Tag Archives: language disorder

Language Development

Improve Your Child’s Expressive Language through Video Games – Language Development

Is your child struggling to make himself understood?

If your child has an expressive language disorder, you know how frustrating it can be. I know there were times when one of my children was desperate to tell me about something important in school, but just wasn't able to get his point across clearly.

He felt badly because he really wanted my advice about what to do, and I felt badly because I wanted to help him but didn't have enough info to help him.

Most of the exercises for helping your child speak better are artificial and just not fun.

If you've ever had to sit through the typical exercises given for helping your child's expressive language skills, you know they can get pretty boring.

Often you have to ask your child to state the correct word (fill in the blank), answer questions, or something other school like activity. And after a whole day of school, which was probably not the easiest experience for your child to begin with.

Let's just say that most parents and kids lose their enthusiasm real quick.

On top of everything, those exercises feel artificial. Real life is more spontaneous, and full of more social interaction than a fill in the blank. You just can't imagine  how it'll all transfer over to real-life.

Creating a game guide of his favorite video game will help your child speak better.

Talk to your child about his favorite video game, on the other hand, and watch instantly as his eyes light up, his voice becomes more animated - he's psyched and ready to go on for days.

They're a subject he has extensive experience with (so he's an expert- a great ego boost), and is enthusiastic about. Plus he gets to create a useful product for others to learn from: that makes him a winner, "cool."

At the same time, your child will be polishing his sequencing skills, improving his sentence structure, learning how to paraphrase, as well as a host of other skills. Ready to dive in?

How to Play:

1) Explain to your child that they are going to create a game guide for other kids on how to play their favorite video game. Younger children might choose to make a basic guide, while older children and teenagers can choose to make a walkthrough, or an “expert” or guru guide.

2) Let your child decide what format her presentation will be in. She can choose to make a video, a podcast, or a PowerPoint presentation. If she chooses to make a video, she can use a screen capture program such as Camtasia to record what is seen on the computer screen.

If your child chooses to make a podcast or other audio recording, there are many free programs she can use to audit their recording. Audacity is one such program that is both free and of high quality.

PowerPoint presentations can include screenshots (use the “print screen” button on your keyboard and crop out the unnecessary stuff), but you can also add music (try Musicloops for free music) to spice things up.

3) Help your child sketch out a basic outline for their presentation. Explain to them that in order to be effective, it minimally needs to include the following elements:

  • Goal of the game
  • Basic explanation of what you need to do on each level
  • Tips and hints

Have your child first create each section individually as a rough draft; they can put the parts together later.

4) Next, have your child turn on the video game. They will create material as they play, so they will have a better idea of what they need to write. If they can’t pause the game after each level, then let them play the game once through and then write material for each section immediately afterwards.

Younger children might need you to help them: ask them questions about the game, and write down their answers (if they have difficulty writing) or give them time to write the answers on their own.

5) Help your child revise and edit each section. Don’t worry about spelling or punctuation; let spell check do that for your child. You are more concerned with your child’s ability to give over information in a clear, fairly concise manner.

That means your child should make sure that someone who is a complete newbie to the game should be able to understand their guide. Encourage them to show it to a family member or a friend (if they’re feeling brave) who is not familiar with the game, explaining that this is what everyone who creates a how-to guide does before they publish their work.

6) Create the final product. If your child is making a PPT presentation, she can write everything out on slides, taking screenshots when necessary. She should first write it out, taking the screenshots afterwards; she might need your help with this, as it requires quick hands and some pasting and cropping.

If your child is creating a video, he now has a good idea of a script. He needn’t memorize it; since he’s written it and he’s of course familiar with the game, it merely acts as a prompt for him to ensure he’s said everything he should say.

