Slow learner students and how we can help.
At Catch Up Kids we believe that any child has the potential to flourish academically and socially in a school environment. Slow learner students typically struggle in areas such as sustained attention, impulse control, memory, time management, emotional coping, planning and flexibility. These are the skills needed to excel in a school environment and these skills are all interrelated. A deficit in one can hamper the development of another. If your child finds impulse control challenging, it will affect their ability to sustain attention for the length of time that a teacher explains a concept which in turn will affect their ability to learn. If they have a problem with planning, they will struggle to manage their time efficiently which could lead to incomplete work, dependence on peers and their parents and general poor performance.
Generally class environments require children to be able to manage themselves well enough to be able to keep up with the work load at a rather quick pace. Classes are large and it’s expected that all the learner’s move at the same pace but this is not always possible for everyone. Slow learner students aren’t always capable to keep up in these environments and they tend to fall behind. This creates a vicious cycle where they just fall further behind and since the classes are large, it’s not always possible for teachers to give them the one-on-one attention that they so desperately need.
This can lead to a decrease in confidence, self-esteem and it can make the feel like they don’t fit in. It further hampers social development and general well-being. School can be a brutal place for children and they need the ability to self-regulate and cope emotionally with the challenges they face every day. In order for them to do this, they need to be able to believe in themselves.
At Catch Up Kids we are able to offer you the one-on-one attention that your kid needs. Through school observations and IEP meetings with the school our supervisors are able to identify the skills that are needed to help catch your child up. Our supervisors are expertly trained to develop programmes specifically catered to your child’s individual needs. We have specially trained instructors that brings a multi-faceted approach to how your child learns. We are trained to identify the most effective way that your child learns, we use creative and fun techniques to help them on the level that they are on. Some children just need you to slow down and help them at their pace until they develop the necessary skills to be able to cope independently in a stressful school environment and we teach them these skills. We can help restore their self-esteem and build them up so that they have the confidence to independently tackle the challenges they face with vigour.
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) – a learning barrier!
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is split into two distinct sub categories: sensory avoiders and sensory seekers. Sensory avoiders have a low sensory threshold because too little habituation takes which in turn makes them sensitive to their environment. Habituation is when the brain blocks out unimportant sensory information so that we can focus on important information in that moment. When the brain is not blocking out enough sensory information – such as background noise, lights, and movement – we struggle to focus on the task at hand because our brains are over-stimulated. A sensory avoiding child will often find it difficult to focus in the classroom because their brain cannot habituate the lights, kids shuffling around them, the colours on the wall, etc – which goes unnoticed by a child with a normal sensory threshold.
On the contrary, a sensory seeker has a high sensory threshold because their brain over habituates –too much information goes unnoticed by the brain and as a result they feel under-stimulated needing sensory input. Often a child who has the inability to sit still is seeking vestibular input – the need to move around to be stimulated. A sensory seeking child may struggle to focus in class because their brain is too preoccupied in finding additional stimuli.
Examples of how Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) presents itself through the 7 senses and affects learning:
- Auditory sense: distracted by background noise (shuffling of papers, the sound of chalk against the board); or inability to focus when it is too quiet;
- Visual sense: inability to block out pictures on the wall;
- Olfactory (smell) sense: inability to focus because of the smell of maybe the floor cleaner, or a teachers perfume;
- Taste: The olfactory and taste sense go hand in hand – often when a child’s sense of smell is affected their sense of taste is also affected. For example, being overly sensitive to a smell may elicit an unpleasant taste in the mouth;
- Tactile (touch): inability to focus because of aversions to certain textures, for example, the feel of the desk;
- Movement (Proprioceptive): the constant need to fidget – play with an object or their fingers – because their muscles and joints in their hands seek pressure input;
- Movement (Vestibular): inability to sit still when expected.
