I created a new, free activity for Telepractice Speech-Language Pathologists to use with people who need to work on reading and/or listening comprehension.
Let your students see and hear a typical Vietnamese market in action with narration filled with interesting facts about the market and Vietnamese people who shop there.
- Full length (3 minute, 35 second) video.
- 8 pages of script in easy to read vocabulary for middle school and high school.
- 8 question quiz at the end.
- This resource is a complete session for Telepractice Speech-Language Therapists!
All questions have Quicklinks you can click to go to the page where the student can re-read the paragraph that has the answer. All pages of script have Quicklinks you can use to jump right to the question about the information on that page.
Full color pictures, immediate feedback when students answer questions, this resource makes learning fun and providing therapy easy!
Thanks very much, I hope you enjoy it!
Ok, I have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about with English food, that much is totally apparent now, right? Right! Bring out the celebratory tea and crumpets! 😉
Knowing that they make children in England was seemingly also not on my radar when I wrote and published Toddler Talk AAC. I must have assumed they just hatched at about 10 years old and immediately became embroiled in Fagin’s schemes…
Huge thanks to Dr. Terisa Ashofteh Waterman for bringing this oversight to my attention (you’re becoming a regular on my blog, Teri, I guess if I can’t work directly with you I just have to do so vicariously)!
Sounds Like Home
The whole purpose of having kids voices on Augmentative and Alternative Communication systems is to give kids the opportunity to sound like… Well… Kids! So how does it make any sense whatsoever to expect a child in England to be happy speaking with an American accent? It doesn’t! It minimizes their culture and family. It sets them even further apart from their peers. It decreases their control of their life communication. To combat that, at least in my app, I created the ‘Change Accent’ menu in Toddler Talk AAC.
After clicking that button, you’ll be presented with the option for either American or British accents. Since finishing this app update, I’ve been made aware that there is no ‘British’ accent, and that I should use ‘English’ instead, this will be corrected in the next app update (terribly sorry, neighbours over the pond, no offense intended!).
The English accent was recorded by a professional voice actress… Actually, a professional voice actress chased her scampering toddler around their flat, caught her, and begged, borrowed and pleaded until the child (with some ice cream demands) consented to say a list of words. Ah, the joys of parenthood! 😉
So, without further ado, here’s a video of the new updates!
I’ve released the Stuttering Analysis App on the Windows App Store free of charge as a way to give back to my profession. No strings, it’s free. It took me half a year to write and hopefully you’ll find it useful!
Stuttering Analysis App Reference Manual
The Speech Squirrel Stuttering Analysis App is © 2013 Seth Koster, M.S. CCC-SLP.
THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER “AS IS” AND ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE DISCLAIMED. IN NO EVENT SHALL SETH KOSTER, SPEECH SQUIRREL SOFTWARE OR WWW.SPEECHSQUIRREL.COM BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES; LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER CAUSED AND ON ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF THIS SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.
Dysfluency must be assessed in an appropriate environment by a qualified Speech-Language Pathologist, as such this software may only be used by a Speech-Language Pathologist or delegate (CFY, graduate clinician, research assistant, etc.) under appropriate supervision as specified by ASHA’s Code of Ethics and Scope of Practice. No assessment tool is a replacement for informed clinical judgment, only use this software if you agree to look critically at any results and use your own judgment as to whether they’re valid for your particular patient/client/student/subject.
Table of Contents
- General Use
- Disfluency Frequency in Syllables
- Disfluency Frequency in Words
- Speech Rate
- Naturalness Rating
- Effort Rating
- Awareness Rating
- Secondary Behaviors
- Other Sections
- Output File
- Frequency Breakdown
- Duration Breakdown
- Normative Data Referenced
This work is, first and foremost, dedicated to my mother.
She is the finest clinician I’ve ever met and the person who instilled in me a love of the profession.
My highest professional aspiration is to become a clinician worthy of carrying on her legacy.
I also wish to express my deep appreciation to the current and historical experts in fluency.
Without their contributions to our field I would not have the understanding or normative data necessary to create this application.
It is with great professional respect with which I present ideas and analysis based on their research.
The Stuttering Analysis App is designed to combine several commonly used dysfluency measures into one easy to use app. Strongly influenced by the Real-Time Analysis of Speech Fluency (Yaruss, 1998), this application is designed to be used in real time while either interacting with a patient/student/client/subject (hereafter referred to as subject) or analyzing video or audio recorded speech.
Spending some time reading and understanding the Real-Time Analysis of Speech Fluency, particularly the discussion of acquiring a representative sample, will be extremely useful in determing how best to use this application. While researchers may prefer to opt for as much accuracy as possible at the expense of time, diagnosing clinicians may be better served by capturing enough data to appropriately assess while not increasing data granularity to levels which will not serve the assessment needs.
