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Barrier Games

Barrier Games

By Michael Audas – Speech Pathology

What is a barrier game?

Barrier games are all about helping children to understand that other people do not necessarily or automatically have access to their internal mental states. There are a wide variety of barrier games commonly utilised in therapy, but the basic premise is that two players will sit across from one another, with a barrier intervening between them, and attempt to work towards some kind of common goal—think Battleship, but with a cooperative, rather than competitive, goal.

The fact that the two players cannot see another means that they have rely on communication in order to reach their common goal. If they are trying to draw the same picture, for instance, they will need to describe exactly what lines, colours, and shapes they are utilising, and where they are marking them on the page, in order to wind up with reasonable amount of parity. Players soon learn that they cannot simply state that they’re going to draw a rabbit and assume that it’s going to look the same as the other player’s rabbit, or that it even necessarily be located in the same place on the page.

Barrier games, by their very nature, require a greater-than-usual degree of precise, and specific language. This makes them an excellent tool for developing a child’s language, and to build their capacity to communicate in a clear and concise way.

Benefits of barrier games

Barrier games are suited to the development of the following skills:

  • Listening to, and giving, directions
  • Requesting clarification of information that one has not understood
  • Comprehensiona and expression of a range of concepts
  • Narrative formulation and expression
  • Expressing and comprehending vocabulary
  • Using describing words: e.g., adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions.

Try it at home

  • Provide each child with a piece of paper, as well as textas, pencils, or crayons.
  • Have one child draw a picture and then describe it to his or her peer.
  • The other child listens to the description and then tries to draw the same picture on their page.
  • The children compare the pictures at the end and describe any differences they notice.
    • You can also try asking them about how a particular difference came about: e.g., did the instruction pertaining to that detail not include a location word.
  • Have the children switch roles.
  • You can simplify this task—particularly for younger children—by giving them colouring pages instead. This way, the children only have to attend to the different colours that they are using.

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Social Communication Development Handout

Social Communication Development Handout

By Aamina Shakoor – Speech Pathologist.

 

For kids ages 1-6 years old.

 

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Self Care

Self Care

Stephanie Cordingley – Provisional Psychologist

When times are stressful, you may be feeling overwhelmed or burnt out which makes it hard to look after yourself physically and mentally. Using self-care strategies can help to calm the mind and body, so you can be physically and mentally healthier. By taking care of yourself often, you are better able to cope with stress or other feelings that you may experience. See below for ideas for practicing self-care!

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Speech Sound Disorders

Speech Sound Disorders

Aamina Shakoor, Speech Pathologist, Change for Life

Speech Sound Disorders (SSD) is a term used to refer to a range of difficulties involving the perception, motor production and phonological representation of the various speech sounds and segments.

The following charts and tables represent the typical speech sounds that children should have acquired from the age of 2-7 years old. Additionally, the Speech Sound Development Chart shows an example of the sounds with pictures and words represented for each of the sounds.

The data reported in the chart is based on a comprehensive review by Crowe and McLeod (2020). The study analysed 18,907 children across 15 different studies. The chart is in order by hierarchy by the mean age of when a speech sound should be acquired. Each bar range represents the average age of acquisition range for each speech sound. The data uses the 90% criterion, meaning that 90% of all children produced the speech sounds correctly by the ages reported.

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PHONOLOGICAL PATTERNS

What are Phonological Patterns?

By Aamina (Speech Pathologist)

Phonological errors are different to sound errors, they are patterns that are simplified productions. These patterns are usually found in children who are learning how to talk, and they tend to simply the more complex words in a predictable manner. The following processes are typical errors which means that many children use them as part of their normal development however grow out of them overtime.

Atypical phonological processes are not seen in typically developing language learners. This may be a sign that a child has a phonological processing disorder. Some examples include initial consonant deletion, medial consonant deletion, glottal replacement, backing and stopping of glides.

Typical Phonological Patterns:

VELAR ASSIMILATION: A non-velar sound is changed to a velar sound because of the influence of another velar sound in a word, tack becomes “kack”

PRE-VOCALIC VOICING: A voiceless initial consonant is substituted with a voiced consonant, pig becomes” big”

FINAL CONSONANT DEVOICING A final voiced consonant is substituted with a voiceless consonant, pig becomes “pick

FINAL CONSONANT DELETION: The omission of the final consonant in a word, cat becomes “ka”

STOPPING OF FRICATIVES: A fricative is substituted with a stop sound, “four becomes “bore”; sun becomes “tun”

WEAK SYLLABLE DELETION:  The deletion of an unstressed or weak syllable, elephant becomes “efant”

VELAR AND PALATAL FRONTING: An alveolar sound is substituted with a velar sound, can becomes “tan”

CLUSTER REDUCTION: The replacement of a 2-elemetn cluster is simplified into a single consonant, stop becomes “top”.

