7 Tips To Help Busy Babies Learn To Love Books


Why read to your child?  We all want our children do do well in school, listen, and communicate well with others, right?  Did you know that reading aloud stimulates language development, even before a child can talk?  It’s never to early to start reading to your baby.  Reading improves listening, memory, and vocabulary! Reading together encourages a love a books, academic excellence, and helps build a stronger relationship with caregivers.

Tips For Helping Your Child Become Interested In Books

  • Start with simple board books with colorful photos. Point to the pictures and name items. Make it fun! For young children, don’t focus on reading stories. Your goal is to gradually increase your child’s attention and ability to sit with you. Don’t expect them to sit for an entire story at first. Point to things, keep your language simple using only a word or short phrases, let them help you turn pages, and don’t be discouraged if they don’t sit for the entire book. Look at a few pages and try again later!
Did you know you can often find board books at your local library?   You may also find books at great prices at thrift stores, garage sales, and discount stores.
Did you know you can often find board books at your local library? You may also find books at great prices at thrift stores, garage sales, and discount stores.
  • Try sturdy lift the flap books or books that have things children can slide/open/close/manipulate with their hands.
Babies love these colorful, simple books with sturdy flaps!
Babies love these colorful, simple books with sturdy flaps!
  • Look at photos in a photo album or make your own photo album using small, dollar store photo album and cut out photos from magazines of dogs, cars, babies or anything your child is interested in to fill the album and sit together and talk about the pictures.
You can find these at dollar stores or Walmart for $1-2!  Fill them full of photos, magazine cutouts, drawings, of anything that interests your child such as dogs, cars, or babies.
You can find these at dollar stores or Walmart for $1-2! Fill them full of photos, magazine cutouts, drawings, of anything that interests your child such as dogs, cars, or babies.
  • Develop a routine. Try to read at certain, predictable times such as before nap or bedtime, or in the morning after breakfast.
  • Keep your child’s interests in mind. If your child loves cars, trains, or Dora…read books about them! This is a great way to interest a child in books who may not have previously enjoyed books.
  • Keep books where your babies can reach them. Keep a few books visible in each room. Periodically rotate/replace.
  • Don’t give up! Keep it fun! Sing songs, make silly faces and noises, and if at first you don’t succeed…keep trying!  But, don’t force it.  We want babies to decide they love books, and willingly take part.  Show them some pictures, point, explore, be fun, and let them move on when they are ready.

Remember, babies don’t need smartphones! There is no substitute for developing vocabulary and communication through conversation and interaction with people.

The Therapy S.P.O.T. – Speech, Physical, and Occupational Therapy

Our multidisciplinary therapy center was established in 2007, and is committed to providing quality therapy services in a fun, family and child centered environment. We provide pediatric speech, feeding, physical, and occupational therapy as well as adult speech and swallowing therapy.  Our therapists have unique and specialized skills and training, and we strive to pair our patients with the therapists who will best meet their specific needs.  You can learn more about our services at  Questions or concerns about your child’s development?  Call us at (912) 681-7768 for a free consultation. ©Jason Hurst Photography 2014-2015

adult speech therapy

5 Things You Didn’t Know a Speech Therapist Could Do

elderly photo

Speech therapists, those are the people who spend their time teaching children how to articulate their sounds, but what can they do for adults?  Many people know us as the charismatic, children-loving talkers, but in addition to the wonderful services we provide to the pediatric population we also have the trained skill set to treat adults.  Here are 5 services you didn’t know speech therapists provide:

1. Aphasia Therapy- aphasia is a communication disorder secondary to damage to specific parts of the brain, typically from strokes. Aphasia may affect listening comprehension, speaking, reading and writing.   The speech therapist evaluates the patient and determines functional goals and strategies for the patient to regain function.
2. Traumatic Brain Injury– a head injury (open or closed) sustained from falls, accidents, assaults, or any blunt head trauma.  Speech therapists complete a cognitive-communication evaluation to determine the patient’s attention to tasks, simple problem solving, abstract reasoning, and memory strategies.
3. Dysphagia– refers to a swallowing disorder, which can follow a stroke, a traumatic brain injury, progressive degenerative disease, cancer, and dementia or may occur when there is overall generalized weakness.   A speech therapist completes a modified barium swallow study (an x-ray of how food moves down your throat) which identifies the cause of the impairment.  Based on the results the speech therapist may elect to utilize, thermal/tactile stimulation, oral motor/laryngeal exercises, vital stimulation, or train safe compensatory strategies.
4. Speaking Valve Trials-once a tracheostomy is placed, a patient is unable to produce audible speech.   The speech therapist works with medical team (physician, respiratory therapist) to facilitate trials with a speaking valve.  Once valve is placed audible speech may be produced.

