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Information About the Communication Continuum
Speech, Language, Literacy
Park Slope Communication & Brooklyn Reading Center
Issue 28 - July, 2013
You can sometimes make words using the letters in a larger word. For example, from the word "tube" you can make "be," "bet," "but," and "tub." Now onto a harder one: how many words can you make from the word "gumball?" (Hint: we found 28.)

Riddles for Kids: Fun at the Circus
Q: Did you hear about the human cannonball?
A: He got fired!

Q: Why did the clown go to the doctor?
A: He was feeling a little funny!

Q: What happened to the elephant who ran away with the circus?
A: The police made him bring it back!

Q: What happened when the magician got mad?
A: He pulled his hare out!

Q: Why was the clown sad?
A: He broke his funny bone!

Q: Why are elephants in the circus so wrinkled?
A: They take too long to iron!

Q: What do you call a circus monkey with a banana in each ear?
A: Anything you want—it can't hear you!

Q: Did you hear about the fire at the circus?
A: The heat was in tents!

Q: Why did the clown wear loud socks?
A: So his feet wouldn't fall asleep!

Q: Why are the elephants in the circus so poor?
A: Because they work for peanuts!

Answers to WordsInWords
Album, all, am, bag, ball, balm, bam, bug, bull, bum, gab, gal, gall, gam, glam, glum, gull, gum, lab, lag, lam, lamb, lug, mag, mall, maul, mug, mull.

In This Issue

  • Voice Disorders
  • Stories from the Kids: James and Marie (with videos!)
  • Monthly Feature: Phonic Engine Reading Method & KidsVoyager Online: What happened last month?
  • For Fun: Trivia Quiz
  • For Fun: Some Interesting Events in July!

In Upcoming Issues

  • Bilingualism, is it a positive or a negative?
  • How to help your child write short stories

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Our ongoing goal is to keep you informed about all matters related to the Communication Continuum: Speech, Language, and Literacy; to keep you updated on our seminars and other matters of interest; to answer questions you may have, and also provide some fun activities for your child, created by us, by colleagues, as well as syndicated content.


Please submit any questions you have regarding Speech, Language, and Literacy, and we'll be happy to reply in an upcoming issue of CC-News. If you do submit a question (to news@parkslopecc.com), be sure to let us know if you'd like your name (first and/or last) to appear, or if you'd prefer it left out.


In the past, we've held seminars and discussions on: Stuttering, Auditory Processing Disorders, How to Help Your Child Develop Reading Skills, Early Speech and Language Development (0 - 5), Speech/Language/Feeding Developmental Milestones, Using the Phonic Engine® Reading Method to Facilitate Reading, Writing, and Spelling. Please let us know if you'd personally like any of these repeated, or have other topics that you'd like to hear about.

Voice Disorders

A voice disorder occurs when a medical condition (caused by vocal abuse or miscellaneous pathologies) disturbs the normal functioning of one's production of speech. There are numerous ways in which a voice disorder can present. Many voice disorders are quite common; so much so, that one may not even realize they have this condition. Others are very rare and less commonly seen by most clinicians in the field of speech and language. Some common voice disorders include cysts, vocal nodules or polyps, cancers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), spasmodic dysphonia and other forms of vocal cord paralysis. Voice disorders impact various parts of the larynx (commonly referred to as our “voice box”), particularly our vocal cords. The human vocal mechanism contains two vocal cords that form a “V” shape when they are open as we breathe, and also come together, parallel to and approximating one another when we speak. They vibrate against one another, as air from our lungs passes through the cords, into the pharynx, finally producing sound when we use our voice.

Temporary hoarseness may be caused by bacteria or viruses. The resulting laryngitis is usually treated with antibiotics (if it is bacterial), vocal rest and lots of fluids. Interestingly, the hoarseness and a feeling of fullness in the throat may be the only symptoms of the infection.

Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that form on the vocal cords, typically caused by vocally abusive behaviors, such as prolonged yelling, or can also be caused by trauma to the vocal cords, such as an accident or any severe injury to the larynx. Generally, the best course of action when one discovers they have a vocal cord cyst is to have it surgically removed. Cysts on the vocal cords cause the person to have a breathy voice, or even a hoarse voice, as they prevent the vocal cords from vibrating as they typically would to create “normal” sounding speech production. Vocal cord cysts tend to be deeper within the cord itself, rather than on its surface, as is the case with polyps.

