The Impression Game

Not all children are able to develop social communication skills without support. Some children have to learn about other people’s perspective from direct teaching.  These children often need to practice and role play in small group settings.  Social skills training programs are great ways to teach these children the game of good impression. The  game of social impression is all about:

  • Specific actions that the child can take to make new friends.
  • Specific actions that the child can take to resolve differences with peers.
  • Strategies on how to treat friends with respect.
  • Teach the child to take responsibility for friendship.
  • Teach “The act of sharing, taking turns, being a good listener, talking out problems, avoiding “bossy” behavior, and talking about interest.”

10487385_10152548775900390_8453962927284768254_nOur early school age campers are taught the foundation of friendship by defining “TALK.” Our campers learn that TALK is about the feelings and ideas we share with people.  They learn as “TALKERS” to understand each others’ feelings and ideas. We teach our older school age campers that  “A conversation is the way we share information with people. We must choose and use our words carefully. A conversation is when we follow the rules of give and take. Give and take means we are open to other people’s ideas and opinions.“Conversation is fun! It is something that helps us connect with one another.

Any conversation has  four simple steps Think, Listen, Interest and Share (TLIS).

  • Think about the person, topic, and words to use. It is something that happens naturally
  • Listen, you have to really listen to know that the person is truly interested in what you are talking about. The person also has to listen to understand and also respond to you.Interest so you listen, now what? How much interest do you have on the topic of conversation?
  • Share, the goal of you sharing is to provide information, to affirm your knowledge of the information shared, to clarify the information or to impact on another person’s knowledge.

Fun/interesting conversations have rules!
Share ,something  you have in common “Topics” that are simple and engaging.
Show, some interest if you are showing interest they’ll hang around and want to talk to you even more.
Ask ,simple open-ended questions, because people like to talk about themselves 
Pay attention,  listen to what is being shared and try to think about what the person really means. Don’t thinking about what you’re going to say next or how you’re going to respond.
Try to share what you know about the topic with how the person you are talking to feels or knows about the topic. Keep it simple and fair.

fun 2015-01-21 022Uduak (Udie) Osom holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Speech and Language Pathology from San Jose State University. Udie has served students of all ability levels from preschool through grade 12, for over 20 years. She is very passionate about neuro-developmental disabilities and social-cognitive disabilities. She is the owner/director of Innovative Therapy Services, a pediatric speech, language and social skills clinic in Santa Clara, CA. She can be reached at ussom@pediatricspeech.com

 

Your are Not Alone:Childhood Feeding Problems

 I just recently came back from a 3 day pediatric conference put on by Feeding Matters  association made up of experts Pediatricians, Nurses, Speech Pathologists Occupational Therapists and Parent. One course struck a cord with me, “What Happens After “Graduating” From Feeding Treatment? presented by: Mary Beth Feuling, MS, RD, CSP, CD; Amanda Herrmann, CCC-SLP; Chris Linn; Kay A. Toomey, PhD; Ronald Serbin MD.
Related imageDealing with feeding disorder issues at home is quite complex and can be very frustrating! 

Childhood  feeding related can go undetected by your pediatrician and others for several reasons, especially if your child appears to be growing normally and is not exhibit severe food aversion. Children with oral sensory aversion  or feeding difficulty often exhibit very difficult behaviors around meal times. Typically the behaviors may include:

  • Prefer only one type (e.g., dry, crunchy) of textured foods
  • Excessive oral habits (e.g., bite sleeves and buttons from shirt and other toys)
  • Abnormal tongue posture ( often sucking their tongue)
  • Mouth breathing
  • Teeth brushing is can be a nightmare for some children
  • Easily gags on food

Related image

Looking at the above list you can see why some children with oral sensory related issues may go unidentified, given that some of the listed behaviors can apply to any child at any given time in their life. That is very true! While some of the above behaviors can be seen during the infant years, and even at early toddler years, it is expected as the child’s motor system matures, so should the oral sensory system.