device photo
5. Augmentative Alternative Communication-is any form of communication other than speech.  These include: signing, gestures, symbols/pictures, writing, eye gaze boards, communication board, and communication devices.  The speech therapist will evaluate the patient’s ability to utilize skills required for each device/communication board and trial several until one is  found that helps the patient express wants and needs.

Did you know that The Therapy SPOT offers adult speech therapy?  We do!  And, we love it!  With several therapists with extensive knowledge and experience in adult speech therapy, our SLPs enjoy working with adults as well as children.

About the author:        Danielle Carey, M.S., CCC-SLP

Danielle Carey, M.S., CCC-SLP, became a licensed speech-language pathologist in 2012, treating patients mainly in hospitals and subacute rehab centers with clinical time spent in the public school and at a private practice treating patients ages 2-60+.  She received her bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders with a minor in child development and family relations from East Carolina University.  Danielle received her master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Old Dominion University.  She is a member of American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.  Danielle received VitalStim certification (neuromuscular electrical stimulation) in 2014 to use for adults with dysphagia (swallowing impairment).  She enjoys treating patients ranging from early intervention age through our older adults.   Danielle recently joined The Therapy SPOT team and enjoys working there with both children and adults.  She is passionate about speech-language pathology and enjoys completing continuing education courses and sharing knowledge with colleagues.  Danielle and her husband Jared have one spunky daughter, and love to travel and take her on adventures.  In her free time, Danielle enjoys reading, riding horses, cooking, and spending time at the beach.

Speech and Language Egg Hunts

You know we love to help parents figure out fun ways to work on therapy goals during your daily activities.  We’ve been hunting eggs here at The Therapy SPOT this week and we’re guessing many of you are spending a lot of time at Easter egg hunts with your little ones this week.  And what fun it is!  Here are some ideas of ways you can use egg hunts to help develop your child’s language skills:



1.  Emphasize quantity concepts full/empty, more/less– Is your basket FULL or EMPTY?  Who has more eggs?  

2.  Does your child need help finding eggs?  Emphasize spatial concepts such as under/in/on/beside/above as you give her clues to find the eggs.  

3.  After the egg hunt, talk about the eggs and encourage your child to describe them!  Is it big or small?  What color?  

4.  If your child is learning action words, emphasize what you are doing such as hiding, finding, hopping, eating.

5.  If your child is working on early concepts such as requesting, asking for help/more then use the eggs to encourage your child to request more, open, help, eat.  You can do this by putting the eggs where he can see them but can’t reach them.  Some eggs are hard to open and that is the perfect opportunity to encourage language.  Observe, wait and listen to your child.  Model one to two word phrases at this stage.  Speak slowly and with lots of intonation.  

6.  Are you sick and tired of your children eating Easter candy?  Try filling eggs with coins if your children are no longer mouthing objects.  You may even use this opportunity to teach your child the names and value of different coins. 

7.  Egg hunts are a social occasion.  If your child struggles with social skills, use this opportunity to coach your child and encourage sharing, use of appropriate greetings, and helping other children.  


Have fun!

Using your Elf on a Shelf to Promote Your Child’s Communication Skills


There’s a lot of hype about Elf on a Shelf.  You’ve likely seen numerous posts about the popular Elf on a Shelf on many social media outlets.  Many teachers use them in their classrooms.  Some parents love them.  Some parents….well, not so much.  We’re not suggesting you rush out and buy your child an elf, but if you do enjoy your family’s elf we’d like to suggest some ways you can use your elf as a fun way to practice and improve your child’s language and articulation skills.

1.  Ask lots of questions!  This helps your child understand and answer wh- questions.  Where is the elf?  Who is he with?  What is he doing?  Why is he doing that?  Model appropriate responses.


