May celebrates two very important occupations
that assist children and families,
Better Speech and Hearing Month, and National Mental Health Month.

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month. We would like to take this opportunity to raise awareness about communication disorders and the role of the Speech-Language Pathologist in providing treatment to assist with communication skills. Parents often wonder if their child’s speech and language skills are developing normally. The complicated foundation of language skills begins at birth. Children develop certain skills at different times as they move through early stages of learning language. On the average, children learn to read by age seven, but that is dependent upon their acquisition of a good foundation of skills.

As children grow and develop, they begin listening for different purposes and responding with words instead of sounds and gestures. Receptive language (understanding) precedes expressive language (speaking). Receptive and expressive language skills lay the foundation for future success in reading and writing. These skills develop as children have opportunities to listen to and talk with others. Children must be able to understand words before they are able to produce and use them effectively.

The following is a list of milestones that children learn and begin to develop their language skills. Keep in mind that children vary in how and when they develop and learn these skills. These are not in a concrete order.

From birth to age 3 most babies and toddlers become able to:

  • Make cooing, babbling sounds in the crib which gives way to enjoying rhyming and nonsense word games with a parent or caregiver
  • Play along in games such as peekaboo and pat-a-cake
  • Respond to gestures and facial expressions
  • Associate words they hear frequently with what the words mean
  • Imitate the tones, rhythms, and sounds that adults use when talking
  • Handle objects such as board books and alphabet blocks in their play
  • Recognize certain books by their covers
  • Pretend to read books
  • Understand how to handle a book
  • Share books with an adult as a routine part of life
  • Name some objects in a book
  • Talk about characters in books
  • Look at pictures in books and realize they are symbols of real things
  • Listen attentively to stories
  • Begin paying attention to specific print such as first letters and their names

From ages 3 to 4 most preschoolers become able to:

  • Enjoy listening to and talking about storybooks
  • Understand that print carries a message
  • Make attempts to read and write
  • Identify familiar signs and labels
  • Participate in rhyming games
  • Identify some letters and make some letter – sound matches
  • Attempt writing letters to represent meaningful words like their name or phrases such as “I love you”

At age 5 most kindergartners become able to:

  • Sound as if they are reading when they pretend to read
  • Enjoy someone reading to them
  • Retell simple stories
  • Use descriptive language to explain or to ask questions
  • Recognize letters and make letter – sound matches
  • Show familiarity with rhyming and beginning sounds
  • Understand that reading print goes left to right and top to bottom
  • Match spoken words with written ones
  • Write letters of the alphabet and some words they use and hear often
  • Write stories with some readable parts

At age 6 most first-graders can:

  • Read and retell familiar stories
  • Use a variety of ways to help themselves read and comprehend the story
  • Read some things aloud with ease
  • Identifies new words by using letter – sound matches, parts of words and their understanding of the rest of the story or printed item
  • Identify an increasing number of words by sight
  • Sound out and represent major sounds in a word when trying to spell
  • Write about topics that mean a lot to them
  • Use some punctuation marks and capitalization

There are various areas of communication that a speech therapist can evaluate and treat.

  • Articulation/phonology
  • Fluency/Stuttering
  • Voice
  • Feeding/Swallowing/Oral motor skills
  • Assistive technology
  • Social skills
  • Language/vocabulary-comprehension and expression skills

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s progress, talk with your child’s doctor, teacher, or a speech language pathologist. For children with any kind of disability or learning problem, the sooner they get the special help they need, the easier it will be for them to learn.

Technology Hub

Tech Tips from American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
  1. Create tech-free times. Find at least one or two opportunities during the day—at the dinner table, for example—for everyone to disconnect. Mealtime is a prime opportunity for conversation. Make a commitment and have everyone check their devices at the kitchen door.
  2. Resist over-reliance on technology to pacify boredom. Fifty-five percent of parents worry that they rely on technology too much to keep their child entertained, according to the ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association)poll. Roughly half of parents say that they are using technology as a means to keep kids age 0–3 entertained. Remember that the best opportunities for conversation and learning are often found in situations that may be viewed as boring, such as while running errands or on a long car trip—particularly for the youngest children. While it may be tempting, try to resist the urge to immediately turn to these devices as a source of entertainment.
  3. Don’t overestimate the value of educational apps. Children learn best simply through talking, conversing, and reading. Technology is not the best way to teach, though it can reinforce and allow practice of skills under development.
  4. Make tech use a group activity. While it is most often used on an individual basis, tech use can be turned into a group activity, such as while playing an online game. Talk about what you’re doing!
  5. Consider whether young kids really need their own devices. It is not uncommon for kids to have their own tablets or mp3 players. Many are designed and marketed specifically for kids. This may lead to more time spent alone with technology throughout the day. On the other hand, devices designed for kids often offer additional features that appeal to parents, such as limited (kid-appropriate) content and extra security options, so this is a balance for parents to consider. 

