By Komal Noordin, MS, BCBA

Many children struggle with transitioning from a preferred activity to a non-preferred activity. For example, they may not want to stop playing to do their homework.  Here are some suggestions to help make transitions easier.

1. Timer

           Setting a timer and letting your child know how much longer they have before it’s time to clean up or leave a setting is an excellent tool. It is important to then actually have your child transition once the timer goes off. Heavily reinforce your child as they transition (praise, positive reinforcement). You can use the timer on your phone or use a Children’s Countdown Timer app. 

2. Visual Schedule 

            A visual schedule is a great tool that can be adapted for any age and will allow a child to visualize their entire day and help them expect what’s next.  You can use photos, pictures from online, or hand draw pictures to represent the activities. You can tape a list to your child’s bathroom mirror to help cue them for the steps to get ready for bed.

3. Social Stories

           A social story is a personalized story created for a child that allows them to prepare ahead of time for bigger transitions (trips, moves, new school, etc.).

4. Token System (Sticker Chart)

            A token system is any type of generalized reinforcement system. Think money! Green paper doesn’t hold any value in itself. However, the fact that it can be traded in for things we need and want is reinforcing. Tokens serve the same purpose. Set up a contingency where your child can earn a token (sticker, marble, check mark, etc.) every time they transition without non-desired behaviors. The child can then trade in those tokens for an agreed upon reinforcer (prize!). 

Please contact us if you have any questions or need help trying out one the strategies (901)328-2110 or

Spring is finally here, and one of the best things about the season is the reopening of seasonal farmers’ markets all around town. You may already think of these markets as a perfect place to peruse fresh produce and handmade treats, but did you know they are also filled with language learning opportunities? Here are some great ways to help encourage your child’s language growth at the farmers’ market or grocery store, no matter where they are in their development!

Early Language Skills

  • Label all the goods for sale, and point at each one to encourage joint attention skills
  • Encourage requests by holding desirable items (cookies, favorite fruits, etc.) just out of reach of your child. Model a request for them to imitate, such as “I want the cookie” or “Apple please”!
  • Practice basic opposites, such as “big watermelon” vs. “little strawberry,” or “hard cantaloupe” vs. “soft peach.”
  • Learn about categories by asking your child to show you a fruit, vegetable, plant, or dessert item in different booths

Higher-Level Language Skills

  • Encourage your child to make predictions and inferences. For example, tell them you want to make a salad for dinner. Can they predict which ingredients you’ll need? If you tell them you’re craving something sweet, can they infer you might want to visit the bakery stand?
  • Compare and contrast different items. What do a peach and a mango have in common? What’s different about a tulip and a rose?

Social Skills

  • Have your child greet the different vendors with a friendly “hello.”
  • Allow your child to practice independence by paying for their own treats. This allows them to interact appropriately with the vendor, as well as work on important life skills!
  • Work on sharing by encouraging them to split a cookie or other treat with you or a sibling.

These are just a few of many examples of how to elicit language at the farmers’ market or grocery store. Try them out next time you stop by one!

Play makes memories for our children, and they learn through play. 

These are the top six skills we target during social skills sessions.  

  1. Identifying and expressing emotions – “I feel ___ because ___”
  2. Following rules- card games, Uno, Go Fish
  3. Good listening skills -“Mother May I” and Simon Says
  4. Handling change (using a daily visual schedule, big/little problem, flexibility) incorporate small changes gradually
  5. Reading nonverbal communication – Charades, (acting out emotions)
  6. Theory of mind (thinking about others)

Happy, sad, angry or scared

Describe a time when……

Board games will always set up “mock” situations in which many social skills can be targeted. Your child will often experience a wide variety of emotions that can be discussed or redirected during play.

They will begin to follow rules, develop patience, and handle frustrations and disappointments during game play.

Some of the best games to target social skills:

  • Sorry
  • Operation
  • Hungry Hungry Hippos
  • Guess Who
  • Connect Four
  • Candy Land
  • Trouble
  • Fibber
  • Headbands
  • Mastermind
  • Clue
  • Life
  • Monopoly
  • Charades

Cooperative games such as:

  • Busytown
  • Hoot Owl Hoot
  • Race to the Treasure
  • The Fairy Game

You can also engage in pretend play (using character toys, stuffed animals, and real people) with your child to encourage cooperation and flexibility in play.  So have fun with your child, teach social skills, and play!