It is often thought that the child will out grow the problem.  Kids exerting their will power and also going through the “I am not hungry stage,” is completely different from a kid that has always had problems eating. It is true children have their own internal developmental time line. However, looking at a child’s oral motor developmental history can help parents address feeding issues early.  A good oral motor history must include

  1. Birth history,
  2. Breastfeeding/bottle feeding history,
  3. Motor developmental history,
  4. Rule out history of reflux,
  5. Frequent upper respiratory infections,
  6. Food  allergies,
  7. Adverse reactions to different textures to the body and face,
  8. History of choking/gagging on food ,
  9. Difficulty transitioning to different textured foods (stage 1, stage 2 etc.),
  10. Tongue thrust

Oral motor sensory issues can occur with children who have had prolonged hospitalization, Tube feeding, neuro-developmental delays and it can occur without the existence of other developmental disabilities.

https://www.feedingmatters.org/parents

fun 2015-01-21 022Uduak (Udie) Osom holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Speech and Language Pathology from San Jose State University. Udie has served students of all ability levels from preschool through grade 12, for over 20 years. She is very passionate about neuro-developmental disabilities and social-cognitive disabilities. She is the owner/director of Innovative Therapy Services, a pediatric speech, language and social skills clinic in Santa Clara, CA. She can be reached at ussom@pediatricspeech.com

Give Yourself Permission to Have a Blissful Holiday

Blissful Holidays

This year has been full of growing pain and self-acceptance. I had to come to terms with no longer being a mother of young kids, but rather a mother of two teenagers and a pre-teen. My oldest came home two weeks ago, after being away to college for nearly four months. I was excited about the holidays and I wanted to recreate pass experiences. Unfortunately, my kids wanted nothing to do with what I had in mind. Even my husband was more interested in watching sports, given that he has very limited time to do so during his busy work schedule. I was feeling awful and wishing the holidays would pass by quickly.

I felt like my effort to make everyone get along was not working. Even the games we all used to enjoy around the holidays now seemed tedious and painful. One of my daughters said, “Mom why are you doing this to yourself? You can’t force it, just let it be and enjoy yourself.” I felt as if I was losing out and needed to gain back control. I was mad and I was going to let them all see that they needed to comply with my forced family activities, so I decided to not part take in any myself. One of the days I laid in bed and read until noon and when I came down, they were all in the kitchen talking and cooking, they even asked what I wanted to eat. I was happy and felt a deep sense of containment that had nothing to do with my planning. Another day since they were all still sleeping, I did not start making coffee or get breakfast going, I woke up went for a long walk and left a list for my husband. He ended up putting a lot of effort into getting 80% of the tasks completed. Gradually I was feeling like myself; recharged and less concerned about photo-ups or playing forced family games.

The holidays can be challenging as we all have certain expectations, traditions and memories we want to recreate or keep, but a blissful holiday is about self-fulfillment. It is about feeling balanced, happy and appreciated. Self-fulfillment is all about a life well lived, not a life full of obligations and forced traditions. Give yourself permission to find deep satisfaction in worthwhile tasks that makes you happy. A blissful holiday is not about creating a bucket list, but rather, pulling back and discovering one’s nature. It is not based on outside influences, but rather internal self-satisfaction that occurs when we let go of our need to control every aspect of our lives.

Image result for free holiday cards

staff_54_2223410517Uduak (Udie) Osom holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Speech and Language Pathology from San Jose State University. Udie has served students of all ability levels from preschool through grade 12, for over 20 years. She is very passionate about neuro-developmental disabilities and social-cognitive disabilities. She is the owner/director of Innovative Therapy Services, a pediatric speech, language and social skills clinic in Santa Clara, CA. She can be reached at ussom@pediatricspeech.com.

Possibilities are Endless

Group Of Teenage Pupils Outside Classroom

Summer is almost over and kids are almost ready to go back to school. The recurring fear for some kids about returning to school goes along the lines of: not fitting in, teacher not liking them, friends abandoning them, not making friends and not doing well in their classes.  I work with students who often struggle with transitions and changes. Every year towards the end of summer, I spend time equipping them with positive vocabulary and phrases. Teaching positive  language to kids may help reduce unnecessary fear and anxiety. I share with my clients that the possibilities are endless when we use positive words. Below are examples of some negative phrases that I worked with one of a 5th grader in switching around.

