Screen Time in Childhood by RLLC’s Clinical Fellow Maggie Bonadies

kids digital devices

Screen Time in Childhood

Blog by: Maggie Bonadies, M.A., CF-SLP

Information presented in this blog post regarding the impacts of screen time, specifically with tablets and similar personal devices, does NOT include dedicated alternative augmentative communication systems, which are integral to the lives of many individuals. Screen use is ubiquitous in today’s American culture, as technology is an integral part of daily living for both adults and children. Many children use computers in their classrooms as to complete homework, and a growing number have their own cell phones and tablets. According to Common Sense Media, children ages 8-12 now have roughly 4.5 hours per day of screen time, excluding computer or other screen use specifically for school of homework. Scientists have been studying the impacts of screen use on cognition, psychology, and human development since the 1980s. In recent years, the topic has gained popularity, with significantly more focus on the negative impacts. Research has shown that increased screen time can impact a child’s sleeping patterns, ability to interact with peers and read social cues, can cause headaches and repetitive motion injuries, and can cause vision problems, among others. The American Academy of Pediatrics has previously recommend zero screen time for children under the age of 2, and a maximum of 2 hours per day for older children. This 2- hour block is ideally dedicated to educational or intellectually stimulating materials designed for children. In October of this year, the AAP plans to announce new guidelines and recommendations for appropriate screen-time. These new policies are expected to include increased time allotted for all ages. The AAP explains that media itself is simply an environment in which children learn. With the creation of educational apps and easily accessible high-quality children’s television, it is easy to understand this justification. However, it is not an admission that increased screen time has no detrimental impact. In an interview with NPR, David Hill of the AAP states that the new policies reflect more of a “harm reduction” mindset: “…The question before us is whether electronic media use in children is more akin to diet or to tobacco use. With diet, harm reduction measures seem to be turning the tide of the obesity epidemic. With tobacco, on the other hand, there really is no safe level of exposure at any age. My personal opinion is that the diet analogy will end up being more apt.” As with many things in life, moderation is the key factor in regards to screen time. Allowing children to utilize and familiarize themselves with technology is not a bad thing, and neither is watching a television show as a family. It is when screen time surpasses screen-free time that issues arise. Some ways to minimize screen time include:  Above all, parents need to be good models to the child. For example, if the child cannot bring a cell phone into the living room, neither should the parents. Not only does this send a good message, it promotes interaction among the whole family.  Keep televisions and computers out of the child’s bedroom.  Avoiding eating meals in front of the television, and instead dedicate mealtime to discussion of the day or other topics that can include the child.  Incorporate a child’s favorite characters from screen-based games/shows/etc., into non-screen activities. For example, invite Peppa Pig to a pretend-play tea party. This can motivate the child in interact without sacrificing interactive playtime for television.  Make the family tablet a reward that a child must earn by completing chores, reading, or generally making good choices during the day. Resources and Further Reading:  Kids and Screen Time: A Peek at Upcoming Guidance  Screen time and children  Keeping an eye on screen time  6 Negative Effects of Too Much Screen Time for Kids  Health effects of media on children and adolescents  Beyond ‘turn it off’: How to advice families on media use

Language Development and Playtime

By Deanna Kelly

Language Development and Playtime

“Play has been called, “the work of children” because it is through play that children learn how to interact in their environment, discover their interests, and acquire cognitive, motor, speech, language, and social-emotional skills.” (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2007)

Children observe, listen, imitate, and investigate while playing; they also formulate/make use of language with intention during play. It’s important that you engage your child during playtime by doing things they find interesting. Follow your child’s lead, because the more interested they are in the activity the more opportunity for acquisition of language.

Playtime is a great way to practice your child’s turn-taking skills as well. With infants you can coo and smile then wait for a cooing response back, with toddlers or pre-school aged children, you can take turns using certain toys, and with older children you can incorporate more structured games or board games to facilitate turn taking skills. Playing games can be taken one step further to incorporate asking questions, use of body language, and facial expression, which will only increase your child’s exposure to all aspects of language.

Playtime offers a unique opportunity to correct and expand your child’s language. During play you act as a model for correct grammar and can increase your child’s vocabulary, while giving them a context for the words they are learning. Playtime is the perfect occasion to teach your child the give and take of conversation by offering commentary to what they say or do, as well as expanding upon their words or phrases.

Here are some examples of how to expand language:

Child: “truck”                                      Adult: “Yes, a small truck”

Child: “truck”                                      Adult: “Go truck, Go!”

Child: “He wented fast”                   Adult: “Yes, it went fast”

Child: “That’s a big truck!”              Adult: Ýes, that’s a huge truck!”

