Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Preemie Parenting & All the Juggling that Goes With It!

Today I had the opportunity to chat with Deb Discenza, who is an author and is also the founder of PreemieWorld. Deb understands the need of today’s preemie parents to be able to grasp medical information in layman’s terms and to be able to create a “new normal” in the midst of the NICU chaos.On this show, we talked about parenting preemies and all the juggling that goes with it!

Some of the resources, Deb mentioned included:
  • Inspire.com: a website that allows you to connect and share in a half-million-member support community with others who know what you're going through.

Just press play to listen to our wee little podcast!


Check Out Parents Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Sara Bingham on BlogTalkRadio


How have you had to advocate for your child? 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Why Sign? What Good Comes from It?

Today I'll be writing an article that's been requested regarding the benefits of using baby sign language (ASL vocabulary for us) with your little one. Just received this tweet which pretty much sums it up!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

More WeeHands Classes in BC!

Heaven-Leigh Costa is a mom who first learned about WeeHands classes because her own mother has been a WeeHands Instructors since 2010.  Heaven-Leigh is excited about teaching with WeeHands because  she has seen the remarkable communication abilities that her own sister had by the time she was 10 months old!  Heaven-Leigh looks forward to being able to bring the joy of communication to parents and babies in her community. 
Heaven-Leigh shares, "It is never to earlier to start signing with your baby! The earlier you start to sign with your baby the earlier they will understand what your signing and be able to sign back. Start signing with your baby as soon as your feel comfortable. I started with my son right from birth and he was signing back " more " and "milk" by 8 months!"

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

WeeHands in Hamilton!

Andrea Moran graduated from the Personal Support Worker program at Mohawk College in 2006 and has been studying American Sign Language since 2011. Since becoming a mom in May of 2013, Andrea has been signing with her daughter and is excited to teach others the joy of signing! She is passionate about teaching others how to better communicate with their children before they can even speak. Andrea's classes will give you the skills and knowledge you will need to communicate with your preverbal, hearing baby! 

Andrea shares, "I have loved signing with my own daughter and teaching my family how to sign as well. I'm passionate about sign language and think it is a great way to communicate with your child. I'm excited to meet new familes in my community and be able to teach them how to connect with their child through sign language." Learning and teaching your wee one to sign with WeeHands has never been easier and more fun! 

For more information about Andrea's classes call 905-538-7335
andrea@weehands.com

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Everything from Bottles and Breathing

Today, I got the privilege of chatting with with Diane Bahr, a speech language pathologist and author of "Nobody Ever Told Me (or My Mother) That! Everything from Bottles and Breathing to Healthy Speech Development". We discussed feeding, speech, and mouth development in children....and so much more!

Tell us a little bit about where you grew up and what you were like as a child.

I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. I am the youngest child of 3 children. My sister was on the autism spectrum which is probably one reason I became a speech-language pathologist. As a child, I loved to learn new things, and I still love learning.
You are introduced to someone at a child's birthday party. Describe what you do in two or three sentences. 
I’m a speech-language pathologist, specifically trained in feeding and motor speech disorders. I’ve authored two books Oral Motor Assessment and Treatment: Ages and Stages (a textbook) and Nobody Ever Told Me (or My Mother) That! Everything from Bottles and Breathing to Healthy Speech Development (a parent book). I’ve taught undergraduate, graduate, continuing education, and parent education courses.
How long have you been doing this?
I’ve been a speech-language pathologist for almost 35 years.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about what you do and the work you do with your company?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that therapists know a lot of secrets that typical parents never get to hear. This is the reason I wrote my parent book.
In my book, I give parents detailed information that they don’t see in other parent books about feeding, mouth play, and communication development beginning at birth. It’s a proactive resource where parents can look up and read about “specific things to look for and do” in these areasbefore problems arise.  While the book has information on mouth development through adolescence, it is mostly focused on the birth to 3-year period when the majority of feeding, communication, and mouth development is occurring.
Many health and development problems can be traced back to early feeding and mouth development issues. As one example: a significant amount of mouth development occurs during the first year of life (particularly in the first 6 months). This is when the mouth and nasal areas are being formed for life. Many children, particularly those who are bottle fed, develop high narrow palates (roof of the mouth) and small nasal airways during this time. Small nasal airways can lead to many upper respiratory problems including sleep apnea. I talk about how to avoid these problems in my book and what to do about them if they occur.
As another example: Many children are not introduced to food tastes, textures, and utensils on time and become “picky eaters.” I have seen this frequently in my practice. We have changed the timing of food introduction from 3 months to 6 months to give children’s digestive systems time to mature. However, parents now don’t seem to know when and how to introduce safe solid foods, because they usually don’t have access to the developmental information that therapists have. Baby food companies make an attempt to provide some guidelines. But, the fact is that 6-month-old children are ready to begin to learn to eat from a spoon, take sips from an open cup and/or straw-cup, and finger feed. I teach parents how to safely and properly introduce foods and utensils in my book.
What’s your key piece of advice for new parents?
BE INFORMED. Get a good resource with accurate developmental checklists, so you can look up information as needed. My book is not a cover-to-cover read. We have free parent book guides by age and topic on our website, so parents can look up information as they need it beginning at birth. It is overwhelming to be a parent. You are bombarded with information, so you need to get a resource that is accurate and that you can use as you need it.
What keeps you interested in doing what you do? 
I continue to do what I do because I have learned a lot during my years of practice. I have had the unique opportunity to focus on feeding, motor speech, and mouth development most of my career. I speak with parents and therapists everyday who are dealing with problems in these areas.
Last week I helped a family and their speech-language pathologist develop a plan to resolve a child’s persistent thumb sucking which can ultimately affect a child’s dental and airway development. I have an 8-step process in my book to help resolve thumb and pacifier sucking. Good airway development is crucial for overall health.
What parenting or baby resource/product do you wish you had invented? 
I am still in the process of inventing resources for parents and professionals, so I haven’t stopped to think about this.
I would love to see the multitude of checklists in my book as an APP, so parents can just “plug in” their child’s information to see if the child is “on track” and what they need to do next. In my book I have many specific checklists for feeding, mouth play and development, and communication.
I would like create “pay per view” videos to go along with the information in the book about:
·     When and how to introduce spoons, cups, straws, food tastes, and food textures
·     When and how to introduce pacifiers and then move onto mouth toys as appropriate
·     How to avoid problems like drooling, tooth grinding, and other health and development problems
·     How to track and encourage communication development, because communication development is the first area to go “off track” when a child is on the autism spectrum. I have even placed a checklist in my book with the early characteristics of autism.

