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AAC in Your Pocket

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  • 1. Join Our Free Autism Event: September 21st Practice Happenings 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 evan@teamchatterboxes.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
  • 2. 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 www.TeamChatterboxes.com/blogspot
  • 3. Featured Article A Whole Body Approach Sheds Light on Autism, The Brain and Language By: Dr. Martha Herbert Pediatric Neurologist 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. Chatterboxes 617.969.TALK; www.TeamChatterboxes.com Newton Centre
  • 4. 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 brain function.  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 transcend@partners.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! Chatterboxes 617.969.TALK; www.TeamChatterboxes.com Newton Centre

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