Good Health Apps for Children and Young People

Orcha accredit and approve healthcare and wellness apps for the NHS and have put together the following list of useful apps for children and young people during this outbreak. Embracing their love of smartphones, apps can keep children and young people engaged with their health and wellbeing, as well as relieving pressure on the NHS./HSE App stores are, however, unregulated, and 85% of apps do not meet ORCHA’s quality threshold. To share knowledge and resources, we’ve pulled together a list of apps suitable for children and young people, all of which are safe to use according to our evaluations, covering: Managing mental health, including anxiety Wellbeing Conditions such as asthma and diabetes. The Worrinots* and Wotnot* are companion apps to help children offload their worries, and allow parents to monitor their child’s concerns. The Worrinots is a secure app designed for children, providing them with a safe place to share their worries, fears and […]

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Working Speech and Language Targets into Home Activities

Trying to keep on top of your child’s speech and language therapy targets can be tricky at times, especially now when there has been such a big and sudden change to everyone’s routine. The following are ways of working on speech and language targets through everyday activities at home.  Books: Books are the perfect language tool. For younger children books are important for listening and learning new vocabulary. Children learn words when they are interested-read books that interest your child.  If your child is working on ‘Wh’ questions books are great opportunity to work on this. As you are reading the book and looking at the pictures you can ask your child ‘wh’ questions about what they are seeing or hearing-‘What colour is the boys jumper?, ‘who is climbing the tree?’ ‘where is he hiding?’ ‘why is she sad?’. Books are great for learning prepositions also. Use the pictures in the books and comment on the characters, eg. ‘the boy is in the car’, ‘the cat is on the […]

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Supporting a Child who Stammers

Stammering is the term used to describe a difficulty in the timing and flow of speech, resulting in dysfluent speech.  Its onset in children is typically between the ages of 2 ½ and 7 years of age. Children under 5 years of age are likely to have lots of periods of ‘normal non-fluency’. This is considered a typical part of language development as the child practises and learns to use speech sounds while they learn to talk. This is not stammering and resolves spontaneously as the child gets older. The cause of stammering is unknown, but it is believed to be due to a combination of elements rather than one sole factor. These elements may include environmental factors such as the location where speech happens and emotional factors such as stress or the speaker’s perception of their own speech. Family history of stammering may also be a factor. But what […]

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Hand Washing Social Story

Speech & Language Therapist Caitlin Hughes from our child development centre in Mayo has put together this useful social story to help encourage children to wash their hands. It may be particularly useful for children on autism spectrum. Social Stories were originally developed for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders but they have also proved beneficial to children with learning, emotional, cognitive and communication impairments. Click Here to Download our free hand washing Social Story

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Supporting your child’s language development

There are many ways that we can support a child’s receptive and expressive language development. The following strategies for supporting your child’s language development can be carried out in a natural way through play, family time or during everyday activities. The ideas are for you to be a model for your child rather than you expecting them to repeat exactly what you say. Here are my favourite tips for supporting a child’s language development: Tune in: Follow your child’s lead to see what interests them. Get down to their level, it may mean sitting on the floor with them. See what interests them and use this as an opportunity to model language. It may be rolling the ball along the floor, you could say ‘roll’ or ‘roll the ball’. Keep your language short and simple emphasising key words. Children learn best through play-use this as a key opportunity to model […]

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Speech and Language Development Milestones

Are you concerned about your child’s speech, or ability to communicate, their use and understanding of words or how they pronounce their sounds? Our speech and language milestones information chart below will help you determine if your child needs intervention. CLICK HERE for our free Speech & Language Development Milestones Information Chart If you are concerned about your child’s speech production, please keep in mind that the majority of sounds a three year old makes should be normal. Although she/he may use all sounds correctly, she/he should be intelligible to strangers. Acceptable ages of Speech Sound Development for children Age Consonants 3 years – 3 years 11 months m, n, p, h, w, b, t, d, k, g, f 4 years Sh, S 5 years s, z, l, v, CH, TH, Q 6 years R If you are concerned about your child’s speech production, please keep in mind that the […]