At Catch Up Kids, we understand that every child has their own learning style – some may learn best through movement (eg, learning to count while jumping on a trampoline) and others may be Proprioceptive learners (eg, picking up objects as they count them such as stones and marbles). Our Individualised Education Programmes (IEP’s) are designed by a skilled Case Supervisor to suit your child’s specific learning style. For more information: www.catchupkids.co.za
Speech difficulties are becoming more common and prevalent now that there is a lot more research and awareness of it. During the first moments of life, are the moments where communication is established between an child and their parent. Infants start to communicate and affect adults by cries, gaze, movements and facial expressions (Faith, 2012).Their social interaction with their parents and those around them becomes structured around what they are capable of doing (Faith, 2012). According to Faith (2012), “these early interactions can be said to contribute to later speech difficulties; however there is no certainty that the absence of early experiences would prevent the later development of speech difficulties.” As each child develops differently and at different paces, this growth and any problems therefore may go unnoticed. Similarly, the differences between cases of those who encounter speech difficulties could be temporary or permanent and the cause varies substantially (Faith, 2012).
In childhood, where they progress from babbling all the way to more difficult grammatical speech as they enter school, some children’s process requires a lot more effort and specialized help (Faith, 2012). Speech difficulties can occur in both acquiring language and using the language system to communicate (Faith, 2012). According to Faith (2012), “speech difficulties are identified when a child has problems in the acquisition and development of oral language.” These speech difficulties can occur for a variety of reasons, such as physical disabilities like hearing loss, early language experiences, or as part of general difficulty in learning and cognitive functions (Faith, 2012)
A very important part of speech difficulty is its identification, as this paves the way straight to any treatment or intervention. A lot of cases of speech difficulties often go unnoticed and it becomes less obvious to take action unless the parent notices something unusual or a professional expresses a concern. It has been said that the identification of speech difficulties is problematic, however, according to Faith (2012) ”all the tests focus on the three main issues which include, performance on language test below the child chronological, discrepancy between a child’s language skills and their non-verbal abilities and also the language abilities that cannot be attributed to any other causes.”
Some of the difficulties that could be among some of the children that have speech difficulties may include some of the following:
- Delayed Speech: some children may have a delayed speech which does eventually get to the same level of their peers without problems, however, other children speech difficulties are a much bigger problem that needs some intervention (Faith, 2012).
- Auditory Processing Problems: According to Faith (2012), “To learn a language a child must be able to detect when sounds occur and also discriminate between and categorize sounds. Problems with early stages of auditory processing are particularly significant for language acquisition.”
- Vocabulary Problems: Speech difficulties can be related to difficulties in learning new words and producing known words (Faith, 2012). That word is in heir vocabulary, but the problem comes from where they are trying to retrieve that word to use.
- Grammatical Problems: Speech Difficulties can manifest themselves in a number of ways including output, omissions of function of words and short utterances (Faith, 2012). According to Faith (2012), “the explanations given for these difficulties include perception deficits, inability to compute syntactic relations and failure of innate syntactic abilities to mature.’
From the above work, the importance of intervention for speech difficulties is especially emphasised for younger children when it is just noticed either by the parent of other member of society.
Luckily, Catch Up Kids has a team of highly-skilled and trained instructors who can work with your child to remediate all of the above-mentioned difficulties using a variety of research-based methods.
Faith, K. (2012). Speech and Language Difficulties: An assessment of the parents experiences who have children with speech. Retrieved January 29, 2019, from https://www.theseus.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/48473/Faith%20Kilpelainen%202012%20Kemi%20Thesis.pdf?sequence=1
Speech difficulty is defined as an impairment or disruption of speech. This can occur from birth, during childhood or adulthood and can be the result of an accident or injury. Speech difficulty comes in many forms. It ranges from difficulty with pronouncing/producing certain sounds, words or phrases, to learning to adjust to a new language. Children develop differently and in some cases, some children develop slower than their peers. It is not only the words or phrase but also the tone and prosody
Speech difficulty can be a distraction to a child while growing up, especially if they are the only ones with the speech difficulty in the class or in their group of friends. Most children will experience it at school. At school it can also interfere with building friendships and learning as they will shy away from responding in the classroom due to it.
At Catch Up Kids, we have instructors who have undergone PROMPT training which is aimed at working on and overcoming the speech difficulty. A tactile-kinesthetic approach system is used. What this simply means is that the instructor is applying pressure to the facial muscle groups so the child knows and can feel where the sounds are and then how to use these muscles. The instructor will target the speech difficulty that is effecting the child the most and will then move onto the other speech difficulties if more than one is present.