    Set daily time limits. Certain devices can be programmed by parents to shut off after a certain amount of time, but you can also make a child aware of the time limit and keep track yourself.

  6. Be consistent in enforcing the parameters you set for tech use. ASHA’s poll found a majority of parents report setting limitations on their children’s tech use. However, the reality of their children’s tech use often doesn’t line up with the set restrictions, by parents’ own accounts. Moreover, adherence often seems to break down at ages 7 or 8 despite the rules parents say they set.
  7. Always practice safe listening, especially when using ear buds or headphones. Misuse of this technology can lead to noise-induced hearing loss. Even minor hearing loss takes a significant toll academically, socially, vocationally, and in other ways, so prevent the preventable. Teach kids to keep the volume down (a good guide is half volume) and take listening breaks.
  8. Model the tech habits you want your kids to adopt. Practice what you preach when it comes to tech time and safe-listening habits.
  9. Learn the signs of communication disorders. This is important for all parents, regardless of their children’s technology use. Early treatment can prevent or reverse many communication disorders. Parents should not wait to see if a child “outgrows” a suspected speech or hearing problem. If you have any question about your child’s speech or hearing, seek an assessment from a speech-language pathologist or audiologist.

    Learn more at

Speech APPS of the month.

Amazing program that allows you to customize in any language by creating pictures, flashcards, storyboards, vital schedules, routines, and custom audio. There are hundred plus pictures to get you started and you can add pictures with Google search for your camera.

Smart Oral Motor –
Smart Oral Motor is a fun and engaging application for children who need a little more entertainment when practicing their oral motor skills. Clever, the duck, provides auditory and visual cues for practicing several oral motor exercises.

This application does not replace the need for a full evaluation by a licensed professional such as an occupational therapist or a speech therapist. Therapist will evaluate and provide full guidance on how to best use this application. If parents are working with their therapists in trying to develop a home program for their child, this can be very user friendly and engaging resource.

abc Pocketphonics: letter sounds & writing + first words – Apps in My Pocket Ltd
Pocket phonics teaches kids either sounds, first words and handwriting.

Quote of the Month

“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why we call it ‘The Present’.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

Activity Corner

Elephant Trunk Craft- This adorable elephant is perfect for oral motor activities. Kids can practice lip rounding, breath support, blowing, and sucking through the elephant’s nose. You can use different objects for the nose such as, straws, whistles, pipes, etc.


“We’ll go to the doctor when we feel flu-ish or a nagging pain. So why don’t we see a health professional when we feel emotional pain: guilt, loss, loneliness? Too many of us deal with common psychological-health issues on our own, says Guy Winch. But we don’t have to. He makes a compelling case to practice emotional hygiene — taking care of our emotions, our minds, with the same diligence we take care of our bodies.

Here is a segment from Guy Winch’s lecture on:

“Why we all need to practice emotional first aid”

“We sustain psychological injuries even more often than we do physical ones, injuries like failure or rejection or loneliness. And they can also get worse if we ignore them, and they can impact our lives in dramatic ways. And yet, even though there are scientifically proven techniques we could use to treat these kinds of psychological injuries, we don’t. It doesn’t even occur to us that we should. “Oh, you’re feeling depressed? Just shake it off; it’s all in your head.” Can you imagine saying that to somebody with a broken leg: “Oh, just walk it off; it’s all in your leg.” (Laughter) It is time we closed the gap.” between our physical and our psychological health. It’s time we made them more equal, more like twins.

Below, you’ll find books on everything from applying cognitive therapy for anxiety reduction to parenting well to living a meaningful life to supporting a child through eating disorder recovery.

9 Psychologist-Approved Must-Reads on Mental Health Psychologists are a discerning bunch when it comes to books. Because of their insider’s view of mental health and psychology, they’re able to sharply judge a book’s accuracy and value.

