect it so quickly when I feel they should know we have so much work ahead.  Yet, I do understand how parents feel - 'look at what my child has to make it all better'. Yes - and with their help - they will be amazed.  It just takes the reminder and the strategies that I share with them for something amazing to happen.  They, the parent, will help their child listen, hear, and talk!  It never ceases to amaze me.

Let's remember it all happens in the same hierarchy as most good things do - and it is that remembrance that keeps it together for parent and child.  It is that remembering that amazes the parents when, once they get started in the listening and spoken language process and learning strategies, their child learns.  I teach the parent that it all starts with the brain (and I learned that from a great audiologist-Carol Flexer), and we are going to train the brain to have a great auditory track and auditory brain development.  We are going to do this by beginning with the listening, as all babies do.  They listen to everything in their environment and we are going to train their child's brain, no matter what their age, about listening.  I, am always amazed on how that thing happens! = )  From listening, we move to turn-taking - which brings about talking and communication.  I am even more amazed with tingles in my arms while I watch a parent cry because they never thought they would watch their child react to sound or have a conversation!  And that. . . is the first of many goals that will be accomplished.  Isn't it amazing how things happen!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

"Teaching Heart ( ) is hosting their annual back to school party on July 24th till July 30th.  Each Day a new prize!  Gift cards, Books, Teaching Heart Products, and more!!!  Plus a free printable will be posted during the week.  You need to visit the blog at; 
daily to check out the prizes each day and enter for the ones you want to win!!!"
Everyone is on their way back to thinking about going back to school - yes, it is just around the corner.  Of course I just had to post this and I will have another post in a few days!
I have thoughts and comments regarding a research symposium here in Washington D.C., and I am learning so much about language and families and of course, about having fun with both.  More later!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Love and Learning at Home

So much of what we know of love - we learn at home. ~ Anonymous
Where at home do your children learn the best?  Do you set up an area for homework?  Do you set up a corner for the computer?  Is the only place they can go wild outside?  We are all guilty of thinking in 'where does this look best in a room'.  I am extremely guilty of making use of all corners of the room.
I was reading a couple of other blogs; Kindergarten's 3 R's and Teacher Tom - both have posted great blogs about structure and our children.  I got to thinking about language and structure, which sent me into thinking language learning and love in the home, or anywhere for that matter.
When I first step into a home to do therapy I always ask 'Where would you like to work?' Usually the parent points to the table.  Being very cordial, I gladly go there and set up activities, but as the session goes on we move from the table to other areas of the house.  I want the parent to see, and the child, that learning language can happen anywhere in the home.  As I get to know the family and child, I teach that learning language can happen anywhere period!  Think about it, once again, isn't some of the best activities you've done with family, and really loved it, happening within the activity itself.  When you think back on some of the things you've done with your child - didn't they happen within the activity and not just the place.  It may have been making them smile while cooking in the kitchen,  or outside discussing those 'little buggies' while cleaning up the yard.  When the child needs more input for language, it happens so much more and perhaps even easier, when the activity is not structured at a table. When you are working on language with a child, vocabulary building and structuring of sentences can come more fluently when there is teaching/learning - let's go do it - and discussing afterwards. Just because a child has a deficit in language no matter what the reason, doesn't mean love and learning can't happen at home.  Which brings about another thought. . .
Tell me and I will know, Show me and I will understand; Involve me and I will comprehend. ~Chinese proverb

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Being and Becoming

'Life is not having and getting, but being and becoming' ~Matthew Arnold
If the writing becomes here and there and wandering around please forgive me, still learning to curb the ideas, but I have seen and done so many good things today and/or this week!  Lots of ideas running through my head - hither and yon.  It all may come out in the writing!  As the posts grow you may see a recurring theme - that one area may never change.  I love quotes, especially when it has been a fun day and I see the reason for the quote.  The second recurring theme,  may be the idea of having fun.  Things just seem to go a whole lot better if fun can remain in the day.

