By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 09/25/2018
How to make use of augmentative and alternative communication

Augmentative and alternative communication is a general term used to refer to approaches, strategies, and tools, that enable children and adults with autism and speech and language disorders to communicate their wants, needs, thoughts, and emotions.

Augmentative and alternative communication is not appropriate for everyone with a speech or language disorder, but may be useful for people with apraxia of speech, stroke-related dysphasia and dysarthria, and other conditions that affect written expression and/or control of the muscles of the face, throat and mouth, such as cerebral palsy.

Sign language, pen and paper, and hand gestures are basic forms of augmentative and alternative communication, as is using a chart and pointing to pictures, letters, words or symbols.

Alternatives to speech can be as high-tech as specially fitted devices which allow people to communicate using custom buttons and pressure sensors, or as everyday as children and adults making use of a laptop computer and smartphone to meet their communication needs. On a computer or mobile device, written language can either be typed and displayed on screen or typed and read aloud by an automatized voice facilitated by text-to-speech technology.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 09/12/2018
Visual processing disorder and dyslexia

Visual processing disorders can interrupt an individual’s ability to understand and navigate written symbols, which may cause problems with math/maths and learning to read at school. They’re not due to vision problems or any issues with the eyes, but rather with how the brain interprets visual information.

On the other hand, dyslexia is a separate condition that often makes it challenging to break spoken language down into its component parts. This in turn complicates reading and spelling. While the two conditions can look similar, they have different causes and thus children and adults who have one and not the other will require a different set of strategies and accommodations.

You may also encounter the term visual dyslexia, which refers to individuals who have a type of dyslexia that is not related to phonological processing – learn more about the different kinds of dyslexia. In visual dyslexia, a child experiences a type of visual processing disorder. He or she may be prone to reversing or transposing letters, have difficulty locating words on the page, and have a tendency to skip over them. In comparison to phonological dyslexia, rhyming ability and language recall are less likely to be affected.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 05/29/2018
receptive expressive language disorder
Receptive language skills have to do with the ability to understand words, sentences, and speech acts, and expressive language skills are about producing speech.
 
Children with a receptive language disorder can have trouble understanding what others are saying to them. It may be that the child shows signs of confusion and a lack of understanding in a classroom setting, fails to follow verbal instructions at home, has a hard time getting along with peers, or simply struggles to process speech in direct conversation. They may overly rely on reading facial expressions and have particular trouble with complex sentences.
 
Children with a developemental expressive language disorder commonly experience difficulties expressing themselves. They may produce incoherent utterances with incorrect grammar or inappropriate vocabulary. Their speech acts can contain false starts, lack cohesiveness, or trail off, and they may rely on simplified messaging strategies that prevent them from translating more complex levels of thought and reasoning into language.
 
In a mixed receptive expressive language disorder an individual’s ability both to understand and produce speech is affected
 
By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 05/22/2018
Which modifications can most help students with Down syndrome

Some learners with Down syndrome attend special schools where they are taught a specific curriculum and have lesson content and delivery adapted for their needs. Others may learn at home or as part of a co-op.

However, it’s increasingly common for children to enrol in their local education system where they can study alongside non-Down syndrome peers. There are a number of benefits to this, including the ability to enhance a student’s sense of independence, foster stronger ties within the community, and assist a learner in developing social skills. It may also prepare young-adults and teens for volunteer/work opportunities later on, and can generally be more convenient and financially practical for families.

But when a learner with Down syndrome joins a regular class, this also means that certain teaching approaches and exercises may need to be modified in order to ensure the student gets the maximum benefit from his or her studies.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 05/15/2018
Autism and typing as a form of augmentative communication

Many children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) struggle to express themselves in speaking and writing. Communication challenges can range from mild to severe: one child with autism may speak fluently with an impressive vocabulary and another might be completely nonverbal. Some learners say the same word over and over, and others repeat a series of sounds, or the speech of others, a condition known as echolalia.

But experiencing difficulties with speaking does not necessarily mean an autistic child cannot understand, process and use language to represent his or her thoughts, it may just be he or she doesn’t have the ability to express what’s inside. That’s why it can be useful to explore alternative forms of communication, such as typing. Typing can help verbal and nonverbal autistic learners as well as those who struggle to write by hand.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 05/07/2018
Apraxia vs. aphasia: What’s the difference?

