In this Episode
Did your child have trouble imitating sounds?
This could be a warning sign of a speech and language issue. It could also be an indicator of an auditory processing issue.
How can you imitate a sound that you just don’t understand? This is where the worlds of speech therapy and learning therapy intersect.
This week’s podcast guest is Stacy Payne, founder of Bright Beginnings Pediatric Services. She is both a speech pathologist and learning therapist, and she shares the critical connection between communication and learning.
In this week's episode, you'll learn:
- Early warning signs of speech and language issues that could lead to learning challenges
- Benchmarks for speech and language development
- Strategies to help children with speech issues
“If you know that your child has struggled with speech and language issues as a youngster, even as a toddler, just be aware of that connection to learning challenges so that we can address it as soon as possible.”
- Stacy Payne
[00:00:01.810] - Jill Stowell
If your child has or had early speech or language difficulties, then you need to know that speech issues often become reading challenges and language issues often become learning challenges. Today we're talking about the connection between speech, language, and learning. Some of the early warning signs that you need to be aware of, as well as solutions and things that you can do. This is LD expert Live.
[00:00:42.490] - Jill Stowell
I walked through the waiting room of our learning center one Saturday morning and a parent stopped me and said our son was in speech therapy for five years and making very little progress. After just three months at Stowell Learning Center, he's being dismissed from speech. We aren't speech therapists, and in fact, the student was attending the learning center because of challenges with reading. So what made such a dramatic change?
[00:01:14.890] - Jill Stowell
A speech therapist does many things that we don't do, but at Stowell Centers, we work with the underlying processing skills that support comfortable, efficient learning. One of the key underlying skills that supports reading is auditory processing. And auditory processing also supports clear, accurate production of speech. Professionals generally have an area of expertise and they pretty much stay in their lane.
[00:01:50.730] - Jill Stowell
So speech therapists and learning specialists often don't really even think about the connection between what those two specialties do. Well, our guest today, Stacy Payne, is both a speech therapist and a learning specialist, and she's going to talk with us about that critical connection between communication and learning.
[00:02:15.410] - Jill Stowell
Welcome to LD Expert Live, your place for answers and solutions for learning disabilities, dyslexia, and auditory and attention challenges. Our guest today is Stacy Payne. Stacey is a licensed speech pathologist, the founder and executive director of Bright Beginnings Pediatric Services in Los Angeles, California, and a certified ADHD specialist. Stacy is a colleague of ours in a network of learning centers, mostly on the West Coast, but around the country, who help children and adults permanently change their learning and attention challenges. And I am delighted to have her with us today. Welcome, Stacey.
[00:03:39.540] - Stacy Payne
Thank you, Jill. I'm so glad to be here.
[00:03:42.940] - Jill Stowell
Well, hey, tell us a little bit about Bright Beginnings. I feel like you kind of have the best of both worlds there with a speech and a learning practice. So tell us a little bit about it.
[00:03:54.870] - Stacy Payne
I will be glad to. I really do feel like I do have the best of both worlds. So we are a private practice in Los Angeles, California. We're a little bit south of Hollywood, a little bit west of downtown a little east of Beverly Hills by a couple of blocks. So we really get this great intersection of all the types of folks and families that live in Los Angeles.
[00:04:18.260] - Stacy Payne
As a speech pathology practice and learning center, we get the pleasure of working with kids from tiny, tiny babies through our feeding and swallowing program to toddlers, preschoolers, school-age kids with speech and language issues. And then in our learning center, we get to follow them through their academic career, mostly elementary school, but some high school students too. So we get the pleasure of following kids really through the continuum of their birth to 18. So it's been really, really fun doing both of those things and combining the programs.
[00:04:57.450] - Jill Stowell
And I bet parents love the continuity of that too.
[00:05:02.620] - Stacy Payne
They do. We love our families and we truly embrace them as part of our family. So it's great to take that journey and it's just real fun. Yeah.
[00:05:15.260] - Jill Stowell
Many people don't realize that there is actually a strong correlation between early speech and language issues and learning challenges. Later on in school. I would love for you to talk about that, about learning challenges specifically from a speech therapist perspective.
[00:05:37.090] - Stacy Payne
Yeah, absolutely. So there is a lot of correlation. We know as speech pathologists that a lot of learning is rooted in language and communication. The same parts of the brain that are responsible for spelling, reading, writing are the same areas of the brain that are responsible for early speech and language development.
[00:06:00.010] - Stacy Payne
That's where the left temporal lobe is, where the language center is. And all of those foundational skills that we rely on for learning begin with early speech, language, and communication. All that brain mapping that's going on in early developing brains stays with us and serves children through those academic years. So we know from very early on, speech sound development is the foundation for reading, spelling, writing, communication. So it's very, very closely related. There's been a lot of research in that connection between speech and learning.
[00:06:45.640] - Jill Stowell
Are there times when a child's speech and language difficulties have been all corrected and they have graduated from speech therapy, but then later on they end up struggling with when they start to read?
