Posted July 22nd, 2016 by deborah.ross with No Comments

Dear Peace Officers:

We at San Diego Speech Therapy, Inc need to say THANK YOU for your service to the public. Your job is unpredictable, sometimes dangerous, and most certainly stressful. You must use a combination of your higher-order cognitive reasoning and judgement skills alongside your lower-order instinctual and “quick read” sensory-based skills to make decisions whether to act or not act in unfamiliar situations. You are relied upon by the public to take decisive action, often in a split second. We thank you for the work that you do for the greater good day in and day out. In order to meet the complex needs of the public, you must undergo regular training in skill sets such as communications, negotiations, handling of weapons and required equipment, to name just a few.

Do you also need training in identifying and working with individuals who have communication disorders and social interaction disorders? YES–by virtue of working with the public, you do. It is estimated that as many as 1 in 10 (TEN!) children and adults has one or more communication disorders in the US (according to the National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders). This means that in your line of work, it is very likely you have encountered individuals with some form of communication disorder nearly every day you are interacting with the public. Did you identify them? Did you know how to change the way you interacted with them? It is NECESSARY for anyone who works with the public to be able to do both. Here are some real life situations:

Could the “drunk, erratic, staggering” person who was “shouting and using slurred speech” on the street turn out to be a person who has survived a stroke or has another type of neurological speech disorder (dysarthria or aphasia)?

Could the person who didn’t follow your order three times to “Put your hands where I can see them” have a hearing disorder?

Could the person who sat in the middle of the street rocking back and forth looking distressed while holding an undetermined “potentially dangerous object” have a social-interaction (developmental) or auditory comprehension disorder?

Maybe they COULD not do what you asked—especially when your demeanor was frightening them?

Please read this:

And remember this:

And please remember this:

Individuals with communication disorders are among our most vulnerable citizens. Please, on their behalf, take time to READ about individuals who have communication disorders, and ASK questions of professionals who devote their lives to public understanding and communication skills development. Professionals such as Speech/Language Pathologists (SLP’s) specialize in evaluating and treating individuals who have communication issues. An essential component to this life’s work is training of family, caregivers, the public. We invite you to visit the trusted sites listed below under SOURCES, to learn more.

We at San Diego Speech Therapy are also your resource. As Speech/Language Pathologists, we can help you learn to identify and to respond appropriately to individuals with a variety of hearing, speech, language, cognitive-linguistic, developmental and behavioral diagnoses. Please let US serve you.


WHAT you say is 5%, HOW you say it is 95%

Posted July 10th, 2014 by deborah.ross with No Comments

We get calls. We get a lot of calls from busy professionals or those just starting out, who hesitatingly contact us. They hesitate because they aren’t sure there is help for their concern. After all they don’t need a Speech THERAPIST. That’s for kids.

Or do they?  Come on, they don’t have a DISORDER. That’s for people in the hospital.

Or is it? The calls come from professionals of all ages who have a CONCERN. Sometimes they’ve had this concern for years. At times, they think it’s held them back from professional (career) opportunities and advancement. Other times they weren’t too aware how they sounded until someone made a comment–usually on the job.

“You speak too fast” (fidgets during your presentation),  “I can’t understand you” (looks at watch), “Say that again?” (answers with a response that tells you they weren’t listening), “What?” (doesn’t return your call).

Do these interactions ring true for you?

Communication is all about FLOW. When the FLOW is disrupted, everyone loses focus. San Diego Speech Therapy offers professional speech development, accent or voice improvement for professionals wanting to improve that FLOW. Whether you have a concern or a problem, we can help. Whether you have speech, voice, “how you come across”, or accent concerns; we can help you investigate them all. You can have new found respect by those YOU respect. Click here for more information and to contact us today!

5 Creative Ways to Use Toys For Speech and Language Enrichment

Posted June 19th, 2014 by deborah.ross with Comments Off on 5 Creative Ways to Use Toys For Speech and Language Enrichment

School’s out!  For Summah!  Little Sweet-Pea might need a bit of support over the break.  Here are 5 creative ways to use toys for speech and language enrichment for the youngest kiddos.

1.  PLAY! with toys.  Turn off the electronics.  The battery-powered.  The one-way interaction “toys”.  Get down on the floor with your little one and PLAY!  Kids’ imaginations are boundless.  Let them remind you how to PLAY!  See it through their eyes.  Everything is an adventure and nothing is pre-planned.

