Fort Myers speech therapists

Cooking Up Some Communication! Tips From FOCUS Speech Therapists on Meal Prep as a Language Booster

Building kids’ speech and language skills isn’t just some magic we cook up in the clinic – it’s something you can do in your very own kitchen too! As our FOCUS speech therapists can explain, the more you can help your child try to practice their skills everywhere but the clinic, the better off they’ll be for it. What we’re aiming for here is something called carryover, and it’s something the American Speech Language and Hearing Association underscores can help those lessons “stick.”

This is especially important if they’re schooling, extracurricular activities and social events have been significantly curtailed during the pandemic. They’re going to need all the extra help they can get!

Our speech therapists recognize that cooking is a great activity because it not only helps them with lots of speech and language concepts (up, down, over, in, stir), there are math and science components, it encourages creativity, responsibility, teamwork and independence. Cooking can be a very naturally social activity, and it’s one that can help you make wonderful memories. Plus, it can be easily tailored to the child’s age and skill level with just a little planning. Start out with it just being you and your child, and once they get more comfortable with it, you can work your way up to have siblings and others involved – make a play date of it!

Social Skills of the Sous Chefs

The sous chef is the second-in-command in the kitchen. Anytime you’re working with high heat or open flames or sharp tools, it’s important that kids understand who is in charge and how important it is to listen carefully and follow directions.

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.
FOCUS Therapy

FOCUS Therapy Cancellation Policy Update

Dear FOCUS Therapy Families,

If ever a year could be described as a rollercoaster, it was 2020. FOCUS Therapy is beyond grateful for the families, therapists and staff who stuck with us through whirlwind months of office closures (in accordance with CDC guidelines), rapidly-expanded teletherapy services, scheduling upheavals and enhanced safety protocols. Our services are vital to patients’ health and development, and we’re committed to delivering no matter the obstacles. Still, our success has always hinged heavily on the dedication of our FOCUS families.

As a token of our thanks, this new year we’re gifting each patient a clean slate on their appointment cancellation record. Starting Jan. 1, 2021, cancellations for the prior calendar year will not count against you or adversely impact your child’s standing as a FOCUS patient.

Fort Myers speech therapists

Conversational Scripts and How Our Fort Myers Speech Therapists Use Them

Conversation is something that flows naturally for many of us. But for some kids with delays and disabilities, conversational skills may be abstract and nuanced. One tool our Fort Myers speech therapists use to help practice conversational skills is through “scripts.”

Scripts can help kids learn how to appropriately initiate, maintain, extend and end social and conversational exchanges. These can be used to talk about special interests, participate in activities, engage in classroom activities and more. Conversational scripts take it a step beyond simple requesting and can help children recognize and understand the organization, guidelines and boundaries of everyday conversation.

As always, we tailor our techniques to the way each child learns, beginning with engaging topics about which they’re interested.

speech therapy games

5 Free, Easy Speech Therapy Games to Play With Your Child

Children are born to learn through play. Playing speech therapy games at home with your child gives them a chance to practice the speech and language skills we’re working to help them develop in therapy, while also giving you a chance to bond with them.

Chances are, you’ve already played them together before, but there are a few ways you can tweak the games so that they’re still fun but even more effective at targeting certain skills like vocabulary, attention, memory, articulation, phonics, observation, deduction and expressive/receptive language.

We like these games in particular too because not only are they free, you can introduce them almost anywhere: On a road trip, at a restaurant while you wait for food, a rainy day at home or a sunny day at the park. And siblings can join in too!

FOCUS teletherapy

What Teletherapy Taught Me: A FOCUS Parent’s Perspective

By Rachel Revehl, FOCUS Therapy Parent

Earlier this year, prior to the pandemic, one of our son’s speech therapists from FOCUS approached me with what seemed at the time an absurd idea: Would we consider allowing him to do some of his speech therapy sessions via teletherapy? He’d be a great candidate, she said. She also thought it might help us with our busy schedule.

That last part was tempting, but…

“Um, thanks,” I replied. “But, I just don’t think that would work for him.”

Seriously, how could it? He would NEVER sit for a full session without a therapist physically in front of him, I thought.