[00:07:06.940] - Stacy Payne
Absolutely. In fact, that's kind of how I got into this world of learning disabilities is because as a speech therapist, we might start a child at maybe two years old, three years old, work on their sound system, and then when that's corrected, we might work on some language deficits that are presenting themselves and they do graduate.
[00:07:31.440] - Stacy Payne
But what would happen would be two, three years later, down the road in preschool or in kindergarten, parents would call back saying, okay, what's going on? You're the professional that I know. Why are we having trouble with reading? The teacher says she can't sound out her words. She doesn't seem to be able to remember how to write her name. So those are the very questions that started me in this world of learning disabilities and a little bit deeper into reading and learning challenges.
[00:08:08.340] - Stacy Payne
So as speech therapists, we learn about this in school. We learn that language is language, whether it's spoken, which would be verbal or the auditory verbal modality. So what you hear, your receptive language or what you say, your expressive language is the same thing when you're writing. It's just a different modality.
[00:08:31.950] - Stacy Payne
So reading is just like listening but on paper, and speaking is just like writing, but instead of orally, you're getting your thoughts and communication out on the paper. So we've always known through grad school that reading and writing and all of those things are part of what we do because it's encompassed under the category of language. But I feel like in our grad school, we didn't really get into what do we do with it when a child has those issues.
[00:09:06.570] - Stacy Payne
We're taught to fix sounds that are incorrectly pronounced. We're taught to treat language disabilities and impairments, stuttering, all sorts of things. But when it comes to that academic piece, I feel like we didn't really get all of the information that we need to treat those effectively. So most SLPs don't go to that level of then treating that language based deficit in reading and writing.
[00:09:38.970] - Stacy Payne
So when I was getting those phone calls, I started researching for ways that I could help kids because we know there's a connection, so there's got to be something that we could do on the front end to help prevent it or at least set children up for greater success. And that's how I found you and the phenomenal network of providers that you have assembled and helped train and guided. So that has been really the jumping off point for that part of my practice, is there was a need. I didn't have the answers, and I went on a search to find them.
[00:10:19.760] - Jill Stowell
So definitely, I'm sure that for parents, it's got to feel kind of discouraging. Their child goes through speech therapy and they're all done and everybody's happy, and then a couple of years later, they start to have some difficulties with reading. And so I feel like it's just an important thing for parents to be aware that those things are connected and there just are probably some signs that they ought to be watching for.
[00:10:54.030] - Jill Stowell
So what are some of those signs that a parent should be watching for? I mean, not every child who has early speech and language challenges ends up having reading problems or learning problems, but some do. And so, you know, the sooner you can recognize it and deal with it, the sooner that your child gets to completely enjoy their education. So what are some of those signs that a parent should be watching for?
[00:11:30.710] - Stacy Payne
Yes. So when children are in school, there are certain early warning signs or certain certain clues that you could pick up on that a child might begin to struggle. Some of the things we hear from our kindergarten teachers and real Savvy preschool teachers that refer to us is that a child has difficulty remembering the alphabet, remembering their letters, remembering how to write and spell their own name. That's one of the big issues that comes up and presents itself in early schooling.
[00:12:11.960] - Stacy Payne
If your child has a hard time with their eyes focusing on a page when they're doing early reading, that's an early sign that you just should be aware. It doesn't mean that there is necessarily going to be a problem because we know in those early years so much is tied to development. So there's a wide range of developmental norms.
[00:12:35.310] - Stacy Payne
I don't think that parents need to be alarmed right away, but it should maybe pique your interest and sort of alert you to just pay a little closer attention to what your child is doing even before school. If your child likes being read to but isn't very keen on trying to read themselves, that might be a sign that there's something underlying that we need to pay a little closer attention to.
[00:13:05.210] - Stacy Payne
So those are some of those early warning signs. And you know, if your child has a speech and language deficit that they've overcome, or maybe they're still struggling with some articulation or language, that child is already at an increased risk just because of that alone, just because of that history. So if you know that your child has struggled with speech and language issues as a youngster, even as a toddler, just be aware of that connection so that we can address it as soon as possible.
[00:13:40.160] - Jill Stowell
In the speech area. Sometimes kids have difficulty saying certain sounds. They may have a little bit of a lisp young children. Is there an age where that really should pretty much be gone?
[00:13:59.140] - Stacy Payne
Yes, definitely. So from the time that you are an infant, you are mapping out the sound codes of your language or of the languages to which you're exposed. So if it's just English, your brain is organizing all of those sounds, that whole sound system for the language. If you're learning two, it's mapping both dually at the same time. The brain is pretty impressive. So birth to three is the primary range for laying down language and speech patterns. Outside of that, three to five would be that next great window where the brain is just absorbing all of that information, organizing it and making sense of that language.
[00:14:44.360] - Stacy Payne
So with sounds, of course, some sounds develop earlier than others. You've got early speech sounds, so starter sounds, like Bs, Ps, Ms, N sounds, and then more complex sounds begin to develop. By seven years old, a child really should have mastered every sound. And we can just say for English language by seven. So around kindergarten you might still have some W. For Rs, you might have some wabbits and some wainbows. But by first grade, seven years old, really, those should be corrected. And a child should be able to say every single sound.
