Longer Breastfeeding = Better Development

Love to see articles like this that encourage mothers to breastfeed. A new study out of Greece shows a strong association between longer breastfeeding (6 months or more) and better all-over development in children. I would even go one further and say babies who are breastfed end up in speech clinics much less than bottle-fed babies.

Longer Breastfeeding = Better DevelopmentIt seems every family I work with at the Morgan Hill Speech and Myofunctional Therapy clinic reports that their child did not breastfeed for a variety of different reasons. Many at the age of 8 are seen for problems with tongue thrust, an infantile swallowing pattern where the tongue protrudes through the teeth for the swallow.  In other words, their facial muscles did not develop into a more mature swallowing pattern. Studies show babies who are bottle-fed have less developed oral, lip and facial muscles than those who breastfeed for 6 months or longer (a recommendation of the World Health Organization). So these babies may grow up to be children with less developed facial muscles.  Chewing/swallowing and speech skills are known to develop simultaneously. Although not every bottle-fed baby ends up in a speech clinic, those children who do need speech therapy or tongue thrust therapy often were bottle-fed.

Breastfeeding your baby promotes strength, coordination, range of motion and sensitivity of the oral-facial muscles.  Plus it improves the mother-child bond, and helps with weight loss for the mother. Link here to a PPT on the benefits of breastfeeding, common problems and effective solutions (written by a speech pathologist).

Have a look at this article for more information on the benefits of breastfeeding for babies.

It would be so great to support moms to breastfeed 6 months or longer to ensure a child has the best development of facial muscles for chewing and swallowing as well as speech and language skills.

If you are a mom who needs support breastfeeding I encourage you to contact La Leche League International to find a group in your area. La Leche League is an international nonprofit organization that distributes information on, and promotes, breastfeeding. It was founded in 1956 in Franklin Park, Illinois, USA, and has a presence in sixty-eight countries. Local groups are organized with free monthly meetings, and free phone support, using volunteer leaders who are also breastfeeding moms.

Christmas Quandary – A Poem

Guest post today featuring my daughter, college student, and writer, Sarah Gallay. She’s loved writing since she was in the fifth grade (and probably even before then).  She enjoys writing  poetry and science fiction fantasy, and is currently working a historical fantasy novel.

Christmas Quandary — by Sarah Gallay

Christmas Quandry PixBag on my arm, keys in my hand…
And though the parking lot’s too full
Cars still inch down the aisle, red faces
None too cheery, all seeking the elusive
Empty space. “Hey, lady, heading out?”
I shake my head and the man drives on.
How can I stay in those packed corridors
And stores promising the perfect present
Factory-made for a million different people?
And how can I leave with only this bag
Swinging on my arm, the lonely box inside
Waiting to be wrapped and under the tree?
Is it ever enough?

“Oh, sorry about that.”
I rub my arm where her car door bumped me
And look at this girl who’s everything I’m not,
Cell phone, make-up and an outfit
Pulled from the fashion magazines
I’ve never read. I can feel her gaze too,
Focused at the single bag on my arm,
And I guess the question before she asks,
“Are you having a tough year? Can’t buy
Many presents?”

Why this assumption
In the present age of consumerism, the logic
That I don’t have enough money, rather than
Choose not to spend it all? Still, I can’t choose
To be anything less than polite. “Not at all.
It’s been a good year, in more ways than one,
And I could afford more than one present.
But a gift is more than just the money
You’ve spent and the receipt to return it
In case it doesn’t suit them.”

“So why
Are you even at the mall then, if you don’t like
Buying presents?” And there’s the accusation
Calling out blasphemy against the god
And savior of the season: debit, credit, cash,
Paper or plastic? Would you like it gift-wrapped?
And here’s a free present that in no way
Makes up for all the hours and energy
And money you’ve spent and still think
You ought to spend.

“I won’t claim
Not to be a hypocrite. Who could know, except
Maybe the giver of the very first Christmas,
That two thousand years would turn
A straw-filled manger into a gift-wrapped box,
Heavenly hymns into commercial jingles,
And a holy sacrifice for peace on Earth
Into frantic, debt-filled days. But
Don’t you see, in the midst of all this,
The first gift is still here, hidden, maligned,
Ignored even as it inspired all the others
For the first gift has always been enough.”