Valentine’s Flowers

        vday flowers

This is an easy, fun way to practice speech and fine motor skills! Practice drawing and/or cutting out hearts and stems and gluing them onto the paper. If your child is solely working on fine motor skills, having him draw shapes, lines, polka dots, etc. on the flowers in order to decorate them. If your child is working on speech skills, write target words on each flower. Your child can practice the words at the word, phrase, or sentence level. For more advanced articulation practice, have your child formulate a sentence with each word, with his good target sound. For language practice, have your child talk about the flowers. What do they look like- What are the colors you see? What shapes do you see? What size? What do we do with flowers? What else to we get or give others for Valentine’s Day? Have fun and be creative!

Valentine’s Day Card

vday card


This easy, creative Valentine’s Day card will be a hit with parents and grandparents! Using paints will be great practice for children with sensory disorders. This gives the child an opportunity to feel and work with textures he might not be comfortable with but will learn that he can have fun with them. Let your child smear the paint on his hands before making the hand-prints. Place three handprints on a blank sheet of paper and then have your child practice cutting and gluing by cutting out each hand-print and gluing them to another blank piece of paper. Practice painting three straight lines for the stems and making a bow at the bottom. This activity will really put those fine motor skills to work! You may then have your child formulate what he wants to write on his card. Practice good articulation skills by dictating what he wants to say out loud and then practice writing the Valentine’s note. Put a date under one of the handprints for a special keepsake!


Heart Butterfly Craft



We are buggin’ out over this craft! You will need pink and white construction paper, a clothes pin, two googly eyes, a pipe cleaner, red and black marker, glue, and scissors. For fine motor practice, have your child draw two small hearts on the white construction paper and two larger hearts on the pink construction paper. Then have your child practice cutting and gluing by cutting out the hearts and gluing the small white hearts onto the larger pink hears. Next, have your child color the clothes pin red and glue the googly eyes and heart wings to it. Cut the pipe cleaner in half and glue it to the back of the clothes pin for the butterfly’s antennae. Lastly, take the black marker and make a smiley face. For speech practice, break each step down and give 1-3 steps at a time for your child to follow. You can also write target words on the butterfly’s wings and practice them at the word, phrase, or sentence level. Clip the butterfly to a visible object in your house in order to practice the words each day!


Heart Shaped Quesadilla


Need a fun, creative Valentine’s Day lunch for your picky eater? Try this special lunch idea! Have your child help make the quesadilla by using a cookie-cutter to cut out hearts in the tortilla shells. Get creative and add foods that your child likes to the quesadilla and then encourage your child to add food that he might not prefer. If your child likes cheese and tomatoes, load them up! If your child doesn’t like mushrooms and peppers, encourage him to place one or two into the quesadilla. If your child refuses to eat them, practice holding, smelling, kissing, and licking them and leave them out of the quesadilla. This will still give your child practice to talk about and handle non-preferred foods. Practice following directions by giving your child 1-3 steps to follow while making the quesadilla. Your child will then have a fun lunch for Valentine’s Day!


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The holidays are quickly approaching! Let’s talk toys! Playing is the work of childhood, and the types of toys we bring into our homes can have a huge impact on how our children improve their language, motor, and social skills.


There are two types of toys- close-ended toys and open-ended toys. Close- ended toys are toys that have a clear ending. For example, your child pushes a button and the toy lights up or sings. These types of toys do not allow for creativity, problem solving, or social interaction. While they do entertain your child for a short time, they do not teach him to entertain himself. We want our children to be the entertainers!


Let’s fill our homes with open-ended toys! Open-ended toys allow your child to use his or her imagination. They allow your child to include you in their play. Open-ended toys also provide dozens and dozens of opportunities for you to stimulate your child’s language development by labeling the items he is playing with and illustrating what he or she is doing. Below is a list of therapists’ favorite open-ended toys for babies, toddlers, and preschool aged children.


For Babies and one-year-olds    stacking toy

Simple wooden cars or trucks

Farm animals and farm

Stacking toys and rings

Ball pit

Bath toys

Big knob puzzles



For Toddlerslittle people

Duplo blocks

Play kitchen

Toy doctor kit

Mr. Potato Head

Pretend tea or coffee set

Vehicles with people

Doll house


For Preschoolers

Floor puzzleshippos

Superhero capes

Simple board games such as “Hisss” or “Hungry Hungry Hippos”

Lego bricks

Fort builder kit

Marble run

Magnetic tiles

kid watching tvWe live in a digital society so it is hard to avoid screen time. Screen time includes watching videos, TV, playing video games, and using a computer, phone, or tablet. Controlling your child’s screen time can be difficult. Here are helpful tips for controlling screen time with young children.