As a clinician I don’t have a large fluency caseload, nor an excess of available time for evaluations, so it was important to me to write an application which allowed me to capture accurate information within a reasonable timeframe even though I might not use the tool on a regular basis. It is my hope that you will also be well served by this set of requirements.
Time of assessment: Maximum of 17.5 minutes of subject speech.
Using a tablet or touchscreen computer (for app versions which can run on non-touchscreen computers, such as the Windows Store version) is highly recommended. The wise clinician will practice using the application on recorded speech prior to attempting a real-time evaluation. Particularly the Frequency of Disfluent Speech in Syllables phase of the assessment may be intensive since so many different types of disfluencies must be kept track of if one wishes to get complete data.
As stated, this application is designed to be used in real time, as such as much as possible has been automated. This means, though, that measures are interrelated. For example if you do not accurately complete the Frequency of Disfluent Speech in Syllables phase, including stopping and starting the timer appropriately, you will not get an accurate Syllables Per Minute Speech Rate. In some instances you may find that you’re presented with more data than you need, that is by design. My design document stated that I would make available as much information as possible and allow the user to disregard what they do not need. By including all data and analysis my hope is to meet the needs of both diagnosing clinicians as well as researchers.
Disfluency Frequency in Syllables
Duration of phase: 300 syllables or 10 minutes, whichever comes first.
Important Note: Syllable count is only increased when you click the ‘Syllable’ button.
This phase is designed to capture a variety of information, following these directions carefully will ensure that the data you capture is as accurate as possible.
Use the ‘Start Timer’ button to start the timer and enable the rest of the buttons. For each syllable click the ‘Syllable’ button, and for each disfluency hold down the correct disfluency button for the duration of that disfluency in order to capture duration data. Be sure to click the ‘Stop Timer’ button whenever the subject stops speaking for longer periods than mere prosodic pauses and click the ‘Start Timer’ button again when they start speaking again.
Spend some time carefully going over More Typical vs Less Typical disfluency types (Gregory & Hill, 1999) in order to be able to easily tell the difference during the assessment, errors in this area can greatly impact the validity of your results.
Keep the gestalt view of cultural differences in mind. As Robinson and Crowe (1987) found, normal disfluencies such as word and phrase repetition may be higher in non-stuttering African Americans than their Caucasian counterparts. While I do not have relevant research for other ethnic group comparisons, it is important to be mindful of the fact that these differences in typical disfluency rates can impact the validity of our assessment results. This is particularly true if we’re not careful of which fluency classification we ascribe to a particular disfluent event.
Disfluency Frequency in Words
Duration of phase: 5 minutes of subject speech.
Important Note: Word count is only increased when you click the ‘Word’ button.
Use the ‘Start Timer’ button to start the timer and enable the rest of the buttons. For each word the subject utters click the ‘Word’ button, and for each disfluency click the ‘Disfluency’ button. Unlike the Disfluency Frequency in Syllables phase, there is no need to hold down the ‘Disfluency’ button during this phase of the assessment. Be sure to click the ‘Stop Timer’ button whenever the subject stops speaking and click the ‘Start Timer’ button again when they start speaking again.
When the results file is saved, norms based on Guitar (1998) will be displayed for comparison with the frequency of disfluency exhibited.
Important Note: Speech Rate is automatically calculated during other phases of assessment.
Speech Rate is reported both in Words Per Minute as well as Syllables Per Minute. The age of the subject will determine which norms are shown in the output file you’ll save at the end of the assessment.
Words Per Minute norms are based on Pindzola, Jenkins & Lokken (1989), Davis & Guitar (1976), and data summarized by Andrews & Ingham (1971).
Syllables Per Minute norms are based on data summarized by Andrews & Ingham (1971). I’m currently unable to locate SPM norms for children based on age as opposed to grade level, I hope to include this information when I can track it down. For now the application reports only adult norms.
Duration of phase: 2.5 minutes of subject speech
Important Note: As soon as you rate the previous 15 seconds of speech, the timer begins again. Be prepared.
The Naturalness Rating is a nine point ordinal rating shown to have high inter-rater reliability (Martin, Haroldson & Triden 1984).
Over 10 trials you’ll listen to the subject’s speech for 15 seconds and when the alarm sounds you’ll rate the previous 15 seconds on a scale of one to nine. One corresponds to most natural and nine corresponds to least natural.
The Effort Rating is a four point ordinal rating based on Guitar (1998).
To appropriately use this rating it’s important to thoroughly read Dr. Guitar’s text ‘Stuttering: Considerations in the evaluation of treatment’ which will explain his viewpoint on the levels of disfluency, from normal disfluency to advanced stuttering. This rating is one piece of a larger assessment paradigm, and the information gleaned should be integrated into a complete picture of the subject by considering all aspects of the suspected dysfluency.