7)  Share it with the world. The best part of creating this guide is sharing it with other game fans. Your child can post it on gamer sites, or he can upload it to the following free sites:

  • Video: Your child can upload to just YouTube, or he can use TubeMogul or Traffic Geyser to upload the video to multiple sites.
    • PowerPoint Presentation: Your child can submit their PPT to these sites for free:   Slideshare, Slideboom, Authorstream, and Slideburner. You can also easily turn their PPT into a PDF using PrimoPDF, which is free. You can then submit the PDF version to these sites: Calameo, Butterfly, Yudu , Esnips, and Scribd.
  • Podcast or audio presentation: Submit to these sites for free: podcast.com, iTunes, dayo, and podcastalley.
  • Written report: Since your child’s report will be very similar to a step-by-step tutorial, your child can submit it to these sites for free:  e-how.com, tutorialized.com, Good-Tutorials.com, and Designm.ag.

Whichever site your child chooses to submit their guide, they can use Pingler and SocialMarker to submit the URL of their product to dozens of social bookmarking sites. Both are free and will help their guide get noticed, hopefully sending traffic from other like-minded gamers.

Most importantly, your child will be on their way to improving their expressive language skills, all in a fun and novel way.

If you liked this post, why not like it on Facebook? Better yet, why not tell me what you think in the comments below?

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ADHD – Learning: Will Ritalin Help My ADD Child?

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Okay, I know it seems like this subject has been beaten to death. You've probably done all the research you can possibly do, and have already made your decision about whether or not you will give your ADHD child Ritalin.

So to set the record straight, I'm not going to tell you whether or not to give Ritalin. Instead, I'd like to point out one very important point to consider when deciding whether or not to give Ritalin: could it possible your child has an auditory processing disorder, not ADD?

I've spoken to numerous parents and teachers who complain to me about their child being inattentive, hyperactive, impulsive, or otherwise not in line with the program. They have taken their child for testing, and been told their child could benefit from Ritalin.

Then I do an evaluation with their child, and lo and behold, their child has a significant language disorder. The two most well known areas for possible language dysfunction are receptive (understanding) and expressive (speaking) language. There are, however, a lot of other different areas a child can have difficulty with.

For example, I tested one seven year old who was bilingual, and spoke beautifully in both languages. She seemed articulate, perceptive- an unlikely candidate for a language issue. However, testing showed that she did in fact have a language disorder. How could this be?

There are two types of speech, automatic and literate. Automatic language is everyday language. It is the language you use to talk to your friends, what you hear on TV, in movies, or on the radio. Literate language is the language of learning- what you find in a textbook, professional article, or literature assignment.

This little girl's parents were quite surprised when the results came in, since their daughter seemingly spoke so well. However, it is not as uncommon as you might imagine. They are two separate language functions, and therefore a child could be good in one and lousy in the other.

There are actually six levels of language. Think of an upside down pyramid. At the bottom are phonemes. These are the sounds that make up language. Then next are morphemes, which are the smallest bits of words that we can have that still make sense. These are prefixes and suffixes. The third level involves semantics, or word meanings. The fourth involves language on the sentence level, or syntax. The fifth, is called discourse processing, and refers to language on the paragraph level, while the sixth level, metalinguistics, is how we think about language.

All this may seem confusing, but really you only need to understand one thing: if your child has trouble in even one of these areas, she could have serious trouble functioning in class.

Not all of these skills develop in top to bottom order. Children first improve in syntax, and only later, in middle school or high school, are they faced with the more technical language that many subjects require. Don't assume, therefore, that because your child has done well up until now, she couldn't possibly have a problem. A child could have language breakdown at any developmental level.

Pay attention to your child; notice when they seem to be right with you, and when they seem to suddenly get hyperactive, or spacey. Do you often have to repeat directions? Does your child have trouble keeping up with the rest of the family during a fast and furious conversation?

When doing homework with your child, does it seem as if your child needs a lot of help understanding what they read? Do they have tend to speak in short sentences?  Are they able to gather new information from what they read?

