How To Improve Your Child’s Spatial Skills – By Using Words

Do you want your child to be great at putting things together? How do do you want your child to be following instructions – and giving others directions?

Recent research has shown that that way you talk with your child has a marked impact on how good they are at spatial tasks.

Spatial ability is being able to do tasks that involve the relationships between objects or parts. Children need to learn to understand concepts of directions, size and direction. It seems that the earlier they learn the words for these concepts, the better children are at doing tasks that need these skills later.

When we learn to be able to do these things in our head, this is often called visuo-spatial understanding. We often need to be able to visualise, or manipulate in our head, how things can change and what they will look like when they are in a different place, size, shape or direction. We need to understand how things work and fit into the space around us.

Every day life requires these skills for children to move around without bumping into things, make complex constructions out of blocks, do puzzles, follow directions in a particular order, work out how far away something is, give directions, ride a bike, or cross a road.

Adults need to be able to read maps, work out where we are going, and put kit furniture together. Some occupations require very high level visuo-spatial skills, like architecture and design.

If children have difficulties with movement, balance, or reading and writing, they may be tested for visuo-spatial skills. This may include seeing if they can recognize an object from part of it, imagine an object rotated to a different orientation, or copy patterns.

It appears that children are better at all these skills if they learn words early that explain these shapes, directions and the relationships between objects. The research found that, when parents play with their children with construction toys, and use these kinds of words, their children become better at the spatial tasks.

Words for size, shape, direction and location, as well as words for quantity and time, can be easily used in play sessions or in daily life. Vary according to your child's age. They are only likely to use these words if they hear you do it first.

Through the tunnel.

Around the corner.

In the deepest hole.

Put the circle on the tall tower.

Next to the red book.

Other activities to do together might include puzzles, drawing, play dough and sand and water play. In everyday life, bath time, cooking and gardening are ideal opportunities for spatial words. When you are walking around the zoo or driving to Grandma's you can provide an on-going commentary for directions and encourage your child to join in.

As well as giving your child good spatial skills, you will help them with sentence construction by teaching them prepositions (like in, on, under) and adjectives and adverbs (describing words like largest, fastest, gigantic).

For more information see under language development.

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Give Full Care to Your Voice

I gave talks to 3 different groups last month. The most often asked question was, “I often strained my voice after speaking for a while.

To prevent training your voice, you need to take care of your voice Before-During-After:

Before: Do not drink coffee, tea and milk. Coffee & tea takes the moisture off your body, which will also dry off your vocal folds (cords). Milk creates phlegm. Drink warm water.

During: Learn the correct way of breathing, ie to breathe with the support of your diaphragm, and power up your voice through resonance. In this way, you can talk as long as you want!

After: If you have lost your voice, do not talk, especially whisper (it adds more pressure on your vocal folds). Drink more water. Take a steam bath if possible. Or breathe in the vapor from a cup of hot water. It'll help tie the immediate surface wear-and-tear on the edges of your vocal folds.

The most important effective way to even prevent vocal strain from occurring is to learn the correct way of projecting your voice. Most people use their throat too much, which creates pressure on their vocal folds (cords) and may lead to permanent damage if it continues. To project your voice, you need deep breathing to support your projection, ie to breathe with the support of your diaphragm, and power up your voice by means of resonance. In this way, you'll never worry about training your throat.

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My Child Doesn’t Listen! What Is Auditory Memory?

Parents and teachers get frustrated, understandably, when children do not do as they are told, or do not remember what they are supposedly to do. The perception often is that a child “does not listen”. What they are often talking about is that a child is not taking in and remembering what they are hearing.

Children with normal hearing can have major issues with auditory processing. There are lots of steps to auditory processing, meaning all the different steps the brain has to do to make sense of the sound that is heard and store it somewhere and use it.

The brain needs to be able to locate where a sound is coming from, distinguishing sounds from other sounds and identify the sounds. It must pick out the main sound from any background noise, and fill in the gaps if part of the sound is missing and then remember exactly what it has heard.

If any part or parts of this process are not working well, then children give up on processing sound and auditory memory does not develop well.

Yes, sometimes children choose not to 'listen' or act on what they have heard. But most of the time if children usually can not follow a series of instructions confidently it is because it is actually quite hard for them.

Other things that you might see if your child has audit processing issues include distractibility and poor attention, sensitivity to noise, or a day-dreamy quality to their listening or attending in class. In young child their vocabulary may be noticeably limited, and sentence structure (grammar) is not correct.

If auditory memory does not develop well, children may have trouble remembering their exact address, their mum's mobile phone number or the days or the week. They will not have a large repertoire of nursery rhymes or songs that they can sing. If they do sing they're fudge some of the words, giving the overall impression that they are singing songs.

Parents that I meet as a Speech Pathologist sometimes try to blame themselves. “It's my fault – I have not taught them that!” However, most children, with good auditories, tend to pick up this sort of information without having to be explicitly taught. The difference is that for some children this does not occur naturally and needs to be encouraged or taught.

