The Role of Speech Language Therapy when Addressing Executive Function Challenges

Executive Function Challenges and Speech

Executive function is the term given to the set of mental skills that allow you to plan out your actions, organize your thoughts, and see activities through to completion. Executive function challenges often arise for children who have trouble with learning and/or attention. If your child has trouble focusing on one task at a time, planning out daily activities (such as getting dressed in a reasonable order), sitting through tests in school, or limiting how much they talk to themselves, it may be time to consult with a speech language pathologist.

These are just a few examples of executive function challenges, and kids can obviously have difficulty in one or more of these areas without requiring any sort of additional attention. That said, if you notice these sorts of issues worsening or failing to improve, talking to a child speech language pathologist can help assuage your concerns or provide you with tools for moving forward.

You may be wondering, “What do executive function challenges and speech therapy have to do with one another?” While your child’s speech may be perfectly clear, language issues and executive function issues are often linked and can be approached with similar therapies.

A speech language pathologist can help a child dealing with executive function challenges learn the necessary skills for making goals, managing their time, and visualizing the steps they need to take in order to complete a task. The skills involved in executive function that a speech therapist can help with include: attention, focus, planning, organizing, utilizing working memory and recall, evalutation problem solving, self-monitoring, and follow-through.

One exercise that your child could complete with his or her speech language pathologist to help develop executive function might include making a written or verbal plan to complete a challenge or puzzle. Your child and the speech therapist would go over each step together, and the therapist would encourage the child to ask self-monitoring questions along the way, such as, “How much time do I have left?” “Who can I ask for help?” “What obstacles are in my way?”

If you think your child may be struggling with executive function challenges, give our office a call to set up a free consultation with a speech language pathologist. 

Is Less More When Answering Post-Presentation Questions?

Executive Presentation Training


Before giving a presentation at work, you might spend weeks in advance preparing your Prezi or PowerPoint presentation. You could spend hours going over your talking points, working with an executive speech coach, and making sure that everything about your presentation is organized exactly right. You might even spend a few minutes daydreaming about how this presentation will show your boss (or their boss) that you’re someone who can go far in this company.

But what about the post-presentation questions?

Depending upon the subject of your presentation, it can be incredibly hard to predict what your audience members will ask you following your big presentation. That means you’ll have to give off-the-cuff answers, which is fine, because you know the information backwards and forwards. However, all of that presentation prep probably means you know the information a bit too well.

When asked an unexpected question, it’s easy to rattle off fact after fact, giving far more information than the person actually asked for. Long-winded answers can undo all of the good work you did in your presentation by rehashing what you already covered, boring your audience members, and eating up time for other questions.

So as you prepare for your next big work presentation, remember that brief answers to follow-up questions are almost always better. Here are four reasons why:

  • Brief answers are more memorable. They help the audience retain your point.
  •  Brief answers are easier to follow. They ensure that you don’t go too far off topic and answer the questions you wish you were asked rather than the questions you actually were asked.
  • Brief answers are more forgiving. They help you maintain the interest of your audience.
  • Brief answers are more engaging. They give your audience the opportunity to ask more follow-up questions about the parts of your answers that interest them most.

If you could use some help preparing for your next big presentation (and all of the questions that follow), BNM offers Chicago executive speech coaching services. Our Chicago presentation training can cover everything from the content of your presentation to your speaking skills. Give us a call to tell us about your presentation, discuss your needs, and come up with a personalized executive speech training plan.  

Improving Language Development through Play

Chciago Play Therapy

Play is an important part of all of our lives. The way that we choose to play develops throughout our lives, but from our very first days until the end of our lives, we all take great joy and satisfaction from play.

For young children, play is a way to explore the world, learn new skills, and meet developmental milestones, all while having fun. Play should be a part of every daycare and elementary school environment, and it should also be part of speech therapy.

Play is regularly used to improve language development in children under the age of five. By combining speech goals with games, therapy feels less like “work” for children and becomes a more enjoyable experience. This is referred to as play therapy.

In school settings, play therapy and language development often get separated. Many school speech language pathologists overlook the benefits that play therapy can have for older children. Whether your child is just learning to speak or several years into school, your speech language pathologist can – and probably should – use play therapy to help your child achieve their speech goals. In addition to making learning more fun, play therapy also makes learning more effective. Children are more likely to pay attention and stay focused if they are engaged and having a good time.