DEAFFRICATION: An affricate is substituted with a fricative, chip becomes “ship”; job becomes “zhob”

STOPPING OF AFFRICATES: An affricate is substituted with a stop sound, chop becomes “top”; jump becomes “dump”

GLIDING: A liquid (/r,l/) is substituted with a glide (/w,y), run becomes “wun”, leg becomes “weg”

FRICATIVE SIMPLIFICATION: A labiodental or alveolar fricative is substituted with an interdental fricative with no change in voicing, thumb becomes “fum”

 

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What is a Speech Sound Disorder?

What is a Speech Sound Disorder?

Aamina Shakoor, Speech Pathologist, Change for Life.

Speech Sound Disorders (SSD) is a term used to refer to a range of difficulties involving the perception, motor production and phonological representation of the various speech sounds and segments.

SSD’s are split into either functional or organic in nature. Functional speech sound disorders are idiopathic; having no known cause as opposed to organic speech sound disorders as they result from underlying motor/neurological, structural or sensory/perceptual cause.

When Speech Pathologist’s plan to work on a speech delay, they plan according to the child’s speech. There are many different approaches that can be chosen to work on. There is no single therapy approach that works for all children and it may be required to change approaches at time. It is the Speech Pathologist’s role to ensure they consider the research and evidence and aim to provide the correct intervention to the child and their needs.

Organic Speech Sound Disorders

Organic speech sound disorders encompass:

  • Neurological or Motor issues; Childhood Apraxia of Speech and Dysarthria
  • Structural issues; Cleft Lip/Palate and other structural deficits
  • Sensory/Perceptual disorders; Hearing Impairments

 

Functional Speech Sound Disorders:

Functional speech sound disorders include:

  • Articulation Disorders (e.g., substitution or distortions of sounds)
  • Phonological Disorders, which are more predictable, rule-based errors (e.g., fronting, backing, stopping etc.)

It is often difficult to be able to differentiate between a Phonological Disorder and an Articulation Disorder therefore many researchers and clinicians prefer to use the broader term of “Speech Sound Disorder”

 

References:

Bowen, C. (2021). Children’s Speech Sound Disorders by Caroline Bowen. Retrieved 9 June 2021, from https://speech-language-therapy.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=16:ssd&catid=11:admin&Itemid=101

Speech Sound Disorders: Articulation and Phonology. (2021). Retrieved 9 June 2021, from https://www.asha.org/practice-portal/clinical-topics/articulation-and-phonology/

 

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Mindset

Mindset

By Melanie Chan – Psychologist

Mum and Dad, here is one for you.

A psychologist, Carol Dweck, first coined the term “growth mindset”. Years on, this concept has grown to be used in many different environments, especially in schools. The main idea is whether we have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset about ourselves.

For example, someone with a fixed mindset might say “I did not get good grades because I’m not smart.” In saying that, there is a fixed capacity to one’s capabilities.

However, someone with a growth mindset might say “I did not get good grades during this test, I wonder where I’m lacking and where can I improve?” In saying that, the person believes that there is potential to grow in their knowledge.

In her book, “Mindset”, Dr Dweck shares what it looks like to have a growth mindset when it comes to parenting and education, alongside other aspects of life. This might be a good resource to help us consider the language and the way we speak to our children and how that impacts their self-esteem and self-worth.

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Why is Speech Pathology Involved in the Diagnosis of Autism

Why is Speech Pathology Involved in the Diagnosis of Autism?

By Michael Audas – Speech Pathologist
Parents whose children are referred for a diagnostic autism assessment are often confused as to why and how speech pathology figures into the diagnosis: often, they are told that they must complete a ’speech assessment,’ only to wonder how, when their child ’speaks’ perfectly well, such an assessment could in any way help identify whether or not their child has autism. But while the assessment will be completed by the speech pathologist, it is not in fact an assessment of language development; whereas a ’speech assessment,’ properly so called, assesses a child’s ability to form speech sounds and words.
Diagnosing psychologists and paediatricians are interested in language development, because delays in a child’s language development are often one of the earliest apparent red flags for autism—particularly if the pattern of that language development is uneven in nature. They are also interested in a child’s pragmatic language skills—or how he or she uses language in practical, social ways; deficits in this area, often strongly point to an autism spectrum disorder. 
 