Good auditory memory can be encouraged and developed in all children. From the time they are babies, sing favorite songs to your children, clearly and rhythmically. As they get older, have favorite stories where your child gets to fill in the ends of sentences or refrains. Encourage memorizing of rhymes and birthdates, phone numbers and addresses.

Play games where sounds are remembered, such as guessing what sounds are or imitating drum rhythms. Tell them the names of lots of things and actions, describing words and figures of speech, baby animal names and places – and give your child the chance to practice remembering and using them.

Gradually give longer and more detailed instructions that take longer to carry out. If your child has difficulty doing them all, help them to remember what the instructions were, rather than just repeating what you have said.

If your child sees to have difficulty remembering words, or how to say sentences, or following instructions, have a Speech Pathology assessment to identify if there are any issues with auditory processing at any level. And if there is, better to deal with it and build up good auditory skills. They will stand your child in good stead for the rest of their life.

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Swallowing Disorder – What Is Dysphagia?


Dysphagia is the medical term for swallowing difficulties. Swallowing is just something that happens for most people without having to think about it, but dysphagia can affect all people of all ages, from newborn babies to elderly people.

At the back of the mouth is the pharynx. Just below the pharynx we have two passes, one for air (the trachea) and one for food and fluid (the oesophagus). Only one is supposed to be open at a time, so that we stop breathing once when we swallow and then start breathing immediately afterwards.

Swallowing is actually one of the most complex actions that our body has to do. First, the brain has to plan out the whole action then tell at least thirty pairs of muscles what to do. This is called a motor program or motor plan.
Food is processed in the mouth to the point that it is safe to swallow, and for most food this includes chewing. Food or fluid needs manoeuvring to the back of the mouth and into the pharynx, ready to go into the oesophagus. This prompts the area around the larynx (the 'voice box') to be pulled up. It is all connected and protected by muscles and ligaments.

If you want to appreciate this movement, feel your larynx as you take a swallow.

As the larynx is rolled up, it drags up a small flap of skin called the epiglottis which covers the airway. The airway is also protected by the vocal cords which close, and the false vocal cords above them, so that normally there are three layers of protection for the airway.

As the airway is covered, the entry to the oesophagus (the sphincter) opens and food is quickly manoeuvred into the opening. From there, the oesophagus moves the food down to the stomach, in a movement over which we have no control, by gravity.

The oesophageal sphincter then closes and the airway opens – and breathing continues.

Everyone knows the feeling of something going down the wrong way. Usually we are able to cough and splutter until we get rid of whatever it was. This is fortunately, because food goes down the wrong way can cause choking, and fluid in the airway or lungs can cause chest infections and even pneumonia. If food or fluid penetrates the larynx and enters the airway then this is called aspiration.

All sorts of things can go wrong with swallowing. Because it is a complex and finely tuned action, even a small amount of coordination difficulty can cause a problem. Other problems arise when the swallow is not initiated (started), or if the airway is not covered, or if it is not covered quickly and completely. If residual of food or fluid is left in the pharynx after the swallow it can slip into the airways seconds later when we breathe or talk.

Sometimes babies may have a difficulty swallowing from birth. Or they may have an illness of some kind that requires an alternate way of feeding, and swallowing then may be established later if at all possible. For most of the life span swallowing difficulties occur because of accident or disease, such as traumatic brain injury or thyroid deficiency). In elderly people swallowing is more prevalent, especially when a disease is present or people are unwell.

Often after surgery, such as a fracture repair, elderly people are particularly vulnerable. In 'the olden days' most people used to die following a hip fraction, for example, because they aspirated fluid which caused in pneumonia. As well as coping with the pain, and having poor mobility, being unable to sit up straight, people are often well-medicated at this time and this makes the brain less able to make a motor program and carry it out accurately.

Elderly people who are unwell are at high risk for dysphagia. The elderly in residential facilities or nursing homes, for example, who often have limited mobility and communication skills, need to be monitored closely for swallowing difficulties.

The clinician responsible for diagnosing and managing dysphagia is a Speech Pathologist. A Speech Pathologist can assess, manage and rehabilitate swallowing.

A Speech Pathologist can use a combination of resources, depending on technology available. In some cases, patients may have access to fiber-endoscopy with an ENT specialist, where a probe can be inserted to see if there are physiological difficulties. A video-fluoroscopy can be performed in a hospital or radiography clinic, where a moving X-ray can be taken while a patient swallows. More often a Speech Pathologist can do a bedside examination or a manual examination in a clinic, where they can feel and observe swallowing of different consistencies of food and fluid. This is often done with cervical auscultation where the swallow can be listened to with a stethoscope.

Speech Pathologists can give exercises that will strengthen or coordinate a swallow. Sometimes the swallow is managed by recommending food or fluid that is safe for a person to eat.

