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Early Intervention Speech Therapy

Interviewing Parents - Part Two

Published November 4, 2008 9:54 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Today's post is a continuation of the last, published on Friday, October 31st. Before beginning the main post however, I wanted to address our readers directly regarding two topics of importance:
  • The first is a reminder that today is Election Day!! Consider this announcement some friendly encouragement to get out and VOTE!! As we all know, it is our right and responsibility as American citizens and it is extremely important to me personally, so I wanted to cheer on our readers to EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT to VOTE!!
  • The second is a reminder that this blog was created to serve the Early Intervention community. Therefore, I am asking our readers to continue writing in with specific questions, as well as requests for issues that YOU would like to see highlighted, addressed and discussed. This will help me plan ahead for future posts and know what topics are most important to our readers.

Now, on to our post! Below is a continuation of the list of questions therapists can use when conversing with parents/daycares:

Family Dynamics

  • Birth order - Is the child the youngest in the family or are they an only child? Do they have other children to converse with?
  • If they have siblings, do the other siblings talk for them?
  • Does the family tend to "baby" the child? Is every need anticipated so that the child does not need to talk?
  • What is the family's schedule? Are they a very busy family and are opportunities for communication lacking?
  • Is the family bilingual? Sometimes, even if the parents are bilingual, the child will spend their days with family members who are not; therefore the child is not being exposed to English consistently. Also, many bilingual families will naturally speak in their native language when together. Often, the only time the child is hearing English is during your therapy sessions! Long term, it is wonderful for the child to be bilingual; however the process of learning two languages is often very confusing and overwhelming any child, especially those with a communication disorder.

Basic Needs

  • Are the child's basic needs being met? (Think of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow's_hierarchy_of_needs ) Is the child eating and sleeping normally? Are they safe at home/daycare? Is there any abuse or neglect happening? Overall growth will often suffer when these basic building blocks are not in place.
  • Is the family struggling financially? Does the family have health insurance? Sometimes families will postpone medical care (i.e. such as ear tubes and visiting specialists) if they are unable to afford it. Encourage these families to seek free health care for their child if available in your state.

Join us Friday when we take a look at questions regarding cognition and play skills, language and social skills as well as sensory and oral motor concerns!

10 comments

What meredith said is absolutely correct-home language literacy is absolutely an asset...

Also second language symptoms are frequently misunderstood for language problems.

one must know how to analyze second language competencies thoroughly...see slllc.org for more info or please contact me at djcslp@slllc.org

deborah chitester, ceo-SLLLC January 7, 2009 4:26 PM
pennington NJ

What meredith said is absolutely correct-home language literacy is absolutely an asset...

Also second language symptoms are frequently misunderstood for language problems.

one must know how to analyze second language competencies thoroughly...see slllc.org for more info or please contact me at djcslp@slllc.org

deborah chitester, ceo-SLLLC January 7, 2009 4:26 PM
pennington NJ

I work in Singapore and Indonesia. My kids generally come from bilingual or multilingual background. Some of them don't even speak English. For some I speak their languages, but for some others I'm completely blank.  It is not uncommon to see kids in my caseloads who are currently growing up exposed to 3 to 5 languages at the same time. In these 2 countries, the multiple languages are spoken as main languages.

The issue becomes very complicated when selecting language for intervention and how to communicate with the caregivers/family members. Interpreters aren't readily available. Assessments are interesting and challenging especially when I don't speak the language(s) used by the caregivers. (Some of them don't speak my language(s) )

I always have to be on the alert in observing which aspects and patterns of language/communication difficulties have roots in the multilingual/multi-culture factor or disorder/impairment/delay. Often it is too subtle and overlapping that I feel like pulling my hair.

Nat November 26, 2008 2:56 AM

When available, I use an interpreter during speech sessions with the bilingual children who are under age three.  Therapy takes place in English and then I have the interpreter explain the techniques I am using in the native language to the parents to ensure understanding.  I suggest to the parent that they use what ever language they are most comfortable with in the home.  Oftentimes, the parents will speak the native language most of the time and I find that older siblings often use English the majority of the time when communicating with the child since that is what is learned in school.  As long as there is a clear separation of languages, the child should not get confused.  