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Supporting Communication in Children with Hearing Loss

Hearing loss, also known as hearing impairment, is a partial or total inability to hear. In children, hearing problems can have a significant impact on the ability to learn and develop their spoken language. The age at which hearing loss has occurred is known as the age of onset. Some children may have hearing loss since birth where are others have acquired hearing loss, after the point where they began to learn language. Children with hearing loss are likely to present with language delays i.e.  learn and develop their language at a slower pace that children without a hearing loss. It is vital to think about helping a child build a language and communication foundation as early as possible by accessing early intervention. The development of language and other skills begins with communication. There are many communication strategies and approaches that can be used early to build language including, but not limited to […]

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Tips to Help With Homework

With the return of school in September we often hear from parents that children are struggling to settle back into the homework routine after sitting for a log day in school. During the summer month the weather is nicer and typically children are running around outside, they are climbing and hanging and naturally meeting all their sensory needs through normal day to day activities. When they return to school they are suddenly required to sit still in class and concentrate on lessons for six hours a day. While they get some short break at lunchtime there are not always opportunities in the school playground for high powered regulating activities such as climbing and hanging. It is also a loud and busy environment which can be more overwhelming for children than regulating. Below are some simple tips that can be incorporated into your evening to help with the homework routine: Pick […]

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Detecting Speech and Language Difficulties in Young Children

Speech, language and communication skills are fundamental foundation skills for life. Many children develop these skills appropriately, but others struggle. Research has shown that the earlier any difficulties are identified and subsequently treated, the more favourable the outcome. The stages of speech and language development are the same for all children, but the age children reach these stages can vary. It is not possible to detect a problem when we are unaware of what is deemed “typical” in development.   However, there are some general signs that indicate a delay which should be acted on: A young child who does not respond to their name or who does not make sounds should be seen by a doctor immediately. A child should be referred to Speech and Language Therapy if: by 12months of age they don’t use gestures by 18 months they are not using words and have difficulty understanding basic […]

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Tips for Helping Children with Developmental Co-Ordination Disorder

Developmental Co-ordination Disorder   What is Developmental Co-ordination Disorder? Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), also known as Dyspraxia in Ireland, is a common disorder affecting fine and/or gross motor coordination in children and adults. It  refers to children whose acquisition and execution of motor skills is substantially below expected for their chronological age and opportunity for skill learning and use. Difficulties are manifested as clumsiness, slowness and inaccuracy of performance of motor skills. Children may present with difficulties with self-care, writing, typing, riding a bike and play as well as other educational and recreational activities. Many of these difficulties will continue on into adulthood while they may also struggle with learning some independent living skills, driving a car and managing education and employment. There may be a range of co-occurring difficulties which can also have serious negative impacts on daily life, these include social emotional difficulties, challenges with planning and organisation, as […]

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Why Crossing the Midline is an Important Developmental Skill For Your Chlid

Crossing the Body’s Midline What does crossing the body’s midline mean? The body’s midline is an imaginary line down the centre of the body that divides the body into left and right. Crossing the body’s midline is the ability to reach across the middle of the body with the arms and legs. This allows children to cross over their body to perform a task on the opposite side of their body.   Why is crossing the body’s midline important? Crossing the body’s midline is an important developmental skill needed for many everyday tasks such as writing, reaching towards your foot to put your shoes and socks on with both hands and being able to complete puzzles when the puzzle is placed on the other side of the body. When a child spontaneously crosses the mid-line with the dominant hand, then the dominant hand gets the practice needed to develop good […]

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When to Seek Help For Speech Sound Delays

