Communication Matters

What is Language?

Language is how a mother tells her baby "I love you" with a sing-song voice. It's how a 3-year-old tells a knock-knock joke while trying to hold back their laughter. It's how a teacher explains the rules of long division to her fidgety students. Language connects us, and language helps us learn.

At the most basic level, language is a set of symbols that a community has agreed upon to stand for objects and ideas. You use these symbols to talk listen, read, and write. In the case of American Sign Language, you use language to produce signs and interpret signs. Having effective language skills means that you can express your ideas and can understand when others express their ideas. Language is uniquely human, and babies begin to build the foundation for language even before they are born!

It can be helpful to think about the difference between language and speech. When your child says "I wuv my wed twuck," (I love my red truck), it doesn't sound right - that's the speech part - but she is sharing her thoughts on something she really likes - that's the language part.

Language includes which words you know and which words you chose to use. It is how you put those words together, the tone of voice that you use, and whether the person across from you understands what you mean. You use language to solve story problems in math class and write an essay in English class. Language skills are what allow you to build relationships with your family and friends.

Not having access to language is frustrating. Imagine being dropped in the middle of a foreign country with a pounding headache. You need to find a drug store, but how would you communicate what you need? How would you understand directions if someone did figure out what you were trying to say? You're in pain, you're confused, and you can't get your problem solved.

Now think of a two-and-a-half-year-old boy who doesn't yet say any words. His head is full of wants and needs, but he has no clear way of letting others know what they are. He also has trouble understanding what his parents want him to do when they give him simple directions. He often throws things when he can't be understood or doesn't understand what his parents want him to do. All of this is because he has difficulty with speaking and listening, that is, with language.

Language underpins everything we do, and having difficulty with language skills at any age means you can't fully participate in everyday life. Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center has a team of licensed speech-language pathologists (SLPs) with expertise in building language skills.

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Tags: Speech, Language, Communication, literacy, Learning, Voice, toddler, talking, Early Intervention, Speech therapy

Summer Activities to Practice Word-Finding for Those with Aphasia

Alicia Verhovitz, M.A., CCC-SLP | Posted on June 06, 2022

Communicating with someone recovering from a stroke or maintaining skills after a neurodegenerative diagnosis may be difficult. Changes in communicative abilities can be either expressive (the ability to speak or communicate) or receptive (the ability to understand spoken or written information), leading to breakdowns in communication. Any changes in communication can lead to feelings of frustration, isolation, or distress. We offer some fun summer activities to help practice word-finding and repair communication breakdowns. These activities require little if any, materials or preparation to engage!

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Tags: Speech, Language, Communication, Stroke, Brain Injury, talking, Speech therapy, Stroke recovery, Aphasia

Stroke Recovery: Communication Tips for People with Aphasia

Alicia Verhovitz, M.A., CCC-SLP | Posted on June 06, 2022

Take your time when speaking. Speak at your own pace. Even if your communication partner is speaking quickly, set your pace and take your time. Your message is important and deserves to be heard.

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Tags: Speech, Language, Communication, Support, Stroke, Caregiving, Brain Injury, talking, Communication Access, Speech therapy, Stroke recovery

Ultrasound Speech Therapy Tackles "R" and "S" Difficulties

Does your child struggle with producing the “r” sound? Do they have a slushy “s” sound? If this is true for your child who is 8 years of age or older, they have what is called residual speech sound disorder (RSSD). Many children with RSSD have been in years of therapy with little to no improvement in their speech. This can be frustrating and discouraging for both the child and their parents.  

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Tags: Speech, Language, Communication, talking, Speech therapy, ultrasound, ultrasound speech therapy, R speech therapy

Tips for Communicating with Someone after a Stroke

Alicia Verhovitz, M.A., CCC-SLP | Posted on April 04, 2022

Communicating with someone after they have had a stroke, brain injury, or other illness resulting in communication difficulties can be challenging. These difficulties can be either expressive (the ability to speak or communicate) or receptive (the ability to understand spoken or written information), leading to breakdowns in communication. Any changes in communication can lead to feelings of frustration, isolation, or distress. Making a few changes in the way you communicate can make a world of difference!

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Tags: Speech, Language, Communication, Stroke, Caregiving, Brain Injury, talking, Speech therapy, Stroke recovery

Brain Injury Awareness and Recovery

Alicia Verhovitz, M.A., CCC-SLP | Posted on February 02, 2022

In 2022,  Brain Injury Awareness Month highlights #MoreThanMyBrainInjury by bringing awareness to some brain injury facts and statistics from the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA).

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Tags: Speech, Language, Communication, Brain Injury, talking, Communication Access, Speech therapy, Stroke recovery

Morning Communication Activities at Home

Sharon Dundee | Posted on January 01, 2022

You may find it challenging to access beneficial resources that allow you to properly care for your loved one. We have researched some at-home activities that encourage communication for adults who are recovering from a stroke or maintaining skills after a neurodegenerative diagnosis. These morning activities consist of routines that get you both up and moving and allow for independent participation.

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Tags: Speech, Language, Communication, Support, Caregiving, Brain Injury, Voice, talking, Speech therapy, Stroke recovery

5 Self-Care Tips for Caregivers

Alicia Verhovitz, M.A., CCC-SLP | Posted on January 01, 2022

As a caregiver, it is easy for us to overlook our own physical, mental and emotional needs as we care for others. This can quickly lead to feeling burned out, which would not be beneficial for us or our loved ones.

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Tags: Communication, Support, Caregiving

Stroke Recovery: After the Hospital

Alicia Verhovitz, M.A., CCC-SLP | Posted on December 12, 2021

Preparing to go home after a hospital stay is never easy, especially after having a stroke. It can be a very overwhelming process with new challenges in thinking, memory, and mobility. The length of your hospital stay after a stroke can range anywhere from a few days to months depending on the severity of the stroke and the support system in place at home. There are many feelings associated with going home, excited to be back home along with feelings of anxiety or worry.  

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Tags: Speech, Language, Communication, Support, Stroke, Brain Injury, talking, Speech therapy, Stroke recovery

Build Preschool Language Skills While Reading to Your Child

Stephanie Vondra, M.A., CCC-SLP | Posted on December 12, 2021

Do you find yourself wondering how to make reading a book with your child more meaningful? Do you have a hard time trying to get your child to WANT to read a book? Here are eight fun and easy ways to engage your child when reading a book and increase their pre-literacy skills and language skills.

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Tags: Speech, Communication, reading, literacy, Learning, toddler, Speech therapy

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