Recommendations should always be followed. The risks are serious if swallowing is not managed well. Good swallowing management will make sure that people are as safe and as comfortable as possible when they eat and drink.

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Why Do Bright Children Get Into Trouble?

Why do bright children make poor decisions and get into trouble?

In my Speech Pathology practice I frequently meet children who are brought along because they are not achieving their potential at school. They have often had psychology assessments that have shown that they are bright kids. But in real life they are just not functioning well.

All the language assessments can show that they have good skills in comprehension, following instructions and remembering what they hear.

So why do they often get things wrong at school and get into trouble with teachers and at home? Usually the children can not explain their choices or behavior or lack of action. Parents are looking for answers.

So the next area I usually look at is the ability to answer questions that involve inferential reasoning. I use an assessment tool called “Test of Problem Solving”, commonly known as TOPS. This test presents a child with a series of situation pictures involving other children. They are then asked a series of questions about each situation.

The answers to the questions rate a child's ability to answer questions that involve:

· Explainingferences (for example, How do you know the boy is sick?). This skill is needed if children are going to be able to gather evidence, understand implications, realize what a situation is likely to mean or explain their own behavior. It is also crucial for answering written questions about texts at school. If this skill is not developed children miss information, miss the main point of what they see or hear and do not understand non-literal speech such as sarcasm, jokes or figures of speech. They can misjudge other people's actions or intentions.

· Sequencing (for example, What will the dad do next?) This skill allows people to learn to plan and organize and to do tasks logically without missing out vital steps. It also ensures that children can orient their listener and tell a story that makes sense to others, rather than just launching into the middle of a story without saying when or where it happens.

· Negative questions (for example, Why would not you shake his hand now?) Negative questions use more complex language than Why questions, and need a change of perspective to understand. People around us use these types of questions consistently (Why do not ..?. Why should not …?)

· Understanding causes (for example, What might have caused the lights in the building to go out?) Children who do not see how they got into a difficult situation often can not explain causes. So they are illegally to learn from their mistakes. They will have difficulty answering school topics that involve, say, History or English, where they need to analyze what lead to certain events.

· Suggesting solutions (for example, What could the girl do the next day?) Some children find themselves in tricky situations and only make things worse, because they can not work out the best thing to do in the circumstances. Children (and all of us!) Need to be able to evaluate a range of solutions and choose the one that will make things better, or at least stay the same, not worse.

· Preventing problems (for example, What could these children do to prevent germs from spreading in their classroom?) Often the answers to these types of questions involve children having some knowledge about the world and then being able to generalize it and apply that knowledge to specific situations. Children that do not understand about preventing problems, of course, end up in trouble frequently.

If your child has any of the difficulties discussed in this article, it is probably worth while not to simply assume that they are naughty. This may be the case, but check out whether or not they can answer these types of questions first. Behavior management strategies may need to be put into place, but if the unchanged reasons for the poor choices are not fixed then, in the long term, little is going to change.

Academically a child may progress much faster if these inferential reasoning skills are working well for them.

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Dyspraxia / Apraxia – So Many Terms – What Do They Mean?



Parents who bring their child to me for Speech Pathology often tell me that they have looked dyspraxia up on the internet, but there are so many different terms that seem to be used it becomes very confusing.

Here are some of the most common terms with their meanings:

Dyspraxia / apraxia

Dyspraxia or apraxia are interchangeable terms which means that someone is not able to do an action. This is because the brain needs to know how to do an action, plan it, carry it out and make small adjustments, if needed, as the action happens. This is called a motor program or a motor plan. If any disruption happens to this motor planning then the result is a form of dyspraxia (or apraxia).

Developmental dyspraxia / developmental apraxia

The dypraxia is occurring in a child. Children with dyspraxia are born with the condition and it becomes more obvious as a child grows, especially when they have difficulty learning to talk.

Acquired dyspraxia / acquired apraxia

This disorder occurs when there is an interruption to the brain from disease or accident. People who have strokes (CVA) often suffer from dyspraxia. The brain can no longer plan out an action and do it, and this often involves swallowing and speech.

Ideation dyspraxia

Ideation dyspraxia happens when the brain can not see, or conceptualise, how it is going to start an action or what that action is going to look or feel like. This makes it very difficult for children to learn to do any complex actions like talking, running or climbing.

Ideo-motor dyspraxia

Ideo-motor dyspraxia is when a motor plan can not be executed (or transported out) properly, even though the person does have the concept of what needs to be done.

Oral dyspraxia / oral apraxia

If a person has dyspraxia that only affects the movements of the face and mouth then this is usually referred to as oral dyspraxia. Oral dyspraxia is often the cause of babies and toddlers drooling and it is hard to make speech sounds. It can also be difficult to blow bubbles, suck through a straw and imitate facial expressions. Babies with oral dyspraxia can find it hard to latch on and establish breastfeeding. When they start to eat food they often resist lumpy food and different textures.

