Julie Aills Staff Spotlight

By Alexa Demyan,

In honor of her three-year work anniversary, we’re giving a special shout out to SLP Julie Aills! Miss Julie joined Columbus Speech & Hearing Center in 2018. She earned her Master of Arts in Speech Language Pathology from George Washington University and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Speech and Hearing Sciences from The Ohio State University. Julie specializes in auditory processing, autism, pragmatic language and fluency and is a member of both the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the Ohio Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Julie has attended various trainings and educational conferences, including Social Thinking, Zones of Regulation, PROMPT, PECS, LAMP, Smart But Scattered, Lindamood-Bell Visualizing & Verbalizing, Working with Preschoolers Who Stutter, and Treating the School Age Child Who Stutters. She is a trained LAMP provider, a trained PROMPT provider, and she has her Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology.

Julie’s favorite thing about being a speech-language pathologist is working with families. “Being able to support not just my client but their whole family in improving the communication of their loved ones,” Julie says of her favorite part of the job. “It’s incredibly fun and rewarding.”

Summer Speech Fun

By Alexa Demyan,

Kids are always on the go and summer is not any different!  Here are some fun ideas to help keep your kids busy and work on speech/language skills during the summer!

  • Have a picnic – To work on describing: play “What’s in the Basket?” Place several picnic items (spoon, napkin, play food, etc.) in a covered basket.  Take turns choosing an item but do not let the other person see it.  Then describe the item and have the other person guess what it is.  Then take the fun outside and have a real picnic with your little one!
  • Go Camping – To work on naming functions of objects: find objects around the house that you may take on a camping trip and place them in a backpack. Take turns pulling an object out of the backpack and describe how it would be used.  For example, a flashlight – you use it to see in the dark.  Then build a fort or pitch a tent in the backyard and go camping!
  • Sing a Song – Increase your child’s vocabulary with action words with the song “What Shall We Do?” sung to the tune of “Did You Ever See A Lassie?” Have your child think of different action words to sing with the song and then act them out. 

Oh, do you know it’s summer, it’s summer, it’s summer?

Oh, do you know it’s summer, so what shall we do?

[Swim], this way and that way

[Swim], this way and that way

Yes, we know it’s summer, so that’s what we’ll do!

  • Make a summer time snack – Work on following directions while making an edible aquarium. Have your child help you gather the ingredients: graham crackers, cream cheese and add blue food coloring, goldfish and cheerios.  Provide directions such as: “spread the cream cheese,” “add two goldfish,” “place a cheerio under the goldfish,” or come up with your own creative aquarium.  Then enjoy the treat together!

Summer Activities for Babies and Toddlers

By Alexa Demyan,

Language:  Use the same phrases (“Look!  I see a…”) and simple sentences with your child.  Match the length of your sentence with your child’s sounds/words (if your child uses 1 word, you use 1 word). Use gestures and pointing to help encourage understanding. Label items and pictures (“ice cream cone”) but also describe them (cold, soft, yummy). Encourage following directions (“Give the ball to x”, “Find the little shell”).

Speech:  Copy your baby’s sounds in a back and forth manner as if having a conversation. Use fun sounds and words (“whee!”, “ooooo”, “ohhhh”, “wow!”, “uh oh”, “oh no!”). Try to get face to face as much as possible so your child can see your mouth. Speak slowly, emphasize important words (“My feet are IN the water!”), stretch out sounds in words (“ssssswim”, “ssswing”) to draw attention to them.

Cognitive/concepts:  Talk about WHERE things are (up/down/in/out/on/off), the SIZE of things (big/little), the FEEL of things (wet/dry), COLORS (red, blue, yellow, green), HOW MANY there are (counting, 1, 2, 3, more, less).

Literacy:  Head to the library and browse the books. Give your child plenty of opportunities to interact with books. Read and look at books outside, in a tent, under the table, on the swing – take them anywhere!  Allow your child to explore and re-read them as they wish.

Gross motor:  Visit a playground! Find one you’ve never visited before. Use a beach ball to go “bowling”, knocking down bottles, or rolling/kicking it back and forth.  Cut pool noodles in small pieces and use them for balance as “stepping stones”, throw them all into the baby pool, use them to “stamp” with water on the sidewalk.  Keep pool noodles long and use them to jump over/crawl under in an outdoor obstacle course. Cut them in half and use them to keep balloons  up in the air.