[00:15:27.000] - Stacy Payne
THs are later developing sounds. Ss can be later developing sounds. And those difficult pesky Rs are the real hard ones. So, yeah, by seven years old, every sound should be in.
[00:15:40.380] - Jill Stowell
Great. That's a good basic guideline. And then in terms of that language function, things like not being able to tell a story or kind of in sequence, there are some language issues also that parents can be looking for. Right?
[00:16:04.180] - Stacy Payne
That's absolutely right. So if we can kind of follow from an infant through school age some of the milestones that you want to look for, sometimes it's easy to think of it in those terms. So for, let's say, an infant, as I said, language really does begin from infancy. So things that you want to look for in your infant should be babbling, cooing, progressing in those speech sounds. And by about seven or eight months of age, babies are singing to themselves. They're playing with their voice in their crib. They're squealing, they're making all those delicious sounds.
[00:16:49.610] - Stacy Payne
Some babies who have speech and language issues are really, really, really quiet. So in your infant, you want to hear vocal play. You want to hear turntaking. You want to hear those sweet, delicious squeals and cous and back and forth with mom and dad. You want to see eye contact. That's the earliest part of language and that social aspect of language that back and forth turntaking. In an infant, if you make a face, if you do this, there's a period where your infant will imitate. And that is how children start to learn language. It starts from expressions, sounds, then words, sentences.
[00:17:32.360] - Stacy Payne
By one, your child should have their first word. Early language, one word by one year old is really a good rule of thumb. And there's, like I said, developmental norms. There's a lot of variability in that. So no need to panic if your child doesn't have their first word by one. But sometime between eleven and 13 months, we want at least to see one word being used.
[00:17:58.390] - Stacy Payne
By two, there's an explosion in vocabulary. So children can have anywhere from 50 to 250 words, and they start to combine them into short little phrases. Go, bye bye, mama, up. All of those sweet things that children do, little tiny increments of language development.
[00:18:18.630] - Stacy Payne
By three years old, your child should be understood not only by you. Mommies are famous for being able to interpret toddler talk, and moms will understand exactly what a child is saying and have to explain it to the dad. But by three years old, any listener, anywhere, a teacher, grandma, aunt, babysitter should be able to understand about 75% of what that child says by three, by four, pretty much 100% of what a child says should be understood easily by any listener.
[00:18:55.390] - Stacy Payne
And by three, children begin to tell those short little narratives that you're talking about. So when you were in a different time now, no one's really picking up their kids from school to talk about the day. You've probably been there struggling through it with them. But by three, four years old, children are able and ready to tell you a short little account of the day.
[00:19:20.800] - Stacy Payne
You know, Mommy, I played in the FanBox, or I made art project today, or Teacher told me, you know, I was too loud and I had to go sit down and be quiet, or I woke up Susie at nap time. So those little stories should make sense to you, and they should be able to tell just a little story with the beginning, a middle and an end. And then as they get older through kindergarten, those stories should be a little more elaborate.
[00:19:46.910] - Stacy Payne
So kids should be using all those parts of speech to string sentences together, to have a cohesive thought and have a story that has a beginning, a middle and an end. So if those things are missing, that is a clue that maybe you need to pay a little closer attention or maybe walk them through their day. Now, first tell me what happened and then what happened next, and then what happened right before you saw Mommy again, those kinds of things.
[00:20:20.740] - Jill Stowell
And you think about a beginning, a middle and an end. That's exactly what kids are taught when they start writing little stories. So writing is really expressive language and it and that was really valuable to kind of get the roots of that. So thinking about learning challenges in school? Schools don't usually test for learning disabilities until a child is in third grade because it's just really hard for them to qualify based on the school's model. So what advice do you have for parents who feel like their child is struggling but the teacher doesn't seem concerned?
[00:21:12.640] - Stacy Payne
Yeah, so that's a tricky situation to be in because, you know, a teacher has a lot on his or her plate in managing an entire classroom.
[00:21:27.190] - Jill Stowell
[00:21:29.290] - Stacy Payne
Especially today. I was talking to a teacher yesterday, and we were talking about how to help a particular student in class. And I was saying, you know, you don't get the opportunity now to walk through the class and go to each child's desk and kind of view what they're working on. Give a little tap on the shoulder, redirect a task. It's tough.
[00:21:51.100] - Stacy Payne
So in this day and age, it's even probably more important for parents to be vigilant and watchful, to see how their child is thriving. Because there are for sure going to be ways, lots of them, that your child is doing phenomenal things, but also to be aware of when something just seems like it's harder than it should be. And I think some of the advice that I give a lot is, you know, your child the best. You might not be a teacher, you might not be a speech pathologist, but you are the expert on your own child. And so I think it's important to empower parents to really listen to that nagging voice that's inside them saying, gosh, something just doesn't seem right. This is taking way too long for my son or daughter to get this concept in school.