Both apraxia of speech and aphasia affect an individual’s ability to communicate – they just do so in different ways. Apraxia makes it hard to coordinate muscle movements and put sounds in the right order to produce intelligible speech. It may also impact on speech planning. Individuals can struggle with consonant clusters, rhythm, and stress, and may generally experience difficulties with aspects related to the prosody of language.

On the other hand, aphasia is about language retrieval and recognition. People with aphasia or dysphasia may not be able to find the words they need to express themselves in speech or in writing, or they might use the wrong words and not realize it. Additionally, individuals with receptive aphasia don’t always understand what other people are saying and can finding listening and reading challenging.

If aphasia and apraxia of speech are the result of a stroke, a person may also experience difficulties with enunciation, referred to as dysarthria. This can present as trouble controlling the volume levels of speech, excessive drooling, or problems getting enough air while speaking. Dysarthria is caused by weakness or paralysis of the muscles of the lips, tongue, throat and face.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 04/16/2018
helping students in special education

There a number of reasons why a child may need to attend a special education program at school. Special education can help learners who struggle with developmental delays, such as dyspraxia or apraxia of speech, and/or children who experience challenges with literacy and numeracy because of a specific learning difference. Learners with autism can benefit.

It may also be that a physical impairment is affecting a student’s ability to learn in the same way as his or her peers and specific accommodations and materials are necessary. The basic requirement for a program to be considered special education is that it must address the individual learner’s needs in a way that wouldn’t be possible in a mainstream classroom. But just because a child receives extra support, it doesn't mean they are less intelligent or talented than their peers.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 02/06/2018
The best Down syndrome blogs to follow

For families who are just embarking on their journey, blogs are a good place to start. That’s because they give you a way to move beyond the medical facts and statistics your doctors might discuss with you and discover the practical and emotional sides of raising a child with Down syndrome. You can engage with the blogs' authors, join in on-going discussions with other readers, and learn more about families who are on a similar path to yours.

Down syndrome is a genetic condition that occurs when a child is born with an extra copy of chromosome 21. In the past, it was assumed that children with Down syndrome would not benefit from early access to education. Thankfully today we understand that with the right support, these very special children can go on to lead rich and fulfilling lives.

Exchanging ideas and sharing tips and anecdotes can help you gain much needed perspective and provide support when you need it most. Blogs also serve as a platform for circulating the latest resources and research, and getting behind local and national causes. That’s why we’re sharing our list of the top Down syndrome blogs in 2018. We hope you’ll give them a read! With the right guidance, care and accommodations, every child with Down syndrome can go on to achieve great things.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 12/18/2017
Learning disabilities and self-esteem

While any child can suffer from low self-esteem, students with learning disabilities are particularly at risk, especially if they are struggling with an undiagnosed condition. If the problem is related to a learning difference such as dyslexia, a child is not less intelligent than other children, he or she simply learns in a different way. Yet most school-based learning programs are developed with a neuro-typical child in mind.

This mismatch between learning style and task can cause students to doubt themselves and believe poor performance means they are not “smart”, that they are thick or stupid, or are somehow less skilled than their classmates. The stress and frustration a child experiences at school is often accompanied by feelings of shame associated with underperforming. There is also the social stigma of being “different” to deal with.

But with the right strategy training, accommodations and emotional support, many children with specific learning differences can overcome the challenges they face and achieve their full potential in the classroom.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 10/31/2017
Are dyspraxia and autism related

Dyspraxia, which in the past was referred to as “Clumsy Child Syndrome,” is a motor learning difficulty that can cause issues with fine and gross motor skills, social interaction, planning skills and coordination. While it is distinct from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) many parents notice similar symptoms, including sensory processing issues. In some cases the two conditions can co-occur.

Research studies have found that dyspraxia is more likely to be reported amongst people with autism than in control groups; however, that does not necessarily imply a causal relationship. For parents struggling to understand their child’s diagnosis, it can help to take a closer look at the similarities and differences between the two.

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