Communicate Love All Year Through

February – the month of love; loving and caring for our family, our friends, our significant other. Don’t keep the love only in the month of February. Life gets in the way of the best plans. Set a small goal for you and your loved ones to communicate how much you love and appreciate each other (and others) on a more regular basis.  

The suggestions made for wishing others a Happy Valentine’s day can be incorporated throughout the year.  Change the message (ie: Get well; Have a great day; etc) or just sending love, not only helps your loved one practice communication skills but strengthens the bond between the well wisher and the recipient.

Start the ‘Star of the Month’ in your house.  Choose one person – start with YOURSELF – and share some information your family may (or may not) know.  Pick a special time – after dinner, during dinner, before bed – for the ‘Star’ to communicate a special something.  The ‘Star’ can share favorite foods, places, colors, animals. The ‘Star’ can share a favorite memory or story. For loved ones that communicate using alternative means, use a basic communication board or basic signs to share this information.  Use a family picture to communicate a favorite story or memory. Use labels from favorites foods to communicate that information to the rest of the family. The ‘Star’ practices communicating effectively and everyone learns more reasons to love and appreciate the ‘Star’.

Communicate love and appreciation at lunch.  Put a ‘love note’ to your loved ones lunch boxes, backpacks, or briefcases. A little reminder mid-day that someone is thinking of them and wanting their day to be special.  These ‘love notes’ do not need to be complicated or even in written form for that matter. Search for and print out pictures of favorite cartoon characters or superheroes and just put them where your loved one will see them.  Blot lipstick on a piece of paper and send a ‘kiss’ to your loved one – no words necessary. Cut a napkin in a heart and/or buy special character napkins to include in lunches every once in a while.

No matter your age, communicating a simple ‘I’m thinking about you’ message makes the day better and brighter.  

Yours in Speech,

Lakeshore Speech Therapy, LLC.

Caring for Someone Very Special

February – the month of love; loving and caring for our family, our friends, our significant other. Let’s not forget a very important person to love….ourselves.  The excitement of Valentine’s Day is over and the candy boxes are a little less full take a few moments and turn your attention to YOU.

Communicating what you need is just as important as helping your loved ones to communicate. And remember, communicating does NOT necessarily mean having to talk!

A few moments of silence, a cup of hot coffee or tea, a piece of chocolate or just sitting and staring off into nothing  may be all you need to refocus and replenish in the midst of a hectic day. Explore new ways to communicate to your loved ones what you need without creating a verbal exchange to explain what you need, where you’ll be, why you’ll be there, etc.

  • Use a “Off Duty” or “Be Back in # Minutes Sign: employ your entire crew in creating this sign.  Now THEY have a vested interest in your well being. Explain that when they see the sign, you’ll set a timer and you will not be available (unless there is an emergency) until the timer rings. This doesn’t mean you leave the house unattended.  Hang the sign on your bedroom door or the bathroom door. Put the sign in a picture frame and set it out on the table while you sip a cup of coffee until the timer rings. Not only are your giving yourself a few minutes to collect yourself but modeling a life lesson of self-care.  Soon EVERYONE in your family might decide to make a sign.
  • Institute “Mommy Time” or “Daddy Time” or “Me Time”. You will need another adult to execute this suggestion successfully.  Designate a specific day and time (Mondays after dinner) where you ‘leave’ your house. Leave may be a relative term depending on your circumstance. If you are able to exit your home with peace of mind, please do so.  Go to a coffee shop. Go shopping (but not grocery shopping, shop for YOU). Go to the library. Go somewhere, anywhere that YOU want to go! If you cannot leave your home, find a place (or make a place) that is OFF LIMITS to everyone else.  Grab a good book and a cup of your favorite beverage and close your bedroom door. Do no allow ANYONE entrance until the time you have set. Be strong. Do NOT exit that room (unless of course nature calls). Put on music to drowned out the sounds of everyone else. This is your time “away”, go to your happy place.  The adult left behind will survive. The adult with the children is just that, an adult. That adult may not follow the exact routine you do or complete the nightly rituals exactly as you do, but that’s OKAY. It’s ok when things are different – what a nice way to model and practice that life lesson.
  • Parents have heard over and over, “When the baby sleeps, you should sleep.” That suggestion holds true for much longer than infancy.  When you child is napping or playing quietly (yes, sitting in front of a screen counts), stop folding the clothes or washing the dishes or doing whatever must be done. Stop. Sit in silence. Stop. Take a few deep breaths. Stop. Close your eyes for a minute or 15. Stop, just stop. Give your brain the opportunity to stop racing if only for a moment.  Challenge yourself to try this once a week and see what a difference it can make. Challenge yourself to model a moment of quiet and see what an impact this can make on your loved ones.