2.  Role-play is a generational favorite at nearly any age.  Have hard-hats and tools with blocks, markers, and boxes handy.  Have an apron, 4 simple “cooking” utensils and 3 “cooking” ingredients handy.  Before you know it, you might have a fantastic mud-pie or jello treat AND a table or platter to serve it all on. While playing, hold specific items next to your mouth as you say the name or the key sound you wish to highlight. The best way to have a child say something is to MODEL it, rather than REQUEST that he/she say it. So “spoon” while holding the spoon next to your mouth during the act of cooking is more likely to get the child’s response than “say spoon”.

3.  When you PLAY!, FOLLOW your child’s lead.  NARRATE what is happening and EXPAND on what he/she says.  “You are moving the chair next to the box.  When she says “table” and points to it, you say “we made a table!” and “sit down”.  She might repeat some or all of what you said.  Great!  When he stirs the pudding mix and reaches for the liquid you say “First we add the mixture, then we add the milk.”   He might repeat some or all of that.  Fantastic!  It’s not helpful to say “no, not like that”. or  “let me do it”.  We are not expecting little adults here.  The point is speech and language enrichment, not perfect pudding and upright furniture.

4.  Take TURNS.  This teaches a child that communication is a time for both LISTENING and SPEAKING.  Many many children struggle with this very basic skill.  Do your part in helping them see “it’s your sister’s turn”, or “when you are quiet, then I know it’s my turn”.  On the flip side, some kids don’t know that when YOU are quiet it signals their turn to speak.  Prompt them or MODEL what they could say.  Then PAUSE and see if they do!

5.  REPEAT.  Kids just soak up the repetition.  They love the same games, toys, songs, routines, role-play scenarios OVER and OVER.  Be patient.  Be open.  They are little sponges learning all they can and loving every minute of your quality attention and time. For some kids, repeating the same thing is the ONLY thing they want. Some kids need a little help branching out to enjoy other activities. If you have concerns about this or any other aspect of your child’s speech, language, social or play development be sure to speak with your pediatrician and ask for a Speech Evaluation. If he/she says “oh, let him/her grow out of it”, keep on asking until you get an evaluation. The evaluation is the ONLY way to fully address your concerns and with kids, time IS of the essence.

For more information, including help from one of our expert professionals CLICK HERE.

A Courageous Spokeswoman Gabby Giffords

Posted May 2nd, 2014 by deborah.ross with No Comments

As Speech Pathologists, we follow the long and effortful path of Gabby Giffords with great interest. She is the Representative from Arizona who was cruelly shot in the head 3 years ago at a public event. Her injuries left her with APHASIA, a disorder of language. Aphasia is a problem caused by a neurological injury or illness which makes finding words, making sentences, understanding others, and expressing your thoughts difficult and downright maddening. Because May is Better Hearing and Speech month, we at San Diego Speech Therapy, Inc thought it was time to take a look at how hard she has worked and how far she’s come. Look at her now! She’s doing yoga and speech therapy, and inspiring us all.

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month!

Posted May 1st, 2014 by deborah.ross with No Comments

This month we focus on prevention and education. 1 in 10 children and adults is struggling. Difficulty communicating or swallowing disturbances affect the very core of family quality of life. Go to to learn if your concern is treatable.

Is your problem treatable?

Best of

Posted August 16th, 2013 by deborah.ross with No Comments

The American Speech/Language Hearing Association has compiled a list of some nice blogs to refer to. We are working on booting ours up, and welcome suggestions for content.

RNC and DNC Highlight the Power of Great Speaking Skills

Posted September 27th, 2012 by deborah.ross with No Comments

With both the Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention providing a stage for some of our country’s best speakers, the conventions emphasized the importance of great speaking skills.

From Mitt Romney to President Obama, presenters at both the RNC and the DNC showed the value of professional speech development through their clear, confident and poised speaking skills.

Though they make it seem easy, don’t let them fool you. These presenters have spent time and hard work honing their speaking skills through hours of practice and professional speech development.

Professional Speech Development Helps Make Simple Messages Powerful

As President Obama wrapped up his address, his words were simple but delivered in a powerful way, “On every issue, the choice you face won’t be just between two candidates or two parties, It will be a choice between two different paths for America.”