“It is too hard.” We say,  “I am going to do my best.”

“I’m not good at this.” We say, “I need more practice.”

This work is boring!”  We say, “Let’s add some fun to this work!”

Our attitude can make a difference in how we approach situations. Some people are naturally positive people and others have to learn to stay positive. Before school starts or if school has already started work on strengthening your child’s weaknesses by using positive language with them.  Positive language encourages positive attitudes and helps the child reach for higher goals. 

staff_54_2223410517Uduak (Udie) Osom holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Speech and Language Pathology from San Jose State University. Udie has served students of all ability levels from preschool through grade 12, for over 20 years. She is very passionate about neuro-developmental disabilities and social-cognitive disabilities. She is the owner/director of Innovative Therapy Services, a pediatric speech, language and social skills clinic in Santa Clara, CA. She can be reached at ussom@pediatricspeech.com.

The Truth about Early Intervention

Fun piggyback ride

Some parents with children diagnosed with developmental disabilities sometimes find it difficult taking the steps in identifying appropriate programs that will optimize their child’s learning potential. The term ‘Early Intervention,’ has become so overused that parents with newly diagnosed children with delays or disabilities either go into overdrive mode or completely shut down. Rather than gravitating towards one of those two extremes, I say, slow down and enjoy your child. Just put one foot forward. Early Intervention does not mean you need to act right this minute! It does not necessarily mean tomorrow either. Early Intervention is not going ‘fix,’ your child. You are your child’s support system and taking your time to figure things out will only help you, your child and your family. You will maximize your child’s learning by discovering how to help your child, not necessarily who should help your child. I encourage parents to do their research and find the program that best meets their family lifestyle and also support their goals for their child.

Teacher and children in art class

I suggest they not jump into a program without equipping themselves with important facts on how the program will benefit not just their child, but also enhance support for themselves and their families. It is important to remember a happy supportive home is a great learning environment and that is the key to a successful early intervention process for any child. I don’t recommend just jumping into something without understanding how to get quality support. There is a difference between quality and quantity. Parents will be told to do a standard number of sessions. While it is true that the more support you give your child the better the outcome, it is also important to take into account what is supportive of your family unit. Important questions to consider include:

  • How does the number of sessions recommended impede on my job, my family and overall relationship the time I spend with my child?
  • How will this program help me understand and support my child?
  • How much do they understand my concerns as a parent?
  • Is the emphasis here on capacity-building (expanding and growing) versus building supportive working environments for both the family they service and their therapist?
  • What does it mean to consent to the program or services?
  • How will they measure my child’s progress?

Jeux Enfant Extérieur

Not all Early Intervention programs or services are the same. When looking for  services, always make sure that you are given information on:

  • Functional outcome indicators; not just data, progress reports (for example, sample activities that makes a difference for the child both in therapy and at home).
  • Positive social and emotional skills (The therapists or providers are skilled in encouraging social and emotional relationships.)
  • Helping the child build and maintain relationships with adults and other children
  • How teaching is conducted in a way that allows them to participate in a variety of settings and situations.
  • Promoting and strengthening parents abilities to obtain needed family support systems for your child
  • Promoting and strengthening parents competence, knowledge and confidence in supporting your child.
  • Using your child’s strengths and interests as the building blocks to teaching new skills.