And it is enough, as I step into my car
And drive away, leaving the girl still thinking
Or maybe ignoring everything I had to say
For her thoughts are her own. No fault of the giver
If the gift’s not accepted. It is enough
To remember no matter what presents
I give and receive, they all point to a gift
Worth more than even money can buy.

Dialects and Standard English

Dialects in the U.S.I found this cool dialect survey online.  We’re a big country (the U.S.) and in different parts of the country we say words different ways.  For example, in Connecticut we say Aunt like [ont] but in California we say Aunt like  [ant].  On the East Coast, that big road you drive on is called the highway, but in California, it’s called the freeway.  In North Carolina, when you greet someone, you say “Hey” and in New York and California you say “Hi”. When talking to a group of people in North Carolina, you say “Y’all”, in New Jersey, you say “You Guys” and in California you say “You”.

Dialects are  fascinating, and you should consider where you live if you are trying to learn the local accent.  We have talked about how you can never really loose your accent, however you can learn the accent of the area you live in.  When I teach, I use the Standard American English Pronunciation (also called “broadcaster’s English” since this is the accent television personalities in the U.S. strive to use.)

If you are interested in learning how your dialect compares to others in the U.S., take the dialect survey here. It’s really interesting!


Autism Travel – Survive & Thrive!

Travel with AutismKids on the autism spectrum usually need a lot of structure and a regular routine.  So how does that translate when you want to travel to the grandparents house, or vacation in a place your child’s never been before?  Travel can be very hard on kids on the autism spectrum.  Many autistic adults report they don’t want to travel, even as adults.  I’ve raised my children across the country from their grandparents, and so took yearly airplane trips from CA to New York for the last 22 years.  Here are some of the things we did to support my kids and help make travel with autism, not only bearable, but enjoyable.

Preparation is key.  Going somewhere new has unknowns.  Help your child to learn about the new experience or new place ahead of time.  Check out websites, look at pictures.  Social stories are very helpful here.  See Carol Gray’s social story on traveling by airplane here.

Bring the “lovie”.  Bring along things that comfort your child.  Comfortable clothes are important, you may want to ditch the “Sunday best”. If you can, bring the pillow or stuffed animal your child sleeps with.  Familiarity will be very comforting.

Pack your own food.  Food when traveling will taste different to your child.  Bring your favorites. And stock the larder with these foods when you get to your destination.

Once at your destination, stick to a schedule similar to your child’s schedule at home. If meals can be served at the same time and nap time and bed time routines stick to those at home, you will all fare better.

Create a welcome environment, a “home away from home”.  My son is bothered by noise and streetlights when he tries to sleep at night, so we brought along earplugs and a “light-blocking” shade for the bedroom he slept in.

Share the schedule with your child.  Be sure to give plenty of advance warning about special events.  Write it down.  Give your child his own calendar, and help him follow along from the beginning to the end of the trip.

Practice social conversations ahead of time.  The present-opening at Christmas visits always confused my child.  Without a “filter” on his mouth he often spoke frankly about presents, like clothing or a toy he didn’t want, as he opened them.  If grandparents or other family will be offended with this kind of response, you may be able to teach your child to say “Thank you for the gift, Grandma.  That was very thoughtful of you” and keep the other comment to himself.

Schedule activities your child will love!  Is there a train museum nearby that your child would love to see?  Can you visit a zoo or animal park that has your child’s favorite animal?  Take advantage of travel to see new things that you can’t see at home.  Maximize the experience by picking something from your child’s special interests.

Laugh. Remember your sense of humor. There is so much you won’t be able to control, but do your best and put a smile on.  Humor may help smooth out a difficult situation

Document.  Take pictures, tell the stories and make your own scrapbook.  Next year when the time to travel comes again, pull out your book and review it.  Your child likes to know what to expect and doesn’t like surprises.

How to Pronounce “Said” – It’s Not How You Think

how to pronounce "said"My intermediate ESL class was reading a story with lots of “He said…, she said…, and they said…) but each time got the pronunciation wrong.  They wanted to pronounce it like many “ai” word they already knew.

