Monday, August 10, 2009

iPhone/iPod Touch Application for Children with Autism

Chatterboxes offers our clients trial therapy sessions using the iPhone/iPod Touch Application entitled, "Proloquo2Go." ( We feel that this AAC application is compatible from a clinical perspecitve to more expensive Augmentative Communication devices. notes, "Proloquo2go is a new product from AssitiveWare that provides a full-featured communication solution for people who have difficulty speaking. It brings natural sounding text-to-speech voices, up-to-date symbols, powerful automatic conjugations, a default vocabulary of over 7000 itesm, full expandability and extreme ease of use to the iPhone and iPod touch."

Chatterboxes SLP's are using Proloquo2Go with several children who are non-verbal ad on the Autism Spectrum, with great success. If your child is non-verbal and may need to use a device for communication, please do not hestiate to contact us for our clinical expertise with this product, or to learn whether this device my be a helpful component to your child's therapy plan.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Why Play-Based Therapy?

Play is a powerful vehicle for learning in the early childhood years and a critical source for expanding cognitive, language, motor and play skills. Play is an activity that children do naturally at home, at school and in the community, as it is highly motivating and fun! For these reasons, Chatterboxes SLP's feel that play is an ideal platform for speech and language therapy at the Preschool age.

Play-based therapy is a model of intervention that targets speech and language objectives within the context of play. Therapeutic play, such as this, is characterized by the use of toys and play scenarios within the context of play. Therapy occurs in a natural context, which often facilitates increased generalization of speech and language skills. Play-based therapy is often times less structured than other more standard approaches, and requires creative and flexible thinking on behalf of the SLP (Speech-Language Pathologist). It's these quick thinking SLP's that truly make play-based therapy a success for kids, as they transform arising play scenarios into learning experiences.

The following example of Play-Based Speech & Language Therapy can be illustrated via a previous session with a child whom we'll call Tommy: (Note: One of Tommy's Speech-Language Goals is to begin to use the pronoun "I" in connected speech).

First, Tommy chooses a toy from those available in the SLP's room. Today, Tommy chooses the Farm Set. Tommy, a creative and playful boy, who loves pretend play takes the lead. He implies that all of the farm animals want to play in the mud! The SLP sees an instant opportunity to target Tommy's goal of using the pronoun, "I."

The SLP notes, "All the animals are going to take turns jumping into the mud!" From here, the child and SLP say with great animation, "I jump in the mud!!" as each animal independently jumps into the mud. The animals love playing in the mud and, the SLP explains, "OH NO! The animals are so dirty; They need to take a bath!" As each animal gets in the bathtub he says, "I take a bath!" or "I need soap!" and then "I dry off!"

Aside from using the the pronoun "I" in the context of the play-sequence, the child is learning to take turns, (a precursor to conversational skills), while using imagination and higher levels of thought procesess. Such a play-based scenario promotes carryover of skills learned in therapy to everyday life.

Lisa Olshefski, M.S., CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist

Pragmatic Language Tips

There are several ways that parents and teachers can help children use language appropriately in social situations.

Some general suggestions are provided below to help children develop language in 3 major pragmatic areas. Although suggestions are geared primarily toward preschool children, they can be modified for use with older children as well.

  • Comment on a child's topic of conversation, before introducing a new topic by adding related information. This will encourage the child to talk more about a particular topic.

  • Provide visual prompts, such as pictures, objects, or a story outline to help a child tell a story in sequence.

  • Encourage the use of effective persuasion. For example, ask children what they would say to convince their parents to let them do something. Discuss different techniques to present their message. For example:
  1. Polite: "Please may I go to the party?" vs. Impolite: "You better let me go!"
  2. Indirect: "That music is loud." vs. Direct "Turn off the radio."
  3. Discuss why some techniques might be more persuasive than others
  • Encourage a child to rephrase or revise a unclear word or sentence. Provide an appropriate revision by asking, "Did you mean....."
  • Show how nonverbal signals are important for communication. For example, talk about what happens when a facial expression does not match the emotion expressed in a verbal message; e.g., using angry words while smiling.
For more information on pragmatic language, please visit