speech therapist

Speech Therapist Answers: “Why Does My Child With Autism Echo Words and Sounds?”

Staff Report, FOCUS Therapy

When a child with autism is first learning how to speak, it’s often delayed and it may not develop in the same way as typically functioning children. As your Fort Myers speech therapist can explain, many begin by copying words they hear, as opposed to trying out new words or phrases they generate on their own. This type of “echoing” is clinically referred to as “echolalia,” and it’s often a vital first step in verbal communication.

Echolalia is the exact repetition or echoing of sounds or words. A child with autism will often use words in the same order – and sometimes even in the same tone – as what they hear, be it from another person or in a book or television show.

Although it may not have any communicative meaning (there is a difference between functional and non-functional echolalia), it can be an excellent place for your speech therapist to begin work with your child on meaningful communication.

speech therapist

“Bad” Behavior in Kids Could Signal Need for Occupational & Speech Therapy

Staff Report, FOCUS Therapy

At some point, most parents have been on the receiving end of judgmental looks due to a child’s behavior. Tantrums in the cereal aisle are practically an official rite of passage for all toddlers. But “bad” behavior could be a sign of a deeper issue. Occupational therapists and speech therapists in Fort Myers know that sometimes, “bad” behavior goes hand-in-hand with a clinical condition with symptoms that can be mitigated with prompt and proper treatment.

For instance, a child grappling with a speech delay may find the most effective form of communication is behavior some find socially unacceptable. These behaviors can include tantrums and aggression, but also non-compliance, running away or resistance. Understandably, parents may feel unprepared or unequipped, and respond ineffectually with tactics like yelling, repeated admonition or just giving in. Both parent and child remain trapped in a frustrating cycle.

According to one study published by researchers with Western Michigan University, a significant portion of children with language disorders also have co-occurring emotional or behavior disorders. Despite this, most children diagnosed with an emotional or behavior disorder have not been evaluated for speech-language problems. When a child has receptive and expressive delays or disorders, it can directly impact their social functioning – and in turn, their behavior.

speech delay

Study: Speech Delay May be Caused, Worsened By Excess Screen Time

Staff Report, FOCUS Therapy

An increase of screen time among young children – particularly involving smartphones and iPads – may heighten the risk of a speech delay, according to new research presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting.

As Science Daily reports, the analysis examines whether handheld screen time use is associated with an increase in language delays among infants. Over the course of four years, researchers looked at how closely about 900 children, ages 6 months to 2 years, interacted with electronic devices. Then they compared their rates of language and speech delay.

By the time these children reached 18 months, 20 percent of them were using a handheld device an average of a half hour daily. The children were then screened for a speech delay.  Researchers found that for each 30-minute increase in the time these children had access to handheld screens, there was a 49 percent higher risk of expressive speech delay.

Expressive language skills are broadly understood to describe how a person communicates their wants or needs. It encompasses both verbal and non-verbal communication, such as facial expressions, gestures, vocabulary and syntax (grammar rules).

occupational therapist

What’s the Big Deal About Scars, Anyway? An Occupational Therapist Explains.

By Krystle Hofstetter, MScOTR/L, Occupational Therapist at FOCUS

Almost all of us have one, yet we try our best to pretend they don’t exist. They vary in size, shape, color and even texture. Some are new, while others we’ve had as long as we can remember. Some are painful, even years after they formed. 

We’re talking about scars.

What all scars have in common is that each has related scar tissue that compromises the balance and function of surrounding tissue. In some cases, it can even be detrimental to other areas of our bodies. Scar tissue does not remain just at the scar site. Rather, it continues to grow like a vine throughout our bodies over the years, causing or contributing to problems down the road.

Children especially may have trouble with scars because their bodies are still growing. Adults may experience chronic pain, tightness and unease if scars aren’t treated properly.

As a Fort Myers occupational therapist, I recognize that untreated scars may hinder development and wound recovery in several surprising ways. The good news there is a method to help address these issues. It’s called Scar Release Treatment, and it produces little to no pain and could have long-lasting benefits for you and/ or your child.

