Sensory-Friendly Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving table set with food

Celebrating Thanksgiving with a child with Autism may require some preparations ahead of time and on the special day to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience.

Continue reading

Learning to be Social

The calendar doesn’t lie.  How is it we are only 10 days away from Valentine’s Day!? With all the attention on sharing love and kindness on that day (as well as every day), we need to take a moment to pause and take into account the skills that bring people closer are really hard to learn.

Some loved ones pick up on social cues and nuances without issue and others require a very clear explanation.  As parents, taking the time to frame acceptable and unacceptable  behaviors for your family’s values is crucial.  Society dictates a number of ‘unwritten’ rules, which makes learning these skills even more difficult for some. Providing a safe environment to discuss and process these ‘unwritten’ rules is important at every age of development. The American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) provide a nice resource for families focused on this area of speech and language.

Your friendly speech-language pathologist would be happy to help you and your family with any questions or concerns you may have related to social communication, social skills, or social pragmatics.  Please feel free to give Kelly a call at 440-471-7190 to set up an appointment.

Yours in Speech,
Lakeshore Speech Therapy, LLC.


Friday Night Lights, Coming Soon!

It’s almost impossible to believe that August has come and will be leaving in a few days!  Time flies when you’re running at land speed records in a million different directions. First day of school pictures have been taken and posted, ‘normal’ routine has started, and “Friday Night Lights” will soon be starting! Those “Friday Night Lights” can help build language as well as social skills more than you have thought. 

“Friday Night Lights” harkens memories of high school football, marching band, and hanging out on the bleachers with your friends.  Add adulthood and a family and “Friday Night Lights” might not conjure up the same warm feelings as it once had. Running to the restrooms, purchasing way too much from the concession stand and  listening to complaints of being bored or the seats are too hard…..ah yes, “Friday Night Lights”. Preparing your family for these evenings can only make those “Lights” shine brighter.  

Just like the football team, cheerleaders and marching band, your family ‘team’ needs to practice for the big night as well.  How do spectators practice? Read on.

Go to practice games and rehearsals.  Chances are the local middle and high school teams and marching bands are practicing daily.  Take advantage of these less formal settings to PRACTICE sitting on the bleachers. Take note of any  issues related to the bleachers (seats are too hard, sitting up high is scary, being able to see through to the ground is scary) to find the areas that are most comfortable for you and your family. Visit the restrooms. Locate the changing area if needed.  Bring your family members in to the restrooms to become familiar with these surrounds so there won’t be any issues when there are larger crowds. Experience the sounds of the practices to decrease being alarmed during a game. The whistles on the field, the marching band playing the fight song, the cheerleaders cheers, all of these sounds are new and can be very upsetting.  Help your family anticipate these sounds. 

Learn the lingo. If a family member is non-verbal, create signs that have simple messages – Go Team – to get them to be part of the fun.  Practice simple messages for family members with limited language – Go! – Fight! – Win! A football game is language rich.  Choose one or two words that will have the most meaning and practice at home and at practice games. 

Recognizance. Get the low down on your local “Friday Night Lights” game by making it a date night or going alone.  Take note of how crowded certain sections of the bleachers become. When the marching band plays (typically there’s a pre-game and of course the half-time show). Where the cheerleaders stand. If there is a mascot. And maybe the most important piece, what is offered at the concession stand. These pieces of information will help you to better plan and anticipate your family’s needs during the game. 

Concession stand mania.  So much of the game is about the food and rightfully so. Make a plan for how your family will make purchases. Make that plan very clear to everyone to avoid melt-downs at the stadium.  Create a snack board of the items at the concession stand (You have this information because you went to the game alone before.). Not only does a snack board provide a visual cue for everyone, put gives non-verbal members of the family a way to communicate their choice without play the ‘yes/no’ or ‘point and cry’ game. 

Set a time limit, initially. At the onset of the season, you may need to make it very clear when or how long your family ‘team’ will be attending the event.  You want to leave the game on a high note. Setting this parameter may avoid a melt-down when it is time to leave. Give a concrete time that may or may not necessarily be associated with the clock.  Because of your recognizance trip, you have the information you need. Give warnings prior to departure time (“After this song, we are leaving.” “When the cheerleaders finish we are walking to the car.”). Expand the amount of time you spend at each game you attend, if only by 10 minutes. 

Don’t forget, this is fun! Time together is the biggest victory of all!  Enjoy!

Yours in Speech, 

Lakeshore Speech Therapy, LLC

Prior Planning Goes the Distance!

Changes in schedules and routines are completely expected if not expected.  As we approach the July 4th holiday, evaluating the changes in schedules and routines – PROACTIVELY – will provide for a much more enjoyable holiday experience for everyone! 

Last year, one of the blog posts was dedicated specifically to preparing for the July 4th holiday.  We invite you to revisits that post as the information continues to be ever important.  These proactive steps do not end with just the holiday. As you are devising your summer plans, it is helpful to be aware of the resources within different venues and activities that are designed to meet the needs of individuals with special needs.  

If you are visiting the Cleveland MetroParks Zoo, you should be aware of these services available to you and your loved ones.

Going to an Indian’s game at Progressive Field? Check out these resources and these and these

Headed to the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse?  You are going to want to be aware of this information.

And if your summer plans take you to Cedar Point, you definitely are going to want to read this information

In general, before you head off to any vacation or stay-cation destination, check with the facility to inquire of what materials and resources are available onsite to address the needs of individuals with special needs. 

Yours in Speech, 

Lakeshore Speech Therapy, LLC.

It’s All Routine

This month we’ve focused on schedules and free activities to fill those schedules. This week we are discussing routines and the importance of routines related to speech-language development.  Personal, familial, classroom, or therapy routines provide a framework of certainty. Within these routines are the skills and expectations that help to introduce and maintain speech-language skills, social pragmatic skills and increased independence with executive functioning skills.

Take a moment and replay your morning routine back in your head.  Do you brush your teeth before you wash your face? Do you take a medication right away or do you take it with your first cup of coffee? It’s easy to picture yourself completing your morning routine and if something is off, you know it immediately.

Routines for infants and toddlers provide a number of opportunities to practice important speech-language and social skills. Anticipating the steps, sequencing steps, learning the vocabulary associated with the steps are all skills infants and toddlers need to develop meaningful associations with language and action. Daily routines provide the repetition of vocabulary and actions leading to independent participation in these routines.

Routine for school aged children can provide a calming environment for anticipating activities as well as expectations throughout the day.  Similar to infants and toddlers, sequencing steps, learning vocabulary and making associations provides the foundation for increasing successful independence throughout the day.  Routines also give the child the opportunity to learn the expected behaviors and unwritten social rules in a repeat practice setting. Daily routines facilitate conversations between child and adult to specifically explain and model appropriate social and behavioral expectations.

Routines for older children and young adults create a setting where focus can be more on new skills and independence versus the actual steps.  These routines are not only part of the day, but provide the opportunity to increase independence and demonstrate expected behaviors and social skills which should be the focus of mastery for young adults.  Routines at this age also provide opportunities for increased independence imperative for vocational and secondary education settings.

Individuals who have tendencies to become rigid regarding implementation and execution of routines, such that any variation creates adverse behaviors need to have their routines continuously changed.   This does not mean the target task or activity needs to change, however change when the task or activity occurs. For example, night time routine might go tv time -change in pjs – brush teeth – book time – lights out. Consider changing to book time – brush teeth – change in pjs – tv time – lights out or some variation.  You know your loved one best and will be able to determine how often the change needs to occur.

If you have any questions or need a sounding board regarding routines, please reach out to your speech-language pathologist.

Yours in Speech,

Lakeshore Speech Therapy, LLC

Plan for the Day

It’s finally here…. JUNE!  Days are longer…much longer. Weather it warmer…. much warmer. Everyone is home… school’s out…..everyone’s home…. all day.  Did we mention the days are longer?

While June ushers in a time a carefree days and weeks, pay attention to just how important a daily routine (dare we say schedule) is for your loved one’s success, ease of mind, and ability to manage behaviors.  

“But we just finished a school year worth of schedules!”

We hear you, but these summer routines and schedules are a lot less time specific.  Summer routines and schedules make the ‘unknown’ day more concrete. They also provide the adults with a reminder or recap of the day.

Resources for creating schedules are available online.  Use simple pictures of places and events or if your loved on is literate, use text.

There are many different types of set-ups for schedules or routines you might want to consider.  Ultimately, create a combination of different types that suits your family’s needs best.

Object schedule: Using objects that represent the events throughout the day may give your loved on the visual support needed to easily transition from one activity to the next.  This also provides a concrete explanation of the expectations throughout the day so there is no ‘arguing’. It’s so much easier to ‘blame’ the schedule for completing a non-preferred task. “I’m sorry, but the schedule says it’s time to clean-up. Check the schedule.”

Picture schedule: Simple clipart pictures or actual photos can serve as  visual reminders for the schedule or routine of the day.  Providing a method of indicating the event is complete provides a very concrete message for your loved one.  Some suggestions to show an event is complete include turning the picture over, removing the picture from the schedule, or placing a check-mark next to the picture.

Text Schedule: If your loved on is literate, consider a simple checklist for the day’s events or using a white boards to catalogue the schedule for the day. These types of schedules can include exact times as well as specific locations.

High Tech: If your loved one is more comfortable using a ‘smart’ device, consider using the calendar built in to the operating system or a daily planner app (free ones are the best when trialing this support). Work with your loved one to set up the calendar, make sure to include alarms or notifications for each event. Using a ‘shared’ calendar provides everyone the flexibility to add or change items accordingly.  


Providing visual supports and schedules to loved ones gives everyone the opportunity to enjoy the lazy days of summer more successfully and with much less stress.  The speech-language therapist at Lakeshore Speech Therapy, LLC will be happy to provide more ideas and assistance with developing visual supports specific to your loved one’s needs.


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

Get Cooking!

The weather stations are all predicting record cold in the next few days.  Record cold means staying in the house. Staying in the house means lots of ‘together time’. Use that time to promote language use and development and have fun as well.

These frosty days are perfect for working together not only on language use and practice, but beginning to develop some independent functional skills that promote a sense of independence and pride. You have all you need to accomplish this in your kitchen.   Cooking, baking, food prep….functional and filled with language.

Creating in the kitchen builds a sense of togetherness and promotes language development and use.  For most, food is a motivating force to decrease inappropriate behaviors, increase language use as well as social skills.  For loved ones that are not motivated by eating different foods, you may be surprised at their willingness to help in the kitchen and be around different smells, tastes and textures (all great ways to start introducing new foods to limited palates).

Below are links to wonderful resources that not only promote cooking and baking as therapeutic tools, but provide free materials for everyone (young and old and in between) to participate in together time in the kitchen.  

Collect and print your favorite recipes to make a special recipe book.

But on your favorite chef’s apron, roll up your sleeves, and get to creating delicious foods and of course – memories!

Yours in Speech,

Lakeshore Speech Therapy, LLC.

Practice Makes Permanent!

It’s the final countdown until the big day (cue Europe’s 1986 hit song). The lists have been checked twice, the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, and all that’s left is the wait……the long wait until we can rip open those gifts!

And when those gifts are torn into, we wait with baited breath willing and hoping our loved ones not only enjoy the gifts, but remember to say “Thank you” or at the very least acknowledge the others in the room.  Nothing says holiday fun like demanding your child say ‘Thank you’ to Auntie dear for the lovely footie pajamas and your child erupts into a stream of whining crying excuses while he/she will never wear them and how hot those PJs make their feet.

Give yourself an early gift this year, take a few moments and share with your loved ones your expected behaviors during the holidays.  Sometimes it just needs to be laid out there for everyone to realize it IS expected and no one, big or small, is exempt.

Greetings – for the most part, this one is pretty easy, HOWEVER, given the excitement of the day, simple reminders are good.  Practice walking into a room or through the front door and saying ‘Hi’ with your loved ones. If eye contact isn’t the best, coach your loved one to look at the person’s chin or hair.   If your loved one is non-verbal, practice waving or the sign for ‘Hi’ or a simple smile may be just as effective. Hiding behind you is NOT an expected behavior. Running in the door and hiding under the table is NOT an expected behavior. Spell out these unexpected behaviors very clearly.

Hugs, handshakes and the like – for some this is nothing short of a fingernails down a chalkboard moment. Give your loved one alternatives to hugging if that’s NOT the preferred choice of interaction.  Fist bumps, high fives, and waving are all expected behaviors everyone can live with. If there are  relatives that would be offended if they didn’t get a hug, take a few seconds before the holiday and explain to them why this is difficult.  Tell THEM what to expect and WHY you need their support.

Disappointment when opening gifts – this is something not foreign to most of us.  Practice expected reactions by opening ‘gifts’ of spoons or rocks or paper towels.  Smile and say ‘Thank you’. Smile and say ‘Thank you’. Make a game plan for when a gift is opened that your loved one already owns.  Make-up a simple gesture (channel your inner baseball coach) that tells your loved one, “I know you already have that. We will exchange this one and you can get something else. Smile and say Thank you.” . Once you have the gesture established, practice.  Wrap up current belongings and practice

In all of these cases, practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent….something that is more applicable for everyone.

And please, through it all, expected or unexpected find the joy. Find something to laugh about. Find those moments that fill your heart.

Happiest of Holidays!

Yours in Speech,

Lakeshore Speech Therapy, LLC.