Verbal dyspraxia / verbal apraxia / Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS)

Children with verbal dyspraxia find it hard to learn to talk. Babies use only a few sounds when they babble. They have difficulty learning to make all the sounds that they need to talk and putting them together. They will then have trouble trying to put all the sounds in words and joining words into longer words and sentences. When very different, people with dyspraxia may remain non-verbal and need to use a different communication system such as signaling or picture exchange, or a high tech AAC device. Most children, however, can be helped to talk by Speech Pathology.

What to do

Most parents are not able to really identify that their child has a difficulty until they realize that the child is not learning to talk easily. Usually children with dyspraxia are able to show that they have good comprehension (understanding) skills.

If you suspect that your child may have any degree of dyspraxia, please find a local Speech Pathologist who can get to know your child and work out why she or he is having difficulty with talking. If your child has dyspraxia the Speech Pathologist can help you understand the terms and how they relate to your child.

The earlier intervention begins the better, according to all the research. So many later developing language skills depend on a child being able to talk and use communication for many different purposes. But whatever stage your child is at, treatment will make sure that they make gains as quickly as possible.

Speech Pathologists often work together with an Occupational Therapist to make sure your child learns all the skills that they need for a happy life.

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Literacy – What Does Your Child Need to Know?

For those of us who can read and write without difficulty, it can be hard to understand why some children find it so hard. But when you look at the processes, reading and writing are some of the most complex tasks that we do.

Have a look at all the different processes the brain has to do to read:

· Hear sounds joining up to make words (phonological processing)

· Be able to join sounds up (phonological awareness blending)

· Process a written code (visual processing)

· Remember what sound the shapes represent (letter to sound correspondence)

· Work out sounds the letters make when they are joined up (decoding)

· See that a word is similar to another if we take a sound out, add a sound in or change a sound (phonological awareness manipulation)

· Remember that some groups of shapes (words) have a distinct shape that represents a word (sight words)

· Access the meaning of the words in the brain (lexical access for semantics)

· Join words to other words as decoding continues (fluency)

· Access the meaning of the sentences (semantics)

· Take clues from the context (context cues)

· Understand the writer's intention (inference)

· Remember and understand what has been read (reading comprehension)

All of this has to happen at the same time! So the brain has to be multitasking in a big way, right from the earliest attempts to read.

Spelling is a similar story. For spelling to happen, we need to be doing all these processes:

· Hearing sounds joining up to make words (blending)

· Identifying individual sounds that are parts of groups of letters (eg in consonant clusters like str in stream)

· Writing the letters in sequence that correspond to the sounds (letter to sound correspondence and sequencing)

· Remembering words look like that sound differently to how they are written (visual memory)

· Remembering the combinations of letters that make sounds (high level phonological awareness and visual memory)

· Understanding and remembering rules so that parts of words can be changed, such as suffixes and prefixes (spelling rules)

Writing needs all the skills for reading and spelling as well as these:

· Being able to hold writing implements like pencils and paper (fine motor skills)

· Recognizing letters and remembering what they look like (visual memory)

· Fine motor control to make the shapes of the letters efficiently enabling for direction

· Joining up letters to make words

· Knowing where words start and finish

· Having a concept of what to say in sentences

· Joining words to make sentences

· Using punctuation including capital letters

· Knowing where sentences start and finish

· Learning how to write complex sentences, including using joining words (conjunctions) and manipulate parts of sentences (clauses)

· Knowing about paragraphs

· Knowing about and using story components

· Writing different kinds of texts

The last points on the list are learned later, and take all of a child's school years to develop to a high level. However, all of the earlier points need to be used quite early in the process.

Reading, spelling and writing are all different parts of the literacy process. Each part of the process is essential to the other parts.

If your child is having difficulty with either early literacy or developing more complex literacy skills, find a local speech pathologist to identify which parts of the process are not working. A Speech Pathologist can help your child get going with their reading, writing and spelling – or take it to a higher level.

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Stammering On Purpose Will Improve Your Speech

Most people who stammer would be terrified of going up to someone and stammering in front of them. Here is the irony, by stammering in front of other people on purpose and with dignity you can reduce your fear of stammering.

Stammering in front of other people on purpose is called voluntary stammering. When I first did it I felt scared, but the fear got less the more I did it. After a while I was able to go into a few shops and asked for 'mmm matches', then I went into a few more and was able to say the word' matches fluently (I've always struggled to say matches in the past) .

When I stammered I did so with dignity and I knew I was stammering on purpose. I never once came across anyone who was obnoxious or rude or even nasty, some of the things we may expect our listener to be when we stammer.

Voluntary stammering desensitises you towards stammering. You will begin to feel your confidence grow the more you use it because it's quite fool-proof. You are going to stammer anyway so what's the point in worried. The hardest part is to go up to the person, in the shop or the street, and stammer in the first place. If you can do that you can do anything, or that's how you will feel. You'll also feel slightly euphoric, I know I do when I use voluntary stammering.

To get the best out of a voluntary stammering session go with the following:

Eye contact

Look your listener in the eyes, they deserve respect and so do you. If you're going to stammer with dignity then use good eye contact.

Wait until you're ready

Do not give your power away by jumping in, your listener will wait, speak (or in this case stammer) when you're ready.

Do not voluntary stammer on feared words

Take it easy at first and stammer on words you know will probably be able to say. You will need to build yourself up to be able to go ask for what you want using feared words.

Diaphragmatic (or costal) breathing
This powerful breathing technique is incredible and once mastered you will be able to speak more confidently.

Be assertive
Like the book says 'Feel the fear and so it anyway'. The more you voluntary stammer the more assertive you will become.

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Isn’t It Time You Stopped Feeding Your Stammering Monster?

For those of us who stammer there are times when the words just will not come out. Those situations when we feel we have been put on the spot and we know we will not be able to speak because the stammering monster has got us by the throat and will not let go until he has humiliated us. If you often feel like this then is not it time you faced your stammering monster?

Why do you keep feeding the stammering monster?

The stammering monster is crafty he wants you to fight him because he knows he'll win. He's big and strong and thrives on taking away your power. Just like all bullies though, the he is fundamentally flawed. He has a weakness – he is secretly terrified that one day you will find out the truth the stammering monster is a figment of your imagination, he exists only in your head.

The stammering monster is made 100% from fear and all the frustrations and shame and anger connected to that fear. He needs to be fed fear to live so why keep feeding him? Maybe you feel powerless and the mountain is too big to climb. Maybe you feel like you are adrift in a little boat in an ocean without any oars when it comes to speaking. You can not climb that mountain in one stride but you can begin to take your power back by not feeding your monster and you can begin right now.

How do I shrink the stammering monster?

Realizing that you created him is important. You must decide whether you want to keep him or not. If you are ready to shrink him then accept him. What we resist persists so do not fight him any more say 'OK, I stammer and I'm doing something positive right now'. This is our starting place, look forward not back, you've taken the first step so, what's next?

We need some powerful fear-busting magic, and here it is:

Fear-busting potion number one – Costal (Diaphragmatic) Breathing

The costal diaphragm is the largest part of the diaphragm (most people use the crural diaphragm when they speak). Using the costal diapragm, we can take in a quick, deep breath then speak. Combined with a deaf tone of voice costal breathing allows the speaker to sound more assertive. The stammering monster will try and get you to speak from the throat area with a higher pitch – this is where the struggle to speak takes place. Keep it nice and deep, even when you feel speaking stress.

Fear-busting pot number number two – Speak when you're ready

When you've mastered costal breathing and speaking using a deaf tone you will feel far more confident and relaxed in the knowledge that when you open your mouth the words will come out. The stammering monster will not like this and will try to make you speak when you're not ready to. Do not let yourself be bullied, hold your ground and speak when you're ready. Your listener will not mind, in fact they would rather wait a few seconds for you to speak confidently than wait up to a minute or so while you stammer out of control by trying to speak too quickly.

Something else the stammering monster hates is 'the pause'. If you pause when you speak you will sound more elegant and in control and you certainly will not feed the stammering monster, he will want you to say everything at once and quickly and he'll try and make you afraid that if you stop you will not be able to start again.

Fear-busting potion number three – Voluntary stammering

Yes you read that correctly, stammer on purpose but with one huge difference, voluntarily. You're in control and not the stammering monster. You use the tools in votes one and two and look for speaking situations. You stammer on purpose using costal breathing, deep tone, pausing, speaking when you're ready and your new found confidence. This really shrinks the stammering monster because he thinks he's going to be fed. He thinks you're stammering out of control again not practicing fear reduction. Once you've used this method a few times and revert back to more fluent speaking you will sound much more fluent and have a lot less fear.

Is not it about time you shrank your stammering monster?

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Speaking Tips – Too Nasal? How to Modify an Unpleasant Voice

Along with what you say, the way you sound has a profound effect on other people's perception of you. If you speak 'through your nose' with a nasally rasp it can sap your confidence and make you reluctant to speak out at work or in social situations.

So how do you develop a clear voice and prevent reediness? Daily vocal exercises can make a real difference to the way you speak.

Exercise Your Larynx

Standing upright, take a deep breath and say the following: “me me me me me me me” until all the air has expired.

Now pinch the bridge of your nose. Repeat the exercise, but this time exhale through your nose only, so that no air escapes through the nostrils.

Alternate between doing this with your nose pinched and then without, so that you get used to feeling the difference between the two.

The Power of Repetition

Another useful task is to over exaggerate vowel and consonant pronunciation. Here is an exercise we use in the voice over industry to sharpen vocal performance. Try putting together combinations of letters in bite-size formations.

For example: ABT EBT IBT OBT UBT.