In the same way, Mitt Romney used simple content that was delivered with a polished professionalism, “If I am elected President of these United States, I will work with all my energy and soul to restore that America, to lift our eyes to a better future.”

No matter who you’ll be voting for in November, both speeches accent the importance of professional speech development and the impact it can have on delivering your message.

WHAT you say is 5% of your message, HOW you say it is the other 95%.

We’ve helped countless professionals work on their speaking skills. Our clients consistently remind us that WHAT you say is 5% of your message, but HOW you say it is the other 95%. Our clients learn that HOW they say WHAT they say is the KEY to the audience hearing their intended message.

Professional speech development can:
– reduce frustration for you and your listeners by improving speech clarity
– advance professional image
– improve self-confidence
– reduce grammatical and articulation “errors”
– provide a better ability to be understood on the phone and during presentations
– improve your speaking voice (less nasal, better projection, more “powerful” and authoritative)

If you’re interested in improving your public speaking skills, contact us today. We are here to help you acheive your goals.

Gabby Giffords In A Moving Recital of The Pledge of Allegiance

Posted September 20th, 2012 by deborah.ross with No Comments

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) delivered a moving, courageous and beautiful Pledge of Allegiance at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night. Her recital highlighted the importance and success of great Speech Pathology.

Through her hard work and determination, she was able to stand tall and lead a stadium full of people in a moving tribute to our country.

Speech Therapy and Hard Work Led to a Big Success

After the tragic Tucson shootings that nearly took her life in January 2011, Giffords’ speech was severely impaired to the point that she was told by doctors she may never be able to speak again.

After months of hard work with her speech pathologist, Nancy Helm-Estabrooks, Giffords has made amazing strides in being able to speak again. As part of her treatment plan, ASHA certified speech pathologists used pictures, books, music, interactions with loved ones in-person and on the phone, professional role-based materials, as well as community-based outings like going to restaurants so she could order lunch.

As Giffords’ husband Captain Mark Kelly put it, speech-language pathologists “have played a critical part in Gabby’s recovery and helped her regain her ability to communicate.”

A Heartfelt “Thank You” to Gabby Giffords

From the San Diego Speech Therapy team we think it is important to take pause and say, “Thank you Gabby Giffords for your courage and hard work. You are an inspiration for all of us working hard to recover communication abilities once again.” We are pleased she is nominated to receive the 2012 Annie Glenn award at the annual ASHA convention in Atlanta, GA.

Her amazing recovery emphasizes the role that post-hospital speech therapy plays in regaining the ability to communicate once again. Through hard work, moving beyond embarrassment, frustration and anger at the sense of loss; she turned a hopeless situation into a beautiful story of strength and hope.

Here at SDST, we believe in helping our patients find their success stories, just like Gabby Giffords. If you’re struggling to overcome speech issues, contact us today. We are here to help.

Read an interview with Nancy Helm-Estabrooks here:

Tips for Parents and Teachers

Posted May 12th, 2011 by deborah.ross with No Comments

Previously, we talked about the role of parents and teachers in speech language therapy. Here is a great starter list of practical tips for you to jump in and get started.

Understand your child’s speech/language goals.
Get to know developmental norms so you know what comes first, then next, then last in the hierarchy of speech/language development.
Getting on your child’s eye level when communicating (get on the floor!).
Holding objects of interest by your mouth to provide visual and vocal highlighting as you speak.  Emphasize the key component, word, or sound.
Become comfortable with the techniques of modeling, repetition, recasting, expansion, methods and levels of cuing.
If your child is (pre-verbal) pre-linguistic: learn to augment speech with signing, gestures, motherese.
Learn how to read to your child based upon his/her age and speech/language “age” (there are developmentally-appropriate ways to “read” together).
Ask a lot of questions of your child’s professional.  Ask till the answers make sense to you.
Limit questions with your child.  Instead, label, describe and narrate.  If you do use questions, be prepared to answer it yourself; then help your child to repeat the answer rather than having an open set.

Closed set:  only a finite answer is possible (e.g. What is this? A book.)
Limited set:  only a few answers are possible (eg. Which book do you want to read? Dr. Seuss, Sesame Street, or Eric Carle.)
Open set:  any number of answers are possible (e.g. What happened to you?  The adult has no idea yet, so the possible answers are many.)

