In Anticipation of Summer

Last week of April – hard to believe how quickly this year is flying by. Many schools will be out for the summer in one month and the lazy hazy days of summer will be upon us.  There is still a good amount of time to get to those warm sunny days.

Anticipation …. so exciting … so nerve wracking …. so the cause of many behaviors.  Anticipating something good or something less pleasant can set a loved one down a path of unexpected behaviors.  Anticipating the end of the school year, the beginning of swim lessons or the change in schedule can really affect behaviors more than one might anticipate, especially if communicating is difficult for an individual.

Creating a plan, anticipating the anticipation, may result in a more positive transition for you and your loved one. Here are a few tips to consider.

  • Timing – be aware and truly plan out how much in advance you will mention or discuss a change.   Consider the end effect on your loved one when determining how far in advance to share information.  A trip to a major amusement park, while exciting, if shared too much in advance could result in your loved one being fixated on this information for weeks or months.  Springing summer camp on your loved one the morning of the first day, may result in a complete melt down or increase in negative behaviors.
  • Making everyone aware – Make sure everyone who is aware of the change knows when or if your loved one will be made told.  The people around your loved one need to also know your game plan for revealing the change or event. Well meaning family members and friends may ask your loved one direct questions about the change or event before you have had an opportunity to execute your plan. This is definitely a ‘surprise’ you and your loved one do not need to navigate.
  • Create a tangible ‘count down’ to the event or change – Your loved one may need the ‘count down’ to the change or event to be very visible and presented in such a way that they can access this information independently.  Sharing a specific date or time or simply saying “Later this summer.” may be too abstract and create more anticipation (and perhaps behaviors).
    • Use a calendar with the date of the event well identified (stickers, arrows, pictures) and have your loved one cross out each day to the event.
    • Create a count-down chain .  Each day, your loved one removes a link of the chain, visually getting one step closer to the big event or change.  You can use clothes pins or paper clips or any item you can link together to create the chain.
    • Create a simple social story that explains the event and when it will occur.
  • Give your loved one the language to communicate – make sure to include a way in which your loved one can make comments or ask questions about the change or event.  Make a simple communication board with pictures or photos.  Think about the phrases your loved one might want to express:  “I’m excited” (use a picture of excited), “I can’t wait.” (use of picture of a clock or watch), “Tell me again.” (use of picture of talking), “Who will be going?” (use a picture of a silhouette of a person), “How much longer.”(use of picture of a calendar), etc.

A little up front work on your behalf could really make a huge impact when helping your loved one adjust, plan and anticipate a change or up coming event.  Mention this to your speech-language therapist, she/he will be happy to help.

Yours in Speech,

Lakeshore Speech Therapy, LLC.

Egg-citing Time of the Year

Easter week -so many preparations, so many family traditions, so much to do. Not to mention, prepping for the egg hunts and the visit from the big bunny.

Practice and review are the best ways to help your loved one be part of any celebration.  The chances of you having a lot of extra plastic eggs in probably pretty high. Use these eggs not only to practice participating in an egg hunt, but sneaking in a little speech-language therapy practice as well.

Fill plastic eggs with small objects or pictures that have your loved one’s ‘target’ sound (if you are working on articulation) or are items in different categories (food, toys, animals, etc.). Hide the eggs throughout your home or backyard and work with your loved on to find them.  Once the eggs are found, crack them open and practice saying the words and/or separate them into category groups.

Another idea egg-cellent idea is to fill the eggs with items or pictures as shared about, but instead of having your loved one find them freely, give directions as to where the eggs are located.  For example, “Find the pink egg under the chair.” or “Find a purple egg and a blue egg behind the couch.” This egg hunt is not working on following directions as well as practicing understanding locational concepts AND everyone is having fun.

Consider practicing the start of the egg hunt.  Place 1-4 plastic eggs in full sight – filled or unfilled – and create a ‘starting line’. Instruct your loved one to wait at the start line until you say “Go!”. This will help him/her when wait and anticipate when they are placed in the real high stakes egg hunt.  Once they have collected the eggs, repeat the activity adding more eggs each time.

Easter baskets cannot be forgotten either! Help your loved on hold and fill their basket independently.  “Pick up” and “put in” are seemingly easy directions, however in the excitement of the egg hunt, a little practice ahead of time may result in less frustration for everyone.  Give your loved one a basket to pick up and put toys in when cleaning up for the day. Use socks or books or plastic eggs to practice this skill as well. You may find all along, an Easter basket was all that was needed to get your loved one to clean up those toys without argument!

Enjoy your egg hunts, celebrations and family time together.

Yours in Speech,

Lakeshore Speech Therapy, LLC.

Beginning to Bloom

spring flowers blooming in the yard

Spring is springing and hopefully will be sprung sooner than later. Flowers are blooming and the dreary colors of Winter give way to the beauty of Spring.

Flowers are not the only thing blooming this time of year.  Everyone’s mood begins to bloom and change as the weather makes its way from cold and dreary to warm and beautiful.  Sometimes, loved ones (young and old) experiencing difficulty identifying these moods, let alone being able to talk about them. Being aware of and identifying one’s emotions is very complex and higher level language skill.  There are techniques and supports that can be put in place to help your loved one better comprehend and identify his/her moods and emotions.

Start by making emotions/moods more concrete.  Use simple terms to label and explain emotions/mood. This doesn’t mean limit the vocabulary used, rather choose the vocabulary based on your loved one.  Happy – sad – mad – tired – frustrated are good ones to start. When a loved one is experiencing a specific emotion, let them know what it looks like, feels like, and sounds like.  If your loved one is in a particularly happy mood, tell them. “You are smiling and laughing. You are in a happy mood!” “Your hands are balled up in a fist. Your face looks tight. I can tell you are frustrated.” You may want not want to do this every time a loved on is mad or angry as it may make the situation worse, however a simple “I know you are mad.” may be enough.  Your loved one will begin to realize and connect how their emotions are communicated and may begin to use the language versus the physical reaction to share their emotions.

Older children need to be made aware of their emotions and ways to better communicate those emotions.  Help your tween or teen focus in on the facial features associated with different emotions. This helps to not only make them more aware of their own emotions, but tune into the emotions of others.  A game of ‘Emotions Charades’ makes not only for a fun family game night, but a safe way to practice these skills. The Feelings Game and Matching Emotions are  free online resources that may also be of interest to you and your loved one.

Enjoy the blooming of the new season as well as watching your loved one bloom.

Yours in Speech,

Lakeshore Speech Therapy, LLC

Lakeshore Speech Therapy Summer 2019 Programming

Every summer, we at Lakeshore Speech Therapy work to provide our clients and families with programming that meets everyone’s needs.  This year we are excited to offer programs for everyone from toddlers to teens. Please take a moment to see all that we have to offer.  Share this information with friends and family that may benefit from these amazing programs.  As always, please share your ideas for future programs.

Yours in Speech,

Lakeshore Speech Therapy, LLC