Monthly Archives: September 2015

One Step

Jamie Bodden Austin, M.S. CCC/SLP-L- Assistive Technology Speech and Language Pathologist
Learning a language is a journey – be it a a first language, a foreign language, a light tech symbols systems (e.g. PODD Communication Books) or a high technology voice output system (e.g. Proloquo2Go on an iPad, NOVA chat 10 or Tobii Dynavox). It begins with one step. A baby hears words for the first year said by all of their family members. The family members repeat these words, use gestures, point to things, say single words over and over words such as “Daddy”, “Up”, “Uh oh”. They focus on favorite words (e.g. “doggie” and ‘Swing”), familiar words (e.g. “bottle”, “night-night”), greetings (e.g. “Hello”) and comments (e.g. “uh oh”). After one year, the first word, a single word is spoken by the baby. When learning a foreign language, the teacher speaks single words, uses gestures and points to items. She focuses on favorite words, greetings, comments and familiar eyemaxvocabulary first.
The same is applied when learning any AAC system. It is another language. Did you know that baby hears 4,000-6,000 words per day for the first year, before they say their first word? This repetition of modeling of language is just as important through a Augmentative and Alternative communication (ACC) device. This can be formally called: Aided Language Stimulation, Partner–Augmented Input, Natural Aided Language or Aided Language Modeling. This means that all of the people in a child’s environment communicate using the AAC communication system. When we support someone to learn to use an AAC device, we talk with the device throughout the day ourselves. We can think about saying favorite words, familiar words, greetings and comments. While doing this we can use gestures, point to things and say single words with the AAC system. By having all of your family/friends involved in saying messages using the AAC system you create a language rich environment, in your child’s language. This language becomes another language in your home that you all speak.

aac The trick is that you and your family are also learning the AAC system. However, every journey begins with a single step. Like a baby learning to speak and like a person learning a foreign language, focus only on one word or one page of vocabulary at a time. The more you talk with the device with this one page or one word, the more your child will hear, see and follow your lead. You can start with a favorite activity, a greeting or with a few favorite actions. Next, find another page to focus on, such as position words, names, questions or places. You can’t learn the device in one day, but the more single words you find, you will see your own AAC vocabulary grow. Your one step is going to be the biggest step of your child’s AAC journey.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Lao-tzu

For more information about Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley please visit EasterSealsDFVR.org.

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Lighten the Load!

By: Laura Bueche, OT

We hope you have had a happy and easy transition back to school! As school ramps up so does your child’s homework. This means heavier and heavier backpacks are being lugged to and from school. We want to make sure you and your kids avoid injury and pain by giving you tips of how to properly pack, lift and carry a backpack.

The American Occupational Therapy Association has named September 16th National School Backpack Awareness Day to help educate parents, educators, and kids on the dangers of heavy or improperly worn bags.lightenup2005

How do we make things better?

Follow these tips on how to make you and your child’s backpack safer this school year:

  • 08_Kai_JudyIt is recommended that a loaded backpack should never weight more than 10% of the student’s total body weight (for a student weighing 100 pounds, this means that the backpack should weight no more than 10 pounds).(2)
  • Load heaviest items closest to the child’s back
  • Arrange books and materials so they won’t slide around in the backpack.
  • Check what your child carries to school and brings home. Make sure the items are necessary for the day’s activities.
  • Distribute weight evenly by using both straps. Wearing a pack slung over one shoulder can cause a child to lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain or discomfort.
  • Select a pack with well-padded shoulder straps. Shoulders and necks have many blood vessels and nerves that can cause pain and tingling in the neck, arms, and hands when too much pressure is applied.
  • Adjust the shoulder straps so that the pack fits snugly on the child’s back. A pack that hangs loosely from the back can pull the child backwards and strain muscles.
  • Wear the waist belt if the backpack has one. This helps distribute the pack’s weight more evenly.
  • The bottom of the pack should rest in the curve of the lower back. It should never rest more than four inches below the child’s waistline.
  • School backpacks come in different sizes for different ages. Choose the right size pack for your child as well as one with enough room for necessary school items.

For more information about Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley please visit EasterSealsDFVR.org.

  1. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) Database (2007.) Numbers quoted are the estimated figures.
  2. Hu, J., Jacobs, K., & Pencina, M. (Submitted for publication). Backpack usage and self-reported musculoskeletal discomfort in university students.

SMART Technology

By: Valerie Heneghan, M.A., CCC-SLP/L

SMARTBoards are now available at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley! This new technology will be utilized for individual therapy sessions, community based therapy programs and classroom based learning in the pre-Kindergarten classroom at The Lily Garden Child Care Center. While SMARTBoards are widely used in schools and have been proven to be innovative in the classroom setting, we know there are numerous applications in the therapeutic setting.

There are 4 major advantages of bringing this technology to children of all ages in a therapeutic setting.

 1. Enriched Teaching and Learning Experience

The SMARTBoard provides a multi-modal learning experience for children. With typical instruction, educators can be limited to mostly auditory learning with supplemental visual supports. Using the SMARTBoard, children have access to auditory, visual, kinesthetic, and tactile learning by being able to physically interact and conceptualize topics in new exciting ways.

smartboard
Photo by Molly Gardner

Studies have revealed higher learning outcomes as educators are given a platform to prepare and execute their ideas and materials more efficiently. With increased efficiency of materials presented and engagement from children, studies have shown improved performance outcomes and efficacy for achieving treatment goals.