  1. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages screen time for children younger than 18-24 months. If you want to introduce media to children 18-24 months, make sure it’s high quality and educational. Avoid solo media use.
  2. For children ages 2-5, limit screen time to one hour per day of high quality programming.
  3. Unstructured play time is more valuable than screen time in children younger than the age of 2. Children younger than the age of 2 are more likely to learn and remember information from a live presentation than from a video.
  4. By the age of 2, children can benefit from certain kinds of screen time, such as programming with music, movement, and stories. Co-view with your child to help him/her understand what he/she is viewing and how to apply it to real life and do not let screen time replace time spent reading, playing, or problem-solving.
  5. Make a schedule for screen time. Limiting younger children to 1-2 hours a day for screen time is recommended. Avoid letting your young child play on your phone or tablet throughout the day because this screen time can really add up.
  6. Monitor the content when your child has screen time. Content that your child can learn from will be more beneficial to your child.
  7. Make sure that you are making time throughout the day to interact with your child. Ask questions about your child’s day, go on a walk and discuss things you see in nature, do craft activities such as coloring, play with blocks, etc.
  8. Monitor your child’s reaction once screen time is over. Does your child have new ideas or ask inquisitive questions or is your child irritable, anxious, or withdrawn?
  9. Avoid giving your child your phone to play on while at a restaurant, in the car, or during errands. It’s important for children to learn how to manage their emotions and giving them a screen robs them of opportunities to learn how to cope with and move past boredom or emotional discomfort.
  10. Preview any new app that you get for your child. Look for apps that encourage your child to actively participate and that support learning and strategic thinking. Play alongside your child in order to open up conversation about what they are doing/learning.

Too much screen time can affect their social, emotional, and behavioral development. High media use has been associated with shorter attention spans, hyperactivity, ADHD, and aggressive behavior. Studies have shown that too much screen time can contribute to weight gain and childhood obesity. Screen time can also be a hard habit to break as kids get older, if they are exposed to excessive amounts at a younger age. Overall, monitor the amount of time spent in front of a screen, along with the quality of that time. Nothing can replace the need for real-time interactions, play time, and conversations. These are key to helping a child develop normal language and social skills.


Information taken from

slider-kids-elbows-1024x419What is a voice disorder?

Voice disorders occur when voice quality, pitch, and loudness differ or are inappropriate or for an individual’s age, gender, cultural background, or geographical location.( )

Does my child have a voice disorder?

If you think your child may have a voice disorder, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Does he/she have a hoarse/unpleasant voice?
  2. Does he/she have an inefficient voice?

If you answered “yes” to either of the above questions, then your child should receive a medical evaluation by an ENT and a speech-language assessment by an SLP.

What causes a voice disorder?

There are three causes of voice disorders-vocal abuse, vocal misuse, and medical problems.

  1. Vocal abuse is caused by straining the vocal cords-screaming, forceful talking, frequent coughing/throat clearing, imitating environmental sounds (engines, sirens, animal sounds).
  2. Vocal misuse is caused by loud talking, using a pitch that is either too high or too low, and talking over background noise.
  3. Medical problems that cause voice disorders are numerous but include frequent colds/congestion, allergies, reflux, and neck injuries.

If your child is abusing or misusing their voice, the following tips can help to help reduce these harmful behaviors.

  1. Determine when your child is harming his/her voice (outside play, sports, etc.), then discuss with him/her when they are misusing their voice.
  2. Use reminders to decrease harmful use-
  3. Tell him/her to use a softer voice
  4. Use a signal to remind him/her to decrease effortful speech
  5. Post a picture in your home that reminds your child to use appropriate speech level
  6. Discuss substitutes for voice use-
  7. Texting rather than talking on your phone in a loud area
  8. Take pom-poms or signs to sporting events
  9. Use clapping instead of cheering
  10. Use waving rather than yelling to a person far away
  11. Reduce the use of environmental sounds and throat clearing.
  12. Reduce unnecessary background noise- turn down the TV/music and keep car windows closed.
  13. Talk less-choose quiet activities or establish daily quiet times in order to rest voice.
  14. Set up a reward system- verbal praise, prizes, and charts can be used to reward good vocal habits.
  15. Model good vocal habits for your child by using appropriate pitch/loudness and take turns talking.
  16. Monitor your child’s health and consult their pediatrician if he/she has frequent congestion, reflux, or other condition that can be harmful to the vocal cords.
  17. Monitor your child’s voice and consult with their pediatrician or SLP if his/her voice changes in any way.

Voice disorders can affect adults and children of all ages.  If you suspect a voice disorder in your child, your child should receive a medical evaluation by an ENT and a speech-language assessment by an SLP.   Our speech pathologists at JHA are knowledgeable in this area and able to help you determine if your child needs voice intervention. If you would like more information or to set up an evaluation please call our front desk, 901-328-2110.