As a communication specialist, I often encourage parents to start with goals that will encourage their child to learn to communicate their needs (i.e. expressing hunger, dressing, feeding, toileting, etc.), contribute to their own health and safety (i.e. following rules, assisting with hand washing, avoiding inedible objects, etc). The quality of a program is not based solely on the number of hours the facility has to offer. Sometimes quality is better than quantity. An environment that encourages partnership and positive early experiences is what you want. Most importantly make sure your child is comfortable and connects with the provider or therapist.

staff_54_2223410517Uduak (Udie) Osom holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Speech and Language Pathology from San Jose State University. Udie has served students of all ability levels from preschool through grade 12, for over 20 years. She is very passionate about neuro-developmental disabilities and social-cognitive disabilities. She is the owner/director of Innovative Therapy Services, a pediatric speech, language and social skills clinic in Santa Clara, CA. She can be reached at ussom@pediatricspeech.com

 DEALING WITH PEER PRESSURE WHEN YOU HAVE LEARNING DISABILITIES  — Innovative Therapy Services-Pediatric Speech Language and Social Skills

Peer pressure is not something new, it’s a rite of passage during adolescent years. Not all adolescents are able to withstand peer pressure and make independent decisions. The fear of being rejected by peers if they do not conform to the group or peer’s request can sometimes lead to adolescents making wrong choices. As a […]

via  DEALING WITH PEER PRESSURE WHEN YOU HAVE LEARNING DISABILITIES  — Innovative Therapy Services-Pediatric Speech Language and Social Skills

 DEALING WITH PEER PRESSURE WHEN YOU HAVE LEARNING DISABILITIES 

Peer pressure is not something new, it’s a rite of passage during adolescent years. Not all adolescents are able to withstand peer pressure and make independent decisions. The fear of being rejected by peers if they do not conform to the group or peer’s request can sometimes lead to adolescents making wrong choices. As a speech pathologist that work with students with learning differences, I have witnessed many clients that make wrong choices due to peer pressure. Peer pressure is worst for adolescents with mild to moderate learning disabilities.

Some adolescents with learning disabilities may also have problems with flexibility in thinking, planning, managing impulse and prioritizing importance of one’s own actions. Compounded with the issue of learning disability is the issue of physical and psychological changes that occur in adolescent years. Adolescents with learning differences have the same emotional and social needs as any of their neurotypical peers. Just because a child has a learning disability does not mean that the natural transitional period such as external appearance and pubescent shifts will not occur, nor does it mean they will not have interest in the opposite sex. Like all adolescents, adolescents with learning differences also struggle with issues of independence and self-identity, thus leading sometimes to wrong choices.

Adolescents with mild to moderate disabilities are very aware of their differences and want so badly to fit in that they sometime become innocent victims of peer pressure. Imagine your daughter attending a party and being told, if she puts on a certain type of dress it will make her look cool and attractive to an opposite sex. The dress I’m describing has the backside completely ripped, thus showing this child’s bottom. The peers that invited her to the party encourage this child, who can barely walk in heels to strut around as if she is on a runway. You can imagine what happens next. This child becomes the running joke of the entire party, without even understanding and she even laughs along. The peers now pretend to accept her and even nickname her, “Silly….” She is treated as the running joke of the group. Eventually, one of the children shared what was happening with her parents. The parents then shared what was going on with this child’s parent. As her speech pathologist, I had to explain the entire situation to her in a manner I felt she could comprehend. Surprisingly, she said she new all along that they were making fun of her, but that she felt okay with it since for the first time she was hanging out with the popular kids.

Recently, an adolescent I worked with, decided he wanted to climb the popularity ladder. He methodically devised a plan on how he could accomplish this goal. According to this child, the popular kids find things wrong with the unpopular kids, such as being poor, dumb and a having disability. His plan was to create an exclusive club for kids wanting to be popular so he could teach them the strategy of becoming popular. He said that the only condition for students to join his group was to learn how to tease disabled students and the poor kids. According to this child when the popular kids see how great he has become in teasing the poor and disabled students, they will invite him into their popular group. Sadly, this is a student with social disability, who has been teased relentlessly due to his disability. All he desires is to join a clique, hoping this will reduce the teasing.

It is important for parents to create safeguards for them. The safeguards should be discussed as often as possible. The discussion should specifically address what neuro-typical adolescent behaviors and friendships are like. Most importantly help them:

  • understand intended meaning in teasing behaviors,
  • understand cliques and social relationships,
  • identify situations that may lead to their vulnerability,
  • learn to think for themselves,
  • empower and build confidence.