This is not the first, nor with it be the last time, the focus of this blog is on self-care. The month of February reminds us to love ourselves as well as those around us. Giving the best of yourself to your loved one is important. Giving yourself the opportunity to be your best self means taking care of a very important someone….YOU.

Yours in Speech,

Lakeshore Speech Therapy, LLC

Express your love!

February – the month of love; loving and caring for our family, our friends, our significant other.  Everyone needs a little help now and then. Helping our loved ones express themselves is important in February and all year through. Expressing one’s self cannot be limited to talking.  Expressions of love come in variety of shapes, colors, and sounds. Give your loved ones the opportunity to express and communicate with the world.

Opportunities to communicate happen every minute of the day, knowing the best or most effective way to communicate may take some practice.  Give you and your loved the time to practice. This practice doesn’t have to take long or even have a lot of ‘moving parts’. Valentine’s day is only a few days away, what a wonderful reason to practice and share your loved one’s communication skills with the special people in their lives.  Here are a few ideas to get your creative communication juices flowing.

  • Teach your loved one the sign for “I love you”.  Remember to teach those in your lives the sign as well so when your love one signs “I love you”, the recipient will understand that wonderful message.
  • Use a speech bubble and write a Valentine’s message in the bubble or a simple heart cut from paper.  Have your loved one hold the speech bubble or heart and snap a picture. Whose day won’t be uplifted receiving that message via text or email?
  • Using pink or red lipstick/chapstick, have your loved one decorate a Valentine with lip prints by having them kiss the paper.  Not only is this just adorable, but it’s a GREAT oral motor exercise for speech.
  • Simple communication boards or pictures are also a great way of communicating. Making a video of your loved one creating a message and send it out via text or email will definitely brighten the day!

Let the world hear your loved ones message loud and clear this Valentine’s Day!

Yours in Speech,

Lakeshore Speech Therapy, LLC

The Month of Love

February – the month of love; loving and caring for our family, our friends, our significant other. February gives us the opportunity to show our loved ones what WE see when we look at them. When you look at your child, spouse, friend, what do you see? The unevenness of their eyebrows? The gray hairs? The blemishes? The love handles? No! You see the light that they give. You see the love in their eyes – the window to their soul. You see the kindness they share. You see how amazing they are, have been and will be.

So how does this relate to speech and language? Too often when a loved one experiences a speech-language deficit – regardless of the severity – we are quick to explain this deficit to others in front of them. This is not to say that we need to ‘hide’ this deficit or only speak of it in hushed whispers when our loved one is not in earshot. This is to say we need to be more aware of how we explain our loved one’s communication style.

Our loved ones tune into everything we say and do, especially when they know we are talking about them. Challenge yourself to first, listen to how you describe or explain your loved ones speech-language deficits; second, work to change this dialogue to create a more positive uplifting exchange.

When we first meet someone and they address your loved one who experiences a language deficit, consider using phrases that explain their style of communication versus their inability to talk.

  • Instead of “He doesn’t talk ….” try “My son communicates using gestures ….” or “My daughter communicates so well with her device….”.
  • In place of putting your child on the spot to perform, “Say Hi….say hi” try incorporating the use of visual and verbal cues to encourage your loved one’s communication – (while waving your hand slightly) “My son waves to say hi when he meets a new person.” You may be surprised at your loved ones eagerness to imitate and ‘show off’ their skills.
  • Acknowledging your loved ones hard work may result in increased willingness to carry-over difficult skills to a variety of settings. Instead of insisting on your loved one maintaining eye contact when greeting/talking to others, try using phrases like “My daughter is working so hard on making eye contact when talking to friends and family, we are so proud of her.” or “Eye contact can be hard for my son, but he is really working hard on it, he’s doing a great job.” Your loved one may look as though he/she is not paying attention to what you are saying, but they are and want to make you proud.
  • Parents and caregivers, without thinking, will answer questions asked specifically to loved ones as a way of protecting or helping. Instead of immediately answering a questions, try silently counting to 10 to give your loved one time to process the question. If after 10-15 seconds (which can seem like a 10-15 hours) use sentence starters to help your loved one – “I go to…..” or “My name is….” Your loved one will be much more aware of what is expected as well as how to answer the question. If your loved on uses a communication device being navigating to the page or buttons that have the information. Begin the response as you would modeling it with words and gesture (by pointing) to the button that would complete the answer.

These changes, while seemingly small, can make a significant difference in how your loved one perceives her/his ability and desire to communicate with others.

February – the month to show our love!

Yours in speech,
Lakeshore Speech Therapy, LLC