I saw so many children being themselves today and so many parents becoming a part of their child's development today - without any expectation of having or getting.  Child development is such a wonder in itself and those kiddos needing that extra little 'umph' to get them where they are suppose to be is even better when you see parents jump right in there to make it happen.  Language and speech development in the homes can be sooooo much fun - no matter what the age.  I worked with a pair of 10 and 11 year olds with their moms today - in the kitchen!  Reading directions and deciphering language can be such a challenge to those children delayed in this area.  Speech can be a challenge with those higher level words within directions for anything!  But parents, if you do it right, it can be so much fun to make something together and have fun through the language.  Parents, whatever you do, use the OWL acronym running through your head. Observe, Wait, and Listen before you jump in. . . and of course, sabotage!  Whatever your child says, have fun with it and then correct it.  One of the children told his mom 'You put cups of glass.'  Mom went and got cups and put glasses in them. . . . eyeglasses, water glasses, and a broken glass - they had a good laugh and then mom fixed the language.
It may take longer to get what you need - but who says you can't work up an appetite.  It was a moment of being and becoming - not having and getting.

I have also spent time perusing the blogs and really having fun at reading and being amazed at all the talented and outspoken people out there.  I have posted the blogs I cover or watch on a constant basis, but this week I have taken the time to really look into different areas and writers.  Wow! (again)
Most people that blog do so for 'being and becoming' something outstanding, or 'being and becoming' something different, or 'being and becoming' something unique.  From what I can tell - there is no 'having or getting' in most blogs; unless they want to have or get feedback or another perspective.
I can't wait to see what becomes of this blog - I insist on getting better.  I can't wait for this blog to become something better - transform into a give and take of information.  Definitely 'a life of being and becoming.'

Friday, July 8, 2011

Have Some Fun

The last couple of posts have been all about language and telling stories; and hopefully, also showing some fun.  So I want to spend a little bit of time talking about sounds and words - how easy they are and how easy they aren't.

I've mentioned how little ones pick up so much from mom and dad just by listening; they also pick up so much from their surroundings. Listening comes first when it comes to child and their surroundings, and answering to surroundings and those in that surrounding is what comes next.  As a child; development in so many areas are happening simultaneously.  What happens if one of those areas is compromised?  What happens if one of those areas does not develop correctly.  Easily put, well, it doesn't develop correctly - duh?  or another area of development takes over to compensate what is missing.

Okay, it happened - what can we do about it?  We continue to stimulate our children in all experiences and heighten, or increase, activities for the area that got left behind.  There are exercises, we as speech-language pathologists, do with children that help get particular sounds out that did not quite develop correctly or at all.  Those sounds interfere with the production of syllables, hence the production of words.  Let's take for example, the letter 't'  and its sound, or non-sound. 'T' is called a voiceless sound - the true production of 't' is the push of air given off the tip of the palette behind the teeth with the tongue.  Hmmm, but I'm not into explaining the physiology of it - I am into the fun part of it.  I am not into drill and kill or exercise after exercise.  Let's make it worth some fun and put it into language.  Let's go back to that letter and its sound - well. . . oh - I know!

During the ritual of brushing teeth, we are going to have some fun.  My son loved the taste of toothpaste, so I would always put just a tad on the tip of his brush and tell him I was going to put it somewhere on his teeth - he had to go and find it.  The catch??? No mirror and no fingers, he had to find it with his tongue.  So there goes the toothbrush with the toothpaste up right behind the top row of teeth on his palate.  What does his tongue do - goes right up to the the top, trying to brush off the paste.
And if you really want to have some fun - when you touch the tip of the palate with the toothbrush - you will tickle it a little by brushing off the paste.  The child giggles and the tongue immediately goes up to feel.  All the while - you are talking about the 'top' of the child's mouth 'touching' it with some 'toothpaste' with the 'toothbrush' up at the 'tippy-top' - get it off!  What fun!!  Lots of 't' words - and guess what?  They are listening to you and feeling the placement with their tongue.  Not only have you used words that begin with that letter 't' but lots of words with 't' sounds at the beginning, middle, and end of words. Whew!  Did I do that on purpose?  You bet, but what good parent doesn't sabotage some experiences with their children! 

Another couple of examples to think about with that particular sound:  cupcakes with candles you blow out by pushing that air out with the correct tongue placement; dancing on your 'tippy-toes' or playing in the 'teepee' with 'trucks' and 'trains' on the 'track's; or tsk! tsk! tsk! look at that! what do I see?
Go ahead - go have some fun!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.