The wanted to pronounce “said” like  aid, paid, and maid.  The problem is we don’t say it that way.

Said is a common word and is pronounced like red, led and fed, so it’s best to just memorize it.

Remember to pronounce it this way:

  • he sed (he said)
  • she sed (she said)
  • they sed (they said)


Pronouncing -ed Words Correctly (vibration + d)

ESL ClassOur intermediate 2 ESL class is practicing their -ed endings. Today we discussed how to pronounce -ed words.  The focus of today’s post is on “words ending with a voiced sound (vibration) + /d/”

We spell all -ed words the same (Thank Goodness!)  But they can be pronounced 1 of 3 different ways.  See my earlier post on pronouncing -ed words here.  Put ‘-ed’ into the search box on the right and all the older ‘-ed’ posts will come up, including ones with audio.

Let’s focus today on “words ending with an voiced sound (vibration) + /d/”

Look at the root word (that’s the word before you put on the -ed.)  If it ends with a voiced sound (vibration of the vocal cords) then add the /d/ sound.  These are words with the ending sounds b, g, z, v, n, m, ng, r and l.  It also includes words that end in vowel sounds like play, allow and cry.

♥the word          ♥the word with -ed             ♥sounds like:

  • jab                    jabbed                                jabd
  • belong             belonged                            belongd
  • call                   called                                  kald
  • change            changed                             changd
  • close                closed                                 klosd
  • cover                covered                             kuverd
  • love                  loved                                  luvd
  • rain                  rained                                raind
  • save                  saved                                 savd
  • hug                   hugged                              hugd
  • play                  played                               playd
  • allow                allowed                             alowd
  • cry                    cried                                  krid (long i)


How to Pronounce First & Fourth

Question:  How do I pronounce “first” and “fourth” so Americans understand me? (from a Korean student)

How to Pronounce 1st & 4thAnswer: Pronounce “first” by using these sounds [f] + [er] + [s] + [t] = [ferst].  Look at the IR in  “first “, even though it’s spelled IR, it’s not pronounced like other IR words (not pronounced like “fire”, “tire” with a long I sound). Instead pronounce it like ER words (pronounce it like “her”, and  “were”).

“Fourth” sounds like [f] + [or] + [th] = [forth]. The OUR in “fourth” is pronounced like OR words (it is pronounced like “or”, “store”, “for” and “more”).

By the way, “fourth” and “forth” are pronounced exactly the same!

Hope that helps!  Keep up the good work learning English.

Picture Description Lesson 7

Picture Description 7I’m posting more on picture description printable worksheets.

Describing photos is great for speaking (oral expression).  Students, from beginning to advanced, benefit from picture description activities.

Below are some worksheets with photos, I made up for oral expression with my Skype students.  The photos are  just photos I located on the internet. I send the worksheet to my students by email ahead of their lesson time, and they have a chance to think about the picture and how to talk about them.  Then during their lesson they describe what they see in the picture.  Often I ask questions about what’s in the pictures such as Who? What is happening? Where is this? etc.  I call these worksheets “Talk Abouts”   If you use them in class, please share how it goes.

Talk About Worksheet 17 Carving-Twister

Talk About Worksheet 18 Baking-Knitting

Talk About worksheet 19 Raking-WizardOfOz

Talk About worksheet 20 Dancers-GirlsInSchool

How to Pronounce Walk & Work

Question:  How do I pronounce “work” and “walk” so Americans understand me? (from a Korean student)

How to Pronounce Walk & WorkAnswer: Did you know the L in “walk” is silent?  So pronouncing “walk” is really 3 sounds: [w] + [aw] + [k] = [wawk].  The vowel in “walk” is the AW sound like in “paw” and “lawn”. To pronounce “work” remember that even though it’s spelled OR, it’s not pronounced like other OR words (not pronounced like “or”, “store”, “for” and “more”).  Instead pronounce it like ER words (pronounce it like “her”, and  “were”) “Work” sounds like [w] + [er] + [k] = [werk].

Hope that helps!  Keep up the good work learning English.

See an earlier post on words that are spelled differently but all sound like ER.