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Sofía Zelou

Online Speech and Language Therapy

Article 6

Online therapy is the solution to physical barriers to accessing therapy.
It allows you to get help from wherever you are!

The benefits of online therapy remain the same as traditional therapy.

Online speech therapy may offer more flexibility than in-person services, and it increases access to speech therapists for people who aren’t able to travel to a provider’s location. That’s something that has increased the last few years but it has proved its benefits.

Now, many speech therapists offer services online via telecommunication. Tele-practice services should offer the same as in-person services.

One of the reasons why I chose to do that as well is because I saw the advantages over the years. If the online speech therapy is well prepared and is held to the standards for ethical practices, then it’s a therapy that can still be effective.

The online speech therapies can help both children and adults.

Working together online can have benefits for you and for the speech therapist. “Location does not dictate therapy options any longer”, says a speech therapist.

If you need a speech therapist who specializes in a certain type of therapy or has expertise working with certain conditions, you´re not limited to those in your area. The wider online pool makes it more likely for people to get the specialized help they need.

Eliminating travel also makes it easier to attend regular sessions, especially for those with mobility and transportations issues.

Research suggests it’s effective, too. Online practice is still relatively new in the world of speech therapy, but there is promising research.

Additionally, experts note many speech therapists who provide in-person care already utilize apps and other online programs to supplement their sessions, making the transition from in-person care to telecare more seamless.

Parents are now more confident in this process and method. It has shown its good results and everybody is happy with that! 

Don´t forget that if during the online speech therapy, we see that there´s any challenge, then trust your speech therapist and the recommendations that are provided. Online speech therapy is effective and can help the parents as well in an environment that is even more important, the home! Together we will open ways and I will help you in all your concerns!

 

Sofía Zelou

Selective Mutism and guidelines

Article 5

Understanding Selective Mutism has always been a challenge for both professionals and parents.

Selective Mutism is a complex childhood anxiety disorder characterised by a child’s difficulty to speak and communicate effectively in select social settings.

A child with Selective Mutism will talk at some times and in some places but not in others. This might start when a child goes to school but may start at a younger age. Selective mutism may also continue into adulthood.

What causes Selective Mutism?

All experts from different fields that treat SM regard it as a fear (phobia) of talking to certain people and under certain circumstances. Another factor is that children with SM are very shy or afraid to embarrass themselves in public, or want to be alone and not talk to friends or other people.

Speech and language therapy is one of the therapies that can help a child with SM.

Some techniques that we follow are:

  • Stimulus fading, where we slowly introduce the child into situations that are less comfortable speaking in.
  • Shaping is another technique where we always give a reward to the child for trying to communicate.
  • Self-modeling technique. We may ask parents to take videos or audio recordings of the child talking in a comfortable situation. Those clips we can then use them in places or situations where the child is usually uncomfortable speaking.

As speech and language therapists we always reinforce communication, in the case of SM we reinforce the verbal one. We visit the different communication environments that the child assists, the social settings where SM is more present and we always work and collaborate with other professionals from different areas.

For parents we have lots of tips and some of them are:

  • Ensure that your child feels valued and secure.
  • Try to reduce embarrassment or anger about your child’s behaviour.
  • Educate family and friends about the nature of your child’s difficulties.
  • Build confidence by focusing on your child’s achievements.
  • Keep busy and have a routine.
  • Provide an escape route.
  • Establish safe boundaries with your child so they can take small steps forward.

For more information and help, please, contact me! I´d be glad to help!

Sofía Zelou

Communication disorders

Article 4

We all know what communication is, not just speaking, but also the non-verbal communication.

Sometimes, communication in all its forms can be affected. Communication disorders can be developmental or acquired. The cause may be related to biological problems such as brain development abnormalities, or possibly exposure to toxins during pregnancy. This includes such as substance abuse or environmental toxins such as lead. In some cases, a genetic factor is considered a contributing cause. Another cause can be the social and environmental conditions that can affect communication.

communication disorder is an impairment in the ability to receive, send, process, and comprehend concepts or verbal, nonverbal and graphic symbol systems. A communication disorder may be evident in the processes of hearing, language, and/or speech. 

Which are the communication disorders?

  1. Speech disorders: is the impairment of the articulation of speech sounds, fluency and/or voice.
  2. Language disorders: is the impairment in comprehension and/or use of spoken, written and/or other symbol systems.
  3. Hearing disorders: is the result of impaired auditory sensitivity of the physiological auditory system.

What happens when a communication disorder is detected?

The first step is that the professional or the professionals who detect the communication disorder, who can be, Speech and Language Therapist, Psychiatrist and Psychologist, can guide the family to follow the next steps. When the communication disorder is clear and specified then the therapeutic plan has to start.

The earlier the communication disorder is detected the better for the child and for the family.

What do the experts recommend?

What is always recommended is that when the family suspects that some of the above-mentioned disorders appear and a few signals are present and evident, then a visit to a specialist is absolutely necessary!

Which is the therapeutic plan?

The therapeutic plan varies and it depends on both the exact disorder and the child who presents it. Each person is different and unique, so the treatment is unique as well. What I suggest is that you listen to your therapist´s advice and recommendations. 

If you need more information, contact me!

 

Sofía Zelou

Multilingualism and its benefits in childhood

Article 3

There are lots of people around the world that since their very early age they learn many languages.

That’s one of the gifts that life gives to us. We need to know what happens to our brain and why it’s always recommended and approved that the more languages we speak the better for our mental health. 