Love that title!  I would guess you can apply that to any area of a life - makes it sound like the other saying - 'Anything worth doing is worth doing correctly'.  In my line of work; you could say
'There are no shortcuts to anything worth saying.'  'There are no shortcuts to anything worth listening to.'
'Anything worth listening to and talking about is worth doing correctly'.
Hey - we could do this all day!  = )
So - it is never to late to do something worth doing and getting there without any shortcuts!  Hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Telling in a World of Visuals

There are so many people that have a great eye for detail - in the images they see, in the room they sit in, and in the things they do.  I am not one of those people.  I am a reader, so my mind's eye captures what it needs in my head and most of the time - is told correctly and/or conveyed to others correctly.
Children begin language by conveying their thoughts or what they've heard by one great big retell! As they get older they refine, learn new vocabulary, new structures to become so much clearer in the process. Every family member loves to hear the first story coming from the youngest member of the family and then watch out - it just keeps coming!
In today's world, I think children can sometimes miss out on great storytelling elements.  The world is full of visuals everywhere, besides old-fashioned TV, new technology Hi-def TV, DVDs, games from PSP to Cubes to iPads and things I probably don't yet know about!!  Don't get me wrong - I love technology - the good and bad, but I also like technology in moderation for our children.  Do I want children to get to know technology?  Absolutely!  Do I want them to get to know technology on their own or at school?  No!  Really, I don't! By all means, keep learning at school, but begin with family at home.
Years ago, the way I learned a story, was by word of mouth or reading.  As I got older, movies and television, but you know what? I did it with my family, or a family member.  When my mom was growing up, stories came by word of mouth and books.  My grandmother, mostly word of mouth, because she didn't get to go to school until much later.
But now, wow!  Stories are right here at our fingertips - live it with your child. If they are going to do a video - do it with them.  When they are going to sleep at night - iPad stories with mommy and daddy and/or big sister and/or granddad.  Somethings should never change!
The finer elements of language are shared - the learned vocabulary that is ever growing is shared - the nuances of language are shared and learned there. We are the best examples for our children, they can't learn the best items of language on the video or computer, they are going to learn the best joke from their brother, the best new word from mom, and the best fairy tale from the grandparents.  Can't you just hear it!!!  or see it!!!
Friends telling the story - 'The Mitten' by Jan Brett

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Storytelling and Family
Some of the best stories come from family and sharing things that will be done and/or have been done. Research indicates that language develops best when children are continually exposed to stories and storytelling.  My son has always had both - whether it be the books we escaped into, the trips we took, or even listening to family tell one of those 'when I was your age' stories.  My son loved sitting for hours listening to his grandfather tell stories about growing up, being in the Army, and working in media.  He loved sitting for hours listening to his great-grandmother tell about leaving Poland and coming to the United States; listening to her friends recount their youth.  My family comes from a long line of family storytellers - and it shows when my son retells his version of stories!  How about you and your family?  Can your children tell a story? Act out? Recount with their version? Pretend and make up a new one?  What does your family talk about?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Observe and Wait and Listen

My favorite thing to do - observing and listening.  We should do more of it whenever possible.  Sometimes I think people are so interested in what they, personally have to say, not much listening is going on.  Sometimes children have a difficult time with this aspect of language.  So how, as a parent, do we help do this with our child?  It is one of the components to social interaction and one of the many facets of language - learn turn-taking in conversation; which means we wait our turn and listen to the other part of the conversation.

There is nothing more natural to a child than their parents voice; and of course, that natural environment of listening; especially as parents have conversation within the home setting.  There is nothing more natural than a parent reading to their child and the child is listening to all parts of speech, language, and behavior that make the story stand out! Of course, there is nothing  more inviting than home and being with mommy and daddy listening and hopefully then in turn, speaking - with parent guidance.  Notice I said listening first - because as I stated before; observe and listen.  In practice; the parent is creating an auditory learning environment and in return spoken language develops and continues to grow throughout the years.  I haven't strayed from anything besides a natural listening and speaking environment.  Parents just have to take hold of that opportunity and make it work for them - encouraging the child to participate, encouraging the child to imitate, encouraging the child to speak out on their own and upon their turn of conversation.

Reading and any activity that stimulates the child and their attention has the attention span growing and then; creativity and imagination takes hold.  Activities also support social, emotional growth.  But by far the biggest part of interaction in reading and activities, is from all this observing and waiting and listening - the child starts to talk!

