The Power of Communication

It’s Speech and Hearing Month, a time to celebrate the power of communication! 

To highlight this important awareness month, we caught up with Olivia Hagemeyer, Manager of Children and Youth Services and the Augmentative Communication & Writing Aids Program at Surrey Place. Read on to learn more about her rewarding work, in addition to the work of our speech-language pathologists, communicative disorders assistants and audiologists. 

1. Surrey Place: Can you tell us about your role and what you do at Surrey Place?   

Olivia: I have worked at Surrey Place since 2004 as a Speech-Language Pathologist and Manager. As a Manager in the Children & Youth and Augmentative Communication & Writing Aids programs, my role involves developing, improving and achieving outcomes in clinical services to meet the needs of Surrey Place clients and families. The most rewarding part of my job is hearing from our clients, caregivers and other professionals about the meaningful impact of the work we do! 

2. Surrey Place: Why are speech-language pathology and audiology important? 

Olivia: Many of our clients struggle with significant communication challenges that are barriers to them reaching their true potential. Families are often very concerned and need help to figure out where to start. The work of our speech-language pathologists, communicative disorders assistants and audiologists at Surrey Place is vital to improving the long-term communication health of our clients. Clinicians can assess speech, language and hearing challenges and identify tools and strategies that can be implemented to help work on important skills. The goal is to get clients and their communication partners integrating these skills into their daily routines and using them wherever they go. 

3. Surrey Place: What is AAC? How can it help with communication? 

Olivia: Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC) encompasses the communication methods used to supplement or replace speech or writing. AAC includes signs, picture symbols, speech-generating devices and written text. Clinicians try to introduce these methods with clients of all ages who have delays in speech and language development to give them a consistent and reliable way to communicate. There are many benefits to using AAC, including improving social interactions, increasing participation and promoting independence! 

4. Surrey Place: Last question, what are some ways we can work on communication skills at home? 

Olivia: The work of our clinicians focuses on helping clients and families to improve communication skills beginning at home. We look at how to incorporate natural language learning opportunities during everyday routines and interactions. Clinicians work with caregivers to identify activities and tasks that are motivating for the client and encourage lots of practice and repetition. Some easy ideas are reading a book together each evening, playing fun turn-taking games as a family on the weekend, or preparing a favorite afternoon snack. 

Surrey Place: Thanks for answering our questions today! 

To find out if our services are right for you or your child, contact us at 1-833-575-5437 for children under 18, or 1-855-372-3858 for adults aged 18 or older. 

Also, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn and subscribe to our newsletter to stay connected with us!

By 2 months

Has your baby had their hearing screened? YES NO

By 6 months

Does the child?

Startle in response to loud noises? YES NO
Turn to where a sound is coming from? YES NO
Make different cries for different needs (hungry, tired)? YES NO
Watch your face as you talk? YES NO
Smile/laugh in response to your smiles and laughs? YES NO
Imitate coughs or other sounds such as ah, eh, buh YES NO

By 9 months

Does the child?

Respond to their name? YES NO
Respond to the telephone ringing or a knock at the door? YES NO
Understand being told no? YES NO
Get what they want through using gestures (reaching to be picked up)? YES NO
Play social games with you (Peek-a-Boo)? YES NO
Enjoy being around people? YES NO
Babble and repeat sounds such as babababa or duhduhduh? YES NO

By 12 months

Does the child?

Follow simple one-step directions (sit down)? YES NO
Look across the room to a toy when adult points at it? YES NO
Consistently use three to five words? YES NO
Use gestures to communicate (waves hi/bye, shakes head for no)? YES NO
Get your attention using sounds, gestures and pointing while looking at your eyes? YES NO
Bring you toys to show you? YES NO
Perform for social attention and praise? YES NO
Combine lots of sounds together as though talking (abada baduh abee)? YES NO
Show an interest in simple picture books? YES NO

By 18 months

Does the child?

Understand the meaning of in and out, off and on? YES NO
Point to more than 2 body parts when asked? YES NO
Use at least 20 words consistently? YES NO
Respond with words or gestures to simple questions (Where's teddy? What's that?)? YES NO
Demonstrate some pretend play with toys (gives teddy bear a drink, pretends a bowl is a hat)? YES NO
Make at least four different consonant sounds (p ,b, m, n, d, g, w, h)? YES NO
Enjoy being read to and sharing simple books with you? YES NO
Point to pictures using one finger? YES NO

By 2 years

Does the child?

Follow two-step directions (Go find your teddy bear and show it to Grandma.)? YES NO
Use 100 to 150 words? YES NO
Use at least two pronouns (you, me, mine)? YES NO
Consistently combine two to four words in short phrases (Daddy hat. Truck go down.)? YES NO
Enjoy being around other children? YES NO
Begin to offer toys to other children and imitate other children's actions and words? YES NO
Use words that are understood by others 50 to 60 per cent of the time? YES NO
Form words or sounds easily and without effort? YES NO
Hold books the right way up and turn the pages? YES NO
Read to stuffed animals or toys? YES NO
Scribble with crayons? YES NO

By 30 months

Does the child?

Understand the concepts of size (big/little) and quantity (a little/a lot, more)? YES NO
Use some adult grammar (two cookies, bird flying, I jumped)? YES NO
Use over 350 words? YES NO
Use action words such as run, spill, fall? YES NO
Participate in some turn-taking activities with peers, using both words and toys? YES NO
Demonstrate concern when another child is hurt or sad? YES NO
Combine several actions in play (puts blocks in the train and drives the train, drops the blocks off.)? YES NO
Put sounds at the beginning of most words? YES NO
Use words with two or more syllables or beats (ba-na-na, com-pu-ter, a-pple)? YES NO
Recognize familiar logos and signs involving print (Stop sign)? YES NO
Remember and understand familiar stories? YES NO

By 3 years

Does the child?

Understand who, what, where and why questions? YES NO
Create long sentences using five to eight words? YES NO
Talk about past events (trip to grandparents house, day at child care)? YES NO
Tell simple stories? YES NO
Show affection for favourite playmates? YES NO
Engage in multi-step pretend play (pretending to cook a meal, repair a car)? YES NO
Talk in a way that most people outside of the family understand what she/he is saying most of the time? YES NO
Have an understanding of the function of print (menus, lists, signs)? YES NO
Show interest in, and awareness of, rhyming words? YES NO
Read to stuffed animals or toys? YES NO
Scribble with crayons? YES NO

By 4 years

Does the child?

Follow directions involving three or more steps (First get some paper, then draw a picture and give it to Mommy)? YES NO
Use adult type grammar? YES NO
Tell stories with a beginning, middle and end? YES NO
Talk to try and solve problems with adults and with other children? YES NO
Show increasingly complex imaginary play? YES NO
Talk in a way that is understood by strangers almost all the time? YES NO
Generate simple rhymes (cat-bat)? YES NO
Match some letters with their sounds (letter b says buh, letter t says tuh)? YES NO