[00:22:47.710] - Stacy Payne
So really, when teachers notice things, most of the time it's a fullblown issue and problem that then you've got to backtrack and reteach bad habits and patterns. If we can correct it and address it from the beginning before it gets to be so ingrained in such a pattern, it's so much easier to tackle and shift into an easier way of doing things. So I would say something for parents to do, especially in these at home learning times, is to if you can find an opportunity to check in on your students work, take a look at what they're doing.
[00:23:26.680] - Stacy Payne
I know we're all busy and we're all trying to get our work done at the same time, but if you can be a little intentional to look at the writing that your child is doing, you know, talk about what they learned in the daytime on Zoom or in Google Classroom and kind of keep a close eye on what their work looks like. You know, there's a difference between getting it done and then getting it done in a way that is easy, efficient, organized. And so if your child is crying over work, taking hours to do something that really their classmates are taking 20 minutes to do, that's something you want to pay attention to.
[00:24:11.440] - Jill Stowell
[00:24:12.310] - Stacy Payne
[00:24:13.260] - Jill Stowell
Great advice, Stacy. And just so our listeners know, Stacy is one of you, a working mom with school age kids doing school at home. Online school. Right?
[00:24:27.840] - Stacy Payne
Online school. Online school. And it's tough. It's really tough. And mine are even having tech meltdowns, my youngest. And so I get it. It's really, really hard. So I think I always want to encourage and empower. We cannot do everything. We cannot be everywhere. But if you know who to contact to get help, if you suspect that there's something going on, you know, there's help out there. There are places like the Stowells, like Stowell Learning Center, like my practice.
[00:24:58.290] - Stacy Payne
Lots of people who are here and who love what we do and can help guide you and empower you and get you on the right track. You don't have to go it alone. There's a big community out here to help. So my thing is, I would like to just say, if you suspect, follow up on it. Even pediatricians will say, no, they're not talking. Yeah, they'll grow into it sometimes. Yeah, but sometimes they don't. And so you don't want to be in that category where they're now over three and they have no words. And we know that birth to three is the main range of times that the brain can soak up language. You don't want to miss those windows. I would say if you feel it, trust your gut and go and get some help. Great.
[00:25:47.710] - Jill Stowell
Thank you. This is LD expert live. I'm Jill Stowell, founder of Stowell Learning Center, and we are talking today with Stacy Payne, licensed speech pathologist and executive director of Bright Beginnings Pediatric Services. We've been talking about the connection between early speech and language issues and reading and learning challenges once a child gets into school.
[00:26:19.460] - Jill Stowell
We talked a little bit about speech and language, kind of the stages that kids go through. This might be a little repetitive. I'm not sure here, Stacy, but I'm thinking, what are some key things that would indicate to a parent that their child needs speech therapy?
[00:26:44.140] - Stacy Payne
Sure. I think we did talk a little bit about those milestones. So if your child isn't meeting those, it's time to take a look. There's a time to wait and see. I'm really passionate about language development, and children are so responsive to the therapy and the interventions and the things that you can do at home that it's such in most cases I don't want to say an easy fix. But it is so treatable and so manageable and so much easier if you address these things on the early side rather than the later side.
[00:27:25.590] - Stacy Payne
So if you've got an infant or a one year old who hasn't said their first word, be listening for it. There are things that you can do as a parent to help encourage that language development, but I think it's good to be aware of these milestones. When you go for your well baby checkups, your pediatrician will ask, are they saying any words yet? Are they walking? Can they walk upstairs? Walk downstairs? But it's important for parents to know these things too. As I said, oftentimes pediatricians have so many things that they're trying to cover in a well baby visit or a well child visit that they can't address every single issue.
[00:28:08.580] - Stacy Payne
So if you arm yourself with some knowledge, it'll really serve your family and also serve to calm anxiety. So one word by one, two words by two, and short sentences by three years old, you should understand. And other people in the child's life should understand at least 75% of what a child says. They should be able to tell you little stories that have a beginning, middle, and an end. And then, of course, it just becomes they become more savvy with those stories and with their language and vocabulary. As they grow by school age, they will start to remember their alphabet, their letter formation. They can write their name. And again, we didn't really talk too much about social language, but that's a component of language too. So things like turntaking in a conversation, eye contact, being able to talk about their feelings and their ideas with words more than gestures.
[00:29:18.090] - Stacy Payne
If you have a three year old who's still tugging at your, you know, your skirt or your pants to show you that they want milk and they're gesturing. That's a really big red flag. Children move from gesture in the toddler years to words and true language to express their wants, needs and ideas. So if your child isn't doing those things, that's a red flag.
[00:29:46.540] - Jill Stowell
[00:29:47.410] - Stacy Payne
[00:29:48.300] - Jill Stowell
So a lot of language development obviously happens in the home with birth to three being that really big window, really major window for language development. What are some things that parents can do to support their language development, their child's language development, just, you know, in their lives?
[00:30:12.190] - Stacy Payne
Yeah. So that's a great question and something we try to educate parents in all the time. We do it every day. Because really, when a child comes to us for speech and language therapy, really we're working with the whole family. We are very aware that there's only so much we can do in one or 2 hours a week. The real key is to teach the parents what to do at home and think of all those waking hours that you've got to make an impact on your child's language.
