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Join us for the 15th Annual TVDSA Buddy Walk

Join us for the 15th Annual TVDSA Buddy Walk

Event: Saturday, October 14th

​On-Site registration and will call pick up 9:00am-10:30am
Walk from Capital Park at 11:00am
Celebrate at Julia Davis Park until 2:00pm

Check out our NEW registration webpage and register online through September 30th for lowest prices at:

TVDSA Members with Down syndrome can register for FREE!

Please email: for the coupon code for TVDSA members!

Live Entertainment ● Raffle ● Games ● Prizes ● Food ● Bounce Houses ● Vendor Row ● Merchandise ● Fun for ALL!

Early T-shirt pick-up will be available for those that register before September 22nd.

Date and location will be emailed to the team leaders.

Questions? Please contact: Barbara Hiler at

Bullying, what is it?

According to American Psychological Association (2017), “Bullying is a form of aggressive
behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or
discomfort. Bully can take the form of physical contact, words, or more subtle actions”
(Bullying, para. 1).

How do we create change in an increasing bullying culture?

Some places to start:

Address it!

It is not just something that is “part of growing up”. As parents/therapists/educators it is important to understand the different forms of bullying and aggression. A child willing to talk about a situation they experienced allows an opportunity to teach them about prosocial and conflict resolution skills. This allows them to utilize those in times they feel they are being bullied.

Listen with empathy!

When we listen to children we are allowing their emotional intelligence to grow. Their concerns and thoughts are just as important as other children who may be struggling too. Positive social learning is influential.

Language is powerful!

Instead of calling a child a bully refer to them as the child who bullied. Instead of calling a child a victim, refer to them as the child who was bullied is Bullying, 2012). By telling children “that child is a bully just ignores/he” does not help create change but supports the unwanted behaviors.

Set an example!

Unfortunately, bullying is not just with children but happens in the workforce among adults too. Don’t get involved with the office gossip, invite someone to lunch, and say something positive to a coworker.

Caitlin Goicoechea, LCPC, NCC
Mental Health Counselor at Children’s Therapy Place

American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association,
Aspa. “What Is Bullying.”, Department of Health and Human Services, 29 Feb. 2012,

Back-to-School Tips

Back-to-School Tips

The adjustment back to school can be a little hectic for children and parents but starting school off right can
increase positive attitudes, confidence, and academic performance. Parents can help support the new adjustments
by setting a realistic schedule, decreasing procrastination, and providing a positive outlook. Here are a few tips to
make it a successful school year.

1. Good physical health. Schedule any doctor, dental, vision appointments before school starts to make sure
your child is healthy. This allows you to take care of any concerns before it becomes a stressor.

2. Be involved. Review all paperwork that is sent home, read the e-mails that are sent, and communicate
with your child on any confusion. Have weekly communication with your child’s teachers. Learn the online
grading systems that the school offers.

3. Mark the calendar. Whether it is your calendar, family calendar or your child’s, make sure everyone is
aware of important due dates, when try-outs are happening, parent/teacher conferences, or fundraiser
nights. Preparing for those events now rather than later decreases anxiety.

4. Routine. Having a set evening routine can help your child stay productive and sleep better. Choose outfits
and make lunches the night before to minimize stress in the mornings. Life does happen, especially with
more than 1 child, so freeze a couple dinners for busy nights.

5. Turn the screens off. Turning off the TV, iPad, iPod, DS, etc. 30 minutes before bed is helpful for
everyone’s sleep. This is also important in the morning too before they head off for school.

6. Everything in its place. Having a designated homework spot creates a productive/focus atmosphere. This
place should not be the bed or couch. Keep those places as the relaxing spots. Select a spot for backpacks
and lunch boxes. This helps keep the family system working smooth. This can minimize the craziness on
mornings when you are running late.

7. Talk. Children want to talk about their day too. Don’t be quick to jump to negatives. Support their
strengths and work together to improve areas that are needed. Have everyone in the family share their
highs and lows of their day at the dinner table.

8. Get them involved. Being involved in clubs, sports, or other school activities can increase our sense of
belongingness. Extra activities help with social skills, sportsmanship, and communication skills. Find the
balance so over scheduling doesn’t happen.