The Awareness Rating is a five point ordinal rating based on Guitar (1998).
The Awareness Rating is part of the same holistic assessment system as the Effort Rating, which is designed to maintain a wide focus involving the entirety of the subject.
The Secondary Behaviors section is a criterion referenced checklist.
Guitar (1998) specified several behaviors which are indicative of a specific level of stuttering. These behaviors are listed and the application will automatically list both the level of stuttering of which some associated behaviors were exhibited, as well as which level of stuttering of which all behaviors were exhibited.
Additional secondary behaviors which I felt might be pertinent are also included in the checklist, and all specific behaviors not listed should be noted in the ‘Notes’ section of the application.
Important Note: The only required field is Age, this is to ensure that appropriate norms can be reported if they are available.
The other sections involved in this application include text fields to fill in Name (of subject), Age, Clinician Name, and Notes, as well as a drop-down Date chooser.
The Name field is not required but will be included in the output file if you choose to include it, and will be used as part of the default name of the output file. For example, if you use the name Bob, when you save the file the default name it will save as (which can be changed) will start with Bob.
The Age field is required and only accepts whole numbers. If you enter a number with a decimal point the remainder will be stripped and the age will be rounded down. Age will be reported in the output file and will be used to determine which norms are reported in the output file.
The Clinician Name field is not required, but will be reported in the output file if entered.
The Notes field is not required; however it is strongly recommended.
This field is freeform, you can type whatever you like in it and it will be faithfully reproduced in the output file. You cannot, however, paste information from other sources into it and expect faithful reproduction.
The drop-down Date chooser defaults to the current date, and should only be used if analyzing audio or video recorded on a previous date, and even then with a deeply critical eye as to whether this is appropriate considering your paradigm of use.
The results of the evaluation can be saved to a location on your computer. This maintains the integrity of Private Health Information/Personally Identifying Infromation. This maintenance of privacy cannot be controlled if you choose to save to a cloud location, such as Dropbox, which is not compliant with HIPAA.
When deciding what format in which to save text, the Rich Text Format (.rtf) was chosen to ensure maximum portability and reliability. The .rtf format allows for enough format options to create a readable report while still relying on an open standard. All personal computer systems I’m aware of are able to open, edit and save .rtf files without purchasing any additional software.
Important Note: The Frequency Breakdown refers to the frequency of disfluencies exhibited during the phase when syllables are counted.
The Frequency Breakdown area looks at each individual type of disfluency and gives some specific information.
Syllable Repetitions: 32
Percent of total disfluencies: 28.46%
Percent of classification (lt): 62.73%
Frequency in total syllables: 1.32%
*Examples are not representative of actual subject data, numbers may not add up correctly.
The first line shows the number of that specific type of disfluencies captured. In this case the evaluator clicked the ‘Syllable Repetitions’ button 32 times.
The ‘Percent of total disfluencies’ line shows the percentage of all of the disfluencies. In this case if you look at all of the disfluencies the subject exhibited, 28.46% of them were syllable repetitions.
The ‘Percent of classification’ line shows a percentage of the disfluencies in the same classification. In this case if you look at all of the less typical disfluencies, 62.73% of them were syllable repetitions. The ‘(lt)’ in this line signifies that this is in the ‘Less Typical’ category as opposed to the ‘More Typical’ category.
The ‘Frequency in total syllables’ shows what percentage of the total number of syllables had an instance of the specific disfluency. In this case if you look at all of the syllables, 1.32% of them had a syllable repetition.
Important Note: The Duration Breakdown refers to the duration of disfluencies exhibited during the phase when syllables are counted.
The Duration Breakdown area looks at each individual type of disfluency and gives some specific information.
Total duration of disfluencies in this category: 8.32 seconds
Percent of total speech duration: 1.39%
Percent of total disfluent duration: 12.45%
Percent of disfluency classification: 63.88%
Average duration of all disfluencies: 1.55 seconds
Average duration of three longest disfluencies: 2.84 seconds
Longest disfluency duration: 3.42 seconds
Second longest disfluency duration: 2.87 seconds
Third longest disfluency duration: 2.23 seconds
*Examples are not representative of actual subject data, numbers may not add up correctly.
The ‘Total duration’ line shows the duration of all events of this specific type of disfluency added together. In this case the total time the evaluator held down the ‘Syllable Repetitions’ button adds up to 8.32 seconds.
The ‘Percent of total speech duration’ line shows the percentage of the total duration of disfluency of this type compared to the total speaking time of the subject. In this case if the subject spoke for 600 seconds (10 minutes) all of the syllable repetition durations added together were 1.39% (or 8.32 seconds, as indicated on the line above).
