speech therapist Fort Myers

Fort Myers Speech Therapist Tips on Reducing Kids’ Screen Time

Kids’ recreational screen time more than doubled in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent study by the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics. This is concerning news because, as a Fort Myers speech therapist will tell you, excessive use of screen time can have numerous adverse impacts. In particular, these include:

  • Unhealthy weight gain.
  • Reduction in social skills.
  • Depression.
  • Delay in speech-language development (particularly for younger children).

The researchers looked at a group of more than 5,400 kids. Their average daily screen time prior to the pandemic was about 3.8 hours (still pretty high!). (The data was initially gleaned to study how cognitive development is impacted by screen time.) Then during the pandemic, kids’ use of electronic screens doubled to 7.7 hours daily. It should be noted that figure excluded school-related screen time, which many kids engaged in on-and-off, either in virtual school or some hybrid. Here in Southwest Florida, many schoolchildren are also assigned a set number of weekly minutes through a reading-math program called iReady. This too would have been excluded.

Analysts were solely looking at recreational screen time. That would include the use of electronic devices (phones, iPads, gaming systems, etc.) for things like:

  • Multiple-player gaming.
  • Single-player gaming.
  • Texting.
  • Social media.
  • Video chatting.
  • Browsing the internet.
  • Watching streaming movies, videos, or television shows.
Fort Myers speech therapist

Does My Child Need a Fort Myers Speech Therapist if His Speech is Hard to Understand?

When your child is hard to understand, it can be stressful for you, your family, friends, educators – and perhaps most especially, your child. Of course, nobody enters this world speaking perfectly, and each child has their own timeline for proper pronunciation. However, it’s also important not to wait too long if you notice your child is more difficult to understand than his or her peers. The sooner a Fort Myers speech therapist can intervene, the faster your child can catch up to where they need to be. That can be critical to ensuring they don’t fall too behind socially and academically. Speaking skills mastered before pre-K and kindergarten can significantly impact the ease with which your child will be able to read and write.

Although every child develops at their own rate, knowing what key milestones to watch for is a good idea. In general, as noted in a recent Parents.com article, you should understand:

  • At least 50 percent of what your child says by age 2.
  • At least 75 percent of what your child says by age 3.
  • About 100 percent of what your child says by age 4, even if all the sounds aren’t perfect.

By the time your child is about 6 or 7, he or she should produce all sounds correctly most of the time. If you can’t, it is well past time to reach out to a Fort Myers speech therapist. Ideally, we like to start treatment of children with speech and language delays and disorders as soon as possible – the earlier the better. At FOCUS, we are big proponents of “early intervention,” which starts between ages 2 and 5.

Florida speech therapist

4 Things to Look for in a Florida Speech Therapist for Kids

At FOCUS, we’re familiar with the process of searching for a Florida speech therapist for kids. When we’re looking to hire speech therapists, there are some key things that we look for – and it goes beyond the right education, certification or qualifications. All those things are important, but they won’t necessarily dictate whether a person is going to work well with kids.

Approximately 5 percent of kids ages 3-17 have a speech-sound disorder that lasts more than a year, often requiring some type of intervention. Sometimes, the cause is due to something like autism or down syndrome or childhood apraxia of speech. But sometimes, it’s for something like a stutter or just a general delay in speech-language skills. For many of the kids who receive speech-language therapy, you’d never be able to tell later in life. This is especially true the younger they are when they start. That’s our goal: To get kids to catch up to their peers and be able to communicate, socialize and function as normally as possible. But in order for children to reach their maximum potential, they need to be paired with therapists who are going to be effective!

Here, we’re offering some insight into the qualities we prize in our speech therapists (and therapists of other disciplines, for that matter). We hope this helps parents in their search to find the Florida speech therapist who will be right for your child.

Fort Myers speech therapist

Fort Myers Speech Therapist Insight: What’s a Speech Sound Disorder and How Do You Treat It?

It’s estimated that about one in a dozen kids in the U.S. between the ages of 3 and 17 has some type of disorder related to speech, voice, language or swallowing. Roughly 5 percent have a speech disorder specifically. When we look at even younger kids, it’s about 9 percent. Children who have speech sound disorders struggle to form speech sounds. They have trouble articulating individual sounds, being understood, modulating speech, they might stutter, have a lisp, etc. When it comes to speech sound disorders, working with a skilled, creative pediatric Fort Myers speech therapist can make all the difference.

About Speech Sound Disorders

Kids with speech sound disorders don’t have difficulty understanding language. What they struggle with is expressing language in the sounds of speech at a level that is age-appropriate.

As a Fort Myers speech therapist can explain, speech sound disorders are characterized by regular trouble producing speech sounds. That can mean several different things, including:

  • Phonological problems. This is when one has a tough time producing certain sounds or sound blends.
  • Vocal apparatus problems. This would be if someone has issues with their larynx or lungs that makes producing certain sounds difficult.
  • Speech timing issues. This would be if a child has difficulty with their vowel onset time, vowel duration, consonant closure duration or voicing during consonant closure.
  • Speech difficulty. This would be issues like stuttering or lisping.

Typically, we can classify a speech sound disorder either as a “phonological disorder” or an “articulation disorder.”

Kids often say sounds the wrong way when they’re first learning to talk. This is totally normal. Lots of toddlers can say sounds like w, m or p pretty early on, but struggle to master sounds like th, v or z. The majority of kids can say pretty much all of their speech sounds correctly by the time they’re about 4. If a child is struggling with these sounds beyond 4 or 5, they may have a speech sound disorder.
Fort Myers speech pathologists

Why Speech Pathologists Focus So Much on “WH” Questions With Kids

The ability to ask and answer “Wh” questions is an integral part of language development. Speech pathologists recognize that kids must first be able to understand questions before they can engage in an exchange of information. It’s the very foundation of conversation.

Most typically-developing kids will start to ask and answer “Wh” questions when they’re between 1- and 2-years-old. They’ll continue fine-tuning these receptive and expressive language skills into their school years. Children with delays, disabilities, injuries and other conditions may struggle with Wh questions. Our Fort Myers speech pathologists at FOCUS can help.

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.