Posted on 1 Comment

Parent Consultation Services

Today I’d like to officially introduce a new parent consultation service which I had originally initiated  with a few out-of-state clients through my practice a few years ago.

The idea for this service came after numerous parents contacted me and initiated dialogue via email and phone calls regarding the services/assessments needed for their monolingual/bilingual internationally/domestically adopted or biological children with complex communication needs. Here are some details about it.

Parent consultations is a service provided to clients who live outside Smart Speech Therapy LLC geographical area (e.g., non-new Jersey residents) who are interested in comprehensive specialized in-depth consultations and recommendations regarding what type of follow up speech language services they should be seeking/obtaining in their own geographical area for their children as well as what type of carryover activities they should be doing with their children at home.

Consultations are provided with the focus on the following specialization areas with a focus on comprehensive assessment and intervention recommendations:

  • Language and Literacy 
  • Children with Social Communication (Pragmatic) Disorders
  • Bilingual and Multicultural Children
  • Post-institutionalized Internationally Adopted Children
  • Children with Psychiatric and Emotional Disturbances
  • Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

The initial consultation length of this service is  1 hour. Clients are asked to forward their child’s records prior to the consultation for review, fill out several relevant intakes and questionnaires, as well as record a short video (3-5 minutes). The instructions regarding video content will be provided to them following session payment.

Upon purchasing a consultation the client will be immediately emailed the necessary paperwork to fill out as well as potential dates and times for the consultation to take place.   Afternoon, Evening and Weekend hours are available for the client’s convenience. In cases of emergencies consultations may be rescheduled at the client’s/Smart Speech Therapy’s mutual convenience.

Refunds are available during a 3 day grace period if a mutually convenient time could not be selected for the consultation. Please note that fees will not be refundable from the time the scheduled consultation begins.

Following the consultation the client has the option of requesting a written detailed consultation report at an additional cost, which is determined based on the therapist’s hourly rate. For further information click HERE. You can also call 917-916-7487 or email if you wanted to find out whether this service is right for you.

Below is a past parent consultation testimonial.

International Adoption Consultation Parent Testimonial (11/11/13)

I found Tatyana and Smart Speech Therapy online while searching for information about internationally adopted kids and speech evaluations. We’d already taken our three year old son to a local SLP but were very unsatisfied with her opinion, and we just didn’t know where to turn. Upon finding the articles and blogs written by Tatyana, I felt like I’d finally found someone who understood the language learning process unique to adopted kids, and whose writings could also help me in my meetings with the local school system as I sought special education services for my son.

I could have never predicted then just how much Tatyana and Smart Speech Therapy would help us. I used the online contact form on her website to see if Tatyana could offer us any services or recommendations, even though we are in Virginia and far outside her typical service area. She offered us an in-depth phone consultation that was probably one of the most informative, supportive and helpful phone calls I’ve had in the eight months since adopting my son. Through a series of videos, questionnaires, and emails, she was better able to understand my son’s speech difficulties and background than any of the other sources I’d sought help from. She was able to explain to me, a lay person, exactly what was going on with our son’s speech, comprehension, and learning difficulties in a way that a) added urgency to our situation without causing us to panic, b) provided me with a ton of research-orientated information for our local school system to review, and c) validated all my concerns and gut instincts that had previously been brushed aside by other physicians and professionals who kept telling us to “wait and see”.

After our phone call, we contracted Tatyana to provide us with an in-depth consultation report that we are now using with our local school and child rehab center to get our son the help he needs. Without that report, I don’t think we would have had the access to these services or the backing we needed to get people to seriously listen to us. It’s a terrible place to be in when you think something might be wrong, but you’re not sure and no one around you is listening. Tatyana listened to us, but more importantly, she looked at our son as a specific kid with a specific past and specific needs. We were more than just a number or file to her – and we’ve never even actually met in person! The best move we’ve could’ve made was sending her that email that day. We are so appreciative.

Kristen, P. Charlottesville, VA

Posted on 2 Comments

Have you Worked on Morphological Awareness Lately?

Last year an esteemed colleague, Dr. Roseberry-McKibbin posed this question in our Bilingual SLPs Facebook Group:  “Is anyone working on morphological awareness in therapy with ELLs (English Language Learners) with language disorders?”