The ‘Percent of total disfluent duration’ line shows the percentage of the total duration of disfluency of this type compared to the total disfluent time of the subject. In this case if the subject was disfluent for 100 seconds, 12.45 of those seconds would have been syllable repetitions.
The ‘Percent of disfluency classification’ line shows the percentage of the total duration of disfluency of this type compared to the total disfluent time of the subject in this classification. In this case if the subject exhibited less typical disfluencies for a total of 10 seconds when added together, 6.39 of those seconds would have been syllable repetitions.
The ‘Average duration of all disfluencies’ line shows how long the average duration was for this type of disfluency.
The ‘Average duration of three longest disfluencies’ line shows how long the average duration was for the three longest disfluent events of this type.
The ‘Longest disfluency duration’ line shows how long the actual duration was for the longest disfluent event of this type.
The ‘Second longest disfluency duration’ line shows how long the actual duration was for the second longest disfluent event of this type.
The ‘Third longest disfluency duration’ line shows how long the actual duration was for the third longest disfluent event of this type.
Normative Data Referenced
This application has not been independently normed, instead the primary purpose is to gather information and allow the evaluator to apply norms already developed to the information gathered. Wherever possible I’ve added normative data from published sources so that the evaluator can compare results with established research.
First, this application is just a tool. Clinicians, with their education, qualifications and expertise should never treat this application as anything other than an aid to help them organize data to then use with their own clinical judgment.
This application is designed not to email information or data. If you choose to save data to cloud storage services, such as Dropbox, be sure to understand the privacy compliance (or lack thereof) provided and the ethical and legal implications.
This application is designed not to maintain internal data between uses. If you close the application it will ‘forget’ the data you recorded so that if another user opens the application PII/PHI will not be exposed.
Andrews, G., & Ingham, R. (1971). Stuttering: Considerations in the evaluation of treatment. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 6(2), 129-138.
Davis M & Guitar R (1976). Speech rate of elementary school children in Vermont. Graduate student research paper. University of Vermont, Burlington, VT.
Gregory, Hugo H., & Diane Hill. “Differential Evaluation – Differential Therapy for Stuttering Children.” Stuttering and Related Disorders of Fluency. By Richard F. Curlee. New York: Thieme, 1999. 22-29. Print.
Guitar, Barry. Stuttering: An Integrated Approach to Its Nature and Treatment. 2nd ed. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1998. Print.
Martin, R. R., Haroldson, S. K., & Triden, K. a. (1984). Stuttering and speech naturalness. The Journal of speech and hearing disorders, 49(1), 53–8. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6700202
Pindzola, R. H., Jenkins, M. M., & Lokken, K. J. (1989). Speaking rates of young children. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 20(2), 133–139. Retrieved from http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1989-36074-001
Robinson, T.L. Jr., & Crowe, T.A. (1987). A comparative study of speech disfluencies in nonstuttering Black and White college athletes. Journal of Fluency Disorders. 12,147-156.
Yaruss, J.S. (1998). Real-time analysis of speech fluency: Procedures and reliability training. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 7(2), 25-37.
Potty Training Problems!
(Or the toilet training power play)
So many parents say to me “Seth, I want him to use the potty! NOW!!! How can I make that happen?” Well, let’s talk about some SCIENCE!!!
Yes, I know I shouted ‘science’ but that’s because I love that stuff! Not just because it’s interesting, but also because it saves us from making Poor Parenting Choices © (copyright 6,000,000 BC – The Human Race). Sometimes we just love to make things happen, but we always need to remember that little bodies develop at their own rate and if we try to force things before they’re ready we’ll set ourselves and our kids up for frustration, mistrust and a great big fight that no one can win. Of course later those little brains will remember how frustrated you became and will know exactly how to make you nuts again (more on that in another post)!
So what’s the science? Well, I have my friend, and an absolutely amazing Physical Therapist, Dr. Terisa Ashofteh Waterman who I miss working with terribly, to thank for helping me understand the physiological functions of the spine and toilet training. So a big shout out and thank you to you, Teri!!
