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8 tips for childhood stuttering


Stuttering is a communication disorder of which the flow of speech is broken by repetitions (li-li-like this), prolongations (lllllike this), or abnormal stoppages (no sound) of sounds and syllables. There may also be unusual facial and body movements associated with the effort to speak.

About five percent of all children will go through a stage of developmental stuttering. This period of stuttering consists of easy repetitions without tension or signs of struggling. Most dysfluencies are only two or three repetitions in length and most of the time the child will appear unaware of the stuttering and will continue talking without signs of distress.

75 percent of these children will begin to spontaneously recover from normal dysfluencies after approximately six months. At the six-month mark you will want to note if your child’s speech is improving, staying the same or getting more difficult for them.

If you are worried about your child’s dysfluency consider these factors when deciding if it is time to talk with your child’s doctor or a speech language pathologist:

  1. Is your child a boy? 4x more boys stutter than girls.
  2. Is there a family history of stuttering? If yes, it is more likely your child may need skilled intervention.
  3. Has the dysfluent speech lasted longer than six months? If your child’s speech has not improved or has become more dysfluent, your child may need skilled intervention.
  4. Is your child aware of the stuttering? A child who stops talking, avoids words, abandons a message or verbalizes talking being difficult is more likely to need skilled intervention.
  5. Do you see increased facial or body movements when your child is stuttering? If you are noticing increased eye blinking, head nodding, facial tension, hand or foot tapping it is more likely your child may need skilled intervention.

Answering “yes” to two or more of these questions indicates it is time to talk to your child’s pediatrician about next steps. Continue Reading »

15 speech and language milestones for 18- and 24-month-old toddlers


At 18 months of age your toddler is exploring his/her world and learning so many new things. Here are some of the typical speech and language milestones that indicate your child is progressing in language development.

Your child….

  1. Uses 10-15 different words
  2. Uses words to have needs met (“more, up, eat”)
  3. Understands and uses the names of five different familiar objects
  4. Imitates sounds and words spontaneously
  5. Starts to combine two words (“all done, up mama”)
  6. Uses real words intermixed with babbling
  7. Hums along with familiar children’s songs
  8. Imitates words and word combinations with a model
  9. Recognizes pictures of family members and familiar objects
  10. Points or uses gestures to get your attention or make requests for objects/actions
  11. Retrieves a known object from another room upon request (“go get your blanket”)
  12. Follows simple commands
  13. Points to body parts when asked
  14. Develops a play routine (baby doll, kitchen play, car play)
  15. Enjoys looking at books and will turn pages a few at a time

Continue Reading »

How to help a teen with depression (guest blog post)


Teens are notorious for being moody, but there’s a difference between typical teenage emotions and depression. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 2.6 million U.S. adolescents ages 12 to 17 had at least one major depressive episode in 2013. Depression in teens can lead to unhealthy coping behaviors, resulting in problems at school, drug and alcohol abuse, violence, self-harm, and reckless behavior. These issues are often a cry for help, and by knowing the signs of depression in teens; parents, teachers and other caregivers can identify teens who would benefit from professional attention.

Signs of depression in teens
Did you know that symptoms of depression can be different in teens than in adults? Be on the lookout for:

  • Irritable or angry mood for most days in a week, for at least two weeks. Outbursts of hostility are often the predominant mood in depressed teens, as opposed to sadness.
  • Unexplainable physical aches and pains. If a teen is complaining of symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches but a physical exam doesn’t show a cause, this could be a sign of depression.
  • Withdrawing and/or changing social groups. Unlike adults, often teens with depression will not isolate themselves completely, but may pull away from those that know them well and begin socializing with peers who don’t question the change in their behavior or mood.

Other signs of depression are more similar in both teens and adults. These include:

  • Lost of interest in things that used to be enjoyable.
  • Change in sleeping or eating habits.
  • Irrational fears or worries.
  • Very low energy and motivation.
  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or guilt.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Thoughts of suicide.

If a teen is expressing thoughts of suicide, it is imperative that he or she be evaluated by a mental health professional immediately. If a teen is showing several of these signs, the best thing an adult can do is be supportive in getting him or her medical attention. Continue Reading »

Quick tips for buying packaged foods


What’s in a label? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is considering making changes to nutrition labels to include additional information that will help consumers make responsible food choices. Until then, you can identify the best foods for your diet by using these simple tips:

Find the secret ingredient. Did you know that you can find partially hydrogenated oil in many foods packaged foods? This is the manufactured form of trans fat, which experts agree is among the worst fats for your body.

Less is more. Most health experts advise avoiding foods with long ingredient lists, which tend to belong to foods that are highly processed and full of chemicals and additives. Focus on whole foods that undergo less processing.

Go to the back. The back of the package, that is. Don’t be fooled by the BIG letters or claims on the front of the package. Look at the label on the back or side panel of the package to really understand the ingredient list. Continue Reading »

Summer sun safety: protect your skin and eyes from the heat


Cool shades and a stylish hat aren’t just summertime accessories—they can also keep you healthy in the hot summer months. It’s always important to protect your skin from the sun, and equally important to properly protect your body during hot weather.

  • Stay shady—While you might be tempted to bask in the sunshine, limit your time exposed directly to rays. Seek shaded or air conditioned areas such as libraries or malls and, whenever possible, schedule outdoor events for the cooler, early parts of the morning. The sun’s rays are at their strongest at midday, making that an ideal time to not be outside. No matter what time of day it is, wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.

Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes prior to exposure and needs to be re-applied every two hours or immediately after swimming, toweling off or sweating a great deal – many people put it on once and forget that it needs to be reapplied!

  • Stay hydrated—treat yourself to water and juice, but stay away from alcohol and caffeine, which actually dehydrates your body.
  • Stay light—if you’ve ever felt the heat rising from blacktop, you know that dark colors retain heat. Keep your summer clothes light-colored to reflect heat and lightweight to avoid getting overheated. Wear a brimmed hat or sunglasses to protect your face and eyes. In addition to preventing squint-induced wrinkles, protecting your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays helps prevent cataracts from forming.
  • Stay sweaty—when your activities do put you out in the sun, be aware of the signs of heat stroke: altered mental state/confusion, nausea and lack of sweat. If you are experiencing these symptoms or see someone else experiencing them, seek medical attention immediately. Remember, if it’s hot and you’re not sweating, something might be wrong.

Summer fun can still be safe and include sunshine, as long as you keep the above tips in mind. What are your favorite ways to stay safe and beat the heat? Let us know in the comments.

Disclaimer: The information found on Affinity's blog is a general educational aid. Do not rely on this information or treat it as a substitute for personal medical or health care advice, or for diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your physician or other qualified health care provider as soon as possible about any medical or health-related question and do not wait for a response from our experts before such consultation. If you have a medical emergency, seek medical attention immediately.

The Affinity Health System blog contains opinions and views created by community members. Affinity does endorse the contributions of community members. You should not assume the information posted by community members is accurate and you should never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this site.