2. Encourage your child to use action words to describe what your elf is doing….swinging, playing, eating?  If you child is learning to combine words or formulate sentences, use those action words in a sentence.  Elf is eating!  Elf is playing!


3. Is your child learning spatial concepts?  Put your elf in, on, under, beside, behind, in front of things and talk about where he is.


4.    If your child is working on articulation or phonological skills, put those skills to work when she tells you about her elf.  Listen for the sounds she is practicing in therapy, and praise her when you hear her say her sounds correctly.  Ask her to tell her father or her siblings about the elf using her good sounds!  Pour on the encouragement and praise!  Children who practice regularly at home tend to progress more quickly and won’t spend as much time in therapy.


5.  Use your elf to target predicting and making inferences.  Where did elf go last night?  What did he do while he was gone?  Where do you think he will hide tomorrow?  What do you think he wants us to do with the mixer and cookie cutters?


Have fun with your elf! Working on speech and language skills is so much more successful when it’s done in a fun way.  We hope you have a wonderful Christmas and holiday season.  Many blessings to you yours.


Superhero Fun! Using Superhero Toys to Develop Speech and Language Skills


Ok.  Superheroes are hot right now.  Several superhero movies are out in theaters.  Kids are buying up superhero toys and superhero dress-up.  Many children are having superhero birthday parties.  Boys have always loved them.  Now even girls are getting in on the fun!  Our box of superheroes is one of the most requested toys being used in our clinic lately, and here is how YOU can use the superhero toys from your home to develop your child’s specific speech and language skills!  These are general tips.  A speech-language pathologist can help guide you in how to use these toys to help your child meet their individual goals.  The most important thing to remember is to have fun with this activity and talk slowly and simply about your superheroes as you play together.

ImageIf your child is learning to talk in single words or using sign language to request:

Put your superhero toys in a clear bag or box out of their reach.  Our box contains a variety of superheroes as well as different forms of transportation such as Spiderman who fits in his airplane, Batman and batmobile, Ironman and his motorcycle.  Sit down with the box and your child.  Model signing and asking your child to say or sign open.  Use hand over hand assistance to teach this sign to your child if he or she is not independent with it yet.  Then, open the box and give them one toy and close it.  Model signing and asking your child to say or sign more.  If your child is communicating with sign language, remember to always say the word as you are signing it.  Repeat until the child has all the desired toys out of the box then have fun playing!  If your child is learning to imitate sounds, emphasize these sounds during play: vroom, beep, pow, wow, weee, up, bye, ouch.

Image2.  Try using superheroes to practice the following language concepts:

Answering who/where questions such as Where is Batman? Who is this?  Where is Ironman?  If your child doesn’t answer, model the correct answer for them.  Put the superheroes on top of the box, in the box, under the table, on the floor, etc to introduce spatial concepts such as in, out, on, off, under, beside, etc.

Superheroes are full of action and this is the perfect activity to teach your child action words such as riding, flying, racing, crashing, fighting, driving, falling.  The same action words  could be used to teach past tense verbs.  Simply ask your child using the past tense form, “What happened?  He fell!  What did they do?  They raced!”

3.  If your child is working on articulation/speech sounds:

If your child is learning to produce bilabial sounds /p, b, m/ model and emphasize these words during play: Batman, Robin, Lightning McQueen, Mater, Buzz Lightyear, mask, cape, open, more.

If your child is learning to say three syllable/multisyllabic words target the following during play: Batmobile, Spiderman, Motorcycle, Ironman, Superman, Buzz Lightyear.

Is your child learning to make final consonant sounds?  Target these words during play: help, ride, shoot, man, run, hide, out, in, cape.

ImageHave fun!

Beyond Sandcastles: Fun with Kids at the Beach


Summer is here and that means beach vacations for many families.  We are fortunate to live within a few hours drive to several beaches and many families in our area take numerous trips to the beach, including day trips.  We all know kids don’t stay still for very long, and the beach is no exception.  Want to keep your family happy at the beach?  Check out our list of activities that go beyond sandcastles and searching for seashells and can help stimulate and encourage your child language and motor development.  

1.  Nets can be used to catch a variety of treasures and critters such as fish, crabs, shells, and seaweed and will keep your child entertained for hours!  They can be used in shallow tidal pools and in deeper parts of the ocean.  Look for bug nets at your local dollar store.  These work well.  



