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Chatterboxes Welcomes Autism Specialist, Dr. Martha Herbert
Dr. Martha Herbert is a pediatric neurologist and brain development
researcher, with a main focus on Autism. Dr. Herbert aims to understand
Autism via a „whole-body systems approach‟, in which genes and
environmental factors are thought to interplay.
An Assistant Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and
Pediatric Neurologist at MGH in Boston, Dr. Herbert is also an affiliate
of the Harvard-MIT-MGH Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging. She is the Director
of the TRANSCEND Research Program (Treatment Research and Neuroscience
Evaluation of Neurodevelopment Disorders; www.transcendresearch.org)
Chatterboxes is honored to host a complimentary presentation by Dr. Herbert for
parents and other pediatric professionals at our Newton Center location on Monday,
September 21, 2009 at 4:00. For more information, or to reserve a spot at this event,
please contact our practice manager, Evan at email@example.com.
AAC in Your Pocket
Chatterboxes offers our clients trial therapy sessions using the iPhone or
iPod Touch application entitled, "Proloquo2Go." (www.proloquo2go.com)
Our SLP‟s feel that this AAC application is comparable from a clinical
perspective to more expensive Augmentative Communication devices.
Creator, Samuel Sennott notes, "Proloquo2go is a new product that delivers
natural sounding text-to-speech voices, up-to-date symbols, powerful
automatic conjugations, a default vocabulary of over 7,000 items, full
expandability and extreme ease of use with the iPhone and/or iPod touch."
If your child is non-verbal and may benefit from the use of a device to assist in
communication, please do not hesitate to contact Chatterboxes for our clinical expertise
with this product, or to learn whether this device may be an effective addition to your
child's speech therapy.
BACK TO SCHOOL EDITION
New Speech-Language Pathology Blog
Chatterboxes is proud to offer an open forum for parents, professionals and other
pediatric community members alike to share information and ideas amongst each
other and/or to present speech-language pathology related questions to us in the
form of our Blog.
We encourage you to participate in this community building opportunity by
viewing and contributing to our pediatric speech-language pathology blog at
http://teamchatterboxes.blogspot.com/ (or click the link on our homepage).
Thank you for your participation. We look forward to assisting with any questions
you may have and discussing topics which may be of interest to you.
Tips for Parents of Early Language Learners
The following strategies may be helpful for parents of young children who are late
talkers, or for children dealing with expressive/receptive language issues:
Incorporate all types of speech with your child and avoid focusing on just
nouns. You might point out verbs, adjectives, prepositions, etc.
Model the answer for your child to teach them how you might like for them
to respond to your question.
Exaggerate words and actions so your child learns to associate the
meaning/concept that the word represents.
Prolong your vowels when you speak with your child. (Car=Caaaar!)
Use a lot of repetition in your speech. (chanting, singing songs, etc.)
Use language at or just slightly above your child‟s current language level. For
example, if your child is starting to use single words, your speech should
consist of 1-2 word combinations.
Make language learning fun! Teach your child through play! For reasons why
play-based learning is a great vehicle for language acquisition, please visit
Lisa Olshefksi‟s current blog article on „Play Therapy‟ at
A Whole Body Approach Sheds Light on Autism,
The Brain and Language
By: Dr. Martha Herbert
Director- TRANSCEND Research Program
Although autism is currently a behaviorally defined syndrome, clinical experience and a wealth
of research also note biological features. No one has identified any one biological symptom or
finding that is found in every person with autism. Even so, biological features beyond behaviors,
and even beyond brain, can have a major impact on people‟s lives. These can include seizures,
sensory challenges, sleep difficulties, gastrointestinal distress, food allergies, other immune
issues, and more.
Feeling sick or in pain can undermine a person‟s ability to be present and to respond and learn.
Beyond this, cutting edge science is shedding more and more light on relationships between gut
and brain, brain and immune systems, and brain and gut. For example, chemicals produced by
the immune system are known to affect the brain, they can alter emotion and mood, produce
alterations in sleep and in sensory processing, change brain development, and increase
vulnerability to seizures.
Problems with sensory processing are one important route to developing language and
communication problems. In order to be able to hear and understand language, you need to hear
the different speech sounds as distinct from each other. You also need to selectively focus on the
sounds you want to hear, and to tune out sounds that are less relevant. Both of these capacities
can be impaired in autism and language impairments. Is it possible that immune problems might
indirectly affect language processing, by “gumming up the works” at the cellular level in the
brain so that there is interference in the way sounds are processed? Some research suggests that
this may be the case.
The TRANSCEND Research Program approaches studying autism and language disorders with
these considerations in mind. We have found that brains of children with autism and with
specific language impairment have many similar features, and that infants at risk for autism who
don‟t develop autism often develop problems with language.
In our studies of school-aged children we perform “multimodal” brain imaging. We use MRI
(safe, non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging brain scans) to look at the brain‟s structure,
its message-carrying fibers, and chemical properties of brain tissue.
We use MEG (magnetoencephalography) to study the brain‟s sensory processing by
measuring the tiny magnetic fields the brain generates when it sends electrical signals. Then
we put all this information together to gain a comprehensive picture of what contributes to
In our new study of infants at high risk for autism (due to having an older sibling diagnosed
with autism), we will look not only for language and behavior but also for metabolic, immune,
brain and autonomic nervous system signs that may predict autism, by collecting blood and
urine as well as using child-friendly EEG nets and wearable autonomic nervous system
monitors to study the nervous system.
In both sets of studies we also do extensive direct neurocognitive testing of the children in the
studies, and provide reports.
We make every effort to make all our work as child-friendly as possible. Any school-aged child
who can sit through a movie is likely to be able to participate in our studies. We also recognize
the challenges of having a child when an older child in the family already has autism, and we
spend enormous effort in anticipating and accommodating the needs of children and families.
For more information about TRANSCEND‟s studies, feel free to visit their website,
www.transcendresearch.org, call 617-966-9766 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chatterboxes proudly endorses TRANSCEND’s efforts towards assisting the Autism community.
On behalf of the caring pediatric speech-language pathologists at
Chatterboxes, we wish all family and friends of the pediatric
community a safe and enjoyable school year!