– Caitlin Goicoechea, LCPC, NCC
Mental Health Counselor at Children’s Therapy Place

What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech?

What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech?

Childhood what?! Is a typical and normal reaction when a parent or caregiver hears the term “Childhood Apraxia of Speech”  or CAS for the first time. When you are seeking the help of a professional due to concerns you may be having with your child’s development it can be challenging, add in receiving a diagnosis that you may have never heard of and you find yourself at the beginning of a whole new adventure. So, let’s break it down.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech is a speech disorder that is neurological in nature. Imagine this, remember when you were a kid and you played whisper down the lane? Well, Childhood Apraxia is similar to that, the message starts out strong, in this case coming from the brain, but by the time it gets to the end of the line (the mouth) the message has been changed or altered so that the original message gets misinterpreted along the way. In other words, the brain sends a message to the mouth, but the message gets mixed up. For example, the brain tells your mouth to say “pop,” but your mouth says “tot”. When the error is attempted to be corrected a different error may be made such as “bop” “mop”. The inconsistency in errors made is a key characteristic to Apraxia. Key

Characteristics of CAS include:

 Inconsistent errors

 Errors increase as sentence length increases

 Evidence of regression; meaning loss of words which child had previously mastered.

 Groping

So, how do we know if it’s apraxia? Due to rare the occurrence of CAS and other disorders which may present similarly, it is important to seek help from a speech language pathologist who has experience working with CAS. The role of the speech language pathologist is to provide a comprehensive evaluation that will consist of several steps which may include a thorough case history, oral mechanism evaluation, speech sound inventory assessment, and language assessment. Based on testing results and observation, a speech language pathologist may be able to infer if a child has CAS. After the assessment a plan of care will be developed with personalized goals to directly target each child’s need.

Treatment will involve direct sessions with a speech pathologist, a home exercise program, and family and caregiver education to assist the child in their natural environment. Consistency and repetition are vital in the treatment of apraxia-so doing your homework and attending all therapy sessions will promise the best success for your child!

As a parent with a child who may have apraxia it is important to remember you are not alone. There are many resources available and support groups you can find on social media. It is helpful to remember to be patient, your kiddo is doing their best and it’s not that they don’t want to communicate it’s just that it is hard for them!

Understanding the disorder is the first step to being the best support system for you child! Embrace their uniqueness and be their coach and biggest fan. Learning to talk is not always easy, especially with apraxia, but enjoying the small achievements along the way will help!

Apraxia info can be found at:

Understanding Childhood Apraxia of Speech for Classroom Teachers

What the Heck is Social Pragmatics?

What the Heck is Social Pragmatics?

One of my favorite areas to work on with kids in speech and language therapy is something we call social pragmatics. Many children with challenges in receptive and expressive language benefit from improving their social pragmatic skills. But what does it mean?

Social pragmatics refers to the social use of language and how individuals interact with others. This includes what we say, how we say it, our body language, taking turns in conversation, showing interest in another person’s comments and ideas, and even knowing when not to talk! Pragmatic skills are central to how we communicate with others and participate in social groups, such as our families and communities. Pragmatic skills are vital for communicating our personal thoughts, ideas and feelings.

Some children have more difficulty than others when it comes to social language. If you parent or know a child with an autism spectrum disorder or Asperger’s syndrome, you’re aware of struggles with skills like eye contact, asking for and sharing information, engaging in meaningful conversation, using humor, offering responses to prompts or questions, and gaining attention in an appropriate way. In my day-to-day clinic practice I find it rewarding, fascinating and sometimes downright mystifying when working with children on understanding and developing social skills. I find it rewarding because I know whatever I do to help a child improve social language skills will truly impact every area of his or her life. I find it fascinating because every child is unique, with his or her own way of interacting with the world. With especially severe disorder areas, like classic autism, I am mystified by the tedious, painstaking and loving process of “breaking into” a child’s world to bring them more into ours.

Language is power, and when we equip our precious little ones with the ability to engage and interact appropriately with others, we are taking them one step further toward and self-actualization and independence! Here are some simple things you can do to help:
– Provide a good model. Get down to your child’s eye level and use positive body language and eye contact.