Beyond diagnosis itself, however, a comprehensive language assessment can help identify goals for future intervention. Children with autism spectrum disorder typically encounter more frequent communication breakdowns than typically developing peers, and identifying the precise source of these breakdowns is the first step required in the provision of adequate support.

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Building Language skills through Role-Play

Building Language skills through Role-Play.

Aamina Shakoor, Speech Pathologist.

There are many ways to utilise role play to aid in language development and skills. Role play can include using story books to incorporate more language skills. The skills that can be used during role play include the following:

Requesting:

Assigning roles to the child and the other communication partner can allow the child to request information, actions or objects. For example, using the book The Three Little Pigs, the child can play the role of the wolf which would require the child to ask the little pig to “please let me in”. Additionally, manipulating the environment by creating props but purposely leaving items out so the child is able to request for them. For example, creating the little pigs houses out of cardboard and only including one, leading the child to request the other two houses.

Comparing:

Visual comparisons can be included with in role play and comparing items that are the same or different, this can include the size, colour, type, age etc. Depending on the story chosen, a more detailed comparison could also be utilised including emotional characteristics such as happy, sad, good, bad etc.

Vocabulary Building:

An extension activity could be used by disassociating the child from the character, for example if the child was one of the ‘bears’ from Goldilocks and the Three Bears, you could talk about bears, including their habitat, characteristics, compare and contrast etc.

Turn-Taking:

Turn-taking can be worked on by allowing the child to understand that to play out the roles each person needs to take turns to talk and act. Reinforce with the text from the book, if necessary. Carry over this important pragmatic skill into daily life.

Phonemic Awareness – Rhyming:

Discussing and pointing out words that rhyme, begin and/pr end with the same letter, or have the same vowel sound. This can increase phonemic awareness by purposely mispronouncing words, allowing the child to correct you. Let the child think of additional rhyming words. Accept all nonsense words, if they rhyme (i.e., big, pig, rig, wig, tig, etc.)

Social Interaction:

If there’s more than one child participating in the activity, observe the children’s social interactions. Encourage spontaneous speech, requesting, and model appropriate behaviour, if necessary.

 

 

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What have Freud and Lacan to offer Speech Pathology?

What have Freud and Lacan to offer Speech Pathology?

By Michael Audas – Speech Pathologist

It is convenient, in terms of justifying therapeutic interventions, to posit a model of ‘healthy speech’ from which pathologies of speech, defined by phenotypical clusters of symptoms, can be distinguished.

To the contrary, I would argue that speech is itself fundamentally pathological, since it is a symptom emerging from our helplessness as infants—an affliction that is very nearly unique to humans. It is during the prolonged period wherein we are unable to fend for ourselves that first vocalisations, and then speech, emerge as a means of inducing others to see to our needs and wants.

While it is true that other animals make communicative noise (which in humans we call vocalisation), symbolisation is, as far as anyone has determined, the sole province of humanity. Symbols alone are sufficient to address the increasing complexity of the things we want—and the impossible grandiosity of the extent to which we want them.

Invoking and combining these symbols in order to construct a meaning—a phantasy—around our wretched circumstances is a habit inculcated in infancy and childhood, but it remains a lifelong vice. The child, vaguely comprehending his or her own powerlessness in a world of brimming with threats of all kinds, constructs a narrative about a mighty king and queen who protect their young princess or prince from the dragons, warlocks, and other assorted malevolent entities baying at the borders of the realm.

After the prince or princess makes their Oedipal ascent to the throne, and thereby becomes an adult, they inevitably not only discover that the crown weighs heavy, but also that regent is scarcely less helpless than infant in the grand scheme of things—a scheme which from high atop their castle seems to unfurl before them as a terrifying, limitless expanse.