We focus on working on all areas that is effected by the speech difficulty; namely the social-emotional domain, the sensory-motor domain, and the cognitive-linguistic domain. Each program is designed specifically for the child and no two programs are alike. The speech difficulty is targeted in a fun and functional manner with activities that are motivating for the child and are age appropriate. The program allows for the instructor and child to interact throughout, helping the child learn through play. This allows the child and instructor to have many opportunities to practice in their session. By targeting it in a fun manner, it allows the child to practice and learn without feeling like they are doing work. This is also helps create repetition.
Some kids struggle with pronouncing the sounds and words while others struggle with producing everyday phrases that children their age are using. Unlike traditional speech therapist, Catch Up Kids instructors will let the child lead the session and incorporate the speech difficulty targets into their play activity. The use of turn taking allows the instructor to model the right way of saying something and the wrong way. This also the child to feel comfortable that their speech difficulty can be overcome and make the learning process fun.
Speech problems in kids
Speech problems in kids can be characterised as either a speech delay or a language delay. Speech and language delays are different in terms of where the difficulty lie:
Speech delays: This describes the vocal expression of language and refers to specific articulation errors. Thus, difficulty forming sounds and words correctly.
Language delays: This describes impairments in the processing of linguistic information. This may include difficulty with grammar (syntax and/or morphology), semantics (the meaning of language) or other aspects of language. These impairments could refer to receptive language (difficulty with language comprehension), expressive language (difficulty with language production) or a combination of both.
The following are common signs of speech problems in kids:
- Difficulty interacting socially- this could be due to a child’s inability to communicate effectively with peers.
- Struggling to understand and follow instructions. Some children with speech difficulties might have trouble processing what they hear.
- Delays in expressive and receptive language
- His/her words are not easily understood by others.
- Not connecting words to form age appropriate sentences and/or not structuring sentences appropriately.
- Pronounces certain sounds incorrectly in words (that is not age appropriate).
How speech problems in kids effect over all wellbeing:
Speech problems in kids does not only affect their ability to communicate successfully, but also effects their self-esteem and self-confidence. This in turn will influence how they interact with the world around them; it has an impact on their behaviour, relationships with others, ability to learn. These kids might become reclusive due to the impact that speech problems have on their quality of life. Therefore, kids with speech problems benefit from multi-dimensional approach to target not only the speech impairment, but also the difficulties that exist with, and because of speech problems.
Intervention for speech problems in kids:
At Catch Up Kids, our approach to therapy emphasises the importance of addressing all the difficulties coupled with speech problems in kids. A tailormade program is designed based on the child’s specific strengths and weaknesses. Therapy includes goals to assist with language development (expressive as well as receptive), emotional coping, academic support and the planning and organisation of speech. In addition to this, all therapists at Catch UP Kids are also fully trained in PROMPT (Prompts for Restructuring Oral Motor Phonetic Targets) to assist with articulation errors. PROMPT is the use of tactile-kinaesthetic cues, on the facial area: This includes the jaw, tongue (under the chin) and other facial areas such as the lips, cheeks and smile lines. Further cues are given by applying pressure on the chest and larynx. This help to develop or restructure speech production output. However, and more importantly, PROMPT is about the dynamic way a child is viewed and treated. Depending on the nature of the delay or disorder this perspective may derive from normal child acquisition models of development or from models that stress maximising the child’s potential in spite of disordered or damaged systems. In its truest sense PROMPT is about developing appropriate, interactive oral communication for use in relationships and learning. Furthermore, receptive and expressive language development are addressed by creating an individualized program based on the child’s specific needs.
Children with speech problems
Speech is the verbal expression of language and includes the articulation of sound and words and how they are formed. Therefore it is important to focus on your child’s speech and help them where possible.
There are five common speech disorders in children. Articulation disorder is one where your child has difficulty with pronouncing words and sounds and also struggle to pronounce certain words and sounds correctly. When children struggle with the articulation of some sounds they tend to use substitutes for specific sounds, a well-known articulation disorder is a ‘lisp’. Secondly is apraxia of speech, which is where the child knows exactly what he/she wants to say but there is an interference in the part of the brain that is responsible for sending signals to the muscles that are required to produce the specific sounds. Apraxia causes problems for children to articulate their words but it also has an effect on the way they speak, the rhythm of their speech, and also the movement of their speech.
Fragile X Syndrome is the third speech disorder in children that can be inherited and is the most common cause of intellectual disability in boys. Girls can also inherit Fragile X Syndrome but they don’t experience the same symptoms as boys. Fragile X syndrome causes different developmental problems and can also cause behavioural and cognitive impairment. However there is treatment that can help minimize the symptoms of the condition and can help children develop skills through one on one speech counselling. A lot of children diagnosed with Fragile X Syndrome can also experience social anxiety and will most likely avoid making eye contact especially when interacting with unfamiliar individuals as they then experience more social anxiety because of their speech impairment.
Stuttering is also a form of speech problem that includes the repetition and prolonging of sound and therefore children who stutter hesitate more during speech. Stuttering causes children to repeat specific phrases and words, they also tend to get more frustrated when speaking. Stuttering can thus be developmental and are more commonly found in children who have congenital disorders. Children who have family members who stutter are also three times more likely to stutter. Children with a stutter usually does not struggle with the production of sounds but because of stress and nervousness this triggers them to stutter while speaking.
The last speech disorder that is commonly found is language disorder and there is also three different ways that language disorder can be identified. The first one is expressive language disorder and has an impact on how children formulate their sentences and they tend to struggle more with choosing the correct words to formulate their sentences.
A second form of language disorder is receptive language disorder where children tend to struggle more with comprehending spoken and written language. Lastly is expressive receptive language disorder which include symptoms form both of the above speech problem. Expressive receptive language disorder influence how children understand grammar, prepositions, and plurals within speech. It may also seem that they don’t always listen when spoken to they will repeat what they hear. When children repeat noises, words and phrases that they have heard.
Even though there are a few different types of speech problems, all children are unique and signs and symptoms can vary between children. It is important to consider options for your child to support them with their speech problems and to give them the best possible skills, support and resources for their speech problem.
Prompt is a very effective therapy that applies input to the tactile kinaesthetic cues that are used to pronounce sounds and words. The input is given to the lips, tongue and jaw which help children by supporting and shaping their movement and articulation.
PROMPT stands for Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets and is effective to help people with speech problems develop the correct motor control and movement to develop clear words, sentences and phrases.
The team at Catch Up Kids is trained in this method of speech intervention and can help resolve your child’s speech problems.
Speech therapist for child
What is speech therapy?
Speech therapist for child is an intervention that focuses on improving a child’s speech and ability to understand language, this includes non-verbal language. Speech therapy includes two components one, coordinating the mouth to produce sounds to form words and sentences, two: Understanding and expressing language.
My Child and speech therapy
Speech therapist for child: Although some children may have excellent pronunciation and may even be early readers, they may need speech therapy to improve Pragmatic language, or the process of using verbal and body language appropriately in social situations. Speech Therapist may also improve the child’s quality of life by teaching children how make requests using language, having conversations and making friends.
Speech disorders and language disorders
Speech disorders include; Articulation (difficulty producing sound) Fluency (problems such as stuttering) resonance (problems with voice pitch and quality) disorders.
Language Disorders include; Receptive (difficulties understanding) Expressive (difficulties putting words together) disorders and cognitive communication which is the difficulty with communication skills.
How we work on language and speech?
At Catch Up Kids each child’s program is developed to cater to their individual needs. One of the major curriculums in which we put much emphasis and great importance is language, whether a child is vocal or non-vocal language particularly speech and ways of communicating for the child is focused on.
One of the methods we use to improve child’s speech includes the incorporation of prompt in the child program. PROMPT ( Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets) is a tactile-kinesthetic approach to speech therapy which means that we use touch cues on child’s face (jaws, lips and tongue) to support and shape correct movements. Through the specialized physical cues provided by our highly trained therapist we are able to guide the child through syllables and words. The hands-on approach assists the child to plan, coordinate and produce speech sounds. This is then faded as the child’s speech productions develops.
There have been many cases at Catch Up Kids where children enter our program with impaired speech; this could range from a child only having one sound and no other speech abilities to a child who has excellent speech but poor pronunciation but through the use of prompt we see a child fully develop to a level of other children in the same age.
Other methods in which we encourage communication include manding and tacting. This is a language skill we focus on to improve child’s ability to communicate their needs. Studies have shown that typically developing children ask no less than 300 questions a day, we always strive to have any child who comes into our program on the same level as peers in the same age group thus we put much emphasis on children being able to ask and have their needs met. Tacting is where we work on conversational skills and this is important in school so that they are able to communicate with educators, peers and be able to maintain their friendships.