[00:30:42.400] - Stacy Payne
So there's a ton of things that parents can do to kind of promote language, language development and even speech. So for little kids, we want to start out in the home by talking. It's something so easy to do. You talk, you talk about things that you're doing. You go to the grocery store. Well, I don't know who goes to the grocery store anymore. I do, but everyone gets their groceries delivered. But you have your child in the store with you and it's things as simple as in the cart going down, you know, in the produce section. And you're talking about, look, there's apples, a red apple and a green apple.
[00:31:22.840] - Stacy Payne
What should we get? Let's get the green apples. Okay, you hold the bag. Mommy will put them in. Let's count one apple, two apples, three apples. Language is so easy. It's everywhere. We can turn any session for speech and language therapy into a language activity because we talk about what we do all day long. You know, we talk constantly. I think probably women more than men. We get our words in, but you can incorporate it into anything if you're sorting laundry. That's a great language education time, language learning moment. You can sort by colors. Let's put all the reds here. Let's put all the whites here. Let's put all the blues here.
[00:32:13.460] - Stacy Payne
You know, bath time. Talk about tons of things. Splash action words. Splash, dunk, wash, rinse. You can blow bubbles to work on oral movement patterns that can translate into the movements that are needed for speech, too. So talking, reading, listening is another thing that's important for parents to do. Provide those opportunities for your child to tell you something. I know I'm a talker clearly and I can fill a space. It's important for parents to not feel that they need to fill the space always, especially if you have a toddler who's developing language, it's important to have those moments of silence where you might be playing quietly and allow your child time to talk about something of interest and follow that child's lead.
[00:33:16.010] - Stacy Payne
Sometimes parents, even in play, will direct the play. And we work with parents all the time on changing the way they're approaching that play time. So if you're playing with a train set, it's very easy for a parent to then dominate that play scheme and talk about the trains going up and down. And the child will get very, very quiet because the child is over on their side of the table lining the trains up, or they're doing something completely different.
[00:33:48.330] - Stacy Payne
They're not clued into what you're talking about, and they're not getting all of that language. So looking at what the child's level of interest is and what they're interested in doing, whether it's building blocks or playing with cars, that's what you want to talk about. You talk about what they're engaged in. So there's lots of little techniques that you can do to stimulate language, but really, it starts from infancy, reading, talking, listening.
[00:34:21.560] - Stacy Payne
For older kids in our family, we like to at least have one meal together. It's really, really tricky these days, but we try to come together. I've got four kids and they're all different stages, from adult children to the youngest as I said, it's ten. But at dinner time, we like to talk about everyone go around and let's talk about a high and a low from the day. What was your high moment of the day? What was your, like, lowest point of the day? And it's good for bonding, it's good for language, it's good for connecting. So I think those things can easily be implemented well, easily. It's kind of hard with everyone's schedule so scattered these days, but it's something that is attainable, that you can do at home.
[00:35:11.810] - Jill Stowell
Definitely. Those are just great suggestions because it really is just an awareness as we go through our day.
[00:35:21.900] - Stacy Payne
[00:35:24.190] - Jill Stowell
This is a prerecorded show and we aren't able to take live questions today, but I have a number of issues here that do come up for families on a fairly regular basis. So let's do a little Q and A. So I think you've answered some of these things thinking about toddlers who aren't talking. You said if they're not talking by three, pay attention.
[00:35:54.270] - Stacy Payne
[00:35:55.020] - Jill Stowell
What about if they have an older sibling who just does all the talking for them?
[00:36:00.970] - Stacy Payne
Yes, that happens all the time that happened in my house, and that happens a lot. So older siblings will often talk. For the younger ones, the mom will say, oh, Susie, what do you want lunch? Oh, she wants peanut butter and jelly just like me. So what you want to do is there are some different techniques that you can use, but you really do. Want to have opportunities for that younger sibling to share their opinions and thoughts and ideas. So there are a couple of things you can do.
[00:36:36.190] - Stacy Payne
One, you can make it an open dialogue with all the kids. Okay, it's Timmy's turn to talk. I totally hear what you're saying, and you might be right. He does really like peanut butter and jelly. But let's see what Timmy wants. Timmy, what would you like? And you get your eye contact, focus on little Timmy. And you might have to give the sign to big brother or sister, but you want to create opportunities for them to talk and share their ideas. You might have to go so far as to carve out one on one time with each of your children. And when you have several children, it's tricky dividing your time as a parent.
[00:37:17.140] - Stacy Payne
But if you can get even 5 minutes a day where you've got one child that's got your total attention, undivided attention, and you can have a conversation with them, that will really help in those instances. But there's a little education that needs to happen on the part of the older sibling as well. We've also done things like we use it in therapy sometimes, like a talking stick. Whoever has the talking stick, it's their turn to talk, and everyone else has to be quiet so things like that can be implemented.
[00:37:54.410] - Jill Stowell
Great. You mentioned earlier, you mentioned about multiple languages, learning multiple languages. And I know in Southern California, I would venture to say that the majority of our families have more than one language in the home. So that's a real question. Are there rules around that? How do you help a child kind of become bilingual? And if you notice that the child is struggling with language or has language delays, should you stick to one?
