Abby Brooks provides speech therapy for the following areas of practice:
- Articulation: How words are produced
Children with articulation challenges may have difficulty being understood. They may substitute certain sounds for other sounds (wabbit instead of rabbit). Other names for this include speech sound disorder, articulation disorder or phonological disorder. Early intervention is important as delayed treatment can have lasting effects on social wellbeing and literacy learning. Here are some general rules to determine if your child might benefit from seeing a speech therapist:
2 years of age, a “stranger” should be able to understand the child about 50% of the time; at 3 years = 75% of the time and at 4 years = 100% of the time.
By age 2-3 the following sounds should be pronounced: p, b, m, h, w and n
By age 3-4 the following sounds should be pronounced: k, g, t, d and f
By age 6 the following sounds should be pronounced: y, l, sh, ch, v
By age 8 the following sounds should be pronounced: s, z, j, th and r
Sounds develop in a particular order with some variability so it is typical to have difficulty saying some sounds at certain ages. However, some errors are atypical at any age. For example, although it is typical for an s sound to be mispronounced when a child is younger, it is never typical for the s to sound slushy.
Tips for helping your child develop clear speech:
Preschool aged children are often ready and excited to learn about saying words correctly. It is never too early to help your child produce clear speech even if their errors are age appropriate. Just have fun! Here are some suggestions of how to incorporate children's speech therapy exercises in your daily life:
During the first year of your child's life, begin having fun with sounds and words.
- make sound effects with toys (e.g. a boat says, “babababab”)
- imitate your baby's babbling as a turn taking game
- celebrate and repeat first approximations of words (e.g. If your baby says “ba” while playing with a ball, say, “Yes, it's a ball! Look, a ball. Want the ball?”. Pause and allow them to say “ba” again! Even if you think they might just be babbling, have a fun celebration and repeat the word ball for them to hear lots. They are probably trying to talk like you!
As your baby begins saying approximations of words begin to help their pronunciation and word combinations.
- Repeat their words correctly many times so they can hear it said the right way.
- Talk about toys they are playing with and follow their lead when teaching new words. They will be interested in learning the words of things they like!
- When they start to say more single words, add a word to their word (e.g. Baby says, “ball”; you say “big ball”.
- Speak in grammatically correct sentences to demonstrate correct grammar.
As your toddler begins to talk more and more, help them learn to pronounce words correctly and speak with correct grammar. Simple speech exercises for toddlers can benefit your child's speech development and give them a head start for language, speech and even reading!
- listen for errors and repeat the word correctly after them (say it lots and often!) so they can hear the correct pronunciation.
- If you notice they have trouble with certain sounds, during playtime or book time, emphasize that sound and say words that begin with that sound often.
- Eventually ask them if they can say it like you. However, don't push it or make them frustrated. Keep it all fun!
If you have any concerns about your child's speech or think they have might have speech problems, they may benefit from speech therapy. Do not hesitate to contact Abby or your local public speech therapist. Speech therapy for children can not only benefit their current language and speech pronunciation but also their future reading skills!
- General Language Development: Grammar and how sentences are spoken
Toddlers who have language difficulty may be late learning first words, learn words slowly and/or have trouble putting words together to form sentences. General rules to help determine if your child would benefit from an assessment with a speech therapist is:
- By 1 year of age, a child should be saying a few single words (or word approximations)
- By 2 years of age (18 months), a child should be saying 50 words and putting 2 words together
- By 3 years of age, a child should be saying 3 word sentences
Many people “wait and see” if language develops on its own and assumes their child is just “a late talker”. However, if your child is not meeting milestones, take your child in to get assessed. Beginning language leads to a strong language foundation.
Children may meet early milestones but develop challenges later in childhood. These challenges may suggest a language disorder. They may have difficulty with certain grammar rules (e.g. pronouns), they may not understand certain language vocabulary (e.g. Prepositions) or they may have difficulty following spoken directions.
