Stuttering affects more than 3 million Americans, with about 5 percent of all children enduring a period of stuttering that lasts six months or more. As our Ohio speech teletherapy team can explain, about 75 percent of those will recover by the time they reach late childhood – but most get there far faster with early intervention treatment with a speech therapist. About 1 percent of kids end up with a long-term problem, and it’s often because they’ve received no services. Boys are more than twice as likely to suffer from a stutter as girls.
Recently, a study published in the journal Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology analyzed the effectiveness of teletherapy for treatment of stuttering in kids. The interventional study was conducted with patients attending teletherapy speech sessions via Skype. The severity of their stutter was tested before, during and after the study period. What they found was that stuttering severity scores were significantly reduced by about 14 percent and nearly 60 percent reported a “very high” satisfaction with teletherapy speech treatment.
Study authors concluded that tele-speech therapy is an effective way to treat patients who stutter – regardless of their age, gender and educational background.
It’s well-established that racial disparity exists in numerous aspects of U.S. healthcare, with higher rates of illness and infirmity and lower rates of insurance coverage and quality care. Now, our Cleveland ABA therapists have learned of a new study published in the journal Pediatrics that found Black Americans are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at a much later stage than their White counterparts. In turn what this means is they are missing out on essential early intervention treatment that is critical to helping them overcome significant social and academic challenges in life.
Important to note: It’s the parents delaying the diagnosis, according to study authors.
“There’s something going on in the system,” said Dr. Daniel Geschwind, professor of neurology at the University of California and director of the Center for Autism Research and Treatment. In the study, Black parents reportedly noticed something was “not quite right” early on and sought medical help – and had insurance to cover evaluations and treatment. Even so, approximately 4 in 10 had to see a medical provider numerous times before their child received an autism diagnosis. Our ABA therapists know that getting appointments with specialists who can give a diagnosis like that can take well over 6 months each. (And lack of access to the kind of professionals qualified to make an autism diagnosis was specifically listed as one of the factors contributing to delay for about one-third of Black children ultimately diagnosed.)
Occupational therapy helps children when they have difficulties in day-to-day activities in their home, school and community.
It’s a very broad discipline, and many parents who come to Therapy & Wellness Connection have never really heard of it or understand why it’s so helpful for so many kids.
Occupational therapy has always been integral to our clinic, but we’re highlighting it now because the impact of the pandemic has left many kids falling even more behind when it comes to developmental milestones. Maybe they are on track with their speech and language, but they struggle with holding a crayon or pencil correctly. They’re getting ready for preschool, but have a tough time with things like using scissors or tracing lines. They have a very difficult time dressing themselves. Maybe they have no desire to even start potty training – even though it’s well past time.
They may have struggled with these things before schools and daycare centers closed, but now they’ve been home for months, with parents who are overwhelmed and no children their age to help motivate them, make it fun. The good news is these are all things with which occupational therapy can help-and it’s not just for kids with disabilities.
Hearing loss can profoundly impact a child’s development of speech, language and social skills. The sooner a child who is hard-of-hearing or deaf begins receiving services, the more likely they are to reach their maximum potential. Speech therapy is one of the key services deaf children need – even if they receive cochlear implants.
September is International Deaf Awareness Month, and it’s important to address some misconceptions that might result in unnecessary long-term challenges for children who are deaf.
Speech-language pathologists at Therapy and Wellness Connection know that when these issues aren’t addressed early on, children may arrive at school behind on their language and reasoning skills. A cochlear implant can dramatically help children with hearing loss – but that isn’t where treatment should stop.
ABA therapy, short for “applied behavior analysis” and sometimes referred to as “behavior therapy” is considered the gold standard when it comes to treatment of autism and some other conditions. Among the most common questions our Akron ABA therapy providers are asked by parents:
- “How do I teach my child?”
- “How can I reduce these behaviors?”
- “What am I supposed to be doing?”
These are important inquiries, and we’ll start by saying this: Our Akron ABA therapy is immeasurably more successful when parents take an active role. A fairly recent study published in the journal Behavior Analysis in Practice cited numerous examples of research to support the idea that when parents are more involved in their child’s therapy, outcomes are more positive for a wide range of students across social behaviors and academic skills.