FOCUS Therapy

Back-to-School Support from FOCUS Therapy

It’s a new school year, which means a new routine – and all of us at FOCUS Therapy recognize the transition this year is especially significant because it’s the longest so many of our kids have been away from school for any one stretch. For some, this school year and all the milestones that go with it are going to continue to look much different.

School officially starts for students in the Lee County School District on Aug. 31st, with one of four instruction model options. The Fort Myers News-Press reports most will do so at half capacity. Desks will be spaced-out. Certain hallways and stairwells will be designated one-way. Classroom changes will be staggered and lunches will be served in classrooms to prevent large gatherings of students at any one place on campus. Approximately 58 percent of students are learning virtually, with 39 percent signing up for Lee Home Connect and 19 percent for Lee Virtual School.

Our dedicated team of therapists and staffers is SO excited to hear all about your first days back to school. Because this new year is going to mean many changes and everyone will be quite busy, we wanted to send out some friendly reminders to help families as they navigate through these challenges.

Fort Myers speech therapy

Speech in Spades: How We Can Use Playing Cards in Speech Therapy

The FOCUS speech therapy team is flush with great ideas when it comes to using a deck of playing cards to get your child talking.

Card-playing is a popular past time because decks are small, portable and offer endless possibilities. Our speech therapists love cards too because they can be used during sessions (or at home) as a “communication temptation” for our patients. A communication temptation is any type of motivation we use to get kids engaged, talking and practicing the various skills we’re working on in speech therapy.

In addition to classic card games for kids (think Go Fish, Gin Rummy and Crazy Eights), it’s fun to make up games directly tailored to the skills of the children with whom we’re working. Here, we’ll outline some examples. Feel free to try them out yourself or make up your own!

Fort Myers speech therapy

Parents: Get Involved in Your Child’s Speech Therapy Progress!

In our many years of collective experience as speech-language pathologists, our FOCUS team has amassed lots tools to help us address children’s speech and language problems. We have loads of interactive games, cool crafts, brightly-colored books, fun toys and the technology that made us one of the first providers of online speech therapy for kids in Fort Myers (even prior to the pandemic). We also glean a lot of insight working with other professionals in a multi-disciplinary clinic.

But the most powerful tool we have? Parents!

Parent involvement in a child’s speech therapy is so, so important. Those who are committed to our process and make efforts to use our strategies at home are going to see their children make more significant, faster strides. That’s our personal experience, but there’s a lot of research to back us up on this.

We get it, though: Easier said than done. Parents these days are pulled in a thousand directions at once. This is only compounded if your child has been diagnosed with a developmental delay or disorder. There are appointments for doctors, specialists, therapies and school programs – on top of the everyday demands of work and other commitments.

It can be very tempting to simply rely on your speech therapy team to”fix” the speech problems. It’s true that we do (as we sometimes joke) “have ways of making you talk.” We bring to the table proven clinical strategies to help improve your child’s communication skills. But at the end of the day, parents are the rock star reinforcements.

FOCUS Therapy Fort Myers

2020 FOCUS Therapy Office Closures – Mark Your Calendars!

Happy New Year from all of us at FOCUS Therapy!

To ensure this year goes as smoothly as possible, we’re publishing the 2020 FOCUS Therapy Scheduled Office Closures list in advance.

Typically, our Fort Myers therapy clinic’s schedule mirrors that of the Lee County School District. In other words: If the schools are open, we’re open. If schools are closed, we’re closed. Keep this in mind anytime there are severe weather closures, etc. (particularly during hurricane season!). Obviously, this doesn’t apply to the summer schedule, but where there are deviations, your child’s therapists should alert you in advance. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions!

Scheduled 2020 FOCUS Therapy Office Closures

  • 4/10/20 – Good Friday
  • 5/25/20 – Memorial Day
  • 9/7/20 – Labor Day
  • 11/26-11/27 – Thanksgiving and the Friday after
  • 12/21/20-12/25/20 – Christmas Week
  • 1/1/21 – New Year’s Day

(Note: We will be open during spring break, March 16-20th and Friday, July 3, 2020.)