12th Annual BHSM FREE Screening

What is the difference between a screening and an assessment/evaluation? A screening is a quick look at skills that is then used to make recommendations which could include a full assessment/evaluation. An assessment is a more in-depth experience that delves deeper in to a child’s strengths and weaknesses to make more specific recommendations and create a plan of care if necessary.

May is Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM), and for the past 12 years, STG has celebrated by offering a FREE screening. Licensed speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, and an audiologist are teaming up on Saturday, May 4th to offer this screening again. If you have a child age 3 to 6 and are concerned about his/her speech-language skills, fine-motor/sensory skills, or hearing, please email shawna@sierraspeech.com to reserve your slot (slots do fill up, so don’t wait to sign up!).

Options and community resources will be shared if a full assessment/evaluation is recommended based on results from the screening. For 2019, the screening is scheduled for Saturday, May 4th from 10am until 2pm. Again, if you have questions or concerns in regard to your child's skills, this is your chance to come meet the professionals who have years of experience and knowledge in this area!  Visit asha.org for more information about BHSM and our professions!   #BHSM2019

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SLP and OT Job Announcement!

Are you looking for an opportunity in the pediatric therapy field to work in a multi-disciplinary, pediatric private practice setting? OR, are you an SLP or OT looking for a change and would like a company to pay your moving expenses, provide a 4-day scheduled week with salary and benefits, have your own office, and work with a FUN group of people? If so, Sierra Therapy Group located in Reno, NV, (30 miles from Lake Tahoe!) is looking for you! Check us out at www.sierratherapygroup.com to find out more about our philosophies and environment.

STG Speech Language Pathologist AND Occupational Therapist JOB DESCRIPTION:
*Evaluate and provide treatment for children with a variety of diagnoses including Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, other genetic syndromes, and developmental disabilities/delays
*Select activities that will help children learn communication and life-management skills within the strengths and limits of their mental and physical capabilities
*Collaborate and train families/caregivers how to provide for the needs of their child/children
*Complete related paperwork including initial narrative reports, progress reports, discharge reports, daily notes, and insurance letters of medical necessity as needed
*Develop and market innovative and creative programs that will benefit current clients as well as the community as a whole
*Consult with teams of parents, teachers, and others who provide a variety of services to children receiving services to aid in continuity of care
*Join a team of experienced SLPs and OTs who are passionate about what they do everyday!

Shawna Ross, M.S., CCC-SLP
Director/Speech-Language Pathologist

Why we LOVE being SLPs! #BHSM Recap

To tie-up Better Hearing & Speech Month #BHSM,  the clinicians were asked to share why they LOVE being speech-language pathologists.  Hailey said, "I have so much fun working with communication in a variety of areas and am always smiling, laughing, and learning with my clients!"  Julia said, "I walk out with a smile....EVERYDAY!"  Shawna said, "I help families and children every day with my knowledge, it's such a rewarding field!"  Joleen said, "I get to work with kids and think creatively about how to best help them!"  Amanda said, "Every day is fulfilling, and every day makes a difference!"  There is so much truth in these statements.  May is time for us to reflect and celebrate our profession!

The 10th annual free BHSM screening was a success again this year  The clinicians screened a handful of children at STG.  The families were able to find out if their children's speech, language, hearing, and fine-motor skills were age-appropriate or if a full-assessment was recommended.  Community resources and explanations were provided to the families if needed.  Special thanks to Silver State Hearing & Balance for joining us again to provide the hearing screenings.

Until next year...


How can occupational therapy help your child improve his/her attention?

What is attention?

Attention is the ability to stay focused on a task from the beginning until completion.  Attention skills allow us to “tune out” information that isn’t important to the task at hand.  Having the ability to stay on task and finish activities is important for skill development.  Attention is one piece in the puzzle of executive function.

So what are executive functioning skills? There are three main skills that make up executive functioning:  working memory, mental flexibility, and self-regulation.  Executive function serves as the control system of the brain.  It allows us to organize incoming information, ignore distraction, and change gears.   Self-regulation allows us to control our own level of arousal and alertness and adjust it to suit a specific activity.  It allows us to pay attention and make safe choices.

Children born with the ability to develop executive functioning skills, but some children may need more help than others to acquire them.  Children with ADHD or a sensory processing disorder (SPD) may have a more difficult time gaining executive functioning skills.  They may have difficulties getting started on tasks, keeping their attention on a task, following multi-step directions, organizing materials, and managing their time.  Children with executive functioning impairments may over or under react to problems, they may have difficulty making and keeping friends, and have low self-esteem.

Occupational therapists work with children to identify how these challenges are impacting their daily occupations.  These occupations include performing self-care, being a good student, interacting socially with family and friends, and being successful at play and leisure activities.

Occupational therapists have tools to help children with executive function and self-regulation issues.  An occupational therapist may use specific programs and strategies when working directly with a child or recommend changes to the child’s home and school environments and routines.

There are a few programs that occupational therapists use to teach children about self-regulation.  These include The Alert Program (How Does Your Engine Run?) and The Zones of Regulation.  These programs teach children to identify their own state of arousal, understand when different alertness levels are appropriate, and use sensory strategies to adjust their alertness when necessary.

Occupational therapists may develop a personalized Sensory Diet for children to help them maintain an optimal alertness level for school and/or home.  Some children may need calming strategies to improve attention at school or to prepare for bedtime.  Other children may need arousing strategies to combat lethargy.  Different sensory integration techniques and strategies can be taught to children, families, and teachers.  Examples of these include the Wilbarger Brushing Protocol, Mindfulness Training, and yoga practice.  Diet may also play a part in self-regulation.

Occupational therapists can also target executive functioning skills through practicing discrete skills (i.e. activities that have a clear start/stop point such as puzzles, mazes, and dot-to-dots), using picture schedules so that the child can understand the sequence of an activity or his/her day, moving through obstacle courses, using timers to teach time management and help with transitions, and playing memory games.

Some of the environmental modifications that occupational therapists may recommend include:

  • Set up a distraction-free environment. Use privacy dividers, noise cancelling headphones, or ear plugs, or seat the child facing away from other children or a window/door.
  • Establish a homework routine to avoid procrastination and distractions.
  • Use aids like calendars, daily planners/organizers, computers, or watches with alarms.
  • Use visuals; Prepare visual schedules and review them several times a day.
  • Create checklists and “to do” lists, estimating how long tasks will take. Use checklists for getting through and activity or assignment.