Perhaps the most helpful answer is: Learning. You’re supposed to be learning.
- “My 1-year-old shows zero interest in feeding himself. Is that normal?”
- “My toddler spills so much cereal every time she tries to feed it to herself. Cleanup is a nightmare.”
- “My 5-year-old hates using a fork so much, he tosses it onto the floor every time I try to get him to use it.”
If any of this sounds familiar, it may be time to reach out to an Akron OT (occupational therapist) to decide whether your child’s feeding struggles are typical or if there could be something bigger going on that necessitates a closer look.
Independent eating is an exciting milestone for children as they move from being a fully dependent baby to a functioning little person. They are starting to gain a sense of autonomy and independence. But keep in mind that eating is actually a complex task that requires many different body functions to work in tandem. Kids need to develop/improve fine motor skills, sensory processing skills, strength in their back, arms and hands, oral motor skills, strong reflexes, gross motor skills, attention skills, visual and cognitive skills. There is ample research that shows trouble in any of these areas can affect feeding skills.
Feeding problems can generally be classified as:
- Structural abnormalities.
- Neurodevelopmental disabilities.
- Behavioral disorders.
Sometimes, there is an overlap of issues.
If a child is struggling with self-feeding, an Akron OT from Therapy and Wellness Connection can help determine the source of the trouble and help your child build up his/her skills to become an independent eater.
Learning how to write is one of the most vital skills a child learns early on in their education. As a Cleveland occupational therapist can explain, the skills needed to be successful in this task actually start much sooner than kindergarten – or even pre-school.
Some of the complex skills needed for handwriting include:
- Knowing the letters of the alphabet
- Visual motor skills
- Letter formation
- Sequence following
- Visual perception skills
- Maintaining control of the paper (to stay in the lines)
- Bilateral coordination
- Recognition of left-to-right progression
- Recognition of top-to-bottom progression
- Movement tracking of the hand, pencil and paper
- Crossing midline skills
- Fine motor skills (in-hand manipulation, pencil grasp, visual hand-eye coordination)
- Gross motor skills (muscle memory, posture, body control)
Not all teachers have formal training in how to teach handwriting skills. When a student struggles with handwriting, a Cleveland occupational therapist can help.
If you have asked yourself whether your child is a”late talker” or if there’s some larger underlying issue, it’s important to understand that a delay in speech may only be one part of the problem. From the point of view of our Cleveland speech therapists, receptive language delays are among the most common – but overlooked – challenges in children who struggle to communicate.
What Are Receptive Language Delays?
A child is usually going to understand what he or she hears before actually using words. In a nutshell, that is receptive language. A child with receptive language delays is one who struggles to understand what others are saying.
As the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) explains, language refers to the words we use and how they are used in order to share ideas and get what we want. It differs from speech, which is the way we say sounds and words. Speech includes our articulation, voice and fluency. Language, on the other hand, encompasses:
- Understanding the meaning of words. This can be really tricky, especially if words have more than one meaning. For instance, a crane is a kind of bird, but it’s also a type of construction equipment. It can also be an action (“She had to crane her neck to see the show.”).
- Making new words. Take the word “friend.” If we switch it up and say “befriend,” “unfriendly” or “friendship,” we build on the original word, but they each mean something different.
- How we put words together. Instead of saying, “Zack walk his dog new,” we’d say, “Zack walked his new dog.”
- Recognizing the appropriate timing for certain words. For instance, if we’re trying to pass someone in an aisle, we may politely request, “Excuse me, could I move past, please?” But in an emergency, we might yell, “Move out of the way!”
Some of these are advanced concepts, but they show how you might recognize pretty quickly in a one-on-one interaction if older child or adult struggled with receptive language. In younger children, though, receptive language delays can be trickier to spot. Parents, teachers and sometimes even doctors and therapists might miss the signs. Yet often, when a toddler isn’t saying very much, it’s often because they don’t understand very much.
Arrrgghh – those “R’s” can be so tricky! When it’s pronounced correctly, it goes virtually unnoticed. However, when it’s misarticulated, it’s usually pretty obvious. Some think it’s “cute” when little kids do it, but if it persists, it can detract from the overall message the child is trying to communicate. The good news is our Akron speech therapy team can help.