Singing songs and reading books are great interactive ways to help your child learn language. Songs are great for memory, and if you incorporate movements or signs, you also strengthen your child’s motor skills. You can sing songs at bath time, while cleaning up after play, or while getting your child ready for school. There are plenty of times throughout the day when you can incorporate a fun or educational song.

Reading books is a great time to teach your child how to infer while reading, by asking who, what, when, where, and why questions about the text. Another idea is to use the pictures in books to inspire your child to tell you a sentence or short story based on what they see.

Singing the same songs and reading the same books help your child to master certain vocabulary words, showcase their expressive language skills, and begin to understand sequencing of stories, and sentence structure; so start singing and reading!

Playtime is when children learn about the world and how they fit into it. It’s a time for them to test boundaries and create, to discover what does and does not work, as well as what acceptable behavior is. It’s when children experiment with the language and social skills they are learning, making it the ideal time for parents to reinforce specific behaviors and assist in the language development of their children.





Blog by Marguerite Bonadies

Stuttering is a communication disorder characterized by an interruption in fluent speech. Stuttering typically emerges in childhood (known as developmental stuttering), although it can develop in adults following a neurological or psychological event. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, roughly 5% of all people stutter for some period during life.[1] Stuttering is more prevalent in preschool age children than older children, and tends to be more common in boys than girls. There is no definitive cause of developmental stuttering, however research has shown some impact of neurophysiology and genetics.

Everyone stutters occasionally. Some people may use interjections like “um” and “like” often, while others may tend to revise their thoughts mid-sentence. These everyday moments of stuttering or “disfluency” are referred to as non stuttering-like. To be considered a person who stutters, one must display a significant amount of disfluencies characterized as stuttering-like.  Below are several types of stuttering-like disfluencies with definitions and examples:


Part word repetitions Part of a word (typically the first syllable) is repeated Ca-ca-can you help me find something?
Single syllable word repetitions A one syllable word is repeated I-I-I-I don’t know
Prolongations One sound in a word is held for a long period of time My name is Ssssssssarah
Blocks Initially no sound is made and oral tension is present. After time, the sound is produced. I have to……go


Moments of disfluency may also be accompanied by secondary behaviors, which are sometimes methods of combating the stutter but are also often unintentional. Some examples of secondary behaviors include facial grimacing, noisy breathing, excessive blinking, and other facial ticks.[1] A child with awareness of his stuttering may also develop avoidance behaviors as a coping mechanism. Examples of these behaviors include avoiding words with difficult sounds, minimal eye contact during conversation, or not speaking at all.[1]

A speech-language pathologist will also consider the amount of time the child has been stuttering and any related family history, and may complete both formal (e.g., testing) and informal (e.g., observation with parents) assessment in diagnosing stuttering. The number and frequency of disfluencies, the length of time spent in a moment of disfluency, and the presence of secondary and/or avoidance behaviors will also be considered.

Depending on the age of a child and his awareness of his stuttering, stuttering therapy can involve a speech-language pathologist, the child’s parents, and the child himself.  Stuttering therapy for preschool children greatly emphasizes parent training, as parents are a very young child’s most common conversational partners. General recommendations for parents of children who stutter include minimizing time pressures for the child’s response, not completing the child’s sentences, and demonstrating or “modeling” of fluent speech. A trained speech-language pathologist can develop a specific treatment plan for an individual child, and can provide further resources and recommendations for parents.

Further Reading and Resources:

[1]Stuttering. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

-The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association provides an excellent and highly detailed resource about stuttering and related disorders of fluency.

 [2]Stuttering Foundation | Since 1947 – A Nonprofit Organization Helping Those Who Stutter.

-This website provides general facts about stuttering and gives resources for parents, children, teenagers, and adults who stutter

[3]National Stuttering Association (NSA): Stuttering Help.

-The National Stuttering Association provides a variety of informative resources as well as information regarding conferences and local chapters. This is a great place to find information about becoming involved in advocacy, as well.


Phonological Processes

By Deanna Kelly


All children make errors while developing their speech and language skills. These errors or patterns are called “phonological processes”, and children use them to simplify adult speech. Between the ages of 3-5 children typically begin to eliminate these processes.

Speech-Language Therapy is needed when children do not eliminate these processes and continue to make these errors while adding more words to their vocabulary. Learning new words and continuing to make these errors make it difficult for parents, teachers, and peers to understand the child.

Below is a chart explaining the phonological processes with an example and description.