Fine motor:  Stamp Lego Duplos into sand to make prints. Clip clothes pins to cotton balls to stamp/paint rainbow, flowers, sun, trees, etc. Paint on shells/rocks you’ve found.  Use your small pool noodle slices and tongs to put pom poms/small items into the holes or try to stack them or string them together.

Sensory:  Blow bubbles (target simple vocabulary such as up/down/big/little/more/pop!). Create a beach bin – fill a small, shallow tray with sand and add sand toys/shovels/spoons/shells. Create a water bin filled with water, toy boats, people. You can “wash” play food or dirty toy cars in the water bin. Fill a small tub with cotton balls and use tongs/spoons to fill bowls with “ice cream”.  Freeze lego duplos in ice and let them melt outside in a tub then build with them. Talk about what you and your child are doing as you play!

Music:  “Oh where, oh where has my little shell gone?” (to the tune of “Oh where, oh where has my little dog gone?”). “Oh Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun” song. Bang on pots and pans (if you can stand it!) “The Waves in the Sea go Up and Down” (tune of “Wheels on the Bus”) (sharks go snap, fish go swish, boats go toot).

Social/Emotional:  Decorate paper plates with sun/cloud/flower faces and talk about emotions (happy, sad, mad, sleepy). Talk about feelings when you read them in a book or story or in real life situations.  Label/talk about how your child might be feeling when they don’t have the words to tell you.

Happy Summer from Columbus Speech & Hearing Center!  Please call if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s speech and language development.  Lora McConnell, M.A. CCC-SLP (614) 263-5151 x462 or lmcconnell@columbusspeech.org

Simple Things Families Can Do To Help Their Child Become a Reader

By Alexa Demyan,

  • Try to read with your child for 20 minutes every day. It’s important to read aloud to your child so they can hear words and sentences being put together into a story. Have your child turn the pages, point out letters and words, and talk about the pictures.
  • Make sure your child has access to children’s books in your home and visit the library often. Allow your child to get their own library card and let them pick out books. In the state of Ohio, families have an opportunity to participate in the Imagination Library. This free program is for children from birth up to age five. Each month a new, carefully selected book will be mailed in your child’s name directly to your home.
  • Have audiobooks available. You or a family member can make recordings of your child’s favorite books for them to listen to while looking at the book.
  • Set up a reading area in your home. Keep books that interest your child in places that are easily reached. Encourage time for books and reading every day. Take them wherever you go – in the car, at the park, at a restaurant, etc.
  • Be sure your child sees you reading a book every day, not just on your device. Read recipes together, make shopping lists together, talking with your child about what you are reading and writing down.
  • Vocabulary development is a large predictor of later reading success. Talk with your child all day about what you are doing and what your child is doing during daily activities together. Use words to label (bird), describe (big), action (jump). Talk about your day and about stories from books using words like “beginning, middle, and end” and “first, next, last.”
  • Children learn best through playing and interacting with others. Be aware of the amount and kind of screen time your child is allowed. Be sure it’s quality programming and that your they have plenty of time each day away from screens.

July Board Spotlight: Barbara Kelley

By Alexa Demyan,

Columbus Speech & Hearing Center is a longstanding nonprofit organization governed by a Board of Directors. To recognize the commitment of our 17 Board members, we’re shining a spotlight on these dedicated volunteers. This month, we’re excited to introduce you to Barbara Kelley!

Barbara serves as Vice President of People at Safelite Autoglass and has been with the company for 11 years. Originally from the Dayton area, she has worked in human resources for several central Ohio companies over the past three decades. 

She is active in her church and loves to travel, garden, hike and kayak, spending as much time as she can outdoors. Her three children live throughout the country, and her husband is a firefighter for the City of Columbus. 

The twelfth of 13 children, Barbara grew up close to her siblings, especially her sister, who was born deaf. Later in life, Barbara wanted to dedicate her time to a local nonprofit that improved the lives of those who were Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing. 

So, when the CEO of Safelite encouraged all leadership to get involved in the community, Barbara immediately joined the Columbus Speech & Hearing Center Board to “become part of the magical work that the Center does.”

After serving on the Board for seven years, she has enjoyed seeing the Center’s transformation. “Columbus Speech & Hearing Center continues to evolve and fulfill its mission,” she said. “I’m proud to see the Center focus on what it does best, which is create more connections within the community.” 