Monday, June 20, 2011

OWL for Everyone

OWL - An animal in a tree or a barn and the kids love 'em.  They say Hoo Hoo!!  Uhhhh, yea but no. . . this is not the topic of this conversation.  OWL is an acronym that I try to remember for every encounter with a child that I have.  Observe - Wait - Listen
In a very visualized world, how do you get someones' attention quickly - you give them a visual and begin to talk about it.  Well, children need to develop those auditory skills faster than they do those visual skills.  A newborn does not focus well and or see color distinctions right away in their new world.  If all goes well, they do learn quickly that their new world is very noisy.  In fact, newborns know the OWL acronym perfectly - as much as possible.  The newborn is in the crib or in someones' arms, a noise enters the environment - baby attempts to observe; waits for noise again; listens intently and perhaps attempts to communicate with that noise.  How baby communicates is dependent on how noise entered their environment.
That being said, what happens if baby's hearing is compromised?  What happens if baby/child has had their auditory input compromised?  In other words, what happens when hearing is impaired?
Parents take over as the person that helps baby or child to learn to communicate with that noise, and they do this by OWL.  A noise; 'Hi there! How are you?!'  No response and parent and/or caregiver Observes; here comes the noise again 'Hi there!  (Name), how are you?!' (this time they add a sing-songy voice) No response and parent and/or caregiver Waits; then responds - 'Did you hear that?  Listen, I heard that - what did you say?!'
Well that is either a caregiver helping the child to respond because they were not listening or helping a child to respond because they could not listen and they needed help.  Either way is correct and the caregiver is using a teachable moment.  Auditory training takes place everyday no matter if your child has hearing and listening skills or a hearing impairment that is being developed with listening strategies.
My point will be expanded the next time I write - a lesson to propose using OWL for caregiver and child.
Either way - OWL can receive a 'HOO HOO' because your child got it or a 'HOO HOO' was that? = )

Friday, June 17, 2011

Did you know?

Did you know that all learning starts the minute you are born.  No, really! There is so much we take for granted, including the timing of learning.  Babies learn that the person cuddling them is 'the'  person.  The one that feeds them, changes them, and holds them close.  Babies learn that if they make some kind of noise they will get some kind of response.  Ahhhhh, there is something before that.  How do they know that to make a noise. . .gets a response?  Someone/something made noise while in the womb and the auditory nerve for those little ears formed so much earlier than you might imagine.  Noise happened every where, babies in the womb learned that motherly and fatherly voice.  Remember reading that in the mommy books!  So knowing if that baby passed their newborn screenings on all areas is important, and knowing that the baby hears you and responds in kind is just that much more important.  And last but not least, that auditory nerve which began so early in life, continues to grow and develop until age 13 to 15. Wow!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Books and Bloggers

I read this quote today; "Except a living man there is nothing more wonderful than a book!  A message to us from . . . human souls we never saw.  And yet these arouse us, terrify us, teach us, comfort us, open their hearts to us as brothers."
- Charles Kingsley

and then I thought, will people feel that way about bloggers some day?  Hmmmm, I have been curious about different blog sites, learned some things from different blog sites, and comforted by a picture or thought from a blog site. . . and yet, there are also those which make me think . . . I didn't want to know or see that! Hmmmmm

Here We Go Again. . . sort of!!

Two years and counting!!  I will try this again and this time it will be done right!! = )

I've begun the change. . . no! not that change!  Moving from one area of life and work - to another. . . I am officially a business; and through this blog spot - thoughts and sharing, I'm hoping learning will take place. 

My passion is teaching children.  Now my passion will take a side kick with blogging, then a website (in the works), and then sharing the practices of Listening and Spoken Language.  I am really looking forward to it and loving every minute of it!  Therapy, sharing with adults, and playing with language with the children.  The nice thing about it. . . it works!  Watching children learn and be pleased with the fact that they are learning is great!  Sharing ideas and strategies with parents is great as well! 

My biggest expectations are those ideas coming in from parents and others in the area of Speech and Language and seeing it shared, commented on, and growing.  The only way one expands their mind and ideals is to see through the eyes of another; contemplate, make it work for you and reap the benefits.  So. . . here we go!  Let's learn!