May: Better Hearing & Speech Month

May 26, 2020

Happy Better Speech-Language-Hearing and Swallowing Month!

When deciding on what to post or blog for this month’s theme, I went to ASHA’s website for ideas. This year’s recommendations are focused on the COVID-19 Pandemic the impacts we all face. At first, I thought I would probably best serve others along those same lines. Perhaps I could talk about telehealth and what an unexpected fun and rewarding learning experience that has been, hopefully, to parent and therapist alike. But, then, I came across a timely little article in this month’s ASHA Leader Publication, that immediately made me think of Mother’s Day, which we observed earlier this month. So, in honor of both BHBS Month and Mother’s Day, let me share what I found so exciting and relevant to what we do as therapists and what you do as parents…PLAY!

Play: A study from Princeton University found that “during face-to-face (play) time, the babies’ brains and adults’ brains synchronized in several areas, including the prefrontal cortex.” Researchers found this by using a new dual brain imaging system. The prefrontal cortex is a part of the brain that is involved in learning and executive functions. Furthermore, the study found that the babies were actually leading the play, and the adults would respond accordingly. The study consisted of 18 children, 9-15 months old. Though this is a small study, I found it to be quite supportive of what we do therapeutically. During both in-person treatments and teletherapy sessions, we promote guided play and increasing parent’s awareness of what the subtleties of nonverbal communication may be indicating.

So, in appreciation of all those mothers, mothers-to-be, fathers, and any caregiver of a young child (and older child for that matter), have fun playing with your children. Take the time to play with your children. It not only helps their brains grow and develop; it’s making us “smarter,” too. I hope that whoever is reading this will never again think of ooing, cooing, and gooing, making silly faces, and playing peek-a-boo as anything less than lovingly educational. I hope you had a wonderful Happy Mother’s Day, and Happy (soon-to-be) Father’s Day!

In appreciation for all caregivers,

Marilyn Hart, MA, CCC-SLP

P.S. Check out this article from ASHA’s Leader Live site, for ideas on how to stay connected during this time of physical distancing:

Marilyn is the Director of Speech-Language Pathology at APTS. She is a 1994 Graduate of UT (her last semester was Peyton Manning’s first semester = ). She has 26 years of experience, with most of that time devoted to children in various settings, including out-patient, hospital, Early Intervention, and schools. To keep up with her adult skills, she has been on rotation at Encompass for close to 15 years, and has dabbled in home health. Marilyn’s deepest desire for every child/person she works with, is to make a difference in their lives in a loving and meaningful way, no matter how small or big. She lives with her husband and dog, Smokey, in Gadsden.