Did you know that there are 20 different muscles and 14 different bones in just the face alone? All those facial muscles are impacted by the muscles and bones of the head neck and trunk. Together, all those muscles must have the proper strength, alignment, and stability for an infant or child to properly swallow, chew, and or talk. Add in breathing, sequencing, and processing by the brain and you have one complicated process. A licensed Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) is trained to understand how all these things work together and what to do when they do not. Here at The Learning Center, our therapists receive extensive training on the latest proven techniques to help your child, while doing so in a fun and loving environment. Therapy may begin as early as infancy with feeding and swallowing or hearing concerns. It may be sought for a toddler who will not eat more than 2-3 things, is slow to talk, stutters speaks in an unusual pitch, or is hard to understand. Even a school-age child who cannot make those few sounds or who is learning to talk with an Augmentative Communication device may need speech therapy. Our speech therapists work as a team in cooperation with other therapists, the family, and physicians to help your child achieve their full potential.
At TLC we see the physician as the key administrator of a child’s health and development. We recommend that you contact them and discuss your concerns. They may want you to bring your child in for a visit. Once you have discussed these concerns with your child’s physician, they typically will send a script directly to TLC and someone from TLC will contact you to schedule a Speech Therapy Evaluation for your child. If you have questions regarding anything about the process and your child, please feel free to contact our program coordinator, Christy at 870-932-4245.
With a newborn, there is so much individuality and newness. Parents often wonder if things they are observing are typical, or if they should be concerned especially when it comes to feeding! When your baby takes a bottle- Do they latch well? Have a lot of milk coming from their mouth during feedings? Have episodes of coughing or choking? Do feedings last longer than 30 minutes? Does your baby frequently have large spit ups or spit up that comes out of the nose? This might mean they are showing signs of feeding difficulties. If you notice these signs please let your baby’s doctor know! At The Learning Center, we have therapists that specialize in helping your infant with all the issues listed above.
Is mealtime a battle? Do you find yourself wondering if your child is “just a picky eater” or if there really is a problem? If your child eats 30 different foods or more, your child is classified as a picky eater. They typically eat at least one food from most nutrition and texture groups. Although these children are reluctant, you can place new foods on their plate, and they will touch and often taste them. They are willing to eat a meal with other family members at the table. It is normal for a child to want to eat food multiple times, and then just stop eating it completely. This is called food “jagging”. However, if your child’s food choices are restricted to less than 20 foods then there might be a reason to seek help. “Problem Feeders” often refuse entire categories of food or textures. They often scream and fall apart or gag when new foods are presented. They almost always eat different foods and often at a different time and place than other family members. TLC utilizes both speech and occupational therapists in the treatment of Problem Feeders. With the use of multiple treatment techniques like those practiced in food chaining, SOS, Oral Beckman, sensory processing as well as many others, they customize a treatment plan with their goal being to make mealtimes a happy, stressful free and nutritious daily occurrence.
Do you struggle to understand what your child is trying to say? Can your child communicate his or her basic needs and wants through words? There are many reasons for this occurrence in children. A simple articulation issue can occur from oral weakness, ability to hear well, structural issues, or processing issues only to name a few. A speech evaluation for language concerns can help you determine the base cause of your child’s language issues. From the evaluation, they will develop a plan. By working together with the parent and child. They can have your child kindergarten ready!
It is common for a toddler to stutter. Typically, this occurs when the child cannot form their sentences as quickly as their brain is processing them. When this occurs, do not draw attention to it. Wait patiently, do not complete their sentences. They will outgrow it. However, there are times that stuttering can be a true “fluency” issue. Stuttering should not cause a significant amount of anxiety in a child or persist past four years of age. If the stutter is combined with another activity such as blinking, hand tapping, or facial grimace they might need the help of a speech pathologist to resolve it.
Augmentative Communication is simply all other forms of communication other than verbal (talking) to express a person’s thoughts, needs, wants, or ideas. So, pointing and grunting is a form of augmentative communication. However, a child can only communicate so much utilizing that strategy. When a child cannot communicate effectively, they often become very frustrated. Many times, the child will then exhibit less than desirable behaviors. At TLC we use many different forms of Augmentative Communication that include both low and high technology to improve your child’s ability to communicate. Examples of low tech could be touching an object or card with a picture of the object on it. It could also be activating a prerecorded message with a switch to select or tell what you want. Many times, speech pathologists use the lower technical forms of augmentative communication to build fundamentals of language development in children. Then, they may progress to higher technology devices such as an iPad with “Words for Life” on it. Augmentative communication devices (ACD) are often used to ENCOURAGE the development of functional talking. When a speech therapist begins the use of ACD with a child the end goal is always for them to talk. Occasionally a child is not able to develop verbal language. Then the child may be evaluated for a “talker”– high-tech electronic device that utilizes the same patterns learned in “Words for Life”, but can do much more by storing long sentences and patterns allowing the nonverbal person to communicate in much more detail. TLC is a LAMP Center of Excellence. We have people certified in all levels of devices low to high. We host monthly training with an ACD representative, Jennifer Herzog, to support all individuals and their families that use or are learning to use a high-tech device. To inquire about ACD devices further or if your child is utilizing an ACD and you would like to attend the training, please contact TLC at 870-932-4245.