Her question got me thinking: “How much time do I spend on treating morphological awareness in therapy with monolingual and bilingual language disordered clients?” The answer did not make me happy!

So what is morphological awareness and why is it important to address when treating monolingual and bilingual  language impaired students?

Morphemes are the smallest units of language that carry meaning. They can be free (stand alone words such as ‘fair’, ‘toy’, or ‘pretty’) or bound (containing prefixes and suffixes that change word meanings – ‘unfair’ or ‘prettier’).

Morphological awareness refers to a ‘‘conscious awareness of the morphemic structure of words and the ability to reflect on and manipulate that structure’’ (Carlisle, 1995, p. 194). Also referred to as “the study of word structure” (Carlisle, 2004), it is an ability to recognize, understand, and use affixes or word parts (prefixes, suffixes, etc) that “carry significance” when speaking as well as during reading tasks. It is a hugely important skill for building vocabulary, reading fluency and comprehension as well as spelling (Apel & Lawrence, 2011; Carlisle, 2000; Binder & Borecki, 2007; Green, 2009). 

So why is teaching morphological awareness important? Let’s take a look at some research.

Goodwin and Ahn (2010) found morphological awareness instruction to be particularly effective for children with speech, language, and/or literacy deficits. After reviewing 22 studies Bowers et al. (2010) found the most lasting effect of morphological instruction was on readers in early elementary school who struggled with literacy.

Morphological awareness instruction mediates and facilitates vocabulary acquisition leading to improved reading comprehension abilities (Bowers & Kirby, 2010; Carlisle, 2003, 2010; Guo, Roehrig, & Williams, 2011; Tong, Deacon, Kirby, Cain, & Parilla, 2011).

Unfortunately as important morphological instruction is for vocabulary building, reading fluency, reading comprehension, and spelling, it is often overlooked during the school years until it’s way too late. For example, traditionally morphological instruction only beings in late middle school or high school but research actually found that in order to be effective one should actually begin teaching it as early as first grade (Apel & Lawrence, 2011).

So now that we know that we need to target morphological instruction very early in children with language deficits, let’s talk a little bit regarding how morphological awareness can be assessed in language impaired learners.

When it comes to standardized testing, both the Test of Language Development: Intermediate – Fourth Edition (TOLD-I:4) and the Test of Adolescent and Adult Language–Fourth Edition (TOAL-4) have subtests which assess morphology as well as word derivations. However if you do not own either of these tests you can easily create non-standardized tasks to assess  morphological awareness.

Apel, Diehm, & Apel (2013) recommend multiple measures which include:  phonological awareness tasks, word level reading tasks, as well as reading comprehension tasks.

Below are direct examples of tasks from their study:


One can test morphological awareness via production or decomposition tasks. In a production task a student is asked to supply a missing word, given the root morpheme (e.g., ‘‘Sing. He is a great _____.’’ Correct response: singer).  A decomposition task asks the student to identify the correct root of a given derivation or inflection. (e.g., ‘‘Walker. How slow can she _____?’’ Correct response: walk).

Another way to test morphological awareness is through completing analogy tasks since it involves both  decomposition and production components (provide a missing word based on the presented pattern—crawl: crawled:: fly: ______ (flew).

Still another way to test morphological awareness with older students is through deconstruction tasks: Tell me what ____ word means? How do you know? (The student must explain the meaning of individual morphemes).

Finding the affix: Does the word ______ have smaller parts?

So what are the components of effective morphological instruction you might ask?

Below is an example of a ‘Morphological Awareness Intervention With Kindergarteners and First and Second Grade Students From Low SES Homes’ performed by Apel & Diehm, 2013:

Apel and Diem 2011

Here are more ways in which this can be accomplished with older children:

  • Find the root word in a longer word
  • Fix the affix (an additional element placed at the beginning or end of a root, stem, or word, or in the body of a word, to modify its meaning)
    • Affixes at the beginning of words are called “prefixes”
    • Affixes at the end of words are called “suffixes
  • Word sorts to recognize word families based on morphology or orthography
  • Explicit instruction of syllable types to recognize orthographical patterns
  • Word manipulation through blending and segmenting morphemes to further solidify patterns

Now that you know about the importance of morphological awareness, will you be incorporating it into your speech language sessions? I’d love to know!