The spine is responsible for carrying signals from the brain down to our bodies, and carrying signals from our bodies up to our brain. Now here is where it gets interesting, and instead of me repeating it all, Medtronics explains the science concisely:
The messages or impulses sent by the brain to the pelvic area are carried by a system of special fibres called nerves. These signals start in the brain, go through the spinal cord and continue to the nerves located in the sacral area of the back before being sent to the pelvic area. There are 31 pairs of these nerves in the lower back. Some of these sacral nerves go to the rectum, the bladder’s detrusor muscle, levator ani muscle, and external sphincter muscles, controlling their activities. Two important sacral nerves to the functioning of the bladder and bowel are the pudendal nerve and the pelvic splanchnic nerve. Through a series of reflexes and signals the nerves and the bladder and bowel coordinate with the pelvic floor muscles and external urinary and anal sphincters. This coordination ensures that the sphincters remain closed, opening only during micturition (a term for urination) or defecation. In other words, as the bladder (or rectum) fills, the pressure inside it increases. The nerves sense this pressure and tell the brain about it. The brain then sends signals via the nerves to keep the external sphincter closed. Normally, this prevents leakage. This is called the guarding reflex. When you are ready to go to the toilet, the brain tells the nerves to signal the bladder (or rectum) to empty. You relax the muscles surrounding the urethra (or anus). The bladder (or rectum) empties and urine (or faeces) is expelled.
So what does this all mean? Well, let’s break it down simply. Basically what’s important to you is that the last couple of nerves to develop are the ones which:
Let your child feel that he needs to use the bathroom
- Let your child control holding or releasing his or her bowels and bladder
Whoa!! That should be a HUGE lightbulb moment for any parent fighting to toilet train a child! Basically, your child may not be ABLE to control his or her waste or even know if he needs to void it! Asking him or her to do so is the same as asking you to flap your arms and fly.
You’re just not physiologically capable!
Imagine having a giant person getting madder and madder at you every day because when she tells you to fly… You don’t! You love this person and you really want to make them happy and proud but you don’t even know how to fly, much less have the right equipment to make it happen. Not a fun thought, right?
But Seth, He’s Actively Fighting Me!
So many times I’ve had parents say to me “Seth, I put him on the potty and he sits there forever without going, but as soon as I take him off and put a diaper on him he goes!! Why is he fighting me on this?!?” Well, let’s look at what’s often happening:
- We take the diaper off our little guy – He or she gets stressed since it’s not naturally how he or she feels!
- We put the child on a potty – He or she gets even more stressed because it’s a strange situation!
- When he (or anyone) gets stressed, the muscles tense up – His or her rectum, his or her bladder’s detrusor muscle, levator ani muscle, and external sphincter muscles tighten up and he or she doesn’t micturate or defecate.
- You get frustrated and take the child off the potty – His or her stress level decreases a bit…
- You diaper the child – His or her stress level drops to normal and his or her muscles relax…
- The child micturates or defecates – You call me and ask me why he or she is so stubborn!
So he’s not fighting you, his or her body is just responding to changes by tensing or relaxing muscles without him or her even knowing it. In the same way as when you sit on the couch you don’t urinate even though you’re not sitting there thinking about not urinating. If we want to get all geeky about it we can talk about the difference between the sympathetic and parasympathetic components of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Sympathetic stimulation is predominant during bladder filling, and the parasympathetic causes emptying. But what really matters is that this isn’t really a fight between you and your child, it’s a fight between you and nature. I hate to say it, but nature is going to remain pretty solidly in the win category on this one.
So how do we know if our little person has these nerves developed to the point of being ready to toilet train?
When To Start Potty Training
Well, let’s start with whether the child can feel that he or she needs to go, does he or she:
- Wiggle around before having an accident?
- Let you know he or she needs to go?
- Hide before going?
- Hold himself or herself?
Any of these behaviors can show us that the child is feeling that his or her bladder is full, and that one of the two required types of signals are working as needed. These are the afferent neuronal signals, carrying information from the body to the brain.
Now can the child:
- Sleep through naps of about 2 hours without wetting?
- Urinate a fair amount when he or she does urinate?
- Have well formed bowel movements?
- Have relatively predictable bowel movement times?
If so, he or she probably has the other neural signal working correctly. These are the efferent neuronal signals, carrying information from the brain to the body.
Often parents ask me at what age potty training will work because these nerves have developed. Kids’ bodies are highly variable, but most kids will have developed these nerves between about 2 – 3 years of age, though some kids may take longer. I usually recommend that parents try toilet training a 2 year old, and if that doesn’t work, to try toilet training a 3 year old, but be prepared for toilet training regression if they start young.
So let’s look at some ideas for taking these abilities and successfully turning them into teaching potty training for boys and potty training for girls.
This post contains affiliate links, that means if you buy from a product links, I’ll receive a small percentage of what you spend which help cover the costs of running my blog.
Nevertheless, these are all my own opinions. I won’t recommend it if I don’t believe in it.
Put On Your Big Boy Pants (or pull them down)!
Ok, so as a guy I am a huge fan of potty training urinals like the New Joy Baby Potty Training Urinal for Boys! Boys want to be like their big brothers, fathers, uncles, and other men they see. We like to feel focused on a goal, and we like to know immediately whether we have accomplished that goal. Anything with targets score high on our lists!