Creating a play therapy session begins with your child’s speech and language objectives. (Play therapy can also be used as a diagnostic tool to assess vocabulary skills, ability to follow commands, and other functional language skills.) With your child’s goals in mind, the speech therapist can create a game that lets your child practice their communication skills without feeling like he or she is being drilled or tested. Games can be designed to suit the interest, maturity level, and age of the child.

Play therapy is particularly well suited to teaching basic language concepts, phrases, sentences, and requesting skills. For example, a simple game of “restaurant” can help a child identify different objects like a spoon and a cup or practice their articulation of words like “salad” or “soup.”

If you think your child would benefit from speech therapy, give us a call to schedule a consultation with a highly qualified Chicago SLP. A short assessment can help you determine if your child is dealing with any language disorders. If needed, we can work with you to create a personalized plan for play-based therapy in your home or school to help your child communicate more effectively. 

What Issue Costs Companies $62.4 Million Per Year?

Chicago Executive Speech Coaching

A survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees found that each of those companies was losing an average of $62.4 million every year due to poor communication. The problem extended to smaller companies as well. Companies with one hundred employees lost on average $420,000 every year to poor communication.

Clear communication is vital to the health and success of any business. It must be found between co-workers, between managers and their team members, and perhaps most importantly between the company and its clients.

To that end, one of the core focuses of BNM’s executive speech training is presentation skills. Being able to organize, edit, and orate a great business presentation is essential to both overall company success and individual advancement.

Here are some of the most common problems that hold back company presentations and the executives who give them:

One-size-fits-all presentations. If your company is using the same basic presentation to market to all of your potential clients, you’re missing huge opportunities to show off the greatest strengths of your business. Likewise, the presentation should be customized to the person giving it. If every executive is making the same cookie-cutter pitch, the individual strengths of each speaker are likely not being utilized.

Presentations that aren’t up-to-date. If your presentation relies on stats from a few years back, uses your company’s old logo, or relies on dated references, it is unlikely to resonate with clients. Customers want professionalism and attention to detail. An out-of-date presentation is a sign of carelessness.

Unskilled communicators at the helm. You may know the topic you’re presenting on inside and out, but if you don’t also know how to captivate an audience and read the room, your presentation is likely to flop. Skills like pacing, clarity, energy, and appropriate emphasis can make or break a presentation.

Stress. Perhaps you know exactly what to say and exactly how you should say it, but stress and/or stage fright can get in the way.

Working with an executive speech coach can help address all of these issues. By helping executives learn not just how to focus their presentations but how to speak in a way that connects with listeners, the right speech coach can help executives overcome their nerves and better represent both themselves and their companies.

To learn more about Chicago executive speech coaching, give our office a call. 

Understanding Echolalia

Echolalia is both a speech disorder and a normal part of speech development. The term refers to the action of repeating a word or phrase that’s been said by someone else without being prompted. As toddlers learn to speak, it is common for them to use this sort of echoing to communicate their needs.

For example, if a parent says, “Is that your toy giraffe?” a toddler might respond, “Giraffe.” Responding with the word itself rather than a “yes” or “no” is a way for children to make themselves understood. When “giraffe” comes out sounding more like “jaff,” echolalia can be an effective method for communicating.

But by the age of three, most children will have stopped using echolalia on a regular basis. Instead, they’ll start to communicate with their own simple words and sentences. If echolalia behavior extends past a child’s third birthday, it could be a sign of a language delay, and a speech language pathologist should be consulted. 

Echolalia and Speech Language Pathology

Echolalia can occur on its own, though it often accompanies disorders like autism and Tourette’s. It has two main types, immediate echolalia and delayed echolalia.

With immediate echolalia, the person repeats words that have just been spoken to them. Being limited to the words used by others can be extremely frustrating for the person who suffers from immediate echolalia.

With delayed echolalia, the person repeats words, sentences, or phrases that they have heard before, sometimes years before. A perfect example of this can be seen in the recent documentary, Life, Animated, which features an autistic man who, as a child, started repeating lines from animated Disney movies to express his wants and needs.

In both cases, the person who relies on echolalia repeats verbalizations (words), not vocalizations (sounds).

If your child is three years of age or older and still relies on repetition of your words as his or her primary communication method, you should talk to a speech language pathologist for kids about echolalia and speech delays. A speech therapist can assess your child’s speech and come up with a customized plan for addressing any problem areas.

Give our office a call to get your questions answered or to schedule a consultation today. 