Worse still, the princess or prince, upon assuming the title of king or queen, now realises that the phantasy of their youth is untenable. Where once they imagined their parents to be invincible and infallible scions, they now apprehend the truth: the former king and queen too were nought more than scared children. It is the moment of this realisation, and not the ascension to the throne itself, that truly constitutes a regicide patterned after Oedipus and Laius. Indeed, we may posit a double regicide, given that the realisation that that signifier of ‘king’ or ‘queen’ no more befits the current ruler than the former. According to Nietzsche’s formulation, this might run something like ‘der König ist todt! der König bleibt todt! Und wir haben ihn getödtet!’ [1]

But it is in the nature of language that that which enters into the chain of signification may never escape its bonds. That is to say, something which is symbolised may never be divested of symbols (and I am here using ‘signifiers’/’signification’ and ‘symbol’/’symbolisation’ almost interchangeably) altogether, even a given symbol is substituted by the negation of that symbol: e.g., ‘former queen/king.’ No matter how far we follow the links of the chain, we only ever find more links (symbols).

And so, the twilight of one phantasy becomes the dawn of the another. The symbols of the previous phantasy will be rearranged, not only because this is, as we have just discovered, in the nature of language, but also because the promise language offers of construction of a new phantasy is far too tempting for any of us to resist.

The new phantasy will resemble the old one in many ways; most noticeably in that it will still locate a source of benevolent, protective power outside of oneself. But precisely where this is located may well be subjected to a displacement of level—from the individual (e.g., the parent/monarch) to the institutional (e.g., to the nation-state). Entities which seem to transcend the individual, temporal, and finite hold out the possibility of a more durable ground for a new phantasy which we take to secure our own place in the cosmos. Nevertheless, the traces of the former phantasy are still evident, not only in the overarching structure (or meta-narrative) of the phantasy, and the purposes which it serves, but also in the way in the impersonal entities conscripted into phantasy take on very personal or anthropomorphic qualities. It is hard for us to trust, for instance, that the state will really operate to protect us unless it cares for us in some way that resembles the love that drove the royal mother and father to keep us from harm.

We have discussed this childhood phantasy at some length now, but I hope that I have not left the reader with the impression that this is the only phantasy we have to contend with. On the contrary, this is but one phantasy—one that to a certain degree, and in its broad outlines, may be taken to be universal—but language at the very least permits, and may well obligate, a profusion of phantasies, both personal and collective.

The work of Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan—which, despite not being explicitly referenced up until this point, has undergirded everything expounded thus far—shatters any illusion we might have about a separation between mental life and language. The contents of the psyche are, quite necessarily if one thinks about it, not made up of things that exist in reality, but symbolic representations of things in reality which have already been filtered by perception (a process which itself is subject to psycholinguistic biases). And, like any attempt at representation—such as a map or a painting—our symbolic representations are unavoidably incomplete and inaccurate as regards that which they seek to capture.

The residue of ‘stuff’ we fail to symbolise in language leaves a trace, a marker of something lacking, in our attempts to make meaning. This is especially true of things which we have no way of directly perceiving (if anything like ‘direct’ perception is possible in the first place), such as the thoughts and feelings of others. We are motivated to attempt to discern how the people around us are thinking and feeling, but we must rely on our apprehension of the words those people use to attempt to convey said thoughts and feelings. But whatever words they choose will be ill-suited to the task, because they will be drawn from a lexicon that was collectively constructed to refer to shared experiences and referents (e.g., objects in our environment that we can all see), when what is being attempted to be shared is something internal, private, and emphatically not part of shared experience.

The impossibility of ever really knowing what is going on, at a subjective level, inside the psyche of another person is problematic for us as meaning-seeking/making, linguistic creatures: we fail to recognise the existential dread of our parents/rulers. Is it any surprise, then, that there was a movement towards a kind of solipsism in Psychology which went under the mantle of ‘behaviourism’? As it turns out, an antidote to solipsism may be precisely what Freud and Lacan have offer both Psychology and Speech Pathology, as the latter likewise often elides the bidirectional implications that the mind and language/speech have for one another—positing communication and language, instead of behaviour, in the absence of minds.

In terms of how Speech Pathologists, approach their field, however, the abandonment of the illusion of speech that is non-pathological or non-symptomatic is a genuine gift that could be obtained through engagement with these thinkers. This is a gift not only because it happens to be true, but because it better allows us to understand that accessing speech and language is about more than re-/habilitating a functional capacity for our clients to receive and transmit information; rather, it is the principal means we have of coping with the trauma of our human existence. At the same time, it should temper our enthusiasm for language as an unambiguous good, given that language also permits of the phantasies which, when mistaken for the real, permit most of us to spend much of our time dreaming, even while awake.

  • [1:] The King is dead! The King remains dead! And we have killed him.