FOCUS Therapy

FOCUS Therapy Dedicated to Childhood Apraxia of Speech Awareness

Staff Report, FOCUS Therapy

This week, FOCUS Therapy was among the many organizations promoting awareness of childhood apraxia of speech, a motor speech disorder that typically becomes apparent as a young child is just learning to talk. The condition is often misdiagnosed because it is relatively rare, though our speech therapists in Fort Myers have successfully treated numerous children with this diagnosis.

The 2017 Apraxia Awareness Day was recognized May 14, the fifth year since it was designated by the Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America (CASANA). The motto of the organization is, “Every Child Deserves a Voice.”

We work toward that goal in our own speech therapy program, with the firm belief that it starts with correctly identifying the condition early on, and beginning therapy as soon as possible. Children with apraxia who do not receive early intervention may have great difficulty developing speech that is intelligible – a problem that can lead to struggle in all aspects throughout their lives. This is precisely why Apraxia Awareness Day is so critically important. 

FOCUS Therapy Fort Myers Supports “Trees for Moms”

FOCUS Therapy is proud to support OneTree.org in its mission to reforest this community and beyond, one tree at a time. The “Trees for Mom” campaign by OneTree is a great local initiative that involves planting trees right here in Southwest Florida. It’s an opportunity to name a tree after a special mom in your life!

Mother’s Day is coming up – just a few days left –  and Trees for Mom is a sweet way to honor her with a lasting symbol, and simultaneously make Southwest Florida more beautiful. Each tree is just $12, and OneTree was co-founded by one of our own in the “FOCUS family!”

Our Fort Myers speech therapists, occupational therapists and physical therapists at FOCUS believe in planting the seeds of effective communication, growth and well-being for the next generation. Success is achievable when we aim for steady, long-term solutions and stay the course.

communication temptations

Communication Temptations: How Speech Therapists Get Your Child to Talk

By Jennifer Voltz, MS/ CCC-SLP, Owner/ Founder of FOCUS

As mothers, we know what our children want even before they do. We know when they will be thirsty or hungry, because well, we just know.

But think about it: If we get out a juice box and have the straw already inserted and the first sip taken to make sure it’s not too full – and we hand it to our little one, they never have any need to communicate. We met their needs before they even had to say one word.

One of the ways our speech therapists compel children with speech delays to engage in communication is to resist giving into that need or desire – even when we know exactly what it is.

Parents can employ this same tactic. 

child with color balls

Five Signs Your Child May Need Physical Therapy

Most parents at some point or another question whether their child is properly developing.

“Is that normal?” we ask. “Should I be worried or call someone?”

The need for physical therapy is sometimes obvious, but not always. At FOCUS, our Fort Myers physical therapists for children know a parent’s instincts are usually right. We do offer free screenings to help determine whether we should proceed with an evaluation and possibly services.

sad girl

Occupational Therapy Can Help Victims of Childhood Trauma

Occupational therapists use proven clinical strategies to promote physical and mental well-being and health. A child’s “occupations” can include anything from activities of daily living (basic hygiene, getting dressed, eating, etc.) to education – and yes, playing.

For victims of childhood trauma, these functions may not come easily.

According to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children, approximately 1,825 children are abused or neglected in the U.S. every day. In all last year, there were 6.6 million children reportedly abused or neglected in the U.S. – and those are only the instances that were reported to state or local authorities. To us, these are not merely statistics. They are precious individuals who deserve to be surrounded by compassion and support. The proper response to their suffering is not to shy away from it. Rather, it demands action.

sign language

Sign Language to Help Treat Childhood Apraxia of Speech

Childhood apraxia of speech may be effectively treated in part with sign language. That was the conclusion of a study by researchers at Penn State College of Medicine, who recommended further study and noted the effectiveness of early intervention of numerous pediatric therapies together.

There is a great deal of evidence to show that learning sign language is beneficial for all children – regardless of whether they have a speech delay. Researchers have found when children learn sign language:

  • It improves the cognition in typically-developing children;
  • It does not impair or prevent communication for children with disabilities;
  • It can help both younger and older children develop important language skills.