[00:38:35.740] - Stacy Payne
Yeah, that's a great, great question. And we get asked that a lot, especially where we're located. Like most of California, families have multiple languages in the home, which is phenomenal. And I always say, do not change one thing. It is a gift. Because if parents, their first question is, okay, well, they're language delayed, so I should just have them focus on English and forget our home language, Spanish, Tagalog, Mandarin, whatever it is.
[00:39:06.410] - Stacy Payne
And my answer is always, no, don't do that. We know the brain is well equipped to learn languages and multiple languages from birth to three or five years old. So that is the time to infuse that child's life with all of those wonderful languages and cultures and everything that makes them who they are. So it is perfectly okay to expose a child to more than one language, even if they have a language delay.
[00:39:38.550] - Stacy Payne
But there are some rules of engagement that I like to point out to keep things separate. If you think about how the brain is mapping language, we've got sounds, the sound system, we've got the syntax of the language, which is how the words are organized in a sentence, and that is really unique to each language.
[00:40:03.360] - Stacy Payne
So, for example, in English, we put an adjective before a noun. So we'll say the big dog in Spanish, and in other languages that might have a different place in the sentence, it might come after. So, you know, every language has its own rules. So when you are introducing a child to more than one language in the home or in their community, it's important to not combine the two because the brain can't make sense of how that structure is supposed to be laid out and mapped out.
[00:40:40.720] - Stacy Payne
So if I am speaking a hybrid of Spanish and English, and I say, give me the brown pelota, give me the brown ball, I'm confusing the two structures of those languages. I would say it differently if I was speaking all Spanish as opposed to all English. So my rules are don't combine the languages in one sentence, no Spanglish, and if you can keep the speakers even separate, there will be more of a delineation.
[00:41:14.980] - Stacy Payne
So let's say mom speaks English to the child only, dad only speaks Spanish, and maybe the nanny only speaks French. That's okay, you've got three languages. And I tell you, the brain is capable of handling all three languages, but you just can't combine them because the brain has to organize each of those languages, the sound code, the vocabulary, the way the words are structured in a sentence.
[00:41:46.160] - Stacy Payne
So there's a lot that goes into it, but if you keep them separate, it can be done. And it is a huge gift because after five, if, you know, we all had to take language in school, it's really hard to sound like a native speaker. If you learned a language in high school or college, you never quite get it as good as you could have if you started when you were young.
[00:42:10.290] - Stacy Payne
So I think culturally and even from just sort of being a part of a global community, it's just a gift. If you can speak more than one language, even in your career, it's just you're setting your child up for greater success and greater opportunities. So I always say, please don't give up your home language, your native language, just because they have a language delay. They'll get it. It might take a little bit longer, but they'll get it, right. In fact, that is actually, Jill, one of the reasons why there might be a language delay in a young child in the first place. There are certain kids that we might expect, or at least not be alarmed that their language hasn't come in.
[00:43:02.140] - Stacy Payne
Those are kids who are learning multiple languages at once because the brain is taking everything in and organizing it. So sometimes the output doesn't come as soon as it would have if there were only one language being learned. Multiple languages. Sometimes boys develop their language a little bit later than girls just because your child isn't talking at the expected levels doesn't necessarily mean there's a problem, especially if there are these extenuating circumstances going on.
[00:43:34.420] - Stacy Payne
Older sibling who talks and answers for the child and the poor kids just trying to get in, get a word in edgewise when they can or have no real need to talk. You know, there's got to be a reason to want to talk. Multiple languages and other things. There are other issues, other medical issues, ear infections, things like that. So sometimes there it might not just be an organic language delay, but it might be circumstantial and just what's going on in the child's life at the moment. So that's important to remember too. But, yes, by all means, please teach your child all the beautiful languages in your culture and in your home.
[00:44:13.540] - Jill Stowell
[00:44:14.410] - Stacy Payne
[00:44:16.690] - Jill Stowell
Let me ask you one more well, maybe two more things here. A huge concern that many parents have is when their kids, their older kids, can't follow multiple directions. Do you have some thoughts about that?
[00:44:38.940] - Stacy Payne
Yes. So that you definitely should be able to follow by about two and a half, three years old. You should be able to follow at least a two step command without a gesture. So we don't need to say, go to your room to get your shoes and bring them downstairs so that we can eat. You want to just be able to rely on words, verbal language for commands and directions for your kids to understand what it is you're saying and follow through.
[00:45:13.080] - Stacy Payne
If they cannot. That is a big red flag. Another one of those instances that you want to do a little digging into to find out what is going on. Sometimes that is a symptom of receptive language deficit. Sometimes it could be a symptom of an auditory processing or auditory memory challenge. But at any rate, it's not typical and it's not what we want to see. There are things you can do as a parent in the interim while you're waiting for that to be improved or diagnosed and then treated, and that's things like you can use some visual cues and gestures. You also might want to speak in shorter utterances so that there's not so much information.