Phonological Process Example Description
Pre-vocalic voicing car = gar A voiceless sound preceding a vowel is replaced by a voiced sound.
Word final devoicing red = ret A final voiced consonant is replaced by a voiceless consonant
Final consonant deletion boat = bo A final consonant is omitted (deleted) from a word.
Velar fronting car = tar A back sound is replaced by a front sound.
Palatal fronting ship = sip sh or zh are replaced b y s or z respectively
Consonant harmony cup = pup The pronunciation of a word is influenced by one of the sounds it ‘should’ contain.
Weak syllable deletion telephone = teffone Weak (unstressed) syllables are deleted from words of more than one syllable.
Cluster reduction try = ty A cluster element is deleted or replaced.
Gliding of liquids ladder = wadder Liquids are replaced by glides.
Stopping ship = tip A stop consonant replaces a fricative or affricate.

Speech-Language Therapy used to correct phonological processes typically involves targeting the specific sound error. The therapist will teach correct placement for the sound, and drill the child at word level, phrase level, and eventually at the sentence level. The goal of therapy intervention is to have the child producing the correct target sound during conversational speech.

SLP vs. Tutor

By Deanna Kelly

In our profession of Speech-Language Pathology we are frequently asked how our services differ from tutoring. We’ve outlined some of those differences to help you find the professional that best meets your needs.

Speech-Language Therapy Tutoring

·         An SLP holds certification from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and may need state licensure. ASHA requires SLPs to maintain professional credentials that include ongoing continuing education.

·         SLPs are trained in selecting, implementing, adapting, and interpreting assessment tools and methods to evaluate skills in spoken language, both comprehension and use.

·         An SLP may have received additional training in reading, spelling, and writing to specialize in literacy and dyslexia.

·         An SLP will provide therapy with individual goals based on testing results and will periodically assess the student’s progress toward those goals using standardized and informal testing measures.

·         An SLP may have a background in a variety of literacy programs and be able to select from one program or parts of programs that may best work for each student.


·         Tutors may be a student who excels in a specific area of study, a teacher, or a person who is interested in helping people. They may or may not have any formal training and they are not required to have ongoing professional development training.

·         Tutors typically are not trained to administer diagnostic assessments, and therefore rely on others to administer these tests.

·         Tutors may have a limited background or training in specific reading programs or approaches.


·         An SLP who has additional training in literacy and learning disabilities can provide a complete assessment of the student’s language, phonological awareness, reading, spelling, and writing. All of these pieces are important to learning to read. Knowing where you or your child’s strengths and weaknesses are in each area is invaluable to planning the individual treatment program.



·         The tutor’s role is typically to help the student “catch up” when behind academically rather than to remediate underlying, foundation skills.

·         The purpose of tutoring is to speed up the learning process, make up the skills the child has lost, and get them back up to the instructional level so the teacher in the classroom can continue the learning process with the child.

·         Tutoring attempts to help the student master the material at-hand and become confident in their learning process.



·         SLPs will collaborate with teachers and families to plan intervention goals and activities, as well as modifying curricula to keep students progressing in the general education setting.

·         An SLP will write goals that are observable, measurable, and will delineate a time frame to achieve them.


·         Tutors may or may not set goals for their students.

·         Tutors can both reinforce subjects that are taught in school and teach students how to work independently. Students often become more self-confident after working with a tutor.




·         An SLP will also provide recommendations for both school and home.

·         An SLP will provide you with a written progress report containing information about results of treatment (i.e., progress towards goals and what was done to work towards them), recommendations for continued treatment (i.e., set new goals), and recommendations for school and home.

·         An SLP may accompany you as a parent to an IEP meeting or you to a meeting with your supervisor or professor and assist in making recommendations and supporting you in the process.



·         Tutors typically use assessments in a tutoring session and do not make recommendations for home and school.

·         Given that tutors typically do not write goals, they usually do not measure progress or write up progress reports.

If you select a tutor for your child with dyslexia:

·         It is essential that a student with dyslexia work with a tutor who is trained to use the appropriate multisensory techniques. Be sure to ask about training, experience, and references.

·         Schedule a minimum of two lessons a week. Students with learning disabilities need practice and repetition to master their lessons and it takes time to see improvement.



First Annual 5K Run for Dyslexia and 1 Mile Fun Run


The Reading and Language Learning Cener is proud to sponsor the First Annual 5K Run for Dyslexia and 1 Mile Fun Run on October 11th, 2015 at Burke Lake Park, Fairfax Station in celebration of October being Dyslexia Awareness Month.

What Can You Do?

1) Join us…register today!
2) Be a sponsor of the race
3) Spread the word!  Use these jpeg and pdf flyers to share the event
4) Donate
5) Volunteer on Race Day


Therapist of the Month



We would like to highlight one of our talented therapists this month. Deanna Kelly is a speech language assistant who has been working with RLLC for four school years. Deanna always has a smile on her face and is ready to meet any challenge. Her calm and patient demeanor puts clients at ease. In her free time, Deanna enjoys singing and running races with her twin sister, Amanda.