Columbus Speech & Hearing Center has a long-term impact on people’s lives. “The important work of the Center helps people be successful and grow in their communication abilities,” she said. “And that’s one of the greatest gifts you can give someone.”

Thank you, Barbara Kelley, for your leadership and commitment to Columbus Speech & Hearing Center. 

To improve communication for all people, like Barbara’s sister, consider giving a financial gift to Columbus Speech & Hearing Center. Your continuous support of our nonprofit year after year helps to unlock the potential for individuals with communication challenges through all stages of life.

Getting Ready for School

By Alexa Demyan,

Getting your child ready for school in the morning can feel like a race against the clock. For children with language delays, you may feel that you are constantly giving reminders of what needs to happen next. Maybe you find yourself breaking down the steps even further to complete specific activities. Perhaps your child is capable of following the morning routine on their own, but needs reminders to move at a faster pace. Try some of the tips below to reduce the stress and increase independence in the mornings!

Tips for a smoother morning routine:

  • Follow the same routine each day. This allows for consistency and predictability for you and your child.
  • Give one direction at a time. Multi-step directions may be challenging in the morning while under a time crunch for both the child and parent.  Instead of saying “get your shoes and coat,” ask your child to “get your shoes.”
  • Leave extra time. This allows your child an opportunity to complete the task themselves leading to an increase in independence.
  • Use simple, but specific language. Reduce frustration by setting clear expectations.  Instead of saying “get dressed,” try “Put your shirt on.”
  • Use visual supports. Visual supports can be used both for each step in the routine or steps within each activity to increase understanding.

Activities to Encourage Speech & Language Development, Birth – 2 Years

By Alexa Demyan,

  • Encourage your baby to make vowel-like and consonant-vowel sounds such as “ma,” “da,” and “ba.”
  • Reinforce attempts by maintaining eye contact, responding with speech, and imitating vocalizations using different patterns and emphasis. For example, raise the pitch of your voice to indicate a question.
  • Imitate your baby’s laughter and facial expressions.
  • Teach your baby to imitate your actions, including clapping you hands, throwing kisses, and playing finger games such as pat-a-cake, peek-a-boo, and the itsy-bitsy-spider.
  • Talk as you bathe, feed, and dress your baby. 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.
  • Count items.
  • Use gestures such as waving goodbye to help convey meaning.
  • Introduce animal sounds to associate a sound with a specific meaning: “The doggie says woof woof.”
  • Acknowledge their attempt to communicate.
  • Expand on single words your baby uses. If your child says “Mama,” add one more word, such as “Hi Mama” or “Hug Mama.”
  • Read to your child. Sometimes “reading” is simply describing the pictures in a book without following the written words. Choose books that are sturdy and have large colorful pictures that are not too detailed. Ask your child, “What’s this?” and encourage naming and pointing to familiar objects in the book.

Activities to Encourage Speech & Language Development, 2 – 4 Years Old

By Alexa Demyan,

  • Use good speech that is clear and simple for your child to model.
  • Repeat what your child says indicating that you understand. Build and expand on what was said. “Want juice? I have juice. I have apple juice. Do you want apple juice?”
  • Use baby talk only if needed to convey the message and when accompanied by the adult word. “It is time for din-din. We will have dinner now.”
  • Make a scrapbook of favorite or familiar things by cutting out pictures. Group them into categories, such as things to ride on, things to eat, things for dessert, fruits, things to play with. Create silly pictures by mixing and matching pictures. Glue a picture of a dog behind the wheel of a car. Talk about what is wrong with the picture and ways to “fix” it. Count items pictured in the book.
  • Help your child understand and ask questions. Play the yes-no game. Ask questions such as “Are you Marty?” “Can a pig fly?” Encourage your child to make up questions and try to fool you.
  • Ask questions that require a choice. “Do you want an apple or an orange?” “Do you want to wear your red or blue shirt?”
  • Expand vocabulary. Name body parts, and identify what you do with them. “This is my nose. I can smell flowers, brownies, popcorn, and soap.”
  • Sing simple songs and recite nursery rhymes to show the rhythm and pattern of speech.
  • Place familiar objects in a container. Have your child remove the object and tell you what it is called and how to use it. “This is my ball. I bounce it. I play with it.”
  • Use photographs of familiar people and places, and retell what happened or make up a new story.