Analyze the error* and determine what your child knows as well as doesn’t yet know and you help fill in the gap.  We can help help you learn this critical and valuable skill.
Reduce the task or alter it and then always try again.  End on a positive note, never on a “give-up”.
Make it interesting and positive in tone and affect, never punitive or critical. Never abrupt.  Laughter together helps lighten the mood, then the stress dissipates which improves communication for all.
Provide playful practice, silly contrasting sounds- words- sentences- and rhymes.

*For multiple errors, analyze them all and then prioritize what to address (have your SLP help you decide):

Ways to contrast/highlight:

Repetition is a key tool!
Repeat entire phrase.
Repeat phrase or sentence in smaller segments.
Repeat the phrase, exaggerating error or missing parts (vocal highlighting).
Repeat the missing word or words.
Repeat the word the way the child said it, and then the way it should be-always in a positive manner.  Let the child decide which is correct (with your guidance and praise of course).
Repeat the missing or incorrect sound or syllable.
Write the omitted sound, word or words (visual highlighting).
Show pictures representing the missing word or words.
Use pacing board technique (the professional can teach you this method).
Expand by one element.

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Parent and Teacher Roles in SLP

Posted May 7th, 2011 by deborah.ross with Comments Off on Parent and Teacher Roles in SLP

What is the Parent and Teachers Roles in Speech/Language Development?

The most frequent question we hear is

“What can I do to help my child develop better speech and/or language?”

We would like to commend you for taking interest in helping a child develop to his/her best potential.  Being a child’s champion or advocate is the first and most important step.  By asking questions such as this, and by seeking answers from many sources, you have already begun to help.  Your understanding of what is going well in your child’s development and what is not developing on its own is key.  You are your child’s most important speech/language role model by virtue of the bond you share and the amount of time and daily experiences you have together.  You are the prime source of learning for your little one.

Professionals are experts in their studied field.  Parents are a child’s expert.  Professionals and parents need each other in order to provide the most comprehensive care for a child.  Professionals learn from parents a child’s routines, familiar vs. new experiences, dislikes, likes and special ways of responding.  Parents access information and a specific care plan from professionals.  Parents often expect to have their own behavior to be modified via feedback from the professional.

By asking many questions and observing a child in action with their parents, professionals are able to provide information and suggestions which allow parents to carry-on with targeted activities and help with delivery of a program designed to meet your child’s unique needs.  With increased parent confidence and knowledge, important activities can continue well beyond the end of a therapy session.

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Next: 12 Tips for Parents and Teachers

What is Speech Pathology?

Posted April 29th, 2011 by deborah.ross with No Comments

Speech and Language Disorders Explained
A child’s communication is considered problematic when the child is noticeably behind his or her peers in the acquisition of speech and/or language skills. Sometimes a child will have greater receptive (understanding) than expressive (speaking) language skills, but this is not always the case. Speech and language disorders can affect the way children talk, understand, analyze or process information.

Speech Disorders
Speech disorders include the clarity, voice quality, and fluency of a child’s spoken words. Language disorders include a child’s ability to hold meaningful conversations, understand others, problem solve, read and comprehend, and express thoughts through spoken or written words. Speech disorders refer to difficulties producing speech sounds or problems with voice quality. They might be characterized by an interruption in the flow or rhythm of speech, such as stuttering, which is called dysfluency.

Voice or Language Disorders
People with voice disorders may have trouble with the way their voices sound. Speech disorders may be problems with the way sounds are formed, called articulation or phonological disorders, or they may be difficulties with the pitch, volume or quality of the voice. They may say “see” when they mean “ski” or they may have trouble using other sounds like “l” or “r”. Listeners may have trouble understanding what someone with a speech disorder is trying to say. A language disorder is an impairment in the ability to understand and/or use words in context, both verbally and nonverbally.

Characteristics of Language Disorders
Some characteristics of language disorders include improper use of words and their meanings, inability to express ideas, inappropriate grammatical patterns, reduced vocabulary and inability to follow directions. One or a combination of these characteristics may occur in children who are affected by language learning disabilities or developmental language delay. Children may hear or see a word but not be able to understand its meaning. They may have trouble getting others to understand what they are trying to communicate.

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