We as humans sit down for a variety of reasons, most of which have nothing to do with sitting. So we often think of other things, look around, read newspapers or poke at iPads, cellphones and other electronic devices while sitting there. By putting a boy in a standing position in front of a urinal we have effectively given them a purpose, a reason, and a goal.
Also, standing just feels more natural to many boys when urinating. Regardless of what your husbands, boyfriends, brothers or know-it-all male friends might tell you, there doesn’t appear to be any research showing it’s any better for males with typical bladder and associated anatomy/physiology (Urinating Standing versus Sitting: … A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.), but ask men what they prefer and I bet the majority will tell you they prefer to stand.
Everybody Poops… But not in the urinal!!
So that handles boys and urination, but what about the ol’ number two? Also, parents have reported to me that about half the kids that are born are girls… Who would have thought it? 😉 So what do we do about the typical potty seat needs?
Well, there are a few potty training tips to take into account:
- Potties should not be a place to play, we’re there for a purpose. As Will Smith’s mom said “We go to school to learn, not for a fashion show!” Well, I say “We go to the bathroom to potty, not for an Elmo show!” Ok, no rap future for me…
- Potties should as closely as possible mimic adult toilets.
- Kids should see you doing what you want them to do as similarly as possible.
- Nobody likes cleaning out the potty!
So, with this in mind I recommend that parents strongly consider getting an actual toilet seat for their toilet which can accommodate both children and adults, for example the TOPSEAT TinyHiney Potty. I like these because they’re made of wood instead of plastic, the child portion is magnetic so it sticks to the lid when you lift it and stays out of the way when adults are using the toilet, they’re designed to have a gap between the seats so fingers don’t get pinched, and the Slow Close option (though a little more expensive) helps get rid of the automatic wince we all feel when someone slams the toilet seat down.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- You need to know how to take off the old toilet seat.
- You’ll need a potty stool like this Summer Infant Little Looster, Potty Training Stepstool so kids can reach.
- You need to know if you have a round or elongated toilet, and order the right seat.
With those things met, I feel this is the best option since it satisfies the basic criteria of being:
- Safer – I like things bolted down. Yes, I’m overly protective, I admit it.
- Cleaner – I don’t even want to THINK about what could be growing in most potties…
- Allows kids to imitate adults as closely as possible
- Helps kids focus on the task at hand instead of playing with attached toys or buttons or looking at cartoon characters.
Books & Videos & Systems, Oh My!
So now we have something to get our kids to put their waste into, but how do we get them to get their waste out in the first place… On command, and in the correct receptacle?
Well, I have to be absolutely honest. I have found that until a child is ready nothing really works, and when a child is ready just about anything works. There’s no one system I can recommend because every child is different. There are nationally known and renowned books, lesser known systems, video series, DVDs, games, experts, and all manner of options you can try. Although I don’t necessarily think there’s one correct system, book, DVD, etc., I do think it’s important to have *a* system to which you stick.
So, with that in mind, here are some important potty training system tips:
- Be consistent!
- Be encouraging!
- Get something with a money back guarantee!
- If at first you don’t succeed… Maybe it’s not yet time.
If you pick something, stick with it, don’t bounce between a bunch of ideas. It takes anywhere from 3 days to 3 months to change a behavior in a child. Expecting to potty train in a weekend may be unrealistic.
Kids, and adults for that matter, tend to respond best to positive reenforcement. We as humans want to know how to make our lives easier and happier, if we show our kids that their lives are easier and happier when they use the potty they will be on board. If, on the other hand we turn it into a fight then they’ll respond by fighting back and refusing to cooperate.
Nothing works for everyone, and some things don’t work for anyone. So make sure whatever you buy can be returned in case it doesn’t work for you and your child.
Finally, if it’s not working your child may not be ready. Give them and yourself a break. Take some time away from it and come back later. It may just take a month of growth, emotional and physical, for a child to get ready for potty training.
So what are some systems? Well, as I said, the possibilities are endless.
A lot of parents really like videos, they’re easy to access, they keep our attention, and for a lot of us it’s easier to learn if someone shows us something instead of just telling us.
It was brought to my attention recently that author Carol Cline is one of the bestselling authors on the internet for parenting and potty training products, and she wrote a Start Potty Training guide. It states that it has a money back guarantee, so you can return it if you don’t find it useful for your needs. It includes audio, video and readable versions, and has charts for progress and achievement certificates for your child. If you buy this system I’d be really appreciative if you let me know how it worked for you. I’ve read good things so far.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments section below!
I was asked on Quora.com whether speech therapy works for toddlers… My answer follows.
Answer by Seth Koster:
There are so many factors it’s hard to give a simple yes or no.