Tips for helping your child develop language:
- If you notice grammatical errors, always repeat their sentence correctly after them in a positive and socially appropriate manner. For example, if your 2 year old says, “Her has a pretty dress”, say “SHE does have a pretty dress. SHE has a red dress. SHE looks lovely in that dress. Eventually, guide and encourage your child to repeat the sentence using the word she.
- If you notice a certain grammatical error happening always or often, spend 2-5 minutes a day ensuring your child hears that grammatical marker often. For example, look at a book and talk about the main character: “SHE is running. SHE is eating. SHE is wearing red”. During this time, have you child practice their special SHE word.
- (Central) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD)
It is estimated that 2-3% of children are impacted by this disorder. Auditory centres in the brain do not process the information that is heard by the ears. These children often have difficulty interpreting sounds with background noise, demonstrate poor attention, have challenges following directions and will misunderstand or forget instructions. Audiologists assess and diagnose APD and SLP can provide treatment.
Aphasia is a disorder of language that occurs after brain damage. A common cause of aphasia is a stroke. More information about aphasia can be found
here. Treatment for aphasia can include word-finding strategies, understanding language and/or reading and writing. Abby helps to determine functional goals and set practice goals.
Apraxia of speech is characterized by speech problems that occur because a child has difficulty making accurate movements of the mouth. Speech errors are often inconsistent and children are very difficult to understand. For more information refer to
The Mayo Clinic: Childhood-Apraxia of Speech.
Since shorter but more frequent speech therapy sessions are recommended,
online therapy can be a good option for these clients.
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism is a range of conditions that includes challenges with language based skills such as social langauge, speech and nonverbal communication. Other diagnostic characterists include repetive behaviours and unique differences and strengths. More information on autism spectrum disorder can be found
here. Abby provides service for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Depending on the individual needs, treatment goals can include a variety of aspects including social communication, articulation, language, word-finding and joint attention.
- Pre-Literacy and Reading
Pre-literacy and reading challenges are often associated with speech difficulties. Abby provides therapy for phonological awareness which is related to reading readiness and can help children acquire a foundation for reading.
Fluency refers to how fluid, smooth and easy speech is produced. Stuttering or disfluency occurs when someone repeats sounds or syllables at the beginning or within a word, prolongs parts of a word or has a long pause or block before or during a word. Although some stuttering can be developmental and resolve without therapy, other stuttering requires treatment. Abby is trained in the
Lidcombe Program as well as other stuttering interventions.
- Social communication/pragmatic
Social communication is how someone uses language to communicate such as getting information or greeting someone. Social language is also how someone changes language for different people or different situations. For example, people speak differently to their teacher versus their mother. They speak differently when giving a presention than when they are having dinner. Lastly, social language is how someone follows the rules of communication such as turn taking and eye contact. For more information refer to https://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/Social-Communication/
- Voice Therapy
Voice therapy treats disorders related to voice production and the vocal cords. Voice therapy also includes therapy that aims to make a voice more feminine or masculine. Follow the links for more information on
Children with word finding challenges have difficulty retrieving words when speaking. These words are words that they understand. These children have trouble expressing their knowledge, not because they don't know something but because they cannot find the right word. They may
- speak slowly
- mix up words when speaking
- use words such as “um” to fill time when communicating
- use gestures when trying to describe something
Other children with word-finding challenges may
- speak fast but use the wrong words often
Abby has trained under Dr. Diane German who is the author of Test of Word-Finding and the Word-Finding Intervention Program, and is able to assess and provide intervention for this challenge. For more information please refer to:
- Accent Reduction
Although many people find their accents do not interfere with any aspects of their life, others require accent reduction therapy to help ensure their pronounciation does not hold them back in their educational pursuits, business successes, career paths or any future endeavors. Speech therapists are professionals trained to anaylize speech patterns, specialize in speech training, are experts in English pronunication and understand the inflections and flow of English conversation. Some speech and language therapists may offer accent reduction classes online. However, at this time Abby only offers individual sessions for accent reduction online. Group classes may be available in the future. Through one-to-one speech therapy, you can learn how to pronounce words online, learn English pronunciation online and have your own accent coach online.