Vocal nodules and polyps are perhaps some of the most common voice disorders a speech pathologist will encounter. Vocal nodules are localized growths or calluses that form on the vocal cords at the point of maximum trauma, where the cords hit together with the most intensity. They tend to be bilateral (one on each of the two vocal cords) and can appears as pinkish in beginning stages, later turning more white or grey in later stages. Vocal nodules cause the vocal cords to vibrate less frequently, causing a lower than typical pitched voice that is either breathy or hoarse. Vocal nodules are most commonly seen in children that scream loudly on the playground (unknowingly abusing their vocal cords), or in adults that use vocally abusive practices, such as teachers/professors, coaches, singers, cheerleaders, etc. Nodules can be treated either through voice therapy with a speech pathologist, or through surgery in more serious cases. Typically, being seen by an ENT to remove nodules is a last resort if speech therapy does not produce the desired result. Polyps are similar to nodules, in that they are masses that grow on the vocal cords, but they tend to be softer and larger than nodules, and are typically fluid-filled. Polyps usually occur on just one vocal cord, but can present bilaterally as well. Polyps are more frequently seen in adults than in children and also cause a breathy or hoarse sounding voice. They are typically caused by voice misuse or can be caused by a hemorrhage (bleeding within the vocal cords), typically due to one isolated instance of severe vocal abuse (a loud scream when one is extremely scared or startled).

Laryngeal cancers account for approximately 2% of all cancers. They are more commonly seen in men than women and more than 50% of all cases are caused by prolonged smoking. Preliminary indicators of this type of cancer include hoarseness in the voice, broadening of the larynx, difficulty swallowing, lumps in the neck or having trouble breathing efficiently. A speech pathologist is involved in all stages of laryngeal cancer, including the chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and even subsequent surgery that may follow. A patient may have to undergo either a partial or total laryngectomy (removal of the larynx) to help cure this type of cancer. Partial laryngectomies look to maintain as much laryngeal functioning (voice usage and swallowing) as possible. Unfortunately, a total laryngectomy is used when no other options present themselves. While laryngeal cancers are somewhat rare, it is important to include them in the list of voice disorders.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is more commonly known as heartburn or acid indigestion, commonly associated with a sore throat, burning in the chest or hoarseness of the voice. Other times, no outward symptoms are noticed. GERD occurs when food goes in the stomach and then, leaks back into the esophagus, typically causing a burning sensation or even the feeling of something being stuck in one's throat. There are many common treatment options to help a patient suffering from GERD. The most common is use of over the counter or prescription-based antacids, in addition to keeping one's head propped upwards at night while sleeping, and changes in dietary habits to include less acidic foods and drinks (avoiding coffee/caffeine, tomatoes, spicy foods, citrus fruits, etc.)

Vocal cord paralysis can occur from accidental injury, nerve damage and neurological diseases, tumors and strokes. Paralysis of the vocal cords can occur unilaterally (on just one vocal cord) or bilaterally (on both vocal cords). Unilateral vocal cord paralysis is more commonly seen, where the impacted vocal cord cannot move inwardly, causing a weak, breathy, hoarse sounding voice. In some cases, the working vocal cord may move so much in order to compensate, that one's voice may sound almost “normal.” In other cases, when the cords do not touch, aphonia occurs (the inability to produce voice). Bilateral vocal cord paralysis can lead to swallowing difficulties, as well. Aphonia occurs with bilateral vocal cord paralysis more commonly and can cause additional breathing difficulties.

Spasmodic dysphonia (SMD) is caused by involuntary spasms within the larynx, and is considered a loss of control of one's voice. Commonly, there are many side effects associated with SMD, particularly emotional stress, anxiety and occupational/social challenges. There are two major types of SMD, including Adductor Spasmodic Dysphonia (ADSD) and Abductor Spasmodic Dysphonia (ABSD). ADSD is the most common type of SMD, caused by too much pressure when the vocal cords are trying to close, resulting in vocal cords that are so tight, that the voice may seem strained, strangled or effortful, even unintelligible at times. The most common treatment for ADSD is Botox injections into the vocal cords directly, used to weaken the muscles and make them more functional. The voice may sound breathy at first, but after several months of Botox treatment, it tends to normalize once again. Speech therapy is often sought out to help with voice education and other helpful strategies to maintain a healthy voice. On the other hand, ABSD occurs when the vocal cords are so open, that there is no voicing at all. This lack of voicing tends to be sporadic and fleeting throughout a conversation, resulting in decreased vocal volume, with the normal voice interjecting throughout the spasms. It is difficult to speak, resulting in shorter, more effortful sentences in conversation. For ABSD, Botox is the recommended treatment as well. Speech therapy is also recommended for relaxation exercises and easy-onset speaking strategies to be taught. It should be noted that a mixed SMD can occur as well, where both the adduction and abduction dysphonias are combined, but this is very rare and presents as a total aphonia and is quite difficult to treat.