Only pronounce the phonetic sound of each letter. So the letter B would be delivered as a hard short “B” and not said as “bee”. Work through the above getting faster and faster.

Doing tongue twins such as “Peter Piper picked a pickled pepper” can be useful too.

Monitor Your Progress

Because our brains tend to make us sound better than we are, try and record your vocal exercises so you can keep an eye (or more accurately ear) on how you are doing. Most modern mobile phones, particularly smartphones have a recording device in-built.

Before you start recording make sure you feel relaxed and you are in a comfortable environment. Take regular sips of tepid water and if you feel you are training your voice, stop and rest. Small incremental steps are always much better than giant unsustainable leaps.

Gradually you should find the quality of your speech is improving. You are aiming for a crisp delivery with a clear resonance.

You Are What You Eat and Drink

We often underestimate the influence of food and drink on our vocal patterns. Lactose and high fat content beverages, such as milk, shakes, hot chocolate, cappuccinos and lattes can all give you that blocked up nose feeling … and sound. So can fatty red meats and stodgy puddings or milky desserts.

Avoid these, or at least cut-down if you can. Replace with non-carbonated drinks and add in more leafy vegetables and citrus fruit. A fresh palate can do wonders for your vocal clarity.

However if after these exercises, you still sound nasal you may have a physiological condition which needs medical attention. If this is the case it is worth seeking medical advice from your doctor.

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The Art of Speaking – A Conversation With My Stutter


You could render me speechless, in a world of forced silence.

I was scared of your power to make me feel different, to leave me exposed.

You forced me to hide, to wear a bold mask. Feeling embarrassed, and full of self hate.

I had to prepare, and play the class clown. To try to belong, and prove my own worth.

But you also cave shelter, permission to fail. A life of excuses, allowed to play safe.

I felt like a fake, and the anger burnt slow. To feel so frustrated, to hate you so much.


And then a chance came, to turn things around. To stop feeling helpless, to build on new hope.

I discovered your secret, that fear could feel good. To live a full life, to feel so alive.

I feel so empowered, your hold now released.

I have discovered my freedom, and feel proud when I say,

My life is now mine.


Author's Note: Whether you stutter or not, it is easy to let fear rule your life. For many people, including myself, the fear of making a mistake, looking silly, being judged, being rejected, etc is just as real as my fear of speaking was. I wrote this composition to step out from behind the mask I wore for 35 years of my life. I wanted to share the raw emotions that I hid for all those all years, and give others hope that fears can be conquered.

It was by no means easy, and I certainly do not say that my stutter is cured. But with the courage to face my fears, the strength to never give up and the belief that I can succeed, I am now living a life I only dreamed was possible; and that is that is the message I send to those who face their own challenges in life.

There may be times when you feel scared, exposed, hopeless or full of self hate. But this does not mean that you can never succeed, or that you can never chase your dreams. You are more courageous than you ever imagined, and stronger that you thought possible. You might not believe it at first, but if you take the time to recognize the small things you do every day to hold your ground, then belief will come. It may come slowly at first, but with a time and nurturing, your belief will flourish and lead to you toward a new reality.

A place where you too can say I HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR!

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Why Does Your Child Stutter, and How to Treat Stuttering in Your Child

Each and every child is born having a genetic makeup that contributes to his or her probability of stuttering. To study to speak fluently, a child's brain must create many different neural circuits, and these circuits areought to interact in incredibly precise and rapid approaches. Stuttering emerges in childhood as a symptom that the brain's neural circuits for speech are not getting wired commonly. Because of this, early intervention is critical, because by shaping the child's experience, the ongoing wiring procedure within the child's rapidly developing brain might be altered for the better. The longer the stuttering symptoms persist in early childhood, the more challenging it can be to modify the brain's wiring, and stuttering becomes a chronic, lifelong issue.

Stuttering can emerge at any childhood stage, but most commonly between the ages of two and five when about one in twenty children stutter. This obviously coincides with a period characterized by the rapid development of language capabilities. At first it affects twice as many boys as girls. Later, as more girls than boys recover, boys who stutter outnumber girls who stutter by as many as five to 1. Stuttering could emerge gradually, but often develops all of a sudden. Early Intervention provides a high likelihood of recovery. For young children small definitions in the speaking and listening atmosphere within the family house and in school can reduce anxiety levels and support fluency by making the children feel supported.

In older children stuttering could be more than just a speech difficulty. Feelings relating the stutter as well as other psychological aspects such as self-esteem and emotional pressure may worsen the stuttering difficulty.

It was once thought that parents' behavior caused stuttering in the child. Now research proves that parents do not cause stuttering and that this old fashioned view was incorrect, although it may well bevertheless be held by some uninformed individuals and trigger considered distress for parents. Neverheless, we do know that parents play a very important role in assisting their children to stop stuttering. By managing the speaking and listening environment, parents are able to decrease the emotional impact of stuttering on children, ultimately completely treating stuttering in their children.