In my adolescent social skills group, we work on“self identification.” We break down questions such as, “What do you think about yourself? Into four parts as shown below:

  1. What makes me feel good?
  2. What do I like about me?
  3. What would I like to share about me with others?
  4. What do I want others to like about me?

Teach them that the friendship they form should respect and honor their individuality. As parents we must:

  • Encourage our adolescent to understand that even their friends will act differently in different situations.
  • Encourage them to speak up if they feel their friends are using them or playing mind games. We must empower them to not conform to peer pressure.
  • Teach them to advocate for themselves by using a strong and firm voice to emphasize their choices.
  • Teach them that not all jokes are funny. Jokes that make them feel bad or poke fun at others are not jokes, but teasing.
  • Teach them to understand that popularity is not that important, but forming close worthy friendship is much safer.
  • Teach them to understand the differences between friends and cliques. Don’t take it for granted that because you have said it once that your child will understand or comply. Remember that their peers have more influence and also the media plays a big role.
  • Make sure that the friends your teens go out with share same interests and life values.
  • Teach them that cliques are controlled by leaders who decide who is “in” and who is “out.” Let them understand that true leaders or friends value all opinions.
  • Above all teach them that they cannot allow people to use their personal information as a joke, nor should they allow people to push them around.

If you feel your child needs more support than you are able to offer, it is important to get your child help through a child counselor familiar with the type of disability your child has. I also suggest having your child join a social skills group. Find a group that will not only support your child socially, but actually teach real life conflict resolution and skills that develops, and supports relationships with neurotypical peers.

Resources
http://blog.asha.org
Skillstreaming the Elementary School Child: New Strategies and Perspectives for Teaching Prosocial Skills by Arnold P. Goldstein and Ellen McGinnis
http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetails.aspx?p=243&np=291&id=2183
http://au.reachout.com/having-a-hard-time-with-friends

Conversation is an Art!

Having conversations can be fun and insightful just as long as you follow some simple rules such as, inquiry, thinking, listening and sharing (ITLS). Conversations can be boring if you are not creative and insightful about how to keep your communication partner engaged. It is even more difficult if you do not know what to say or how to show interest in the conversation. It is like going to an art class and being given a blank canvas with no instructions other than to recreate Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. If you are like most of us with limited artistic skills, you will get anxious and not know how to proceed.

Picture yourself again in that very same art class however, this time the teacher not only gives you steps to follow, but also, walks you through each step. While your painting will not be exactly like Leonardo da Vinci’s, I am sure you will feel confident enough to keep working on the painting. First of all, conversation does not come easily for most people, contrary to popular beliefs. It is a process we learn and perfect over time. ITLS rules are the first steps to practice.

  • Inquiring: By asking simple questions about the person or interest you will get moving in the right direction.
  • Thinking about the person, topic, and word choice will help the conversation flow smoothly.
  • Listening to know that the person is truly interested in what you are talking about will sustain the conversation for a longer period of time. The person also has to listen to understand and respond to you.
  • Sharing your thoughts means affirming your knowledge, clarifying the information or acknowledging another person’s knowledge.

What makes a conversation fun?
A good conversation is not boring and is not all about one person’s interest. All conversations are not the same. Some conversations are serious and are meant to solve problems or find solutions. Some conversations are informative. Informative conversations are meant to share and gain knowledge. Finally there are entertaining conversations. These conversations are an exchange of jokes to make you feel relaxed among friends.

staff_54_2223410517Uduak (Udie) Osom holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Speech and Language Pathology from San Jose State University. Udie has served students of all ability levels from preschool through grade 12, for over 20 years. She is very passionate about neuro-developmental disabilities and social-cognitive disabilities. She is the owner/director of Innovative Therapy Services, a pediatric speech, language and social skills clinic in Santa Clara, CA. She can be reached at ussom@pediatricspeech.com

I Have Come to Believe in Chances!

As I woke up this morning to write this newsletter, the word chance, came to my mind. It started with, What are the chances that I will have any inspirational message to share with people? Then came, Why even bother writing today? There is a great chance that nobody will even bother to read my work. Finally, I asked myself, Why do you keep using the word chance? I looked up the word and discovered that chance is a powerful word. By definition, chance, means “a possibility of something happening” (insert citation). Synonyms for the word chance are possibility, prospect, probability, likelihood, expectations, anticipation etc.

