• Welcome to Mrs. Norcia's Speech and Language Page 


    What is the Speech-Language Specialist's role in a public school?

    Developing speech and language is a long and complicated process.  Speech and language specialists provide the following services:

    • Identification of students with communication problems through teacher or parent/guardian referral.
    • Assessment and diagnosis of students' communication behaviors.
    • Remediation, consultation, and periodic reevaluations.

    Impairments of voice, articulation, and fluency are evaluated by the speech language specialist after a written request is made by a parent/guardian.  These students, whose classification is "Eligible for Speech Language Services" (ESLS), are classified following the New Jersey Administrative Code for Special Education, N.J.A.C. 6A:14 procedures.  Services are based on an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

    Delayed expressive and/or receptive language skills are identified and evaluated by the speech language specialist and members of the Child Study Team.  Services are provided on an Individualized Education Program (IEP) developed by the Child Study Team, student's  teacher, parent/guardian, and speech language specialist.  The student receives therapy as a Related Service.

    So what do you do if you are concerned about your child's communication development?

    First, talk to your child's classroom teacher about your concerns.  Outside of you, they know your child best and can discuss with you if they are observing the same concerns in the classroom.  If your child's teacher shares your concerns, you may write a letter requesting an evaluation of your child's articulation, fluency, or voice.  This letter will lead to meeting with the Speech Language Specialist to determine whether or not an evaluation is necessary.  If you have concerns regarding your child's language, you or your teacher may contact a member of the Child Study Team to discuss your concerns and whether a meeting is warranted to discuss a possible Child Study Team evaluation.



    What is the difference between SPEECH and LANGUAGE?

    LANGUAGE is what we speak, write, read, and understand.  Language is also communicating through gestures (body language or sign language).  There are two distinct areas of language: receptive (what we hear and understand from others' speech or gestures) and expressive (the words we use to create messages others will understand).

    Children with receptive language problems may find listening and attending to conversation, stories, oral directions, classroom activities, etc. confusing and difficult at times.  Children with expressive language disorders have difficulty sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings completely.  For example, Julie has a receptive and expressive language disorder.  She does not have a good understanding of the meaning of words and how and when to use them.  Because of this, she has trouble following directions and speaking in long sentences.

    SPEECH "refers to the sounds that come out of our mouth and take shape in the form of words" (Hamaguchi, 1995).  The speech process is extremely complicated and consists of the following:

    • Articulation
      • How speech sounds are made (i.e., children must learn how to produce the /r/ sound in order to say "rabbit" instead of "wabbit").
    • Voice
      • Use of the vocal folds and breathing to produce sound (i.e., the voice can be abused from overuse or misuse and can lead to hoarseness or loss of voice)
    • Fluency
      • The rhythm of speech (i.e., hesitations or stuttering can affect fluency).

    When a person is unable to produce speech sounds correctly or fluently, or has problems with his or her voice, then he or she has a speech disorder.  For example, Billy has a speech disorder that makes him hard to understand.  When he says words, they do not sound correct.  Children who stutter, as well as people whose voices sound hoarse or nasal (on a consistent basis), are also diagnosed with a speech problem.  

    Language and speech disorders can exist together or by themselves.  The problem can be mild or severe.  In any case, a comprehensive evaluation by a speech-language pathologist (SLP) certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is the first step to improving language and speech disorders.