[00:46:01.680] - Stacy Payne
You make your directions and your requests very concrete and very simple. Go get your shoes, bring them down, and then we'll eat dinner. So very, very concise and less verbose would be something to do. But that is a really good question and something we see a lot and one of those red flags that you really do want to look out for.
[00:46:29.100] - Jill Stowell
Right. And, you know, I like to encourage parents exactly what you said, to say, it a little bit shorter, make sure you have their attention. You're really not saying it on the fly. You're getting their attention. And you might even work with your child on visualizing it. They're supposed to go to their room. Okay, picture your room. You're supposed to get your shoes. Picture your shoes, what color are they? And then have your child say it back to you, which absolutely build the visual and auditory memory that build that working memory that needs to happen so they can hold on to it while they do something.
[00:47:11.680] - Stacy Payne
Exactly. Jill and that's the foundation that's going to help them with comprehension in what you're listening to. So that's a phenomenal strategy. Yeah.
[00:47:21.490] - Jill Stowell
Okay. I have one more question for you. Functionally, how does a speech problem look different than a hearing problem?
[00:47:33.410] - Stacy Payne
A speech problem versus a hearing problem. So the first thing we always do before we work with a child with speech and language is to get them a hearing assessment. So we want to make sure that the mechanism for receiving that information is intact. If you can't hear it, you can't produce it. So a hearing challenge is something that you really want to rule off, scratch off the list as a possible contributor to any sort of speech and language issues for kids who have a history of hearing, ear infections, when you've got an ear infection, you basically have a temporary hearing loss.
[00:48:18.610] - Stacy Payne
So the information that you are receiving is some of it can be missed. So if you have a child with multiple ear infections, they're always getting ear infections. They're always on antibiotics. Watch out for their speech and language development, because in order to produce speech, you've got to hear it. So a hearing issue definitely needs to be ruled out. And kids with hearing loss have a whole other set of very unique to them, speech and language issues. So speech deficit would look like articulation that isn't clear, confusing sounds with one another, not using the right words for a language impairment, not being able to get their message across. So they're very, very different from a hearing issue.
[00:49:14.360] - Jill Stowell
[00:49:15.300] - Stacy Payne
[00:49:15.960] - Jill Stowell
Well, if you're just joining us, this is LD Expert Live. I'm your host, Jill Stowell. We've been talking to a brilliant colleague of mine, Stacy Payne, who has a speech and learning clinic in Los Angeles, California, called Bright Beginnings Pediatric Services. One of the things that makes Stowell Centers and Bright Beginnings different from tutoring and most other learning centers is that we identify and develop the underlying neurodevelopmental and processing skills that provide the foundation for learning.
[00:49:55.090] - Jill Stowell
If you think about learning like a continuum or a ladder with school skills up at the top, you can see that there are many, many underlying supporting skills that need to be in place in order to really meet your potential in learning. We talked earlier about how auditory processing is a key underlying skill for both speaking and reading and, of course, listening.
[00:50:23.060] - Jill Stowell
You wouldn't necessarily think that core learning skills, those skills down at the very bottom of the continuum would be very much involved in speech and language. But we have had students who were either nonverbal or who had very disorganized language start to speak or start expressing themselves more easily as we work to develop those core learning skills through movement.
[00:50:51.450] - Jill Stowell
So everything is really connected. Do you have any thoughts on that, Stacy?
[00:51:00.030] - Stacy Payne
Well, I couldn't agree more. Everything is connected. And we know there is such a connection between the brain and the body. And even if we're thinking just from a language perspective, there is a huge part of speech pathology that is focused on the research that connects language and movement.
[00:51:23.380] - Stacy Payne
You know, today our kids don't get the opportunity to move the way I got to when I was a child because we live in such a litigious environment. Things that used to be on the schoolyard are no longer there, or in playgrounds are no longer there. If you think of all of the phenomenal stimulation that we got as children just going to the park at the corner, those merry go round things, the metal ones that you turn your hands on, you run, and then you hop on it and you just spin and spin and spin and spin. Cartwheel slides, swings. All of that movement serves to organize the brain.
[00:52:03.480] - Stacy Payne
And when the brain and the body are organized and in balance, you are free to produce so much more that is otherwise locked inside. So it's so important for kids to do things. I have been talking a lot about young children, but starting at young children to older children, roll down hills, spin around, you know, swing and slide. I feel like as parents, we get so busy and there's so much that we pack into the day. I get it. It's my life, too. But it's so important to give your child those opportunities, starting from when there's very little to move, to roll, to jump, to turn upside down.
[00:52:45.420] - Stacy Payne
All of that is basically what we're addressing that was missed when we're working on core learning skills and integrating reflexes. We're not really as a society, I think, giving our kids the opportunity to organize all of that within their little bodies because they're sitting still all the time.
[00:53:05.800] - Stacy Payne
They're younger and younger when they're starting school, they're forced to sit at a desk when really 20-30 years ago, they would have been outside, upside down, hanging, climbing trees and on monkey bars and getting all of that really great information that their brain craves in order to be able to put all of these neurologic connections together to serve them in an academic arena.