I’ve worked with kids who were severely and profoundly disordered (multiple chromosomal anomalies, severe Autism Spectrum Disorders, etc.), and I counted a huge success (and had a happy party with the parents) when we they were able to do something as simple as look towards the food they wanted. To some people that might not be therapy that ‘worked’ but I say imagine going through your life unable to communicate. Imagine every day having to eat something you hated because you didn’t have a strategy to make a choice known. Imagine the difference in your quality of life just being able to make a choice like that. To me, that’s a success.
I’ve also worked with kids who developed communication strategies using sign language, communication boards, apps (such as the one I wrote,), and a variety of other methods of Alternative and Augmentative Communications systems. Some of those kids increased their verbal communication (research shows that AAC is associated with increased verbal language) and some didn’t, but all of them were able to communicate more effectively with their families and other important people in their lives.
I’ve also worked with some kids who just took to therapy like a fish to water and increased their verbal language like a faucet was turned on.
Finally, I’ve worked with some kids who, heart-wrenchingly for me, did not seem to make progress. I would pour everything into it and any progress I saw would be minimal and, by the next session, regressed. Perhaps I gave these children and families some value for their time, I certainly hope so, but I can’t honestly say that therapy worked for them. Perhaps I laid the foundation which a later therapist could use, but I just don’t know.
I hope that answers your question.
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What do you think? Let me know in the comments section below!
(Or the dreaded binky breakdowns…)
Recently I came across the question “Why are pacifiers so effective in soothing infants?“ on Quora about pacifiers… I’ve spent years working with families on getting rid of pacifiers but my thoughts on that are beyond the scope of the Quora question I answered, so I wanted to expand here.
First, here’s what I wrote at Quora:
Answer by Seth Koster:
The simple answer is that pacifiers provide oral stimulation much like a nipple, which is something infants crave since it is their method of feeding.
Though there’s more to it than just the physical sensation. When an infant is held and fed by his mother she produces pheromones which the child breathes in, thereby releasing endorphins and other neurochemicals which soothe the child. Much like Pavlov and his bells and dogs, people can become habituated to sensory stimulation with a programmed response and children may produce those same neurochemicals when given the pacifier. This may be one reason why stopping pacifier use later is often so difficult. We’re taking away something associated with the loving embrace and nurturing of the child’s mother.
Pacifiers are important early on. The evidence shows that, after the child has established appropriate nursing skills, using the pacifier for the first six months of life can greatly reduce the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. However, after that, it is important to discontinue the pacifier since it is associated with increased risk of ear infections and may be correlated with speech and language delays.
So that handles the why, but it doesn’t get to the “How do we stop the pacifier?!?” This is the question most parents have!
So the first thing to remember is that, for a lot of you, it’s going to be an awful, terrible, no good very bad experience for your family. No matter how you handle it kids who are already over about 24 months have a REALLY tough time giving it up. Any time we try to change a behavior things tend to get worse before they get better.
Here are some tips to help:
- Set aside a time when a variety of people are available to watch your child. This allows you to have a break when you need to get away from the screaming. I often recommend picking a long weekend.
- Once you start, don’t cave in!!! When kids know that screaming and crying works to get what they want… Guess what they do when they want something? That’s right, they use that strategy. We all use the strategies which work, and kids are no different. They aren’t bad, they’re just good at being social little people and getting what they want.
- Use some sort of activity which focuses on stopping using the pacifier. If kids can become involved and motivated they become the champions of the cause instead of the enemy of it. Get them on your side!!
There are a variety of ideas which have worked for me, but it always comes down to the individual child and what works for your family.
This post contains affiliate links, that means if you buy from a product links, I’ll receive a small percentage of what you spend to help cover the costs of running my blog.
Nevertheless, these are all my own opinions. I won’t recommend it if I don’t believe in it.
Big Kid Pacifier Party!
I wish I could take credit, but one of my families gave me
this idea: Have a Pacifier Party and at the end you tie each pacifier to a helium balloon and let it float away! I was amazed that you can get a helium balloon kit.
The kit comes with a helium tank, balloons and string, so everything you need should be there. Now lots of people (even yours truly in his distant youth) like inhaling helium for the fun voice change but it’s important to remember that breathing in helium displaces oxygen in the body. Even though it’s not a poisonous gas, I do recommend NOT giving any to your kids just to be on the safe side.
Kids love balloons (and who doesn’t love parties?!?), and by sending the pacifiers off into the world you have created a moment of finality. If your child later asks you about getting a pacifier you can always say that they floated away and now they’re gone.
Binky Bye-Bye Book!
For some families what works best is a story which sparks their child’s imagination. I’ve worked with families whose children especially loved the book “Bea Gives Up Her Pacifier: The book that makes children WANT to move on from pacifiers!”