2. Scavenger Hunts are great for older children.  I have seen families doing this on the beach and really enjoying it!  You can make it as difficult or as easy as you want.  Make a list of items you need to find such as shell, stick, stone, sand dollar, seaweed and the first person (or team) to find all the items wins!  

3.  Roll Ball is a cross between bowling and golf.  Bring a ball of any kind.  Dig a few holes that the balls will fit in.  Roll the ball into the holes.  The holes can be worth different amounts of points, or you can keep it simple by having one hole.  



4.  Spray bottles keep you cool and are a fun alternative to water guns and are great for hand strengthening.  Spray designs in the sand or just spray your friends!  

5.  Bubbles are wonderful at the beach and if you have read any of our previous posts, you know we use bubbles to target many oral motor and language goals.  Target vocab: more, open, pop, blow, please, big/small, wow, yay, all done, thank you.

6. Take plastic toys your child really enjoys playing with at home such as figurines, trucks, and plastic tea party sets.  You will be amazed at the way that these favorite activities will be enjoyed in a new environment!  Build race car tracks and bridges for trucks in the sand, army and super hero forts for figurines, and ask others to join you for your tea party!  





7.  Ready to put your feet up?  Have a seat with your little ones and play a game of I spy or tic tac toe (using a stick or your finger in the sand).  Write letters, words, and messages in the sand using sticks or fingers.  Great for developing fine motor skills!

8.  Lawn games such as ladder ball and bocce ball are fun and easy to transport to the beach.  These are great for developing gross motor skills.Image9.  Simple games such as Simon Says and Red Light Green Light and Hop Scotch are great for listening and following directions.  Let the children take turns being Simon, and put your feet up for a while!  

10.  Bring a frisbee or a velcro throw and catch game and work on those gross motor skills!


11.  Large shovels are best for digging in the sand and don’t just dig holes!  Bury your feet, your brother, or your dad!  Sand is great sensory play!  Talk about how the sand feels…rough, smooth, hot, wet?  Target spatial concepts and wh- questions by asking where things are such as…where are your toes?  UNDER the sand!  Where are mommy’s toes?  ON top of the sand!Image

12.  Seashells are fascinating little objects to children and can keep them busy for hours!  Search for them, sort them, match them, make patterns with them, stack them, and use them to decorate your sandcastles!  Talk about their similarities and differences.

13.  Boogie boarding and skim boarding are difficult and require patience and practice but boy, is it fun!



14.  Fill the bucket relay races are exciting and fun!  If you have two beach buckets and two smaller cups that are the same size, bring them with you to the beach.  Position yourselves a little ways from the water and create teams or compete individually to see who can fill their bucket up with water first, walking to and from the ocean.  

15. Evening can be a wonderful time to spend time on the beach.  This is a very peaceful time of day at the beach and may be the perfect way to end your day.  Not only is it cooler, but also tends to be less crowded.  Bring flashlights and search for crabs.  Bring your camera along this time.  The lighting at sunset makes beautiful pictures!  Bring a picnic or a kite!  



16.  If you have a toddler, try bringing plastic stackable cups.  Or just a stack of solo cups.  Fill a beach bucket up with water and let her pour water in and out of the cups.  Toddlers love to pour and you will be amazed at how long your little one will stay with this simple activity!


What are your favorite things to do at the beach?  Comment and let us know! 

Our Favorite Apps!

Christmas has come and gone and I bet many of you (and your children) have new tablets. How exciting! At our clinic, each therapist has an ipad and boy, do we use them!  It can be a fun and motivating way to teach and reinforce new skills.  We have already had many parents ask us for app recommendations, so our therapists have compiled a list of our favorite, most loved and used apps to share with you.

But first, here are a few things for parents to keep in mind about tablets.  For young children, playing with good old fashioned toys is the BEST way to learn, so limit screen time especially for this age.  Also, if you download lots of apps that aren’t educational or appropriate, your child will likely discover these and may prefer them to the more educational apps.  And you will be amazed at how easily and quickly young children learn to navigate an ipad and open all the apps.  So, try to download only apps you want your child to have access to and you won’t have to battle them over which games/apps they will play. You should also invest in a protective cover if you haven’t already.  Tablets are expensive and children are prone to dropping things so protect your investment!  We use Otterbox Defender cases and they have worked well for us.