Until then, Happy Speeching!


  • Apel, K., & Diehm, E. (2013). Morphological awareness intervention with kindergarteners and first and second grade students from low SES homes: A small efficacy study. Journal of Learning Disabilities.
  • Apel, K., & Lawrence, J. (2011). Contributions of morphological awareness skills to word-level reading and spelling in first-grade children with and without speech sound disorder. Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research, 54, 1312–1327.
  • Apel, K., Brimo, D., Diehm, E., & Apel, L. (2013). Morphological awareness intervention with kindergarteners and first and second grade students from low SES homes: A feasibility study. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 44, 161-173.
  • Binder, K. & Borecki, C. (2007). The use of phonological, orthographic, and contextualinformation during reading: a comparison of adults who are learning to read and skilled adult readers. Reading and Writing, 21, 843-858.
  • Bowers, P.N., Kirby, J.R., Deacon, H.S. (2010). The effects of morphological instruction on literacy skills: A systematic review of the literature. Review of Educational Research, 80, 144-179.
  • Carlisle, J. F. (1995). Morphological awareness and early reading achievement. In L. B. Feldman (Ed.), Morphological aspects of language processing (pp. 189–209). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Carlisle, J. F. (2000). Awareness of the structure and meaning of morphologically complex words: Impact on reading. Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal,12,169-190.
  • Carlisle, J. F. (2004). Morphological processes that influence learning to read. In C. A. Stone, E. R. Silliman, B. J. Ehren, & K. Apel (Eds.), Handbook of language and literacy. NY: Guilford Press.
  • Carlisle, J. F. (2010). An integrative review of the effects of instruction in morphological awareness on literacy achievement. Reading Research Quarterly, 45(4), 464-487.
  • Goodwin, A.P. & Ahn, S. (2010). Annals of Dyslexia, 60, 183-208.
  • Green, L. (2009). Morphology and literacy: Getting our heads in the game. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in the schools, 40, 283-285.
  • Green, L., & Wolter, J.A. (2011, November). Morphological Awareness Intervention: Techniques for Promoting Language and Literacy Success. A symposium presentation at the annual American Speech Language Hearing Association, San Diego, CA.
  • Guo, Y., Roehrig, A. D., & Williams, R. S. (2011). The relation of morphological awareness and syntactic awareness to adults’ reading comprehension: Is vocabulary knowledge a mediating variable? Journal of Literacy Research, 43, 159-183.
  • Tong, X., Deacon, S. H., Kirby, J. R., Cain, K., & Parrila, R. (2011). Morphological awareness: A key to understanding poor reading comprehension in English. Journal of Educational Psychology103 (3), 523-534.
Posted on Leave a comment

SLP Efficiency Bundles™ for Graduating Speech Language Pathologists

Graduation time is rapidly approaching and many graduate speech language pathology students are getting ready to begin their first days in the workforce. When it comes to juggling caseloads and managing schedules, time is money and efficiency is the key to success. Consequently,  a few years ago I created  SLP Efficiency Bundles™, which are materials highly useful for Graduate SLPs working with pediatric clients. These materials are organized by areas of focus for efficient and effective screening, assessment, and treatment of speech and language disorders.   Continue reading SLP Efficiency Bundles™ for Graduating Speech Language Pathologists

Posted on 1 Comment

Dear School Professionals Please Be Aware of This

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 5.26.00 PM

I frequently get  emails,  phone calls,  and questions from parents and professionals  regarding academic functioning of internationally adopted post institutionalized children.  Unfortunately despite the fact that  there is  a  fairly large body of research  on this topic  there still continue to be numerous misconceptions regarding how these children’s needs should be addressed  in academic settings.

Perhaps  one of the most serious and damaging misconceptions is that internationally adopted children are bilingual/multicultural children with Limited English Proficiency who need to be treated as ESL speakers. This erroneous belief often leads to denial or mismanagement of appropriate level of services for these children not only with respect to their  language processing and verbal expression but also their social pragmatic language abilities.