1. The Feeling Good Handbook by David Burns

According to psychologist and attention expert Lucy Jo Palladino, Ph.D, this book offers “A clear, useful explanation of the benefits and techniques of cognitive therapy, with self-help instruction for depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, fears, phobias, communication problems and more.” (Feeling Good Handbook on

2. Spark by John Ratey

A second pick of Palladino, this book is “An intelligent presentation of new research on the vital link between brain health and physical movement.” She adds: “Read it first for the valuable information; then reread the parts that renew your motivation to exercise regularly to improve your concentration, mood and resilience to stress.” (Spark on

3. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

This book, Palladino says, helps “busy parents…raise capable, cooperative, emotionally stable children.” Specifically, she says that it’s “based on the brilliant work of Dr. Haim Ginott, and full of helpful cartoons, bulleted summaries, and simple yet effective exercises.” (How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk on

4. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Jeffrey Sumber, M.A., psychotherapist, author and teacher, recommends this book often to “clients confronting their meaning in life.” Siddhartha is about “the journey of a young man on a quest to know himself and charts the sometimes confusing choices he makes in order to find a sense of deep peace.” He says that “…the book provides enough real analogies to our modern lives with enough emotional distance to make it a perfect teaching tool for therapy.” (Siddhartha on

5. Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life by Steve Hayes

According to anxiety specialist Chad LeJeune, Ph.D, this is “a challenging title for a challenging book, but one very much worth the effort. It provides “a revolutionary way to look at [readers’] experience of themselves and of life.”

Specifically, Hayes “talks about how trying to avoid uncomfortable feelings or situations limits our life too much, so by learning to accept and tolerate those discomforts, we can pursue a bigger, more interesting, and more meaningful life,” says ADHD expert Ari Tuckman, Ph.D, who also recommends the book. (Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life on

6. Help Your Teenager Beat an Eating Disorder by James Lock and Daniel le Grange.

Elizabeth M. Davis, PsyD, clinical director of child and adolescent services for the Eating Recovery Center, says this book has “been essential in my helping parents and loved ones gain a greater sense of eating disorders and their role in recovery.” Like the book below it, Help Your Teenager Beat an Eating Disorder helps to foster “greater awareness of oneself in the treatment process” and educates loved ones on how to best give support. (Help Your Teenager Beat an Eating Disorder on

7. Skills-based Learning for Caring for a Loved One with an Eating Disorder by Janet Treasure, Grainne Smith and Anna Crane

Another one of Davis’s essential reads on eating disorders, this book provides practical pointers and evidence-based information for supporting a loved one.

She also says that both books are “helpful for assisting parents in letting go of their guilt and shame during the treatment process, which has little to no room in the road to recovery for these families.” (Skills-based Learning for Caring for a Loved One with an Eating Disorder on

8. Intimacy and Desire: Awaken the Passion in Your Relationship by David Schnarch

Tuckman recommends this book to individuals struggling in their relationships. He cautions that “It can be sexually explicit at times, but has lots of great information for people looking to improve both their relationship and their own individual dynamics.” (Intimacy and Desire: Awaken the Passion in Your Relationship on

9. The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne

This book is valuable for anyone struggling with anxiety, Tuckman says. It “has tons of good information about causes of anxiety, treatment options, and lots of strategies to address it.” (The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook on

Additional Resources

The above psychologists have also written various valuable books, including:

The Worry Trap: How to Free Yourself from Worry & Anxiety using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy by Chad LeJeune

Dreamers, Discoverers, and Dynamos: How to Help the Child Who is Bright, Bored, and Having Problems at School by Lucy Jo Palladino

Find Your Focus Zone: An Effective New Plan to Defeat Distraction and Overload by Lucy Jo Palladino

More Attention, Less Deficit: Success Strategies for Adults with ADHD by Ari Tuckman

Here is a list of Children’s Therapy Connections Referral resources:

Benchmark Psychiatric Services, LTD.
11231 Distinctive Drive
Orland Park, IL 60467

Lifeline Behavioral Healthcare
Sheryl Ankrom, LCPC
11223 Distinctive Drive
Orland Park, IL 60467
office: 708-928-5700
Cell: 708-606-1334

Chicago Neurobehavioral Specialists
15010 S. Ravinia Ave.
Orland Park, IL 60462

Dr. M. Denise Fraser Vaselakos, Psy.D.
Practice Limited to Women
12627 W. 143rd Street
Homer Glen, IL 60491


ARK’s Krypto-Bite Chewable Gem Necklace. Comes in three different strengths. Great to use for oral input.

If you have questions about your child’s development, call us at (708) 226-9200 or
visit for more information.

14711 Ravinia Ave. Orland Park, Il 60462
Phone: 708-226-9200
Fax: 888-474-8137