There are endless articles and books written about taking chances. As much as we toss the word chance around,for most of us, the word chance does not evoke endless possibilities, but rather a warning to be careful. For me, taking a chance is scary, because it  means risking it all and giving into impossibility. Back in 2000, I submitted a manuscript to several language publishing companies and two companies wanted to publish the book. I have loved  writing since I was a child and here was my chance to get published. However, I came up with all kinds of excuses for not moving forward with the publication of the book. Since I began writing my blog, I have once again been approached to write by a publishing company. Have I accepted the offer? No! I asked myself why I have not taking this chance. The truth is, I hate that word, chance.  Taking a chance means, I am risking something. I am afraid of the risk of being deemed a failure.  I am truly scared of losing the sense of controlling my destiny.  Now, that I have written about it, I can laugh at fear. I laugh, because logically, I know I don’t have control over my destiny.

As I write, I ask myself why some people are successful at taking chances. I started thinking of people I have considered impulsive, those of whom have truly baffled me for taking risks. People that risk it all, have and ‘all or nothing attitude.’ They throw caution to the wind. By nature they are adventurous and they truly see endless possibilities in what I would see as improbable.  I think of women like my sister Isang Awah, AnaMaria Guevara and my sister in-law, Niki Richardson.  I have often thought of  these women as slightly insane for risking it all. However, I can never say I have had the adventures that these women have had.  As crazy as it may sound, I admire these women.Their lives are full of adventure and when you truly step back and look at the imprint or mark they have made, they are truly admirable.  While not all of the ventures they have attempted brought success, but they have succeeded in living fearlessly and courageously. They have not allowed the fear of taking  chances hold them back from possibility. These women always bounce back and move on without thinking of the risk as a failed attempt. It is something we should truly admire and encourage ourselves to attempt.

Being a mother was never something I consciously planned given my congenital heart history. Not that I did not want to be a parent, but as long as I can remember I was told by doctors that it would be too risky.  Regardless at the end, I took the chance and threw caution to the win. I cannot say, that the doctors were wrong about the complications, nor will I say I was unfearful.  Because I wanted my children, I did not let fear rule my chances. Being a parent has been a phenomenal gift. It is the only time in my life I have risked (or chanced) it all,  despite endless doubts and warnings.  When I decided to have my children, the knowledge that I could die was there, the possibility that my children may end up with a heart condition was there, but I approached fearlessly. Why can’t I do that with other complex risk taking ventures? Why can’t I take the chance and be called crazy like I have called people that take risks?

I think the word chance came to my consciousness today given that I am once again faced with opportunities. I was about to cautiously step back from these possibilities that are before me and not risk taking a chance, out of fear. I am going to take the risk, I am going to use the 5 chance principle listed below:

  1. Fearless living: It is my opportunity to take a chance and discover my true strength.
  2. Possibilities are endless: Although I am afraid, I know I am not bound by impossibilities. I  believe that something great will occur no matter the outcome.
  3. Control: While I may not be in control of my destiny, I am in control of my chances and choices, regardless of the outcome.  
  4. Confidence: My confidence is based on the chance that I can do something admirable and not from the fear that I will fail.
  5. Believe in silver lining: People that believe that ‘every cloud has a silver lining,’ are not optimists, but confident risk takers.

I am hoping you will join me in taking a chance on something that appears too complex and fearful. In nine months I will write about chances I took. Keep me posted on your chance adventure.

staff_54_2223410517Uduak (Udie) Osom holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Speech and Language Pathology from San Jose State University. Udie has served students of all ability levels from preschool through grade 12, for over 20 years. She is very passionate about neuro-developmental disabilities and social-cognitive disabilities. She is the owner/director of Innovative Therapy Services, a pediatric speech, language and social skills clinic in Santa Clara, CA. She can be reached at ussom@pediatricspeech.com

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