Even after researchers published a number of articles on this topic, many psychologists, teachers and speech language pathologists still don’t know that internationally adopted children rapidly lose their little birth language literally months post their adoption by English-speaking parents/families. Gindis (2005) found that children adopted between 4-7 years of age lose expressive birth language abilities within 2-3 months and receptive abilities within 3-6 months post- adoption. This process is further expedited in children under 4, whose language is delayed or impaired at the time of adoption (Gindis, 2008).    Even school-aged children of 10-12 years of age who were able to read and write in their birth language,  rapidly lose  their comprehension and expression of birth language  within their first year post adoption,  if adopted by English-speaking parents who are unable to support their birth language.

 So how does this translate into appropriate provision of speech language services you may ask?   To begin with,  I often see posts on the ASHA forums  or in Facebook speech pathology and special education groups seeking assistance with finding interpreters fluent in various exotic languages.  However, unless the child is “fresh off the boat” (several months post arrival to US)  schools shouldn’t be feverishly trying to locate interpreters to assist with testing in the child’s birth language.  They will not be able to obtain any viable results especially if the child had been residing in the United States for several years.

So if the post-institutionalized, internationally  adopted child is still struggling with academics  several years post adoption,  one should not immediately jump to the conclusion that this is an “ESL” issue,  but get relevant professionals (e.g., speech pathologists, psychologists) to perform thorough testing in order to determine whether it’s the lack of foundational abilities due to institutionalization which is adversely impacting the child’s academic abilities.

Furthermore, ESL itself is often not applicable as an educational method to internationally adopted children.  Here’s why:

Let’s literally take the first definition of ESL which pops-up on Google when you put in a query: “What is ESL?”  “English as a Second Language (ESL) is an instructional program for students whose dominant language is not English. The purpose of the program is to increase the English language proficiency of eligible students so they can attain academic standards and achieve success in the classroom.”

Here is our first problem.  These students don’t have a dominant language.   They are typically adopted by parents who do not speak their birth language and that are unable to support them in their birth language. So upon arrival to US, IA children will typically acquire English via the subtractive model of language acquisition (birth language is replaced and eliminated by English), which is a direct contrast to bilingual children, many of whom learn via the additive model (adding English to the birth language (Gindis, 2005). As a result, of subtractive language acquisition IA children experience very rapid birth language attrition (loss) post-adoption (Gindis, 2003; Glennen, 2009).   Thus they will literally undergo what some researchers have called: “second-first language acquisition” (Scott et al., 2011)  and their first language will “become completely obsolete as English is learned” (Nelson, 2012, p. 2). 

This brings us to our second problem: the question of “eligibility”.  Historically, ESL programs have been designed to assist children of immigrant families  acquire academic readiness skills.  This methodology is based on the fact that skills from first language was ultimately transfer to the  second language.  However, since post-institutionalized children don’t technically have a “first language”  and  their home language is English,  how could they technically be eligible for ESL services? Furthermore,  because of frequent lack of basic foundational skills in the birth language  internationally adopted post-institutionalized children will not benefit the same way from ESL instruction the same way bilingual children of immigrant families do.  So instead of focusing on these children’s questionable eligibility for ESL services  it is important to perform detailed review of their pre-adoption records in order to determine birth language deficits and consider eligibility for  speech language services with the emphasis on improving  these children’s  foundational skills.

If the child’s pre-adoption records specifically state that s/he has birth language delay then it should be taken seriously (Gindis, 1999) since language delays in the birth language transfer and affect the new language (McLaughlin, Gesi, & Osani, 1995). These delays will not “go away” without appropriate interventions.  “Any child with a known history of speech and language delays in the sending country should be considered to have true delays or disorders and should receive speech and language services after adoption.” (Glennen, 2009, p.52)

Now that we have discussed the issue of ESL services, lets touch upon social pragmatic language abilities of internationally adopted children.  Here’s how erroneous beliefs can contribute to mismanagement of appropriate services in this area.