– Demonstrate appropriate turn-taking by letting your child speak or gesture without being interrupted. Use pauses in conversation to allow your child to formulate and express his/her ideas.

– Give gentle, verbal reminders, such as “listen with your eyes,” and “listen with your body.”

– Use stories and visual supports to provide examples of appropriate behavior. Many ideas can

be found online using the search term “social stories.”

– Offer role-playing opportunities where your child can practice certain routines and skills in a positive way.

– Read simple story books about responding to affection, asking for help, using humor and following directions. Some of my favorites include the “Grumpy Bunny” series by Scholastic Publishing.

– Praise your child for maintaining a topic introduced by others, asking for and giving information, and using appropriate strategies to gain attention without interrupting. So, the next time your child engages in inappropriate (and even embarrassing) behavior, especially when others may perceive your kiddo is being – well, a little less than socially acceptable – keep the above tips in mind to support significant changes over time. Above all, strive to provide the best example you can, both at home and in the community. Whether your child has a language delay, autism, Asperger’s or communication delays that present barriers to appropriate social language, use some of these strategies to support winning social language skills!

Also worth a look – Here are some of my favorite websites offering insightful and hands-on info regarding social language:; Jill Kuzma’s Social-Emotional Sharing Site; Therapy Bee Speech Patholgy; Amer Speech, Language & Hearing Assn; also ASHA

By: Jane Lomas, M.S., CCC-SLP

January Newsletter

National Handwriting Day Contest

December 2016 Newsletter




Fun While Learning??!!

We all have memories of fun learning experiences and some not-so-fun learning experiences. Usually, we learn best when we are interested in the topic. However, with the aid of a good teacher, it is possible to enjoy the learning experience even without a vested interest in the topic.

As a speech and language therapist, I teach many different children. None of these children have ever signed themselves up for speech and language therapy (except for siblings who see how fun it is and wish that they could join in)! No, therapy is usually recommended by a parent, teacher, physician, and/or therapist of a different occupation. Because these children aren’t always motivated by the topic, skill, or concept being taught, it is important to find ways to make learning fun for them. When learning is enjoyable and effective therapeutic strategies are employed, the children learn faster.

Each child learns in different ways, responds to different cues, and is motivated by different activities. Therefore, it is important to find what works best for each child. The following are examples of what has worked in my practice and in the practice of fellow speech pathologists. I hope this information will help parents to apply teaching strategies at home, which will likely result in even faster learning!

  • Sing songs! Many songs exist that teach good vocabulary and concepts, particularly for young children. However, you can make up your own song using any tune that already exists, or even your own tune. Well-chosen songs are very helpful to a child’s (and adult’s) learning because the melody and words remain long after the teacher is gone.
  • Create a challenge. Most of us enjoy a challenge, particularly when competing with another person. The challenge can be based on time or amount. For instance, while driving, the challenge can be to see who names the most items within a certain category by the time the light turns green (or by the time the destination is reached). Or, if the challenge is based on amount, a parent could say, “I bet you can say the word ‘get’ (or ‘chip’ or any other word that contains the sound the child needs to practice) for as many chips that are in that snack bag!” Sometimes, children keep practicing the sound or word after the goal has been reached, in part to obtain a reaction from the therapist. This generally works out well for both parties.
  • Make it silly! Practice the skill while bending upside down, while looking at oneself in the magnifying mirror, or while wearing a funny hat/mask. Make up silly sentences or stories, and laugh with one another.
  • Use gestures. Not only do visual cues help with learning, but they are also fun! For instance, some therapists slide their fingers up their arms when practicing the “s” sound, or some call the “p” sound the “popcorn” sound while making fun popcorn noises and gestures.
  • Make it active! Practice while standing on one foot, while bouncing on an exercise ball, while throwing a weighted ball back and forth, or while running to and from destination points outside.
  • Request ideas from the child. Some of the best therapy activities have been initiated by the children on my caseload. Because it is their idea, they are even more motivated to participate in learning.

Above all, make sure to use REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION! That is the key to the best success!! Enjoy teaching your fun-loving kiddo, and remember to have fun yourself!

By: Alissa Ketterling, MS, CCC-SLP

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