Simple apps for young children and early learners:

1. apps are great for introducing new vocabulary with simple, beautiful photos.  Our favorites are Actions, Emotions, Play, Wear, Eat, Which Go Together, Receptive Identification by Class, What Rhymes.  Many are free!

2.  Peekaboo HD is a barn/farm animal app says the animal name and makes the animal noise as the child touches the tablet to uncover the animals.  Also teaches cause and effect.

3.  Kids Songs has great songs for children and we do love music at our clinic.  If your child is learning to sign or talk, teach them to sign or say music to request this app.  Or, after each song teach them to sign or say more to request more songs!

4.  Pocket Pond-children are fascinated by this app!  Touch the water for water sounds and scare the fish away.  A great reinforcer.

5.  Musical Hands

6.  Tap a Tune

7.  Doodle Buddy

8.  Doodle Dots

9.  Blow Bubbles/Bubbles and Balloons

A few of our favorite interactive books:

1.  Monster at the End of This Book is a classic book and the interactive version is just plain funny and will make your child giggle!

2.  Tickle Finger (pocket story)

3.  Pete the Cat is a fantastic book with great music and a wonderful message about the power of positive thinking.  As you’re reading these interactive books with your child, ask questions about the book.  What is happening in the pictures?  Where is Pete?  What is he doing?  I should specify that this is a book, not an app.  There are Pete the Cat apps that go along with the book, but the book is not included in the apps we have tried.  You can download this book through itunes and find it in your iBooks.

Fun Preschool Apps:

1.  Monkey Preschool Lunchbox

2.  Toca Boca apps-We LOVE these!  Toca Tea Party, Birthday Party, Hair Salon, and Toca Kitchen are our favorites.  These apps are fun and language rich!  So much to see and talk about.  Play these with a friend or family member and talk about what’s happening.

3.  Bugs and Bubbles, Bugs and Buttons-These two apps include SO many fun games in each app.  Lots of bang for your buck.

4.  Easy-Bake Treats, Cake Fun-So many foods to make and talk about.

5.  Puzzle Farm, Puzzle Pals

6.  Nick Jr Draw and Play

Apps to encourage speech and language skills:

1.  Different Roads To Learning-What goes together, Cleanup are two that we use a lot.  Helps children learn language by function, feature, and category.

2.  All About Sounds is an inexpensive app that is good for articulation practice.  Pick your sound and play a matching game.

3.  Injini-a great, comprehensive app with many games and language skills targeted.

4.  Buddy Bear apps by LinguiSystems are marketed to children with autism spectrum disorder, but are great for any child who is working on answering questions, problem solving, etc.  A very simple yet popular app.  There is a LITE version you can try for free to help you decide if it is worth the money for the full version.

5.  Talking Friends-Talking Tom Cat, Talking Ben are a few.  Pick your favorite character.  If you haven’t seen these apps yet, you MUST try one.  A fun way to get people of all ages talking!

6.  Alligator Apps Flashcard app has many language cateogories to choose from including animals, emotions.

7.  Cotton Candy Maker, Milkshake Maker are fun apps that teach food/kitchen vocabulary, actions, and sequencing and more.

8.  Elmo’s Monster Maker is updated each season.  This is a wonderful, funny app that targets so many things including body parts and actions.  Make your own monster by touching the screen then talk about what your monster and Elmo are doing….dancing, laughing, scaring, etc.

9.  Choice Board Creator.  Create customized photo choice boards in minutes.  Perfect for children who are not yet verbal.

10.  Smarty Ears Oral Motor app is a fun way to practice oral motor exercises at home.

A few apps for older children:

1.  Feel Electric by the Electric Company introduces children to 50 words related to emotion such as stressed, anxious, astonished.  This app incorporates games, photos, facial expressions, and much more.

2.  Model Me Going Places has videos that model and discuss general social skills such as going to the grocery store, mall, doctor.

Sign Language Apps:

1.  Baby Signs ASL app uses videos to teach signs.  If you are signing with your child, how convenient to have this app at your fingertips when you need to look up a sign quickly!

2.  Signing Time ASL dictionary flashcards.  This app uses pictures/photos rather than video.

What’s your favorite app?  Please share with us in the comments below!  We’d love to hear from you.