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 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.

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 Therapy

Join FOCUS Therapy for FOCUS POCUS Trunk-or-Treat!

FOCUS Therapy in Fort Myers is hosting its first ever FOCUS POCUS Trunk-or-Treat event of socially-distanced Halloween fun for all our patients & families!

We’re welcoming everyone to dress up, bring a treat bag and join us for games, candy, prizes and more!

Our Southwest Florida speech, occupational, physical and ABA therapists are committed to providing enriching experiences for our young patients while encouraging the kind of inclusion we want to see at all events. That’s why we’re opening our FOCUS POCUS Trunk-or-Treat fun to our patients as well as their siblings and family.

From 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 29th, FOCUS Therapy staffers and therapists will park their decorated vehicles a full vehicle-length apart in the parking lot outside our clinic, 4997 Royal Gulf Circle, Fort Myers, FL 33996. Parents will be encouraged to park to the west end of the office plaza, and we’ll have a carefully directed flow of trunk-or-treaters, with only one family allowed in front of a vehicle at a time.

FOCUS Therapy Fort Myers
One family per trunk: Map of foot traffic flow for safe social distancing at FOCUS POCUS Trunk-or-Treat.

“Halloween and trick-or-treat are such special events that kids look forward to all year long,” said FOCUS Therapy owner/founder Jennifer Voltz-Ronco. “We know a lot of families this year may be wary of the traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating, but we don’t want anyone to miss out on the fun. It’s also great for our kiddos with disabilities and delays who could use some practice before venturing out door-to-door over the weekend.”

Some of our therapists will have fun, engaging activities and games at their “trunk stop” for children to play and engage, while still remaining socially-distanced.

“For many of our patients, traditional trick-or-treat can be tough anyway, whether because of sensory issues, language deficits or physical challenges,” Voltz-Ronco explained. “Trunk-or-treat events in general have sort of always been the perfect opportunity to allow for both tradition and accessibility. And now this year, as families with children of all abilities in our community are expressing concern about safe trick-or-treating, our team is excited to be involved in making that happen for them.”

For more information, contact FOCUS Therapy at (239) 313-5049 or e-mail Jennifer.Voltz@FOCUSFlorida.com. 

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!

Speech impairment children with Down syndrome

Causes and Treatment of Speech Impairment in Children With Down Syndrome

Speech impairment is a common challenge for children with Down syndrome. This is one of the many issues our Fort Myers speech therapists address for our Down syndrome patients at FOCUS Therapy. We encourage any parent whose child has been recently diagnosed to contact our office to set up an evaluation for speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and possibly ABA therapy. The earlier we are able to intervene, the better the long-term progress and prognosis.

Speech is the ability one has to vocally communicate by articulating sounds and using language.

To understand why children with Down syndrome struggle in this regard – and how we can help treat it – we first need to break down some of the observable symptom clusters affecting multiple body systems that are common among children with this diagnosis.

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.

occupational therapy

Therapy Isn’t a Quick-Fix – Why You Should Still Follow Our Course Until Successful

Parents of children disabilities can quickly find themselves immersed in a dizzying world of various doctors, therapies, medications and treatment. The thought of their child spending several days a week – for years – in speech, occupational, physical and ABA therapies is frankly overwhelming. So we do understand the temptation of quick-fix, non-medical services that promise to “get your child talking” or “catch your child up” with just a month or so of intensive programming.

Call them hype or scams – but they don’t work.

In fact, some do more harm than good. They waste precious time and valuable resources – which can be especially damaging when you’re encouraged to interrupt or leave the routine of traditional, physician-recommended therapies.

“Parents of children with special needs will go to the ends of the Earth to get their child the additional help they need,” said Jennifer Voltz-Ronco, owner and founder of FOCUS Therapy in Fort Myers. What we don’t want to see is parents being taken advantage of. In fact, we care so much about these kids that we will even help parents investigate other treatment options and share information about and with other medical providers if that’s the direction parents want to go. But it pains us to see parents blindly signing up for ‘treatment’ from centers that make big promises, but objectively just don’t compare to what we’re offering in terms of quality and effectiveness.”

FOCUS Therapy

FOCUS Therapy Closing Until Further Notice in Response to COVID-19

Out of an abundance of caution for our patients, families and staff in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, FOCUS Therapy of Fort Myers will be closing effective TOMORROW (March 17th) until further notice at the direction of Florida public health officials.

We are working to contact each of our families individually and inform them of possible teletherapy options.

Teletherapy is currently covered by the following insurance companies:

  • Wellcare
  • Staywell
  • CMS

We are also offering teletherapy at a reduced rate of $85 for those whose insurance does not cover (it is normally $100).

though we may be able to offer a reduced rate for those whose insurance does not cover this service.

If you have any questions, you can still reach us at office@focusflorida.com. You may also reach out to your child’s individual therapists if you have their contact information.

More information about COVID-19 is available from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

We hope our FOCUS families continue to stay healthy and well, and that we’ll be seeing you again soon.