Friday, March 20, 2015

Speech Therapy Games Helped My 1st Grader!

Speech-Language Pathologists like Gina Cato, who work for the Center for Hearing & Speech in St. Louis, use speech therapy games for kids to help them overcome a wide variety of speech difficulties. Every year the Center hosts a Free Clinic Day, and this year it will be held on Saturday, May 2, 2015. 

Last year, 1st grader Alexis came to the Center’s Annual Free Clinic Day, and a Center Speech-Language Pathologist confirmed Alexis had a speech problem. After her initial visit, Alexis spent six months in weekly therapy sessions, practicing at home with her mom, and her speech was transformed as a result.

“Alexis really loved the speech therapy games Gina used to keep the sessions fun and engaging," says Alexis's mother. "Everyone is so professional. They really put you at ease. It was great to use the observation room to watch the therapy techniques Gina used so I could help Alexis practice at home between sessions.”

Speech activities provide the repetition necessary to realize improvements. They keep children engaged. Alexis’s pathologist helped her stay enthusiastic about the process by playing games like “Jenga” and “Concentration”. Alexis also enjoyed scavenger hunt activities during her therapy sessions.

"At first, Alexis had to watch her mouth in the mirror to say the "s" sound correctly. She needed to monitor where her tongue was placed while she said "s". After practicing a few words, Alexis would then remove a block from the Jenga game," says Gina Cato, M.A., CCC-SLP, Chief Speech-Language Pathologist at the Center. "We practiced saying the "s" sound correctly to say "this one", while choosing a Jenga piece. Gradually, Alexis started saying the "s" sound correctly without looking in the mirror. While playing Concentration, we practiced saying "same" or "not same" with the correct "s" sound when turning over two cards." 

During their scavenger hunts, Gina would guide Alexis's searches around the Center for items with an "s" sound in the word such as "pencil". It helped Alexis to say her "s" sounds correctly in practice, which then carried over to her saying those same sounds correctly in conversations with people outside of therapy.  

The Center's observation rooms have two way mirrors to allow parents to watch their child’s therapy sessions without their child realizing they are watching. Parents learn the speech therapy techniques along with their child since they are essentially able to hear and see everything that goes on during each therapy session. This is all by design; each therapy program is unique to each child based on their needs. Parents are encouraged to help their child practice these techniques at home between sessions to speed up the effect of the therapy. Practice makes perfect as they say, and parents can have a huge impact on their child’s rate of improvement.

In addition to helping parents feel comfortable with the therapy, the observation rooms also allow parents to hear improvements over time. “It was powerful to watch the interactions between Gina and Alexis," said Alexis's mother. "I could actually hear improvements over the course of her treatments.”

How do you know if you child needs speech therapy? Alexis’s mom noticed she had difficulty pronouncing words that began with an “s” or a “z”. These are just examples. Speech difficulties come in all shapes and sizes. If you even question whether your child needs speech therapy, then it might be a good idea to attend the Free Clinic Day coming up on Saturday, May 2, 2015 at the Center. For more information please go to 

The Center for Hearing & Speech is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization that in 2013 provided $1.75 million in speech/language and audiology services to residents of metropolitan St. Louis.

It is a proud member of the United Way and in October was awarded the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) 2014 TORCH award.

The award is given to businesses and charities that “demonstrate a commitment to customer service through exceptional standards for ethical business practices,” according to the BBB.   

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