Multilingual experience not only changes brain structures involved in language processing but also alters the connectivity among brain areas and structures that are not specific to language and changes performance even when no language is involved. Imagine when the children are learning from very small new languages. Their brain changes, gets better, their neural connection transforms into something more powerful.

Language builds connections not only externally because it allows us to communicate with others, but also internally. New neural pathways occur.

Children are very beneficiated as their brain grows in a multi-creative way. Their learning levels are very high and when they are exposed to many languages, their development is faster.

Let’s see together some of the benefits that multilingualism has for children:

  1. Multilingualism helps children and students to demonstrate more interest in many cultural things and their learning path is easier.
  2. Multilingualism stimulates constantly the brain and its executive functions.
  3. Improves problem solving.
  4. Also, children that are multilingual develop an open mind, they understand the diversity of cultures as a way to enrich their minds.
  5. Multilingualism improves the capacity of multi-tasking.
  6. Children that know many languages learn from a very young age to communicate better with others. Language barriers don’t exist for them.
  7. Multilingualism stimulates the brain in a total and holistic way. Children become creative, pay attention to details, and learn lots of hobbies.
  8. Their memory and concentration skills flourish faster.

 

Those are some of the benefits of multilingualism. It is important that children that are exposed to this magical world of languages have your parents’ help in order to learn the languages better and more carefully. Let me help you and give you all the necessary guidelines you need to show your children the best way of learning languages from an early age!

But when can children learn languages?

Generally speaking, each life stage gives us tools to learn a language.

As babies we can hear different sounds, when we are children, we can acquire and recognize different accents. And as adults, we have a greater attention span, which allows us to acquire more vocabulary and as a result to learn and use more languages.

Contact me if you need to know more!

 

Sofía Zelou

Use of AAC

Article 2

Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) helps millions worldwide who cannot rely on their natural speech to communicate.

Children and adults with severe speech or language problems may need to find other ways to communicate besides talking. There are many types of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) they can use. Speech and language pathologists, or SLPs, can help and indicate the correct way of use of AAC. 

Also, AAC can be used not only in severe situations where speech and/or language are absent, but in cases where speech is not used correctly and is unintelligible. This happens mostly in the early age. AAC helps and stimulates children’s communication and then stimulates their speech as well. The pictures and the sound stimuli they receive and hear through technology devices help them to structure words, sentences, etc.

Other individuals may use speech in low-demand contexts but choose to use AAC to augment their communication in high-demand contexts.

When should AAC be used?

People of all ages can use AAC if they have trouble with speech or language skills. Augmentative means to add to someone’s speech. Alternative means to be used instead of speech. Some people use AAC throughout their life or learn how to use it when they are small, speech increases, develops and throughout their life AAC it’s not useful anymore. It is just a tool that promotes communication.

What exactly includes AAC?

AAC incorporates the individual’s full communication abilities and may include any existing speech or vocalizations, gestures, manual signs, pictures, and aided communication.

Who is responsible for teaching people how to use AAC?

Speech and Language Therapists are the main professionals who teach people how to use AAC. Other professionals and experts that know how to use AAC are also indicated.

Who benefits from AAC?

Children and adults with speech and intellectual disabilities – non-verbal, partially verbal and single word communicators. Children and adults with ASD, Cerebral Palsy, Down’s Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, PDD-NOS, Aphasia, Apraxia or any other condition that affects speech and language skills.

In case you think AAC is something that could benefit your child, get in contact! AAC is personalized and always helps the children, their caregivers and family members!

 

Sofía Zelou

Causes of a Language Delay

Article 1

A Language delay is something quite common to the small ones.

It is a type of communication disorder and it affects lots of children.

When we can observe some of the following symptoms and warning signs in a child, then, we are able to detect or suspect a language delay, at least until a specialist can confirm the existence:

  • not babbling by the age of 15 months
  • not talking by the age of 2 years and until the age of 3 years
  • an inability to speak in short sentences by the age of 3 years
  • difficulty following directions and understanding others
  • poor pronunciation or articulation
  • difficulty putting words together in a sentence
  • leaving words out of a sentence

Those are some of the alarms for parents to have in mind. Language delay can affect both receptive and/or expressive language.

But what happens, when a language delay appears and you don´t know which are the causes?

The first thing to do is to visit a specialist, a speech and language therapist, so that you get informed about the causes.

Language delays in children have many possible causes. In some instances, more than one factor contributes to a language delay. Some common causes include the following:

  • Hearing impairment: It’s common for children who have a hearing impairment to have a language impairment as well. If they can’t hear language, learning to communicate can be difficult.
  • ASD: While not all children with autism have language delays, autism frequently affects communication.
  • Intellectual disability: A variety of intellectual disabilities can cause language delays. For instance, dyslexia and other learning disabilities lead to language delays in some cases.
  • Several psychosocial issues: These can cause language delays, as well. For example, severe neglect can lead to problems with language development.

It is important that you ask for help when you think that your child presents some of those signs and is not able to communicate with others.

Together we will establish an intervention program totally personalized and I will guide you in order to be able to help your child at home. 

Don’t forget that: As human beings, one of our basic needs is to be able to come into contact with other people, which is an indisputable requirement for a stable physical, mental, and emotional health. A language delay prevents the child from transmitting fluently and understandably what is happening to him, which is frustrating and requires all possible support.

Do not hesitate to ask for help and contact me!