Phonological Speech Sound Difficulties- When to go to Speech and Language Therapy     You may have noticed that your child has difficulty pronouncing some sounds and may do things such as substitute one sound for another, leave sounds out, add on sounds, or change a sound. This can make it difficult for people to understand your child and can impact on your child’s confidence, socialisation with other children, and motivation to communicate. It is normal for young children to say sounds incorrectly, and it is an indication that their speech sound systems are developing and maturing. There are some typical ‘processes’ that children will do, referred to as ‘natural phonological processes’. These processes have age norms which indicate the age at which a ‘typically developing’ child will stop doing them by. They include the following:   Natural Phonological Process Age of Elimination   Reduplication When a syllable is repeated […]

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What Parents Need to Know About Toe Walking in Children

Understanding Toe Walking in Children Many parents and teachers frequently raise concerns in relation to toe walking. Toe walking can range from a normal developmental phase to a serious issue. What is toe walking? Toe walking is when a child walks on his tiptoes with their heels raised off the ground. They are using only the balls of their feet to walk and are not placing weight on any other part of their foot. Typically, we may see children going through this developmental stage when they are learning to walk, and it can remain up until the age of three. Research suggests that up to 90% of children may toe walk at the age of two. It is advised that if your child is still toe walking after the age of three then you should consult a doctor, physiotherapist or podiatrist. Why do kids toe walk? There are several different […]

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What is W Sitting and What Can I Do About It?

What is w-sitting? W-sitting is a cross between a kneeling position and a sitting position. Your knees are out infront just like in kneeling but rather than having your bottom on your heels, your bottom is on the ground with your feet on each side. When in this position you’re your legs make the shape of a w. This position can be natural for many children and is quite common. It gives wider base of support and this is more reassuring for children with postural tone difficulties. It is easier for children to get into this position than it is for adults as they have more flexibility in the hip area. Why do children w-sit? Sitting in a w-position provides an extremely wide base of support. Due to the position of the hip joint and the placement for the legs along the ground. It locks out many joints and then […]

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Supporting Non Verbal Children with a Total Communication Approach

Total Communication Communication is vital to every aspect of our lives. It impacts on our relationships, choices, control, emotions, self-esteem and self- expression. It is therefore essential that we all have a method of communication, an opportunity to communicate and a subject to communicate about. In order to make communication accessible to everyone, we need to use all the ways available to us to give and receive information. A Total Communication approach moves the focus away from a reliance on spoken language and emphasises the importance of other forms of communication as an alternative to speech. Using a Total Communication approach can help children with learning and communication difficulties to develop their understanding and expression in order to communicate more effectively. Total Communication is a holistic view of communication that can be used with children, adolescents and adults. It involves not only oral language to build communication skills, but introduces […]

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What are Pragmatic Language Skills?

Pragmatic language refers to the social language skills that we use in our daily interactions with others. This includes what we say, how we say it, our non-verbal communication (eye contact, facial expressions, body language etc.) and how appropriate our interactions are in a given situation. Pragmatic skills are vital for communicating our personal thoughts, ideas and feelings. Children with difficulties in this area often misinterpret other peoples’ communicative intent and therefore will have difficulty responding appropriately either verbally or non-verbally. Examples of pragmatic skills: • Conversational skills • Asking for, giving and responding to information • Turn taking • Eye contact • Introducing and maintaining topics • Making relevant contributions to a topic • Asking questions • Avoiding repetition or irrelevant information • Asking for clarification • Adjusting language based on the situation or person • Using language of a given peer group • Using humour • Using appropriate […]

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Activate Speech Resources

The activate speech resources are a useful tool for supporting children with speech and language difficulties and can be used to target a range of areas including vocabulary, verbs, sentence formation and concepts. Activate Speech Resources also help to support listening, concentration and turn taking skills. The materials are user-friendly and the activities included are very concise and easy to follow. The pictures are very clear and appealing to children. They are also a great size and very portable. I love using these resources in my therapy sessions and I find that the children are always really engaged with the vibrant colours and relevant objects/concepts.   Where Can I Purchase Activate Speech Resources? Activate Speech Resources can be purchased from Sensational Kids Child Development & Learning Store   Written By   Sarah Gorman, Senior Speech & Language Therapist at Sensational Kids, Kildare   Copyright Sensational Kids CLG 2018