To prevent voice disorders, it is helpful to remember to use proper vocal hygiene whenever possible. Remember to drink plenty of water (6-8 ten ounce glasses per day), exercise regularly, get plenty of rest and avoid lying down after eating. It is also important to speak in a clear voice as opposed to a whisper and to avoid other vocally abusive behaviors such as excessive coughing, screaming or throat clearing. Avoid smoking and eating acidic or fatty foods, whenever possible. Following these tips to keep our voices healthy will help reduce the risk of voice disorders, no matter how common or uncommon they may be.

Stories from the Kids

The students in our reading groups produce writings using KidsVoyager Online with KidsVoyager Animated Storywriter. The writings may be imaginative stories, summaries of things they've read online, writings to teach higher level skills, such as persuasion, and so on. The stories are entered into the Online Storywriter's text box using typed spelling, combined with Phonic Engine Encoding (i.e. selecting initial & final phonemes for a word, then clicking a matching word displayed in a multisensory word grid). Writing is a terrific way to learn, teaches numerous skills, and kids love it. We hope you enjoy them.

Kangaroo Life Cycles by Marie

A kangaroo's life has 4 cycles. The first one is birth. At birth it has no hair and it is very tiny when it's born.

The second stage is a joey. The joey stays by its Mommy a lot.

The third one is an advanced joey. The advanced joey also hangs around its mother a lot. When the joey is scared it dives head first into the mommy's pouch.

The 4th one is an adult kangaroo. An adult kangaroo stays with its family 3 1/2 years.

These are the kangaroo's life cycles.

You can see and hear Marie's original story here!

Stray Animal Story by James

One day, Sophia brought home a sheep. And this animal was a stray animal.

Sophia said to her mother, "Can I keep this fish?" Her mother said yes, but she said "You better not be tricking me or stalling me."

A few weeks later, her mother came up to Sophia's room and saw a sheep. Sophia's mom got angry and she punished her for a week.

But, she let her keep the sheep!

You can see and hear James' original story here!

Monthly Feature: Phonic Engine Method & KidsVoyager Online: What Happened Last Month?

June's sessions are always a mix of hellos and goodbyes. Several of our students left us mid-month for summer vacations or sleepaway camp, while other students joined us for the first time. With the new Core Curriculum being as rigorous as it is, many first graders are facing being retained for an additional year. Thus, they are coming to us in the hopes of catching up by September or mid-year. This summer, we are taking a more intensive approach to our work, with most students coming for at least one individual session weekly, in addition to group sessions. Now, first graders are expected to be able to read regularly spelled, one and two syllable words, as well as age leveled irregularly spelled words. First graders are expected to be able to recognize and understand the features of a sentence. These features include capitalization, punctuation and syllabification. Finally, these first graders are expected to be able to understand the salient features of text and to retell the story. More on this next time!

During the month of June, we finished up reading our chapter book, The Story of Dr. Dolittle. This was the first in a series of books written by Hugh Lofting about this interesting and eccentric character. This book was published in 1920. As an MD, the good doctor is a failure because he really prefers the company of animals, even before he realizes that he can somehow communicate with them. So he becomes a veterinarian and the result is much happier customers! In this adventure story, he sails to Africa to save the monkeys from some mystery illness. The students had to fill in a chapter summary for each chapter read. They had to make note of the characters, the setting, and the events of each chapter. They also had to find and define 3 new vocabulary words. We also had questions to answer after each chapter; and sometimes, a writing prompt. All of the tasks noted here are quite readily accomplished using the features of KidsVoyager Online. The text reader helps them figure out words they are unsure of and the double click page helps them to define these as well as other words.