Different cultures have different pragmatic conventions,  therefore we are taught to be very careful when labeling  certain behaviors  of children from other cultures as atypical, just because they are not consistent with the conventions and behaviors of children from the mainstream culture. Here’s a recent example. A mainstream American parent consulted an SLP regarding the inappropriate social pragmatic skills of her teenaged daughter adopted almost a decade ago from Southeast Asia. The SLP was under the  impression that  some of the child’s deficits  were due to multicultural differences and had to do with the customs and traditions of the child’s country of origin. She was considering  advising the parent regarding requesting  an evaluation by a SLP who spoke the child’s birth language.

Here are two problems with the above scenario.  Firstly,  any internationally adopted post-institutionalized child who was adopted by American parents who were not part of the culture from which the child was adopted, the child will quickly become acculturated  and  immersed in the American culture.  These children “need functional English for survival”, and thus have a powerful incentive to acquire English (Gindis, 2005; p. 299).   consequently, any unusual or atypical behaviors they exhibit in social interactions and in academic setting with other individuals cannot be  attributed to customs and traditions of another culture.

Secondly,  It is very important to understand that  institutionalization and orphanage care have been closely linked to increase in mental health disorders  and psychiatric impairments.   As a result, internationally adopted children have a high incidence of social pragmatic deficits as compared to non-adopted peers as well as post-institutionalized children adopted at younger ages, (under 3).    Given this, if parents present with concerns regarding their internationally adopted post-institutionalized children’s social pragmatic and behavioral functioning it is very important not to  jump to erroneous conclusion pertaining to these children’s birth countries but rather preform comprehensive evaluations in order to determine whether these children can be assisted further in the realm of social pragmatic functioning in a variety of settings.

In order to develop a clear picture regarding appropriate service delivery for IA children, school based professionals need to educate themselves regarding the fundamental differences between development and learning trajectories of internationally adopted children and multicultural/bilingual children. Children, who struggle academically, after years of adequate schooling exposure, do not deserve a “wait and see” approach. They should start receiving appropriate intervention as soon as possible (Hough & Kaczmarek, 2011; Scott & Roberts, 2007).

Posted on 3 Comments

Why Developmental History Matters: On the Importance of Background Information in Speech-Language Assessments

Cute Detective Clip ArtLately I’ve been seeing quite a few speech language therapy reports with minimal information about the child in the background history section of the report. Similarly, I’ve encountered numerous SLPs seeking advice and guidance relevant to the assessment and treatment of difficult cases who were often at a loss when asked about specific aspects of their client’s background family history in order to assist them better. They’ve never delved into it beyond a few surface details! Continue reading Why Developmental History Matters: On the Importance of Background Information in Speech-Language Assessments

Posted on Leave a comment

Bilingual Therapy Resources Linky Party!

bilingual therapy resources link upThe Dabbling Speechie is having a bilingual therapy resources Linky Party so I decided to join in and write a few posts on what I am using and referencing when it comes to assessment and treatment of bilingual and multicultural children.

First up I’d like to tell you a little bit about the post I wrote and materials I created for this purpose.

A few months ago I did a post on Integrating aspects of multiculturalism into group language therapy sessions where I offered some suggestions on how to integrate multiculturalism into your group therapy sessions, which included books, activities and websites.

Below are a few products I’ve created for bilingual/multicultural assessment and treatment purposes:

I also created specific products relevant to comprehensive data collection and narrative assessment of multicultural children

  • General Assessment and Treatment Start-Up Bundle
    • This product bundle contains 5 downloads for general speech language assessment and treatment planning and includes:
      1. Speech Language Assessment Checklist for a Preschool Child
      2. Speech Language Assessment Checklist for a School-Aged Child
      3. Creating a Functional Therapy Plan: Therapy Goals & SOAP Note Documentation
      4. Selecting Clinical Materials for Pediatric Therapy
      5. Recognizing Speech-Language delay in school age-children: a tutorial for teachers
  • The Checklists Bundle
    • This product contains 4 checklists relevant to screening and assessment in speech language pathology
      1. Speech Language Assessment Checklist for a Preschool Child
      2. Speech Language Assessment Checklist for a School-Aged Child
      3. Auditory Processing Deficits (APD) Checklist for School Aged Children
      4. Social Pragmatic Deficits Checklist for School Aged Children
  • Narrative Assessment Bundle
    • This product contains ontains 3 downloads relevant to narrative assessment
      1. Narrative Assessments of Preschool and School Aged Children
      2. Understanding Complex Sentences
      3. Vocabulary Development: Working with Disadvantaged Populations

What materials are you using to assess your bilingual/multicultural students?

