Thursday, November 8, 2012


When I made this shirt for Halloween two years ago I thought I would only wear it once. Surprise! Baby #5 is headed our way. I'm 17 weeks and due April 15th. We will find out in two weeks what gender this baby will be. Most of the girls want another sister. We shall see.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Tongue Thrust

I had an interesting experience a couple of months ago when my dentist tried to convince me that my daughter, Grace, has a tongue thrust. (She had no idea that I'm a speech therapist.) Luckily, I was quite confident that Grace's tongue functions just fine so I wasn't worried. Grace had recently had an expander put in the roof of her mouth by the orthodontist and it did change her swallowing and speaking habits for a time, but she adjusted quickly. I left the office chuckling to myself but also grateful that I knew not be worried about what the dentist had said. Some parents are not so lucky.

A tongue thrust occurs when the tongue extends between the front teeth during swallowing, chewing, speaking, and often while at rest. It can effect the teeth by creating an open bite and can cause concerning speech patterns (what some would call a "lisp"). I met this week with an orthodontist who is interested in referring his patients to me when he notices a tongue thrust. He is worried that his patients will spend thousands of dollars on braces only to have the work undone by a tongue thrust. He is concerned that once the braces come off, the tongue thrust will open the bite again. It is important to know that adding metal to your child's mouth will likely change their speech patterns for a while. This is completely normal. Most children adjust within a short period of time and their speaking goes back to normal. Some will sound different until the braces come off, but should return to their natural way of speaking at that time. A tongue thrust, however, is something that would need to be addressed by a speech pathologist. It is a life-long habit that would most likely require the help of a professional to change. Luckily for you, you know where to find me if you need me. :)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

To Sign Or Not To Sign?

I think this has become less of an issue over the years as parents have learned the benefits of sign language, but many speech pathologists used to run into resistance (and occasionally still do) when suggesting sign language to parents. Many parents fear that teaching their child sign language will delay their speech development. I think the feeling is that if a child knows how to sign to get what he needs then why would he ever bother to learn to speak? This is simply not the case. In fact, the opposite is true--sign language actually fosters language development. Children are typically capable of sign language long before they can speak the words but as their speech and language develop the signs phase out until no longer needed.

Sign language can be a great tool for those transitional months just before your child begins to use words consistently. It can decrease frustration and tantrums for both parent and child. If you're interested in trying sign language with your baby but don't quite know where to start I would suggest choosing a few simple words that would be concrete and frequently used throughout the day with your child. Some popular choices are milk, more, water, all done. Choose what works for you. You can then go to this website created by Michigan State University to see how to make the signs. There is an alphabetical list of words that when clicked on will show a video of someone doing the sign. Once you have chosen a small list of words and learned the signs you then begin to use the signs in combination with speaking. You must be consistent and use the signs every time you speak the word. It will not take long for your child to learn to use the signs themselves. I predict you will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly this happens and how great it is to be able to communicate effectively with your baby. Good luck and don't hesitate to ask if you have questions. Happy signing!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

What's the Deal with Michael Phelps' Speech?

My mom thought this should be the title of my first post and even though I didn't make it the first, I couldn't resist posting about it anyway. No doubt that Michael Phelps is an amazing swimmer but you may have noticed that his speech leaves a bit to be desired. Without having spoken to him personally I can't really define the issue other than the noticeably severe under-bite. I guess the moral of the story is: if your kids need braces, get them! And if they need speech therapy, get that too! You never know when they'll appear on television for millions of viewers. :)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Does My Child Need Speech Therapy?

This is a question nearly all parents have had at one time or another. There is such a wide range of typical speech and language development that it is sometimes difficult to know what's "normal" and what's not. You may even have found widely varied speech and language development among your own children. But there are times that speech therapy is necessary. Intervening early is often quite helpful for future speech and language development so don't delay. It never hurts to ask!