There are many ways to treat stuttering in children. Speech language pathologists are increasingly recommending stuttering support groups as an integral part of speech therapy. Stuttering support groups are a proven way to build self-confidence, practice speaking in a safe environment, and explore new ways to cope with stuttering.

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Here’s a Convenient Technique to End Stuttering

In a single term, pausing.

While common fluency shaping tactics concentrate on pace reduction by prolonging speech, pausing decrees the incidence of stuttering by inserting room amidst phrases without slowing or distorting articulation. When utilizing pausing, the frequency of pauses (the “silent time” or space among phrases) is higher to lower the frequency of stuttering. Pausing certainly is commonly far more regular sounding than within-word prolongations (classic fluency shaping) and actual moments of stuttering.

Inserting pausa into conversation can help the speaker to decrease muscle stress, mirror on moments of stuttering, and mentally prepare for the upcoming word or phrase, and also to prepare listeners for the duration of speaking scenarios. Employing lengthy and exaggerated panses also resists time strain, may help the speaker keep grounded during the instant, and counteracts the urge to hasten its pace of talking in response to moments of stuttering.

Pausing is suggested following the initial phrase of a sentence and then one to five words thereafter, or after the 1st word of the sentence and then at linguistically acceptable boundaries. By pausing early in the sentence, for example at the initial phrase, the speaker may perhaps lessen the “domino effect” of stuttering by which just one stuttering second potential customers to extra stutters. Pausing after the initially term of a sentence also allows the speaker to immediately assert command about the rate of his / her speech.

A closer investigation shows that talking with pauses amongst words generally does reduce the frequency of stuttering. Research discovered that those who stutter who appeared fluent when reading had been observed to use a notably larger frequency of quick pauses when reading through than a group of people who did not stutter. The analysis indicates that many people who stutter can combine pauses into speech in “normal” or “natural” sounding strategies.

Here is a simple practice routine to stop stuttering by applying pauses.

To practice an example of pausing, say the following sentence aloud to someone “Using pausing helps the speaker to reduce the frequency of stuttering by slowing the rate of speech. Now say the same sentence to someone but while stopping or pausing briefly, at each comma: “Using, pausing, helps the speaker, to reduce, the frequency of stuttering, by slowing, the rate of speech. help people, stutter, less often. ” People who stutter generally report a lower incidence of stuttering using pauses.

Why does pausing help to stop stuttering? Although the use of pausing typically decrees the frequency of stuttering, it is not acknowledged by the scientific community as to why this happens. Proposed reasons concern why pausing stops stuttering include

• facilitation of regular airflow
• promote a feeling of management about speech
• reduce time pressure
• enhance the all-natural rate of speech while decreasing the 'fright and flight' reaction related with stuttering
• allow speech encoding to occur over smaller linguistic units, therefore minimizing possibilities for stuttering.

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Take Care of Your Voice and Improve Its Quality

If you use your voice professionally, for example, as a singer, actor, teacher, lecturer, presenter, or a journalist, you should perfectly understand the needs of your speech organ. Below you will find some tips that will help you introduce healthy changes and habits into your life and will positively affect you voice.

Your body, your soul, your mind are one. They are like communicating vessels. Your voice should also be in perfect harmony with your body. Everything that concerns you, concerns also your voice. Remember that your entire body is an instrument, which is unique in its kind. What determinates its uniqueness is the real of your mind, the sphere of your spirit and your emotions. Be in harmony with your voice. Listen to your body, contemplate your thoughts, emotions, and analyze your experiences. This will provide you with the knowledge about how to take care of your voice and how to protect it. This conception will let you know the real potential of your speech instrument and unlock its real sound.

Each day allow yourself to relax. You can use one of many relaxation techniques, for example, practice yoga, tai chi, or martial arts. You might as well go go for a walk, read, listen to music, meditate in silence, or dance. Even a few moments of relaxation can bring your voice unbelievable effects. Try to stop for a moment and focus your attention on your breath. Think about something pleasurable, about some delightful moments and experiences that happened to you. This detachment from reality will help you calm your thoughts, relax your muscles, make you feel at ease. This, in turn, will allow you to produce sounds with the lightness of a butterfly. Find a relaxation technique that works best for you and use it whenever your voice refuses to obey you. This will also help you deal with the stress, stage fright and all the negative emotions that have a negative effect on your voice.

Healthy body and mind are also linked with a better voice. Exercising regularly and being in shape helps your mind stay healthy. Physical activity is an excellent form of eliminating stress and physical tension. Through exercising you supply your body with strength, vitality, and appropriate dose of positive energy. Find a type of exercise that suits you best, do it regularly, and soon you will notice the differences in the level of your energy. Your voice will also start to sound more energetic.

To make most out of your speech organ, you need to learn about its structure first. You need to know a little bit of theory which will give you some knowledge about the functioning of your voice in different situations. Look for any information you can find about different speech and vocal techniques. Find some books for actors and singers, consult with experts, attend voice classes, courses and exercise regularly.

