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School is starting up all over the valley. It’s an exciting time for new pencils, backpacks, and teachers. But it can also be a stressful time for children with speech and language difficulties. Luckily, there is a growing number of resources for speech therapy and related services.
The TALK Team is a Fresno-based pediatric speech therapy clinic that has recently expanded to include a Visalia office. Founders Amy Prince and Amber Ladd are both from the Central Valley and are graduates of CSU Fresno. Between them, they have 31 years of Speech Language Pathology experience, and love to work with kids.
I thought it’d be helpful to get to know this great local resource for children a bit better, so I asked Amy and Amber a few questions. If you’re wondering whether speech services may be for your child, here’s a great jumping off point for you.
FresYes: How did you get started in this field, and what are your goals for The TALK team in the community?
The TALK Team: We started The TALK Team in 2006 because we wanted to make a bigger difference with the children that we had the opportunity to work with. Our ultimate goal is to provide functional communication for each of our clients at the level they are capable of achieving. We provide a flexible environment where we can offer what a child truly needs, and our therapists are invested in the families they work with. We have grown to a team of 15 therapists, each with a passion for working with children and their families. We believe that every child is capable of continuing to make progress throughout their lifetime and that families are their greatest advocates. We want to be a resource for the community and provide a level of service that can be accessed by anyone in need.
What are some signs you might want to have your child assessed for speech services?
There are multiple red flags depending on which age group your child falls into, and we advocate reaching out to a speech pathologist or your pediatrician if you have any concerns at all. Our response is consistent: if you have a concern, follow your parental instincts. No one knows your child better than you do. At any age level, if you feel your child is not socially connecting with you, avoiding eye contact or not communicating basic needs, it is a concern.
Here are basic guidelines for young children developing speech and language skills.
By 18 months of age a child should:
- Have at least 50 words in vocabulary
- Be babbling with a wide variety of sounds
By 24 months of age a child should:
- Understand and follow directions
- Have 200 words in vocabulary and be combining 2-3 words
- Be understood 75% of the time
By 36 months of age a child should:
- Be able to answer most types of questions and follow complex directions
- Have 900 words in vocabulary and use all pronouns accurately
- Be understood 90-100% of the time
What is some advice for parents looking to help their child with speech?
The most significant impact is a result of simply talking with your child. This is extremely important during the years that a child is developing language skills and learning to speak. Here are some ideas to get started with younger children:
- Use good speech that is clear and simple for your child to understand and imitate.
- Repeat what your child says, indicating that you understand.
- Sing simple songs and recite nursery rhymes to show the rhythm and pattern of speech.
- Avoid the “say this” tendency. Don’t pressure the child to speak; keeping the experience positive is important. Instead, model what the child might say when he is ready.
- Label everything you see, and encourage them to point to the items and to things they want to play with.
- Talk as you bathe, feed, and dress your child. Talk about what you are doing, where you are going, what you will do when you arrive, and who and what you will see.
- Identify colors consistently.
- When your child is playing with items, describe the functions each item has.
- Expand on single words your child uses. For example, expand the words they use by modeling “want ball,” “more juice,” “go car”
- Object + actions (“doggie run”)
- Descriptor + object (“pretty ball”)
- Request (“want cookie”)
- Refusal (“no bath”)
- Read to your child. Sometimes “reading” is simply describing the pictures in a book without following the written words. Ask them, “What’s this?” and encourage naming and pointing to familiar objects in the book.
Who do you help?
We primarily work with children between the ages of 6 months and 22 years with a variety of diagnoses. We do offer services for adults as well on a limited basis. We provide services in the areas of articulation, apraxia, oral placement, expressive/receptive language, feeding, augmentative and alternative communication, literacy, fluency (stuttering), and pragmatics (social skills), as well as working with children with behavioral disorders. We also offer parent training and IEP support to our families.
How do people get started with The TALK Team?
We offer a free consultation for anyone seeking additional information. Parents can contact us by phone (559) 970-8277 or on our website www.thetalkteam.com to request a consultation.
Photos provided by The TALK Team