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Important Factors in the Development of Early Language Skills for 0-3 Year Olds

Early language development is the time from birth until 3 years of age in which children learn and acquire a significant amount of core language skills and is seen as the optimal age period for language acquisition. This article outlines and discusses skills and milestones involved effective language acquisition up to 3 years, how those in the child’s environment can facilitate children in language development, and how to identify when a child may require language intervention. Important Skills and Milestones in Language Acquisition Hearing and Auditory Processing   Hearing is a vital skill in the development of spoken language acquisition. Without functional hearing abilities a child cannot be exposed to and acquire verbal language. Auditory processing is an important part of listening to, retaining, and learning from spoken language and involves the ability to hear a sound and process it within the brain to make sense of it. Babies with […]

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The Benefits of Using Sound Puzzles To Support Your Child’s Development

I love to use these puzzles in my speech & language therapy sessions as they are a great source of enjoyment and very appealing to younger children.   Sound Puzzles make realistic sounds and provide positive feedback on a job well done by making sounds when the puzzle piece is placed in the correct spot.   In addition sound puzzles are a great way to reinforce cause-and-effect skills in young children and are also very useful for targeting early vocabulary, comprehension and matching skills. I use them frequently in sessions when targeting every day vocabulary (both comprehension and labeling of same). I also find that they can be useful when supporting turn taking skills.   Where Can I Purchase Sound Puzzles? Sound Puzzles can be purchased from Sensational Kids Child Development & Learning Store   Written By   Sarah Gorman, Senior Speech & Language Therapist at Sensational Kids, Kildare   […]

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Using Social Stories to Help Your Child

Social Stories – What are they?   A Social Story is a short story written in a specific style and format. A social story normally describes what happens in a specific social situation. This may be something that is obvious to us but not to a child with impaired social understanding.   Social stories aim to improve understanding of social situations and encourage appropriate responses. Social Stories can include a combination of writing / pictures / symbols in order to facilitate the communication levels of the child they are intended for, i.e. level of understanding, vocabulary knowledge etc.   Who uses Social Stories? Social stories were originally developed for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder but they have also proved beneficial to children with learning, emotional, cognitive and communication impairments. Social Stories are versatile and easily tailored to meet a variety of needs. A social story should be unique and written for […]

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Understanding & Helping Pragmatic Language Development

The use of language in social contexts is called pragmatics. Pragmatics includes, but is not limited, to initiating conversation, requesting and responding, topic relevance, maintenance, asking and answering questions. It is not just the words that are used when speaking but, also refers to the subtleties such as, what the speaker implied, how something is said, appropriateness and the use of eye contact, body language and intonation. Pragmatic language skills are very important to allow clear communication of feelings, thoughts and ideas. The development of these skills occurs in conjunction with general language development. We use our pragmatic language daily. Components of pragmatics such as eye contact and smiling develop at an early age. The unspoken conversation rules are learned through watching other’s interaction. Children learn about taking turns, engaging others and communicating important information. Those who present with pragmatic language difficulties demonstrate difficulty with both non-verbal and verbal communication […]

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Speech and Language Support for Young Children with Down Syndrome

Children who present with a diagnosis of Down Syndrome can have difficulty with their speech, language and feeding. The frequent co-occurrence of hearing loss, oral-motor problems, memory and auditory processing difficulties can compound communication difficulties. Despite these difficulties, many children who present with Down Syndrome are sociable communicators. Most children with Down syndrome can understand much more language than they can express. To maximise language development and support of communication language therapy intervention is best started as early as possible. A Speech and Language Therapist can assess and provide individualised intervention for the speech and language difficulties with which each child with Down Syndrome presents. When therapy commences goals are set with parents. Early intervention goals are client centred and meaningful, focusing on the individual’s communication priorities, in addition to building pre-verbal communication skills such as shared attention, listening, engagement and use of gesture. Exercises may be provided to increase […]

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