    Source:  http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/language_speech.htm


    Warning Signs for Possible Receptive Language Delay:

    • Not responding to their name - A child should be receptive to his name at an early age (between 12-18 months).  Meaning a parent or caregiver should not repeatedly call a child's name to get his attention unless there is something very interesting going on that the child is focused on at the time.
    • Objects are more interesting than people - A child should be more interested in how to gain reactions from others than an actual object itself.  A lack of interest in people could mean a lack of interest in communicating.
    • Not showing interest in books - Even if a child is not able to sit through an entire book, he should at least show an interest in the concept of reading.  When given a book, he should demonstrate how to hold it and turn the pages.  It is also important to note the types of books that interest a child.  If a child shows more interest in picture books or books using one word, he could possibly have difficulty with processing auditory information.
    • Difficulty with reading comprehension - If a child is unable to answer questions about a short story he may have a language delay and need the services of a speech-language specialist.
    • Difficulty having conversation and forming relationships with others - It is important to note that as a child gets older, conversations become more in-depth, which can become more difficult for a child with receptive language delays.
    • Forgetting information - A child with receptive language delays may appear lazy or forgetful when it comes to completing instructed tasks.  However, this child may be having difficulty with understanding and remembering the tasks presented to him.  He may require the information be presented in a different way.
    • Not understanding - A child may act out due to not understanding what others are saying.
    • Difficulty following directions - Not only remembering what to do, but remembering in what order to do it can be hard for a child with receptive language delays.  When presented with too much information, he might be overwhelmed and can show signs of copying others, pretending to know what to do when he doesn't, or by acting out in order to avoid being embarrassed or calling attention to their deficit.

    Warning Signs for Possible Expressive Language Delay:

    • Does not initiate conversations and reply to questions - This may also look like the child is just shy.  It is important that this sign not be overlooked if there is a question about a possible delay.
    • Overgeneralizing names of things - This means that a child has one name for something that has many types; for example, all drinks may be "juice."  An older child may not be able to name the object.  For example, scissors might be "those things you use to cut with."
    • Talking in circles - A child should be able to tell a somewhat complete story by 6 or 7 with decent sequential order.  If a child is unable to tell a story or it is unclear what the child is talking about, it may be a sign of an expressive language delay.
    • Difficulty remembering certain names - This is when a child has difficulty remembering names, paces, and things.  This may be more noticeable in an academic setting.
    • Difficulty constructing sentences - Some examples of this include: the words may have no endings to show plurals (Five cat sleep), lack of possessives (Rachel dog is nice), or incorrect past tense verbs (She walk to the park yesterday).  Some words may be left off a sentence completely.  Please note by the age of four, a child should be able to complete full sentences with mostly proper grammar.

    What are Types of Articulation Errors?

    A child can make the following articulation errors when producing speech sounds: 

    • Substitutions: Replace one sound with another sound.
      • "wed" for "red," "thoap" for "soap," "dut" for "duck"
    • Omissions (also known as deletions): omit a sound in a word
      • "p_ay the piano" for "play the piano", "g_een _nake" for "green snake"
      • ***Note: this error affects intelligibility the most, making speech more difficult for the listener(s) to understand
    • Distortions: produce a sound in an unfamiliar manner
      • "pencil" (nasalized - sounds more like an "m") for "pencil", "sun" (lisped - sounds "slushy") for "sun"
    • Additions: insert an extra sound within a word
      • "buhlack horse" for "black horse," "doguh" for "dog"

    Parents, here are speech sound guidelines to help you determine whether or not your child's articulation is age-appropriate.  If your child is not able to correctly say a sound by the age listed below, and their articulation affects his/her educational performance, he/she may qualify for speech therapy services at school.

    Age:          Speech Sounds:

    3                B, P, M, H, N, W

    4               T, D, K, G, F, V, Y

    5               No new phonemes acquired where customary production reaches 90%

    6               NG, L

    6 1/2        R (rabbit), and R controlled vowel (bird)

    7              CH, SH, J, ZH, S, Z

    8              TH (voiced and unvoiced)



    Suggestions for articulation therapy:

    The ultimate goal of articulation therapy is to help a child correctly produce speech sounds spontaneously at the conversational level.  To achieve this, the speech-language specialist may begin by working on individual sounds in isolation or sounds in syllables.  Your child's speech-language specialist will send practice work home at the appropriate level for you to complete with your child.  Homework activities will provide opportunities for a child to practice speech in a more natural environment with the encouragement and support of family.  Important information to know when your child is working on improving his/her articulation is as follows:

    • What sound/sounds is he/she working on?
    • What position/positions is he/she working on with each sound?
      • Initial means a sound at the beginning; medial means a sound in the middle; and final means a sound at the end.  For example, for the /k/ sound, "cup" is initial; "bacon" is medial; and "book" is final.
    • What level is he/she working on?
      • There are different levels a child works on, each getting more difficult.  The "easiest" level is isolation, or the "k" sound alone.  Next, the "k" sound is in some position within a syllable (i.e., "ka", "aka", or "ak").  Next, the word level (i.e., cup, bacon, book), then, a phrase (i.e., "in the cup", "in the book"), then, a sentence (i.e., "I read a book", or "The juice is in the cup.").  Finally, the sound is monitored in conversation for consistent production.

    Homework Suggestions for Articulation Practice:

    (*be sure to check with your child's speech-language specialist regarding the appropriate level of practice)

    Practice your      /l/ words/      25 times while getting dressed for school.

    Practice your      /r/ phrases/      25 times on your way to school or on your way home.

    Practice your      /s/ sentences      while shopping at the grocery store with your parent(s).

    Practice your                             for five minutes before or after dinner.

    Practice your                             25 times before turning off the light to go to bed.

    Practice your                             with a brother/sister for five minutes.

    Practice your                             during commercials of one TV show.

    Practice your                             25 times before or after playing video games.

    Practice your                             25 times before brushing your teeth.

    Practice your                             while riding your bike.

    Practice your                             while cleaning your room/picking up toys.

    Practice your                             while your family cooks dinner.

    Practice your                             for five minutes while riding in the car.

    Additional Activities:

    • Play guessing games - describe objects that have your sound in the name while your partner tries to guess what object you are thinking of
    • Create a collage of pictures with your child's sound
    • As you complete other homework, repeat words with your sound as you come across them
    • Use clip art, magazine pictures or other types of pictures to create practice cards.  You may want to get a package of 3x5 note cards and paste the pictures to them.  Make two cards of the same picture to play the following activities:
      • "Memory" or matching games - place all cards face down and take turns turning over two cards, trying to find matches
      • Guessing games - lay a group of cards out and take turns describing a picture as your partner tries to guess which one you are describing
      • Sequence - lay out one card at a time, naming it.  Add another card and name both - keep adding cards, but cover them after you have named them once and try to remember all the cards in order.
      • "Go Fish" - use your cards to play a "Go Fish" game
      • Hide and Seek - have your child leave the room.  Hide the cards around the room and then invite your child to come back in and find them all, naming each as he/she discovers them.
      • Slap It - lay the cards face down in a pile.  When you say "go" turn a card over.  The one who slaps it first and says it correctly takes the card.



    Suggestions to Increase Expressive/Receptive Language:

    • Make "word chains" by playing a game with word class descriptors.  Being with one description. Then give clues for each successive word.
      • Example:
        • Name something sharp.                              scissors
        • Name something scissors can cut with.        paper
        • Name something made of paper.                 bag
        • Name something a bag can hold.                oranges
    • Read short newspaper articles or articles from the internet aloud.  Have your child make up headlines to fit the articles or ask them to choose a headline from several you have cut from the paper.
    • Cut apart several old storybooks with pictures.  Past several pictures from each book on cardboard.  As you tell the story aloud, encourage your child to choose the pictures that match the story.  You may use one or more pictures for each story.  For variety, you might have your child sequence the pictures as they hear the story.  To make the task more difficult, include a picture that doesn't belong to the story.  For children who read, use cards with word phrases instead of pictures.
    • Ask your child to construct a personal history time line using magazine pictures or written phrases to represent key events in their lives.  Ask them to continue their time lines 25 years into the future, predicting what might happen in their lives.
    • Cut out a short newspaper story or article from the internet.  Cut out one key word from each sentence.  Form a word bank with the cut-out words for clients to complete the sentences in the story.  To increase the difficulty level of this activity, discard the cut-out words and ask clients to fill in the blanks with appropriate words.  For children, a familiar story can be used instead of a newspaper story.
    • Have a "taste test."  Present foods with different tastes and textures, like saltine crackers, pickles, and raisins.  As your child tastes each one, have him think of a taste word and texture word to describe each food.  For example, a cracker tastes salty and is crunchy; a pickle tastes sour and is crisp; a raisin tastes sweet and is wrinkled.  Se how many different words your clients can think of to describe each food.
    • Have a scavenger hunt.  Hide items around the house or room.  Give your child clues for the hidden items to tell them what they are looking for.  
    • Play a variation of Twenty Questions.  Place an object or a picture card in a bag.  Have one person look at the picture or object while the others ask questions to figure out what the object is.  For example, "Is it round" and "Does it have holes in it?"  Make the activity easier by providing the category of the object or picture before the questions are asked.  For example, "This object is a tool." 
    • Place a picture or a word at the top of a sheet of paper.  Down the left margin, write question clues to help your child generate a description of the object.  For example, if ladder is at the top of the paper, use questions like, "What is it used for? Who uses it?  When is it used?  Where is it used?  What is used with it?" and "Where is it kept?"  After the questions are answered, have your child use the answers as conversational prompts to describe the object or to complete a written description.
    • Help your child keep a memory log.  In the log, she should record things she forgot, including events (including names) and intentions (something she forgot to do or bring with her).  She should record the date and time each event happened and any unusual circumstance, such as "tired, stayed up late, noisy environment", etc.  Together, look for patterns to her forgetting and choose some strategies to help in these situations.
    • Make up problem situations and ask your child to solve them.  Here are some ideas:
      • Your child want to watch a special program on TV, but someone else is already watching her favorite show.  What could he do?
      • You child left his math book at school and can't do his assignment.  What could he do?
      • Your child borrowed something from a friend and lost it.  What could he do?
      • Your child broke a rule.  What should be done?Talk about how you know why something happened without being told.  For example, you don't change a light bulb that has just burned out because you know you'll get burned.
    • Ask you child to tell you how to do tasks like setting the table, doing laundry, or taking out the trash.  If there are siblings, have your child teach them how to do these or other simple tasks.
    • Let your child help prepare a meal.  Ask him to tell you how to do each step in the right order.  Use favorite recipes, or let your child choose a new recipe to follow.
    • Use a calendar to talk about when special events will happen.
    • Have your child repeat directions you've given her in her own words.
    • When you make a rule regarding a particular situation, have your child explain the rule and the consequences for breaking the rule in her own words.  This will help both of you know she understands.
    • Have your child read a paragraph from a textbook, magazine, or newspaper and then tell you what she read using her own words.
    • When watching TV or a movie, turn off the sound and ask your child to tell you what he thinks the people are saying or doing.  Or at the commercial break, talk about what you think will happen next in the show based on what you already know.
    • When shopping, point out items that are unfamiliar to your child.  Ask him to figure out what each item is or what it's used for.


    There are also a lot of board games that are wonderful for developing vocabulary and language.  Some of my favorites include:

    Memory, Zingo, Pictionary (Jr.), Cranium Cariboo, Cranium Balloon Lagoon, Sequence for Kids, and Cat in the Hat I Can Do That! Game, Apples to Apples (Jr. edition, too), and Guess Who Extra.

    There is a website, http://playonwords.com/ with lists of books, games and toys that are recognized as ones that encourage language (look for the"all PAL Award winners" link on the left). 

    If you have specific questions about how to help your child with their specific communication goals, please call or e-mail me and I will be happy to support you.


    Please contact me if you have any questions regarding your child.  My contact information is below.  

     I hope you and your child have a successful school year!


    Contact Information