It’s not only a nice story, but it gives you the opportunity to involve your child and let him follow Bea’s lead in becoming a ‘Big Kid’ just like Bea. Once in a while it’s nice to have peer pressure work in our favor, right parents? 😉
Some families like the idea of giving a gift to help give up the pacifier, but I have mixed feelings about that. It encourages kids to expect bribes which is probably not something we want to do, but in a case where a mythical fairy leaves the gift in appreciation for the pacifier I feel a bit better about it.
One of my old standbys are Chewy Tubes. These are rubber teething items which provide excellent oral stimulation and can be a great replacement for the pacifier. There are a couple of reasons for this:
- The age we want to stop the pacifier is about when teething starts.
- We still provide oral stimulation that babies are craving.
- It helps kids work on moving their mouths which is beneficial for developing oral motor skills.
The Anti-Vampire-Toddler Idea!
I found this GREAT idea on Shasta Walton’s blog and with her kind permission I’m sharing it here!
I’ve had lots of parents ask me about using bad tasting things on a pacifier in order to convince kids to stop using them, but most of the ideas sound a little troublesome to me. I’m not sure if it’s necessarily safe or appropriate to use hot pepper sauces or, as one parent suggested, the bitter apple spray which keeps dogs from chewing on things. However, the NIH U.S. National Library of Medicine lists garlic as “possibly safe” for kids as long as not given in large amounts. This means there doesn’t seem to be evidence that it is unsafe. Obviously we won’t be giving a significant amount of garlic to our toddlers, of course!
We all know that toddlers, like vampires, are terribly afraid of Garlic Juice, so we can just spray it on the pacifier. Now if your toddler doesn’t mind the taste of the garlic juice, perhaps he’s a werewolf instead?
What do you think? Let me know in the comments section below!
Parents often ask me why kids ask why so much… Here are my thoughts at Quora.com!
Answer by Seth Koster:
At this age kids want to have the types of conversations their parents and older peers have. They often don’t know how to make that happen, but they find that using the question ‘why’ continues the give and take flow they hope to participate in.
The best way to approach this is to offer them the opportunity to respond to your questions back and develop conversational skills. For example when your child asks why, give your thought and then ask the child his thought. So if your child asks you why the cat is furry you can say “I think the cat is furry so he stays warm in the winter, why do you think the cat is
furry?” This gives your child the opportunity to expand the conversation with meaningful discourse and develop cognitive, language and processing skills.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments section below!
I often tell a story to the families with whom I work:
When I was in Jr. High I had a tough experience with a math class during which I developed some pretty strong negative feelings. Ever since then my attitude was that I am bad at maths (yes, it looks strange to me too, but I accept that ‘maths’ is the appropriate term for mathematics as a category).
These days I don’t feel I’m bad at maths, though I still avoid them somewhat, especially the types which are similar to those with which I had difficulty. I think most of what helped me get over this was later experiences with teachers who encouraged me. I think that if, at the time I was in the class, I had been encouraged and helped through my negative feelings I would never have developed that attitude.
I tell them that since their kids are having a tough experience with speaking we need to focus in on providing a lot of praise for all communicative attempts. We don’t want to let those negative feelings about their communication skills turn into an attitude that they’re a bad talker!
Yet is that enough?
Today I learned I love avocados! I mean I adore them! Think of it, over 40 years on this earth and I never had an avocado. I had some guacamole once and disliked it and decided I hated avocados having never even tried one. With no outside motivation to rethink my feeling that I didn’t like avocados it took me half of a lifetime to even try one and find out that my attitude that I was an avocado hater was wrong!
Praise your kids’ attempts, in all areas, not just the ones they’re good at or having trouble with. Sometimes one feeling can spring from another with an incredibly small connection. I could have decided I didn’t like any number of ingredients in guacamole but I chose avocado. Don’t let your kids wait half their lives to learn that they love reading or writing or talking. Watch for signs that they’re developing feelings about a particular subject and help them through those feelings. It’s natural to have difficulty with things. The goal isn’t to avoid having a tough time but to work through them and learn from them.
Oh yeah, if you haven’t tried an avocado you’re missing out!
What do you think? Let me know in the comments section below!
I’m Seth Koster, a Speech Language Pathologist from the USA. I’ve worked in educational and clinical settings. I’ve guest lectured at universities and hospitals in both the USA and Japan.
Over the years I’ve learned a few things, and this website is a way for me to share what I’ve learned. My goal is to make your life with your loved one who may have some special needs easier and more stress free.
I also write apps for SLPs and for people with special needs. Some of which are free and some of which cost money. I’ve written for Android, Windows 8 and iOS (iPad, iPhone), but I think I’ll be concentrating on iOS since that’s where people seem to be most interested in my apps.
I’d love any feedback, including reviews or just comments!
Thanks for reading!