I also recently developed an e-course which is ready to launch. The e-course is entitled Everything You Need to Know about a Baby’s Mouth for Good Feeding, Speech, and Mouth Development.While this course was developed as a continuing education course for professionals, it is presented in such a way that parents and care providers can understand it.
What do you do to help your family get and stay connected?
Ironically, my family has rallied around our Ages and Stages mission “to provide the best possible feeding, speech, and mouth development information for families and professionals” in order to “prevent problems in these areas” for all children. My husband is our business manager, and my daughter (who is also a speech-language pathologist) has helped with social media, blogs, Q & A’s, etc. We have a lot of free information on our website (www.agesandstages.net), and we encourage families and professionals to network with us. My daughter also has two young children who she has kept “on track” in feeding, speech, and mouth development by using the book. So, I guess that speaks well for the book.
Do you have inspirational quote or mantra for your family?
I always say, “Get the information you need WHEN you need it!” I recommend this for my own family and for parents.

Parents may not have the benefit of their own parents living close by to teach and show them what to do, so parents often find themselves guessing about information that many therapists know. My goal is to help parents find the information they need when they need it.
Share the title of a favourite parenting book. Why do you love it?
In my book, I provide parents and care providers with an annotated bibliography of parenting resources.  We also have an ever expanding resource list of related websites and companies on our website. However, I guess I would have to say that my own book is my favorite parenting book for feeding, speech, and mouth development. To my knowledge, there is no other book like it that gives parents the details of these processes for typically developing children. As previously mentioned, my book is a reference book loaded with checklists and specific techniques. The free parent book guides help parents navigate the information within the book as they need it.

Additionally, parents should always speak with their pediatricians about the methods and resources they are using. In my book I make it clear that I am educating parents and not giving medical advice. I also believe that parents know their children best and should trust their own judgment once they have the information they need.
Are you on Twitter? Facebook? Please share where we can find you.
I am on Twitter, Facebook, Linked-In, Pinterest, and Google Plus. You can find these connections on our home page. Go to www.agesandstages.net. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Signing "More" for More than More!

I have a signing question for you. My 10 month old has started using the sign for "more" but she often uses open hands, more like a clap. My problem is she also claps to show she's agreeable, so at the end of a meal, I sign all gone to which she claps but I don't know if she's happy we're done or asking for more. How do I tell the difference and also help teach her?

Great question, Tiffany I love that your 10 month old is signing…so wonderful! Babies learning to sign will often produce signs the way we do just a little differently. This doesn't happen with all signs but babies will often use what we call an approximation to the “correct” way of making a sign (I’m pretty relaxed about that word “correct” – there shouldn't be a strictness about teaching language but we do need to provide good models for our little ones).

ARTICULATING SIGNS

The sign for “more” is produced by using a specific hand shape (two flattened “O”s); a body space (generally at about chest level) and a movement (tapping your fingertips together twice.

Now babies, because they have “wee hands” often get the body space and the movement correct but may have difficulty recreating the hand shape that we use. It makes sense – they have such wee little hands! What babies often do is approximate the hand shape – they may not use two flat “O”s but may use two flat hands, or one flat hand and a pointer finger, for the sign for “more”.  

When your little one does this following these steps:

1.    Acknowledge what they are trying to communicate, “Oh, you want MORE!”
2.    Respond appropriately and quickly, e.g., give them more bubbles, more cookies, more tickles!
3.    Model the correct sign and spoken word for them!
4.    Smile and make it fun!

Hey, that spells ARMS! Yes, use our long established ARMS principle (okay, I really just made that up – but it works doesn't it!)

Watch how this 9 1/2 month old baby approximates the sign for "more" while his mom, Sharon Weisz, responds, models the correct spoken word and makes it fun!



OVERGENERALIZING LANGUAGE

You also mentioned that she is using this gesture at different times, e.g., when the sign for “finished” might be a better sign. Children often overgeneralize words then they first learn them, every four legged animal is a “dog” (or a “cow”) and every man is “daddy”.

This happens whether words are signed or said. Your little one may be doing just that. She may be thinking,

Hey, mommy, likes it when I move my hands like this. Good things happen when I move my hands like this. I should move my hands like this all the time!”

When this happens again use our tried and true ARMS strategy:

  1. 1.    Acknowledge what they are trying to communicate, “Yes, you are FINISHED!”
  2. 2.    Respond appropriately and quickly, e.g., showing her the empty bowl, removing her tray.
  3. 3.    Model the correct sign and spoken word for them!
  4. 4.    Smile and make it fun!
What signs does your little ones use? What signs would you like to teach them? 

Sara Bingham is the other of The Baby Signing Book and the founder of WeeHands, a sign language program with instructors across North America. She is a frequent contributor to parenting magazines and baby-related professional websites.