Winning through Communication as an Executive

Executive Speech Coach Chicago


Working with an executive speech coach is a helpful and direct method for improving communication as a leader. But many executives have misconceptions about what speech coaching entails. They tend to think that executive speech coaching is about learning how to deliver a good speech and nothing more. In fact, a great speech coach can help you learn not just how to speak well but also how to handle tough situations that require strong communication and leadership.

Here’s an example of what we mean. Say a project that your team is working on is behind schedule. Your team members are frustrated with one another, and one of them lashes out at you with a pointed question about your leadership of the project.

In this sort of situation, it can be all too easy for an executive to lose his or her temper, say regrettable things, demotivate the team, and fail to get across his or her points clearly while speaking from a place of frustration.

With executive speech coaching, you can gain the skills to tactfully defuse this situation and get everyone on the same page:

  • You’ll work on listening skills to help you decode the question that’s being leveled at you and understand what’s really being asked.
  • You’ll learn how to weigh the situation and take a moment to decide upon a thoughtful response, rather than letting your emotions get the better of you.
  • You’ll learn how to assess whether or not the question should be dealt with publicly or in private, helping you keep better control of your team.
  • You’ll learn how to tactfully disseminate information.
  • And you’ll learn how to communicate your directives clearly and ask follow-up questions to ensure that you are understood by your whole team.

In addition to presentation skills, these sorts of everyday communication habits are vital to the success of any executive. Most executives tend to overestimate their own communication abilities. If you have any doubts about your communication practices with your team, or if you simply want to keep bettering yourself and prepare for the next step up the corporate ladder, give our office a call to learn more about our Chicago executive speech coaching. We can provide you with a free assessment and discuss a personalized plan to help you meet your leadership development goals. 

What is the Role of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ACC) in SLP?

Augmentaive and Alternative Communication

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ACC) is an important part of how we all communicate with one another. The term describes the different methods that we use in addition to speech to communicate with one another. Regardless of our speaking ability, most people use common ACC methods like waving, giving thumbs up, and pointing to supplement the things we say and make our communication clearer.

ACC can be used by school-aged children with speech language pathology issues to help them find more effective ways of communicating. It can even be used by infants who have not yet developed language skills. Baby sign language, for example, has been shown to help babies express ideas before they are able to form words, reducing their frustration and encouraging them to start speaking earlier. In severe cases, children and adults can use advanced ACC methods to supplement their speech abilities or replace speech if they are unable to communicate verbally.

There are three levels of augmentative and alternative communication:

No Tech ACC – This is supplementary communication that we all do using just our hands, expressions, and bodies. Gestures, vocalizations, and signing all qualify as no tech ACC.

Low Tech ACC – When you write someone a note instead of speaking to them, that’s a form of low tech ACC. Simple objects like picture boards, photos, word boards, and pads of paper can all be used to communicate simple ideas.

High Tech ACC – When speech is severely limited, a more technical approach to ACC is often required. These systems often use tablets, computers, or special mobile devices to let the user get across the idea they want to express. For example, Stephen Hawking’s communication system is a famous example of high tech ACC.

If your child has a significant speech impediment or a disability that hinders normal language development, you should talk to a speech language pathologist for kids about different ACC methods that might be helpful. With the right ACC tools, children with speech and language difficulties can become much more confident and relaxed, because they can have the joy of speaking their mind and being understood, which is an incredibly powerful thing. 

Need an Executive Speech Coach? Here’s What to Look For

Executive Speech Coach Chicago

You know your business inside and out. You are great at your job, and you love doing it. But when it comes time to direct your team or make a presentation to your bosses, you’re not as confident as you’d like to be. You worry that you’re not making your points clearly. The tenor of the questions you receive makes you doubt the strength of your voice. You’re afraid you might be boring your audience or losing them in the details.

The good news is, you’re not alone. Virtually every business person could benefit from the help of an executive speech coach. Improving communication as a leader is an essential part of growing within your field, expanding your business, and/or moving up the corporate ladder. The better you can communicate, the better you can inspire, motivate, direct, and command the people around you.

A great executive speech coach can help you improve your style of speaking, your clarity, your presentation skills, and your confidence when speaking in public.

But how do you know whether the coach you’ve chosen is going to deliver what you need? Here are seven questions to consider when choosing your coach: 

  1. How many years of experience do they have?
  2. Do they have good references? (Do you know anyone who they have worked with, or are they willing to let you speak to some of their past clients?)
  3. Do they have expertise in your field?
  4. Are they a licensed speech language pathologist? (Do they really know what they’re talking about, or are they just passing themselves off as a speech coach?)
  5. Are they good at listening to your needs?
  6. Are they willing to be flexible with their curriculum or to customize their sessions to your unique needs?
  7. Do you get along with them?

At BNM, our highly experienced executive speech coaches are all licensed speech-language pathologists with multiple years of experience coaching leaders at every level. If you’re looking for Chicago executive speech coaching, give our office a call to schedule a free assessment. We can help you identify your presentation strengths and weaknesses and provide you with a personalized plan for improving your communication skills.  

Top Signs of Communication Disorders Among School-Aged Children


Signs of a communication disorder among children can begin in infancy. If at two months a baby is not yet smiling or interacting with people, that could be a mark of a speech or language disorder.

Speech and language disorders can come in many forms ranging from mild to severe, so noticing a sign of a disorder isn’t necessarily something to get too worried about. That said, the earlier you can identify a potential problem, the sooner you can take early intervention steps which could greatly help your child’s communication, socialization, and academic success.

If you notice signs of a possible speech or language disorder, you should talk to your pediatrician. He or she might refer you to a speech language pathologist if they agree that there are communication disorder signs present. About one in twelve children from the ages of three to seventeen have a disorder related to voice, speech, language or swallowing, according to the National Institutes of Health. You can see a list of the speech milestones your child should be hitting at various ages here.

By the time your child begins first grade, he or she should be able to:

  • Understand most of what is said to him or her at home
  • Follow two- to three-step directions
  • Say letters and numbers
  • Repeat back phrases and short sentences
  • Relate events
  • Say most sounds in words with a few mistakes
  • Ask and answer simple questions
  • Hold a simple conversation

Causes of speech-language disorders vary, and not all of the causes are known. Some factors that might affect speech-language development in young children include family history, medical issues, poor nutrition, and developmental delays like autism spectrum disorder or Down’s Syndrome.

Signs of Speech-Language Disorders in School-Age Children

One sign of a speech disability or articulation problem in young children is problems with intelligibility, meaning adults have great difficulty understanding the child.

Some of the signs of language disorders are:

  • Limited vocabulary
  • Trouble making sentences
  • Using a limited number of phrases and sentences
  • Seeming frustrated by the inability to communicate basic wants, thoughts, and needs

Signs of a fluency disorder include sound, syllable, word, and phrase repetitions and pauses which don’t appear to be average.

Signs of a voice disorder include:

  • Speaking unusually softly or loudly
  • Having an unusual quality to the voice
  • Breathiness

If you notice any of these warning signs in your child who is about to start school, talk to your pediatrician as well as your child’s school about whether speech language pathology might be appropriate. You can also give our office a call to schedule a screening at any time.

The True Value of Leaders with Great Communication Skills

Leaders with Great Communication Skills

Miscommunication is a rampant problem in business. A survey of 400 US and UK corporations found that employee misunderstanding cost those companies a total of $37 billion over the course of one year. However, improving communication can lead to greater success for individuals and the entire company. Another study found that companies with leaders who are highly effective communicators had 47% higher total returns than companies with ineffective communicators.

How do you know whether you’re an effective communicator? The simplest litmus test is to assess whether your employees deliver what you ask for when you ask for it. Do they fall short of goals? Do they fail to meet your expectations? A likely culprit is poor communication.

With our Chicago executive speech coaching services, we do a full assessment to find out where your communication strengths lie and where you could use improvement. Communication is about more than the words being spoken. It is about tone, organization, clarity, and connection.

That final piece – connection -- is often overlooked by executives, which is why miscommunication is such a big problem. Taking the time to ask follow up questions and providing your employees with the opportunity to ask questions of you goes a long way toward improving communication as a leader. Here are a few tips for effective questioning:

  • Leave time in meetings for questions. If you say you’ll answer questions but limit the time or the number, employees won’t feel like you actually want to hear their questions.
  • Don’t embarrass the asker. There is such a thing as a dumb question, but if someone asks about something that you already covered, bear in mind that you may not have been as clear as you thought you were.
  • When asking questions, never be hostile. Your goal should be to connect, not to antagonize.
  • Remember that different people learn in different ways. If something you’re saying isn’t sinking in, try to find a new way to frame your words or incorporate a whiteboard to sketch out your meaning more clearly.

Both asking questions and giving your employees regular opportunities to ask questions of you will help minimize miscommunications. Being open to questions might also highlight problem areas in your communication skills if you get the same sorts of questions on a regular basis.

If that happens, BNM can offer customized executive speech coaching to help take your communication and presentation skills to the next level. Give us a call to learn more.