We also read some really interesting short stories such as The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell, and The Monkey's Paw by W.W. Jacobs. The older students read these dark stories quite enthusiastically. We discussed the time frame in which these stories took place and the location. We discussed the characters, what they were like and why (we think) they did what they did. The students had to answer questions after reading most of the stories. Again, we had writing prompts to help the students experience the literature fully. Sometimes, they had to write about what they would do if they were in the same position as the characters. For example, in The Monkey's Paw an elderly couple can make three wishes on a monkey's paw. The first wish yields disastrous results and the characters are unsure what to do at that point. Now, we don't want to ruin it for those of you who would like to read it, so we shall say no more, except "Read it; it is a great story!"

The younger students read a continuing story called Alvie, the Little Brown Burro, a very sweet story about a stuffed animal in a store, just waiting to be taken home. This story has seven parts and may be found at http://alvietheburro.com/. Each chapter has questions at the end, which help the children to better understand what they have read. This also helps them to remember what they have read when we go on to the next part. It seems like there are more and more novel chapter books online and available for us to read with the younger students. This provides us with an excellent resource for helping our students get the meaning of more complex stories as they read them.

June was also a month in which we reviewed those all important spelling rules. Do you know when the letter 'c' makes an /s/ sound or a /k/ sound? Do you know when the ending /k/ sound is spelled 'ck' (as in back) or just 'k' (as in beak)? Well, many of our students do. These rules that have no or few exceptions. Knowing these rules not only helps a child to spell a word, but helps them to decode it too. So why does the 'c' in "city" sound like an /s/? Very simple. If a 'c' is followed by the letter 'e', 'i' or 'y', it makes the /s/ sound. In all other circumstances, it sounds like a /k/. So when our students read the word "circus," for example, there is no question about how to decode it.

It is our mission to help our students gain this kind of practical knowledge while learning to love books and all kinds of literature; to not only be able to understand it factually, but inferentially as well.

Trivia Quiz: Civil War

1. What killed more men during the Civil War than wounds sustained in battle?
2. The melody of the popular Civil War ballad “Aura lee” was later used for what twentieth century hit song?
3. What was the name of the play President Lincoln attended at Ford's Theater on April 14, 1865?
4. How many days did Confederate President Jefferson Davis spend at Fort Monroe prison?
5. How much was an enlisted man paid for providing his own horse in the war?
6. What was the only major Civil War battle fought in Florida?
7. What milk product, patented in 1856, was an important part of the diet of Union soldiers?
8. What was the principal weapon used in the Civil War?
9. Which state sent more men to war, in proportion to its population, than any other state?
10. How many horses were killed at Gettysburg?


1. Sickness.
2. Elvis Presley's “Love Me Tender.”
3. Our American Cousin.
4. 720 days.
5. Fifty cents per day.
6. The Battle of Olustee near Lake City in 1864.
7. Borden's condensed milk.
8. A single-shot, muzzle-loading rifle.
9. Missouri.
10. Over 3,000.

July 2013 Holidays and Events

Cell Phone Courtesy Month
Disaster Education and Awareness Month
Herbal/Prescription Interaction Awareness Month
International Blondie and Deborah Harry Month
International Women with Alopecia
International Zine Month
National “Doghouse Repairs” Month
National Blueberries Month
National Grilling Month
National Horseradish Month
National Hot Dog Month
National Ice Cream Month
National Make a Difference to Children Month
National Recreation and Parks Month
Smart Irrigation Month
Women's Motorcycle Month
Worldwide Bereaved Parents Awareness Month

7-13 National Farrier's Week
14-20 Sports Cliché Week
18-25 Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) Education and Awareness Week
21-27 Captive Nations Week

1 National GSA Employee Recognition Day
1 Second Half of the New Year Day
2 Made in the USA Day
3 Compliment Your Mirror Day
3 Stay Out of the Sun Day
4 Independence Day: The Fourth of July
4 Indivisible Day
6 International Day of Cooperatives
7 Father-Daughter Take a Walk Together Day
7 Tell the Truth Day
8 International Town Criers Day
10 Don't Step on a Bee Day
13 Grange Day
13 Gruntled Workers Day
15 Get Out of the Doghouse Day
20 National Woodie Wagon Day
20 Toss Away the “Could Have” and “Should Haves” Day
21 National Ice Cream Day
22 Rat-Catchers Day
23 Gorgeous Grandma Day
23 Hot Enough For Ya Day
24 Cousins Day
24 National Drive-Thru Day
24 National Tell an Old Joke Day
25 National Chili Dog Day
27 National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day
27 Take Your Houseplants for a Walk Day
27 Walk on Stilts Day
28 Aunties Day
28 Parents Day

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