[00:53:34.010] - Stacy Payne
So I think now we have to be even more vigilant to provide those early opportunities for movement. And even from language perspective, you know, children going out and playing in their neighborhood was how they learned how to develop executive functioning skills or to make up rules of a game. Okay, this time I'll be the leader. You guys have to hide, and then I'm going to come find you. And then you see how that worked out. Oh, that didn't work out so well. Okay, I'm going to revise the rules and let's do it this way this time.
[00:54:07.810] - Stacy Payne
All of that is what we need to be successful in academia in our academic career. So there's a lot that happens, just naturally occurs when children are little that really serve to set them up for success. So when we see students that need this bodywide organization, they might not have had the opportunities that other generations have had to get the jump start on that.
[00:54:36.840] - Stacy Payne
So it's so critical for so many areas speech, learning, reading, visual, motor skills, all of that. The body supports itself. And that old saying, that song, the hip bones connected to the knee bone, the backbone is connected to the hip bone. It's true. And we talk about those things in everything we do in speech, whether it's feeding, swallowing, chewing, talking. The tongue can't move if it doesn't have good support. And the support comes from the jaw. Jaw support comes from the shoulder girdle. The shoulder girdle support comes from trunk stability. That's all core. That's all core. So everything builds on each other. So you've got to have that strong foundation.
[00:55:22.350] - Stacy Payne
So even for those of us who don't do learning, reading and writing and learning challenges in our speech pathology practices, we know that stuff just from a motor standpoint for talking and producing sounds accurately. So you're absolutely right. It all goes together. And that continuum is so important to keep in mind. You know, we've got to address things where the student needs it, wherever that weakness is, that's where we want to come in and bolster that so that they do have the skills to build upon.
[00:55:57.410] - Jill Stowell
Right. And talking about the movement, that isn't just for young kids, that's where so much development happens. So you want to make sure your kids are moving. But we've been on some of the previous shows. We've been talking about online learning and what kids need. And really, when your kids are struggling to focus and they're starting to feel frustrated, they need to get up and move because we all need movement and it is so connected and it will help us reorganize and refocus better than just gutting it out.
[00:56:38.560] - Stacy Payne
[00:56:42.040] - Jill Stowell
This is LD Expert Live today. We've been talking about speech, language and learning. We covered so many things. Thank you so much, Stacy. Here are some highlights.
[00:56:54.710] - Jill Stowell
One, early speech and language issues often become reading or learning challenges in school. Two, if you have this feeling that your child is struggling at school, even if the teacher hasn't noticed it yet, trust your gut. Especially if they had challenges with speech or language early on, you're probably right and there are things that can be done to change it.
[00:57:23.210] - Jill Stowell
Three, you want to provide your child with a language rich environment even before they can talk, just fill up their world with language. But four, remember that communication is a twoway street, so be sure and create opportunities for your young child to use words. And five, we talked about a number of signs that parents can watch for so that you'll know if your child needs speech therapy or help in learning. Stacy, what last thoughts do you have for our viewers as we wrap up today?
[00:58:01.760] - Stacy Payne
So I think the main thing is you are your child. You are the expert in your child. You know your child better than everybody else, better than the pediatrician, the teacher, the therapist, anyone in your child's life. You are the expert. And I want to just encourage you and empower you to trust your gut and be that advocate for your child. If something isn't feeling right, investigate it. Don't let anyone tell you, oh, no, it's just fine. It'll work itself out.
[00:58:32.140] - Stacy Payne
It may, and that would be awesome, but it may not. So seek help if you're seeing these warning signs and talk and read and just remember that your child is your greatest gift. And so cherish all of them. You know, if they're going on and on and on and talking and driving you crazy, it's okay. Just listen, because there's going to come a time when they're not talking to you. So just embrace every stage of your child's development. Be an advocate, trust your gut and enjoy your children at whatever stage they're in.
[00:59:09.710] - Jill Stowell
And that sounded like the voice of experience. Thank you, Stacy, for being here today. This was really fun and so informative. If you are in the Los Angeles area and your child is struggling with speech, language or learning, you need to contact Bright Beginnings. They are amazing, as you can see. This is LD Expert Live, your place for answers and solutions for learning disabilities, dyslexia and processing, and attention challenges.
- Episode 69: Embracing Differences and Building Social Emotional Health – Suzanne McClure
- Episode 68 – Executive Function Tips for Parents, Teachers, and Students + T.E.F.O.S. – Part 2 – Seth Perler
- Episode 67 – The Executive Function Online Summit PLUS a Special Message for Kids – Part 1 – Seth Perler
- Episode 66 – Auditory Processing and Managing Anxiety – Jill Stowell on the Re-Focus Podcast with Angela Stephens
- Episode 65 – “Smart but Struggling” – What Does it Mean? – Jessyka Coulter, Love to Learn 2023
Listen, Watch and Subscribe
Subscribe to the LD Expert podcast in your preferred player and sign up for our weekly newsletter. Get the answers and proven solutions for dyslexia, learning differences and attention challenges sent directly to your inbox.