Keep a journal if you need to, for about a two weeks, in order to help you see the overall picture. Children who have language issues may show an uneven ability to concentrate in school. Their math teacher may say they do just fine, while their science teacher may throw up his hands in frustration.

Sometimes a child will seem to do well on Ritalin for the first month or two. Then teachers start complaining, begin suggesting an increase. So the parents succumb after a while- the doctor did say this was a starting dose- and up the medicine. The teacher sees an improvement, but then in a year, the teacher says she sees a drop-off in his behavior...

You get the idea. Of course I'm not suggesting that Ritalin may not be the answer for some children; I've seen it work wonders for some children. The point here is that before you give Ritalin you need to make sure that a language delay is not the real reason they cannot pay attention.

By the way, the fact that there was improvement on Ritalin is not proof your child has ADD (although some people would like you to believe this). Many people -even non ADD- will see an improvement using it. Why do you think so many teenagers and adults use it illegally?

If you suspect your child may have a language disorder, have him or tested, preferably with a didactic evaluation. If you find your child does have a language issue, contact an educational therapist, who can help your child both compensate for his weakness, and improve his language skills. Doing so may just save you from going for a ride on the "Ritalin roller coaster."

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Expressive Language

Hands-On Learning Games: Improve Your Child’s Expressive Language Skills

expressive language skills

Hands-on learning games are a great way of helping your child build his expressive language skills. Being able to express one's self is a crucial skill that affects every aspect of your child's life. Not being able to explain himself, persuade his listeners, or simply share a funny event because he has an expressive language disorder can seriously impact your child 's self-esteem.

Imagine being unable to explain why you had a bad day in class, or why you want to go to a friend's house. Or, what if you wanted to convince your sister to let you borrow her bike, but you didn't have the words you needed to persuade her?

You may find your child is easily frustrated, since he can't use language effectively. He might resort to hitting, kicking, or even biting when he doesn't get his way, because he cannot use language to help him solve conflicts with others.

The best way to help your child is to give her plenty of opportunities to play with language, in a fun, engaging activity that doesn't pressure her to produce. This hands-on learning game is perfect as it allows your child to strengthen her language in a totally naturally way, and even lets her use visuals to help get her point across.

In order to play this game, you will need to take a trip first with your child to a fun place. During the trip, make sure to take separate pictures of  everyone who goes with you on the trip. You should also take pictures of all the main events. For example, if you go to an amusement park, take a picture of each ride and game that your child plays.

You should also take pictures of your child as they leave the house to go on the trip. If you plan to travel by car, take a picture of your child sitting in the car. You will use all of these pictures to act as cues to help your child tell a story about his trip.


Card stock (to print out the pictures on)

Regular size photo album (to store the pictures in a story format)

How to Play:

  1. You're going to make a story of your child's trip using the pictures you took. First, organize the pictures in the order in which they occurred. You can separate the pictures according to the different events that took place during the trip.
  2. Your child should sit on the floor or at a large table with plenty of space to move the pictures around. Point to a picture of your child, and ask, "Who's this?" in a playful manner.
  3. Place that picture to your child's left.
  4. Now take an event picture, and place it to the right of the first picture. You have now created a sentence, only with pictures instead of words.
  5. Say to your child, "This is - (your child should say his name, or "me ," if he is able to.) Next point to the event picture, and ask your child to name it.
  6. Lastly, your child should put the two together : "I rode on the merry-go-round."
  7. Underneath the merry-go round picture place another event picture. Point to the picture of your child, prompting him to say, "I rode in the  bumper cars."
  8. Continue with the rest of the pictures.

Tip: You can make this game harder by letting your child sequence all the pictures himself. Instead of telling you the story bit-by bit with in sentence form, he should first arrange the pictures in story form, and then tell the entire story using his own words.

Don't forget to reward your child at the end of your learning session! It need not be a large reward, but it should be something that is enticing to your child. It could be a treat, or it could be being allowed to stay up a half-hour past bedtime, or going to a park you don't usually visit.


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