R-sound trouble is actually fairly common.
Many adults sort of take for granted how complicated the R sound is to make, at least at first. R’s (denoted by speech-language pathologists as /r/ ) usually develops fairly late in a child’s speech development because it’s tough to produce the sound the right way and on command. Many kids misarticulate or distort their /r/ sounds throughout childhood (“wun” for “run” or “watuh” for “water”). The biggest reason for this is that various systems are required to produce it. One must correctly use and coordinate their lips, tongue, teeth and airway. A number of conditions can make this tough.
Our Akron speech therapy team will work to get all those parts moving together for perfect /r/ sounds.
It’s nearing the end of July, COVID-19 cases are climbing in 39 states and the plan to reopen schools varies wildly from one state – one district – to another. At Therapy & Wellness Connection, we want to make sure families in the greater Northeast Ohio community to know that we offer a number of Ohio virtual school, home school and tutoring options for children of all ages and abilities.
We recognize that for many of our kids, in-person education, therapy and other services are vital to their success. We understand too that while most parents are eager for their kids to return to school, they also want assurance that it will be safe. The prospect of managing your child’s education online is something that is understandably overwhelming to so many families.
Our team at Therapy & Wellness Connection has offered a host of home school, alternative school and tutoring programs at our Brecksville clinic for years. But now, we have adapted this model to welcome more students through online platforms. We understand not all children learn the same way, and many are going to face significant challenges by transitioning to an online platform.
We are prepared to help students, their parents and their families navigate the challenges of remote learning while promoting academic success and keeping them healthy.
Ohio’s Plan for Re-Opening Schools
The plan to reopen schools in Ohio is a mixed bag. Gov. Mike DeWine indicated that students and staff will need to maintain a six-foot distance when possible, staffers will need to wear face masks or shields and every school needs to develop a plan for face covering, though not every child will be required to wear one (though it will be “strongly encouraged” for third-graders and up).
Anyone – student, staff or volunteer – who displays COVID-19 symptoms or has a temperature that’s 100 degrees or higher will immediately be separated, don a face masks and be monitored by a PPE-wearing staffer. It will be reported to the local health department. Hand sanitizer will have to be placed at entrances to buildings and in classrooms and in high-traffic areas. Schools are also encouraged to increase hand washing and sanitizing opportunities.
- Akron. Everyone in a school building will be required to wear a mask, though an online-only option is being offered. All will be required to maintain 6 feet of distance. Buses will only hold two students to a seat (instead of three). Some students will stay home every day while others will be on a staggered schedule. Preschool students would only attend half-days. Students in grades K-2 would come every day, all day. Students in grades 3-8 will attend school two days a week and stay home the other three. They will perform assignments or projects on their own for the days they are at home. On the third day, they would all sign online for a virtual learning session with their teacher. Schools are pushing back school a week, with classes starting Sept. 3rd, though the plan could be delayed until the middle of the first semester if the district decides to begin with all virtual schooling. Students with significant disabilities (mostly those typically in separate classrooms) will be allowed to attend five days weekly.
- Cleveland Metropolitan School District. The first day for year-round students is slated to begin Aug. 24th and for traditional students on Sept. 8th. Reopening plans will be linked with county data on COVID-19 levels and color-coded risks (the lowest yellow and the highest purple). There can be no more than 25 students in a class, with 6 feet of social distancing maintained for everyone and there will be modifications to how the schools serve lunches. Some classes will be held outside and in libraries. All teachers and staff must wear face masks. There is also reportedly a hybrid learning school option the district is exploring.
Benefits of Ohio Virtual School, Home School and Tutoring
If you are interested in learning more about these additional services from Therapy and Wellness Connection in the Greater Cleveland-Akron area, connect with us today! Call our offices at (330) 748-4807 for more information.
Reset and Restart, Ohio Department of Education
More Blog Entries:
Virtual Learning, Therapies Continue at Therapy and Wellness Connection, May 1, 2020, Ohio Virtual School, Home School and Tutoring Blog