Applications are closing in September. In this blog, I try to answer FAQ's about LDC's.
"My child's teacher is suggesting a referral to an LDC. Do you think he needs it?" Unique to Perth (WA), LDC’s or Language Development Centres are independent public schools for children with language difficulties. They were created in the 80’s as an initiative of Marie Donovan, who was principal at the WA Deaf School. She noticed that non-Deaf students with language difficulties were progressing well in this environment and that their language needs weren’t always supported in mainstream schools. Following a trip to the UK and supported by a group of parents advocating on behalf of their children with language difficulties, Marie convinced her school director to open the first LDC class in 1984. At the time, it wasn’t common for speech pathologists to work in schools but Marie thought that they had an essential role to play in education. I am not about to disagree with her. Thank you, Marie! There are now 5 LDC’s across the Perth area: Fremantle, West Coast, North East, South East and Peel where eligible students receive a specialised language programme to support their education and literacy needs. Referrals typically need to be sent in September (see at the end of this article for exact dates in 2017).
For many parents, the possibility of a referral to an LDC raises questions, so I turned to Anna Taylor, speech pathologist at the North East Metro LDC with a few FAQ’s. Anna consulted with her team to answer those questions and I hope I can do justice to her very comprehensive answers. I also asked a couple of parents for their feedback on their LDC experience.
A look at a game that puts the fun back into reading
When it’s your job to make learning fun, you need imagination, a good sense of fun and resources that allow you to use both. Select the right activity and kids will work hard without even realising it. Many kids with literacy difficulties find reading a bit of a mountain to climb and I am always on the lookout for bite size reading activities for them. With this in mind, I recently purchased Tim’s Quiz, from Little Learners Love Literacy. I already have LLLL resources which I like a lot, so I was keen to try this one.
Tim’s Quiz is a set of 168 short decodable questions for beginning readers. The questions include digraphs, CVC, CCVC, CVCC*, common sight words and longer decodable words. Can cats hop? Are kittens the best pets? Is it a good plan to go camping in the jungle? The game consists of picking question cards, reading them, discussing them and sorting them according to their answers. Children get to decode, read, build fluency, comprehension and oral language AND they have fun while reading. The game really fits my purpose of short, sharp reading activities, but it delivers much more.
Hanen e-seminar review and discount code
When he was 3, his mother was advised to speak English only as learning two languages might confuse him and further compound his language difficulties.
This true story (and not the only one of its kind) happened many years ago. As a bilingual speech pathologist, I can attest that this advice, thankfully, is no longer the norm and that children with a language delay can learn two languages. Does that seem a bit counter-intuitive to you? As a professional, if you are going to encourage parents to raise their child bilingual in the presence of a language delay, you need solid evidence to back up your recommendations. Enter Hanen’s e-seminar: Boosting bilingual environments for young children: what the research says, a two-hour presentation for speech pathologists, students and professionals who work with children. I was asked to review this e-seminar and I just had to say yes. What’s not to love about on-demand online learning: get comfortable in your own space, pour yourself a cup of tea, get ready to take notes… At the end of this blog, you will find an access code to obtain a 40 % discount on this seminar. Read on to know what you’ll find in this seminar:
Making speech happen with late talkers
About 10 to 20% of toddlers are known as late talkers, i.e. 18 month to 20 month old children with less than 10 words and children aged 21 months to 30 months with less than 50 words and/or no two-word combinations. With adequate support, most of these children go on to develop appropriate language skills. I previously wrote about developing first words with late talkers. In this blog, I discuss simple strategies to help children expand the range of sounds they use so they can talk more.
Children need ongoing reading practice in order to make progress. This is especially true for beginning and struggling readers who can be reluctant to read. So, how can parents lighten the load without compromising on reading outcomes?
It is much easier (and effective) to do a little bit often, rather than a long session once in a blue moon. Some children may balk at the sight of books and school readers, so try working with single word flashcards instead. Seize the opportunity to do a bit of “on the fly” reading and to include reading as part of active play.
Speech pathologists are always on the lookout for new games and therapy ideas. With this in mind, I recently found the Home Speech Home website. It is full of resources, ideas, tips and resources for purchase. There is a blog, to which I subscribe. Through this blog, I found a fun app called What’s the Pic Articulation This articulation app is based on the age old principle of rewarding students for repeating target sounds over and over! In a nutshell, the app has a hidden picture that students have to identify. The picture is covered by smaller “stickers” (cookies, cute little pigs, funny babies, etc).
What makes a great book? There are many reasons to like books. For a speech pathologist, a good book is one that gets the conversation going.
Books with vivid pictures and very few or no words will elicit comments from children. Adults can respond to the children’s comments and follow their lead rather than the other way around. I like books by Sarah Garland. As the situations depicted in the books are familiar to the children, they are more likely to comment and start a conversation. Use the books as a starting point for language sessions involving role-play, vocabulary building, comprehension activities and a variety of creative activities.
Similarly, books with busy pictures are excellent. There’s always plenty happening and one discovers something new every time. Having no words in them, they work in any language, a plus for a bilingual clinic!
Last week marked the 50th anniversary of Playschool, an iconic educational children’s TV programme that has been captivating several generations of Australian children. Big Ted, Little Ted, Humpty and Jemima… they don’t look their age at all. In honour of this anniversary, the App Store was featuring Playschool apps last week. A recent study by Lisa Kervin of the University of Wollongong suggests that screen time that engages both parents and kids at the same time can be rewarding for both. There is one app I really like that does just that: it is ABC’s Art Maker. Featuring well-loved Playschool characters, the app is aimed at 2-6 year olds (but I know from experience that older kids – such as me – like it a lot too)!
Having recently moved offices and lifted heavy boxes full of paper resources, I found myself longing for a paperless clinic. An email from Smarty Ears mentioning the release of their new iTAP app (Test of Articulation and Phonology for iPad) couldn’t have come at a better time. I decided to review this app and to ask some of my speech kids to rate it as well.
iTAP works very much like most paper articulation tests: the child names a series of pictures containing specific phonemes and consonant clusters in all positions in single words. The app targets 64 phonemes and consonant clusters in all positions across 58 words and includes a multisyllable probe at the end.
For Autism Awareness month, The Hanen Centre have contacted me with an offer of a free e-seminar “Starting Early – Red Flags and Treatment Tips for Toddlers on the Autism Spectrum” for one of the readers of this blog. I have just done this e-seminar and recommend it. It provides clear information on how to identify toddlers who are at risk for ASD as well as useful treatment tips. See at the end of this blog how to participate to win it.
There is definitely greater awareness of autism in the community and the question “Do you think it could be autism?” is one I hear a lot, especially where toddlers are concerned. Whilst I don’t specialise in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and would never put a label of autism so early, I need to address that question and identify children who may be at risk for ASD. Communication begins well before the first words and occurs through a variety of verbal and non-verbal behaviours which can be observed through play-based assessment. Here are some behaviours that can be considered "red flags" for ASD:
Looking for language tips, activities and ideas? This blog is for parents, speech pathologists, teachers, educators and anyone with an interest in speech and language.