Holly, Speech Pathology - Clinical Director , Cook Speech and Language November 6, 2008 12:25 AM
Sacramento CA

Bronwyn ~ I commend you on your work in South Africa and I am thrilled to hear our blog is reaching across continents! I do not have much experience working with children with AIDS/HIV so I am thrilled to see that Susan (in CA) has responded and I hope other readers will share their expertise as well. I did do a web search of "speech development with children with HIV/AIDS" and I found two links that you may find helpful:     http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/std/hiv.html and

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hiv-aids/DS00005/DSECTION=symptoms

Both discuss the effects of HIV/AIDS on brain development in young children. If you are able, please write in and tell us more about the type of therapy you do to help the children in South Africa. Thank you so much for writing in and raising an important issue that needs to be discussed.    

stephanie , blog author November 5, 2008 7:33 PM

I have not read the previous blogs, but regarding the AIDS/HIV positive children with delayed speech:  When I was affiliated with teaching hospitals in L.A. we found that there was a high incidence of otitis media in these immune compromised children.  That may account in part for the delay in speech development. Medical management and slightly louder language stimulation in a quiet environment may help.

Susan Holland, Speech-Language Pathologist November 5, 2008 7:04 PM
Pasadena CA

Hi Stephanie

I work at a small hospital in South Africa, about an hour away from the Kruger National Park. We do not have much equipment and Im the only speech therapist serving 3 hospitals. I want to thank you for your blog. In particular, thank you that your suggestions are not based on the most technologically advanced equipment and therefore I can use a lot of what you have posted. I do have a question though. Do you have any suggestions for infants who are HIV/AIDS positive? I know that in your context you might not come in to musch contact with such cases, but I would really appreciate it if you could provide some advice as here I have many infants on my case load who have HIV/AIDS and whose speech development is behind.

Many thanks

Bronwyn

Bronwyn Dekker, Speech therapist & audiologist - speech therapist & audiologist, Lydenburg Hospital November 5, 2008 9:55 AM
Lydenburg IT

Thank you for your comments! Here is ASHA's stance on "Learning Two Languages". At the bottom of the page there are additional resources listed. http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/BilingualChildren.htm

In addition, just to clarify, the topic of today’s post was good questions to ask when interviewing, one of them being "Is the family bilingual?”. I can speak from my experience that this is a vital question to ask. I have several situations right now where the children I am working with hear very little English and it is sometimes difficult for me to assess whether or not it is the language barrier OR is it a language disorder. That is why the question needs to be asked and the situation should be assessed.

Again to clarify, I believe that this issue is NOT a "one size fits all" and I did not state that nor did I mean that in today’s post. I believe every child is different, which is why I stated that it is “often difficult” NOT “always difficult” to learn two languages. There is a big difference.                                                               I am currently working with a family where the parents are bilingual and speak both languages fluently. However, when they are together as a family, they only speak their native language. They want their child to be bilingual, so I have encouraged them to present both languages when they can to help prepare the child for school. As I stated earlier, I believe every child, every family is different; thus therapy should meet their individual needs.

Hope this helps answer both your concerns and questions. Please continue to write in!

stephanie , blog author November 4, 2008 4:29 PM

I would like to know the research that shows that learning two languages is confusing to the child.  I have met so many SLP's who say that to parents, but I have not seen any research that proves that.

Felix, , Clinical Instructor USF November 4, 2008 3:56 PM
Tampa FL

Hi,

I wanted to respond to this information:

Long term, it is wonderful for the child to be bilingual; however the process of learning two languages is often very confusing and overwhelming any child, especially those with a communication disorder.

This is inaccurate.  If children are exposed to their family's native language outside of school, this is not problematic.  The child should hear language models that are fluent rather than having a family member model English as a second language.  If children have a language disorder, it is also inaccurate to believe that they can only handle one language.  By focusing on English only, the child is separated from their culture.  In addition, the child learns aspects of English as a second language (e.g. grammatical and sound errors) if the parent's first language is not English.

Meredith November 4, 2008 3:26 PM

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About this Blog


    Stephanie Bruno Dowling, M.S. CCC-SLP
    Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist
    Setting: Early Intervention in Delaware County, PA
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