Posted on Leave a comment

Normal Sequential Bilingual Language Development and Proficiency Attainment

Normal SequentialToday I am excited to introduce another product aimed at explaining one of the aspects of typical bilingual language development. This 31 page introductory material describes typical sequential bilingual language development. It is part of several comprehensive bilingual assessment materials found HERE as a part of a “Multicultural Assessment and Treatment Bundle”  AND  HERE as an individual product entitled “Language Difference vs. Language Disorder: Assessment & Intervention Strategies for SLPs Working with Bilingual Children“.

Learning objectives:
  • —Discuss types of sequential bilingualism
  • —List stages of bilingual language acquisition
  • —Explain the difference between additive and subtractive bilingualism
  • —Review  academic language functions hierarchy
  • —Describe Unified Competition Model
  • —Discuss differences in L2 acquisition in younger and older learners

Presentation Content

  • Sequential Bilingualism
  • Stages of Sequential Language Acquisition
  • Bilingualism categorizations
  • A Note on Subtractive Bilingualism
  • Maintaining L1 while Learning L2
  • Language Proficiency: Terminology
  • Acquisition Time Frames: L2 vs. IA
  • Second Language Acquisition Model
  • What is Academic Language?
  • Academic Language Functions Hierarchy
  • Is there an optimal period for bilingual language acquisition?
  • What is Unified Competition Model
  • Sensitive period for ‘native-like’ L2 acquisition
  • Who learns faster: younger or older children?
  • Let’s talk about younger L2 learners
  • Let’s talk about older learners (before puberty)
  • Let’s talk about older learners (after puberty)
  • Affect of Age on L2 Acquisition
  • Factors influencing success of older learners
  • Conclusion
  • Helpful Smart Speech Therapy Resources
  • References

Would you like a copy? You can find it HERE in my online store.



Posted on 1 Comment

Hurray for Book Companions: What will the pig want next?

Is there anything more fun then literature based speech language intervention?

Rhetorical question of course, but seriously how much fun is it?  Even the simplest books are jam-packed with a variety of language concepts, “wh” questions, target vocabulary, prepositions of location, and much, much more.

Of course, it’s always a bonus when I manage to create or obtain a book companion as a complement to the story, so the clients benefit the most from the activity.  I also find book companions particularly useful when it comes to passing out the homework activities to the parents, many of whom require a little guidance regarding how to work at home with their children in order to increase carryover and ultimately reduce the child’s overall time in therapy. This is why I jumped at the opportunity to review one of Denise’s (Speech Language Pirates Blog) several book companions: “If you give a Pig a Pancake.” Continue reading Hurray for Book Companions: What will the pig want next?

Posted on 3 Comments

It’s all about RtI!

Today I am excited to review one of the latest products from Busy Bee Speech “Common Core Standards-Based RtI Packet for Language“.

So what is RtI or Response to Intervention?

Developed as an alternative to the ability–achievement “discrepancy model,” which requires children to show a discrepancy between their IQ and standardized tests/grades, RtI is a method of academic intervention aimed to provide early, systematic assistance to children who are having difficulty learning in order to prevent academic failure via the provision of early school based intervention, frequent progress measurement, and increasingly intensive research-based instructional interventions for children who continue to have difficulty learning.

In contrast to a number of schools in my state (New Jersey), RTI or Response to Intervention is currently not utilized in my unique setting (outpatient specialized school in a psychiatric hospital). Continue reading It’s all about RtI!

Posted on Leave a comment

Recognizing the Warning Signs of Social Emotional Difficulties in Language Impaired Toddlers and Preschoolers

emd toddlersToday I am exited to tell you about the new product I created in honor of Better Speech and Hearing Month. 

It is a 45 slide presentation created for speech language pathologists to explain the connection between late language development and the risk of social emotional disturbances in young children 18 months- 6 years of age.

Learning Objectives: