On a Mission {Build Successful Lives}

Hey there! I just got back to Atlanta yesterday from an awesome weekend trip to Dallas, Texas! It was my first time visiting the state and was impressed with the beauty and diversity of the area. The people were quite friendly as well.  This was a great way to finish my summer break as I return to work full time tomorrow! 

—­­­­——–Please pause for a moment of silence————

Here is a picture of me in Uptown aka West Village. 

By the way the pizza at Union Bear is delicious! Everyone in Dallas loves this place. 

Here is a picture of my friend and I visiting the African American History Museum. 

This is a must see and has great history about the community of North Dallas.  

Today I plan on getting some last minute rest and go walking with a friend later so that I will feel revitalized for the 2014-2015 school year! Woah….I can’t believe it! 

While in Dallas yesterday, I visited my friend’s church and the pastor was talking about being on a mission daily to serve others in our community. I was sitting there thinking….hello…that is my personal and professional mantra!! In my life, my relationship with Jesus Christ/Yeshua is of # 1 importance, followed by my family, friends, career, etc. I truly believe that my belief in my savior, my guide, Jesus Christ/Yeshua enables me to do all that I do and provides me with my next steps. So to hear the pastor talk about that yesterday in church was another confirmation that God/Yahweh is amazing and personal! 

I encourage all of you to join BSL Speech & Language’s mission and build successful lives through service to others! I am committed to improving the communication and lives of children with special needs. Go on a mission in your community this year!!
Tamara Anderson

Dallas Skyline

Learning Disorders {Parent Resources}

There are many children and adolescents that have learning disorders. Their challenges may impact their ability with language processing, reading, writing, and math. Learning disabilities is another term that is synonymous with learning disorders. According to the National Center of Learning Disabilities “LD is more than a difference or difficulty with learning-it’s a neurological disorder that affects the brain’s ability to receive, process, store, and respond to information.” 

Many students with receptive (listening comprehension) and expressive (oral) language disorders are also diagnosed with a co-occuring language based learning disability in the school setting. Why? A child’s ability to listen, comprehend, and explain information directly relates to their ability to read  and write. Literacy skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing are all interrelated skills. 

In the area of reading, a child may have difficulty decoding or sounding out words, reading fluently, and/or understanding what they read. This contributes to a child reading below grade level in elementary, middle, high school, and beyond. Therefore, it is critical that children with reading disorders are identified quickly and receive intensive intervention from a reading specialist or special education teacher. Dyslexia is a term used frequently by professionals to describe students with reading disorders. However, not all children with reading difficulties have dyslexia. 

In the area of math, students who struggle with reading will have difficulty understanding and solving math word problems and other reasoning tasks.  A child may also have dyscalculia or difficulty learning math concepts. A child may struggle with recognizing numbers and symbols, learning and remembering math facts, or difficulty coming up with a plan to solve math word problems. The NCLD gives a more in depth description of dyscalculia here: http://ncld.org/types-learning-disabilities/dyscalculia/understanding-dyscalculia?start=1#FOUR

The National Center for Learning Disability provides a great breakdown of the differences between dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia (written expression difficulties).

Here are some warning signs for dysgraphia courtesy of NCLD:

Just having bad handwriting doesn’t mean a person has dysgraphia. This is a processing disorder that may change throughout a person’s lifetime. Writing is a developmental process. Children learn the motor skills necessary to write while they learn the thinking and expressive language skills to communicate their ideas on paper. 

Dygraphia: Warning Signs by Age

Young Children

Trouble With:

  • Tight, awkward pencil grip and body position
  • Avoiding writing or drawing tasks
  • Trouble forming letter shapes
  • Inconsistent spacing between letters or words
  • Poor understanding of uppercase and lowercase letters
  • Inability to write or draw in a line or within margins
  • Tiring quickly while writing

School-Age Children

Trouble With:

  • Illegible handwriting
  • Mixture of cursive and print writing
  • Saying words out loud while writing
  • Concentrating so hard on writing that comprehension of what’s written is missed
  • Trouble thinking of words to write
  • Omitting or not finishing words in sentences

Teenagers and Adults

Trouble With:

  • Trouble organizing thoughts on paper
  • Trouble keeping track of thoughts already written down
  • Difficulty with syntax structure and grammar
  • Large gap between written ideas and understanding demonstrated through speech

Reference: http://www.ncld.org/

Although this blog is geared towards pediatric communication and learning disorders, it is important to know that some adults continue to demonstrate characteristics of learning disorders. However, they can lead successful lives once they learn strategies to overcome their difficulties. 

Developmental Disorders {Parent Resources}

Developmental disorders are also commonly known as neurodevelopmental disorders because they are a group of conditions that results from impairments in the brain or central nervous system that often begin at birth and continue as a child grows. These disorders negatively impact cognition, communication, motor, social/emotional, learning, and memory skills. These include a range of conditions from speech-language impairments, intellectual impairments, cerebral palsy, attention deficit disorder, autism, and challenges with executive functioning (e.g. problem solving/organization).

Some of these disorders are due to genetic abnormalities such as Down syndrome and Fragile X syndrome while others are due to toxic environmental factors such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. 

The prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder is on the rise as this has become a very common neurodevelopmental disorder. Current research is not conclusive as to the reason for the increase in the amount of cases of this disorder. Nevertheless, in March of 2014, The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia confirmed that 1 in 68 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and the occurrence is higher in boys (1 in 42) than girls (1 in 189).  The CDC also reports that 1 in 6 children in the U.S. have a developmental disorder. 

