Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What's in your Therapy Bag? : Early Intervention

Anyone who has seen me going into work knows I have a huge therapy bag. It's one of those fancy bags on wheels that you pull along by a long handle. You don't only see me coming, you hear me as well. I tend to get strange looks, and often the question "What in the world is in that bag?"

I also remember while being a grad student frantically searching the web for cool gadgets, toys and other resources that were commonly used by speech therapists.

Out of this I've decided to introduce my readers to 'My Therapy Bag!'
I've decided to do 2 posts on this and separate my early intervention goodies from the other therapy resources.

Cue the music as I slowly unzip the EI bag, building suspense as I go, and take a look inside:

the feely bag
very essential to every EI bag. It does not have to be fancy. Currently I'm using an old pillowcase, which I may eventually decorate and stick on some sparkly bits. However, once you use it right it will have the same effect. Great for exploring, manipulating, building anticipation etc. Children always get excited about this new exciting object that they are going to pull from this magic bag. Paired with a therapists enthusiastic expression and a "what's inside?" It gives lots of fun times. Also good for developing the preposition 'in'.

the hider
My feely bag also doubles as my hider. A hider is simply something that hides things. It's a piece of cloth that is key to developing object permanence in young ones. You can use it to hide the car while the child is playing with it, to see if he searches for it, or you can use it to hide a person during a peek-a-boo game.

If you don't have bubbles you're not a speech therapist. Great for building vocab, artic activities (particularly /b/ and /p/ (pop pop)) and oro motor activities.

a car
Good for developing joint attention and turn taking skills, building those performatives (vrroom, beep beep), the classic "ready, steady........go", you can drive it over body parts etc. I also like to use a bus for this, as /b/ is an earlier developing sound and I find children tend to say bus before car.

a ball
Also good for similar goals to the car. I also do lots of 'ball up', 'ball down'

classic vocab builders. Great to make the animal sounds as well. I also have a Noah's Ark that I put the animals 'in' and 'on' and say 'hello' and 'bye bye' as they go.

picture books
My favourite right now is 'brown bear, brown bear' because of it's repetition and need for lots of intonation. Great for joint attention and vocab building.

velcro food halves and knife
Children love cutting open the fruits and vegetables (so do I). There's something about that velcro noise that gives good sensory stimulation. I always associate it with me saying "cut, cut, cut, open!" With some younger ones I let them roll across the floor to get the food and pull it open with both hands. Also good for offering a choice.

I have the fisher price peek-a-blocks which children always love. We build towers 'up up up' then knock them down.

Nothing gets a child more excited than running after a deflating balloon. I also like to let the air out slowly on body parts "I'm gonna get your tummy" ...

a baby (doll)
[Lots of /b/ words in my EI bag, have you noticed?] Good for dressing, feeding, washing, sleeping, and all the verbs.

Be careful when using these, as all children do not like puppets. It can make or break your session. I have experienced both. Finger puppets also work well.

Stacking rings
I like to put these over my mouth when making a sound, then put them to the child's mouth when it's his turn to make a sound. I also put them to my eyes to say "I see youuu" Great for a wide range of activities.

I think that's all I can think of right now in my handy EI bag. I feel like I'm missing a few more. Maybe I'll make them 'resource of the week' if I remember later.

I'd like to hear from you therapists. Let's make this interactive. What sorts of things do you have in your Early Intervention therapy bag? You can send me a message on twitter or email me at sharekab@gmail.com. I'll compile your ideas and make it into a feedback post.

I'm waiting for your ideas :)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Speech, language and communication for individuals with Down syndrome

We know the developmental milestones for speech and language in typically developing children. However, many parents, teachers and professionals are not aware of the ages and stages of speech and language development in children with Down Syndrome. More than knowing that these developmental milestones are delayed in these children I've found a great site which outlines developmentl areas in

  • early communication skills
  • vocbulary
  • speech
  • grammar and sentence structure
  • working memory
  • general interaction

Table 5, which outlines "Typical production milestones for children with Down syndrome" is a great one for anyone who interacts with children with Down syndrome to have. It has definitely come in handy in my clinic.

Here's the link to the site: http://www.down-syndrome.org/information/language/overview/?page=3

Also follow the links to the left for the speech and language overview for children with DS from birth to 16 years. They also give great activities and advice to assist the development of speech and language skills.