2. Unlimited Access to Online Information and Resources

The SMARTBoard gives you flexibility to utilize many forms of media. Using articles, pictures, and videos creates exceptional involvement with a child using applications that are of deep interest and captivation. Many SMARTBoard users have created their own materials and have shared them for others to download for free use. The SMARTBoard software also provides a variety of materials which saves preparation time for therapists.

3. Universal Design – User Friendly

With a variety of products available, the SMARTBoard hardware is suitable for a variety of abilities and assists in bridging the gap for those who have motor, visual, hearing, attention deficits, etc. It also encourages companies to go green, as this is a web-based medium. Therapy materials are available online and can be shared or stored without producing physical materials.

4. CommunicationIMG_1935

Unlike Apps, the SMART software is completely adaptable to meet the needs of specific individuals and their learning needs. Using technology is innately engaging for children of this generation while still providing targeted hands-on learning. Additionally, by having the ability to touch and change the sessions as you go, sessions can be stripped down to the most functional level for children of all abilities, simplifying the learning process.

The SMARTBoards have four touch points, allowing a therapist and client or multiple clients in a community based therapy program to touch and learn together. The games are so fun, the child doesn’t realize they are practicing new speech patterns or movements as part of their therapy goals.

For more information about Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley please visit EasterSealsDFVR.org.

Finding Our Voice With New Speech Technology: Part 2

By: Jennifer Tripoli M.S., CCC-SLP

In my previous blog post, I introduced the Voice Box, a motor speech lab that houses equipment related to voice, resonance, and articulation. The first post was primarily centered around the Smart Palate technology by Complete Speech. Now I am here to tell you more about the other stars of the Voice Box, the Nasometer and the Visipitch.

Nasometer by KayPENTAX

speech tech 2 speech tech 1

Above pictures include computer with headset (worn by client) that takes nasalance measurement.

So what is the Nasometer? 

  • The Nasometer is an evaluation and treatment device that is able to objectively measure nasality (resonance) in a client’s speech.
  • Prior to this piece of equipment, clinicians were using their own perception or ear to determine if a client had a nasality problem. This takes the guess work out!

    Voice Box 2 Photo Credit Rich Howe
                        Photo by Rich Howe
  • Provides a nasalance score that objectively measures nasality.
  • Helps clinicians determine if further evaluation is needed to assess the velopharyngeal port by ENT or craniofacial clinic.
  • Allows clinicians to objectively measure progress in therapy for children with resonance disorders by improvements in nasalance scores.

Who would benefit from this technology?

  • Children with suspected nasality problems or resonance issues
  • Children with a:
    • Cleft palate
    • Deficiencies in the velopharyngeal port
    • Neuromotor/motor speech deficits
    • Hearing impairment
  • How is it used in treatment?
    • The Nasometer has biofeedback games that can be used in treatment and allow the child to practice appropriate resonance in real time speech.
    • The child is able to make adjustments based on feedback they are receiving in fun, highly motivating computer game.

Visipitch by KayPENTAX

The Visipitch can be used for a variety of skills and has various programs targeting different aspects of speech.

What does it do?

  • The visipitch is an all-encompassing instrumentation that gives real time displays for visual feedback of critical speech/voice parameters.
  • Contains 8 modules all used for different/various speech skills.

How do we use this technology at Easter Seals DuPage and Fox Valley?

We mainly use the Multi-Dimensional Voice Program (MDVP) to evaluate voice disorders contained in Visipitch software and Voice Games.

  • Gives clinician’s objective quantitative measures for voice analysis which can be compared to normal levels
  • Clinicians can measure progress in therapy based on improvements in quantitative measures provided by MDVP.

Who would benefit from this piece of equipment?

  • Children/adults with voice disorders
  • Children with vocal nodules or other vocal fold pathology
  • Children with hoarse, breathy , or harsh vocal quality
  • Children with motor speech disorders including apraxia and dysarthria

How is it used in treatment?

  • Visipitch contains a variety of highly motivating voice games to be used in treatment
  • Voice games are very visual and rewarding for children demonstrating good speech and voice behaviors
  • Voice games work on sustained phonation, frequency/pitch of voice, amplitude/loudness of voice, voice onset, etc.

The frog game (below) . Child is asked to sustain phonation or hold out voice to expand frog’s throat. If child holds out voice until frog’s throat expands, they are awarded with a visual reinforcement on the screen.

speech tech 3speech tech 4

Dragon/Fire game (below). Child is asked to use low to loud vocal volume to pop all the balloons with the dragon’s fire. This game works on vocal loudness and ability to control vocal loudness.

Voice Box 1 Photo Credit Rich Howe
Photo by Rich Howe.

speech tech 5

Of course, these pieces of equipment are never used solely in treatment. All equipment is used in addition to traditional speech treatment!

If you have questions or are interested in having your child evaluated for use of the Voice Box, please contact our intake coordinator at 630.282.2022.

The Voice Box has been a wonderful addition to the Speech and Language Department at Easter Seals DuPage & Fox Valley! We are forever grateful to the generous donors who made this possible! Thank you again!