Those statistics are quite alarming! So, what is a solution? Early intervention and continued intervention from a variety of allied health professionals are necessary to optimize each child’s opportunity to learn and grow. These children and families need a committed team of caring pediatricians, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, nutritionists, etc. that will teach the tools the children need in life. 

A child may have more than one disorder such as a communication disorder, learning disorder, and attention deficit disorder (ADD). In the school setting, the child’s special education teacher, speech-language pathologist, psychologist, and parents work together to evaluate and develop an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to address specific areas of need that are having a negative impact on the child’s academic and social success at school. In doing so, a child with a developmental disorder can gain access to achieve gains where they demonstrate challenges. 





Developmental Milestones {Parent Resources}

Developmental milestones are the specific skills related to communication, fine motor, gross motor, cognitive (e.g. thinking), and self help (e.g. feeding/dressing) that children acquire as they grow and learn.  A child’s genetics and environment will play a role in the rate and extent of a child’s development. Early intervention is critical if a parent or caregiver notices that certain skills are not present by a certain age. However, these milestones are a guideline and does not confirm that your child has a speech-language disorder if a skill is not yet developed. The American Speech-Language Hearing Association provides an excellent overview of typical speech-language development for children from birth-age 5:  

What should my child be able to do?

Hearing and Understanding Talking
Birth–3 Months
  • Startles to loud sounds
  • Quiets or smiles when spoken to
  • Seems to recognize your voice and quiets if crying
  • Increases or decreases sucking behavior in response to sound
Birth–3 Months
  • Makes pleasure sounds (cooing, gooing)
  • Cries differently for different needs
  • Smiles when sees you
4–6 Months
  • Moves eyes in direction of sounds
  • Responds to changes in tone of your voice
  • Notices toys that make sounds
  • Pays attention to music
4–6 Months
  • Babbling sounds more speech-like with many different sounds, including p, b and m
  • Chuckles and laughs
  • Vocalizes excitement and displeasure
  • Makes gurgling sounds when left alone and when playing with you
7 Months–1 Year
  • Enjoys games like peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake
  • Turns and looks in direction of sounds
  • Listens when spoken to
  • Recognizes words for common items like “cup”, “shoe”, “book”, or “juice”
  • Begins to respond to requests (e.g. “Come here” or “Want more?”)
7 Months–1 Year
  • Babbling has both long and short groups of sounds such as “tata upup bibibibi”
  • Uses speech or noncrying sounds to get and keep attention
  • Uses gestures to communicate (waving, holding arms to be picked up)
  • Imitates different speech sounds
  • Has one or two words (hi, dog, dada, mama) around first birthday, although sounds may not be clear

1 year- 2 years of age

Hearing and Understanding Talking
  • Points to a few body parts when asked.
  • Follows simple commands and understands simple questions (“Roll the ball,” “Kiss the baby,” “Where’s your shoe?”).
  • Listens to simple stories, songs, and rhymes.
  • Points to pictures in a book when named.
  • Says more words every month.
  • Uses some one- or two- word questions (“Where kitty?” “Go bye-bye?” “What’s that?”).
  • Puts two words together (“more cookie,” “no juice,” “mommy book”).
  • Uses many different consonant sounds at the beginning of words.

2 years-3 years of age

Hearing and Understanding Talking
  • Understands differences in meaning (“go-stop,” “in-on,” “big-little,” “up-down”).
  • Follows two requests (“Get the book and put it on the table”).
  • Listens to and enjoys hearing stories for longer periods of time
  • Has a word for almost everything.
  • Uses two- or three- words to talk about and ask for things.
  • Uses k, g, f, t, d, and n sounds.
  • Speech is understood by familiar listeners most of the time.
  • Often asks for or directs attention to objects by naming them.
  • Asks why?
  • May stutter on words or sounds

3 years – 4  years of age

Hearing and Understanding Talking
  • Hears you when you call from another room.
  • Hears television or radio at the same loudness level as other family members.
  • Understands words for some colors, like red, blue, and green
  • Understands words for some shapes, like circle and square
  • Understands words for family, like brother, grandmother, and aunt
  • Talks about activities at school or at friends’ homes.
  • Talks about what happened during the day. Uses about 4 sentences at a time.
  • People outside of the family usually understand child’s speech.
  • Answers simple “who?”, “what?”, and “where?” questions.
  • Asks when and how questions.
  • Says rhyming words, like hat-cat
  • Uses pronouns, like I, you, me, we, and they
  • Uses some plural words, like toys, birds, and buses
  • Uses a lot of sentences that have 4 or more words.
  • Usually talks easily without repeating syllables or words.

4 years- 5 years of age

Hearing and Understanding Talking
  • Understands words for order, like first, next, and last.
  • Understands words for time, like yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
  • Follows longer directions, like “Put your pajamas on, brush your teeth, and then pick out a book.”
  • Follows classroom directions, like “Draw a circle on your paper around something you eat.”
  • Hears and understands most of what is said at home and in school.
  • Says all speech sounds in words. May make mistakes on sounds that are harder to say, like l, s, r, v, z, ch, sh, th.
  • Responds to “What did you say?”
  • Talks without repeating sounds or words most of the time.
  • Names letters and numbers.
  • Uses sentences that have more than 1 action word, like jump, play, and get. May make some mistakes, like “Zach got 2 video games, but I got one.”
  • Tells a short story.
  • Keeps a conversation going.
  • Takes in different ways depending on the listener and place. May use short sentences with younger children or talk louder outside than inside.
For more information about children’s typical speech-language development during elementary school age, check out this link:

For more information about children’s typical motor, social-emotional, sensory, and cognitive thinking skills see information provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics :  

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