Here are simple steps you can take today to improve the quality of your voice:

Speak more slowly. The low pace will help you produce calm, healthy and more accurate sounds.

When you speak or sing, try to open your mouth wider. This will help you avoid any tensions of the muscles responsible for the formation of sound.

Think about something pleasurable when you speak or sing. This will make your voice sound more gentle.

Regardless of what profession you use your voice for, remember to properly warm it up first. To avoid training your voice, do some simple physical exercises, like squats or jumping. Relax your body and calm your mind. Take a few deep breaths. You can also yawn, stick out your tongue, make silly faces or snort like a horse. After you finish using your voice, it is also important to let it cool down. Do some voice exercises like you did before. Relax your articulation muscles and stretch your body.

Protect your voice against sudden temperature changes. It causes changes in your blood flow and makes your voice sound unnaturally. Try to maintain a constant temperature that is convenient for you and ventilate the room where you work as often as it is possible. If you work in a room with air conditioning on, drink more water to keep your mucous membranes hydrated. Avoid talking, singing, or shouting outdoors, especially at low temperatures or strong winds.

What you eat can also affect the quality of your voice. It is important to maintain a balanced and healthy diet that will have a positive impact on your body, as well as you speech organ. Poultry, fish, vegetables, fruits (except citrus) and herbal teas are recommended for a better sounding voice.

Drink lots of water. Water hydrates your whole body, which also positively affects your mucous membranes and vocal folds. How much water you should drink depends on your lifestyle and also on your health. If you suffer from any disease, especially kidney problems, you should consult your doctor first. Drink water, not only before using your voice, but also during and after your work. Remember not to drink water which is too cold.

Coffee, strong tea and alcohol are bad for your voice. You should drink no more that one cup of coffee a day. If you have to drink more, drink decaffeinated coffee instead. You should also limit to a minimum consumption of any other beverages containing caffeine. Avoid drinking strong black tea brewed for a long time as it may dehydrate your mucous membranes. Do not drink larger quantities of alcohol directly before or after using your voice. Alcohol dries up your mucous membranes, slows down your muscles and lowers your level of energy needed to produce good quality sounds.

Cigarette smoking is your throat's greatest enemy. Smoking not only damages your overall health but also dries your vocal folds and bombs them with chemicals contained in cigarette smoke. This also applies to passive smoking. As a result your voice may sound flat and your breath may become shallow.

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Helping Your Child With Autism: Info Talk Technique

Do you have a child who can not use his words to comment, or does not say what he wants? Info talk is a simple therapy technique that will probably help your child to speak.

Sometimes, he pays attention to the things he sees around him. Sometimes, he sees to look at a distance. Sometimes, he cries so loud that you get frustrated because you seem to not know what he wants. Sometimes, he appears to be wanting to say something but you do not know how to make him say it. This may be a therapy technique that could help your child use his words.

What is Info Talk?

In a nutshell, it is a therapy technique which encourages parents and caregivers to talk to their children at all possible opportunities. This means that we inject comments about our daily environment to help him discover the use and power of his speech to communicate. The trick here is knowing what and how to say so that you can encourage your child to speak.

When should you do Info Talk?

At all possible times! It is best to use when we are doing daily activities such as brushing teeth teeth, washing hands, playing, or watching the television. When you go out on family trips, it is also ideal to use it.

How should you do Info Talk?

It is very simple. While doing daily activities, comment on your daily surroundings. It could anything from what he's doing, to what he's holding, playing or what he's looking outside. Here is an example of a situation.

Mark is a 2 year old boy diagnosed with Autism. He does not know how to speak yet. He uses vocalizations such as “aaaa” and “eee” but they seem to not mean anything when he says it. Sometimes, he focuses his gaze on objects but he averts his eyes on something distant. So, while washing his hands:

Mark: Aaaaa.

Mother: Yes, Mark is washing his hands. Wash hands. Mark wash hands.

Mark: (while touching the soap)

Mother: Mark is holding the soap. Yes, Mark will wash using soap.

Mark: (while rinsing) Aaaaa.

Mother: Mark is washing hands with water. Splash! Splash! Splash!

Mark: A! A! A!

Mother: Splash! Splash! Splash! Good try!

See? It's very simple! By doing so, you will help your child increase his / her vocabulary.

What are the things that you should remember?

1. Use simple words. It is important to use early words when speaking to your child who is still learning to speak. Instead of saying “television”, you can just say “TV”. “Wash” for example, is more ideal than “rinsing”.

2. Use a melodic tone when speaking. When speaking, use a slightly animated intonation of voice, similar to those used in children TV shows. This helps your child pay more attention to your speech rather than the saying words with the same loudness and tone.

Although each child has his own pace of growth and learning, using the Info Talk technique consistently may boost the chances of your child to be encouraged to speak.

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