The American Speech-Language Hearing Association’s (ASHA) website is an excellent resource for learning about communication disorders. As a member of ASHA for over 25 years and recipient of ASHA’s ACE award for continuing education, I have consulted our association numerous times regarding questions about research, ethics, private practice policy and referrals. Their evidence maps summarize recent scholarly articles about a wide range of communication disorders. Recently, ASHA reviewed 12 studies that examined the relationship between parents’ MLU or mean length of utterance and language outcomes in children with developmental disabilities, including autism. The summary conclusion was that although numerous intervention packages that have shown to be effective for children with language disabilities recommend that parents use shortened speech when communicating with their children, there is insufficient evidence to support this recommendation. In fact, with autistic children, there may be a negative effect from using shortened speech; evidence suggests that children with autism may benefit from hearing longer, more grammatically complex sentences.
For most families with children, holidays are mini productions – a whirlwind of buying, decorating, entertaining, and carrying on with time-honored traditions. Special holiday-themed school events, performances and parties etch into evenings and weekends during December. In the midst of all of the joy and fun, routines easily fall by the wayside. Although many children love this festive time of year and parents do their best to keep it all going, some children are easily overwhelmed by the disruptions in their trusted routines. Too much sugar, too much stimulation and too little sleep can lead to irritable little ones. For those with special needs or those who need to keep up practice schedules for their speech-language therapy goals, it is worth taking a good look at the holiday production going on in our own families to see where we can do some pruning. Trimming away some of the activities, decorations and treats might yield a more peaceful and meaningful season for everyone. When our son was little we were invited to a very special holiday party downtown at one of the museums. Inside was a twinkling wonderland of glittering decorations and a buffet of confections piled so high – candies, cakes, and spun sugar creations – that left even the most devoted holiday enthusiasts like me to feel this was too much. Sometimes over-the-top festivities have nothing at all to do with the holidays which are really meant for spending extra time with loved ones, sharing some special meals, enjoying beautiful music and giving a few wrapped surprises. Enjoy your holiday this year with all the trimmings and try trimming away some of that excess glitter.