Contact Us Make a payment Check In

Let’s Get Real About Screen Time

Screen Time and Childhood Development

Screens and technology use are becoming more and more common for children. According to the CDC, children ages 8-10 spend an average of 6 hours per day in front of a screen. This increased time spent starring into a screen can have significant effects on a child’s health and development. Young children learn about the world by exploring their environment and watching and modeling others’ behaviors. They learn to foster their imagination and creativity by interacting with toys and others. Increased screen use can have significant effects on this aspect of their development. A new study from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center published in JAMA Pediatrics showed concerning evidence that brain structure may be altered in kids with more screen use. Researchers looked at brain MRIs in 47 preschoolers and found that screen time over the American Academy of Pediatric’s recommendations was associated with differences in brain structure in areas related to language and literacy development. Below is a chart with suggested screen time use by age by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Screen Time

Screen Time and Behavior

While screens can be beneficial teaching tools, great for reward and even better for making those long car rides more bearable, their growing presence means parenting around them has become increasingly challenging. The exciting nature of screen time can trigger the release of dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter that makes us associate screens with pleasure and therefore something we want to spend more time with. These dopamine releases make it physically and mentally challenging for kids to put down technology. As a parent, think back to your childhood and how often you were watching a screen. It may have been for about an hour after dinner right? Let’s also think about what you were watching. It was most likely an hour long show that you had to wait until the following week to find out what happened next! Kids today are watching short-lived Youtube videos, 1-3 minute Tik-Toks, scrolling through social media, or binge watching a show with 10 episodes readily available. Research shows that these short clips of fast-paced programming have an immediate, measurable, negative impact on sustained attention and self-regulation. When screens displace activities like outdoor time, play, independent work and social interactions it can result in a kid missing out on valuable caregiver interactions that model and teach emotional regulation. Without those skills, a child might be quicker to anger, become frustrated or shut down.

Negative effects of increased technology use:

  • Decreased attention span and/or social interaction skills due to lack of peer interaction and engagement
  • Deficits in language and communication skills due to lack of reciprocal dialogue and social interaction
  • Difficulty sleeping: The blue light that screens omit, inhibits melatonin; our body’s sleep hormone
  • Risk factor for obesity: Engaging in a sedentary activity for extended periods of time increases this risk

Ways to Decrease Screen Time

Tips/ strategies to set boundaries and decrease screen time:

  • Keep certain times screen-free (i.e. during mealtimes, bed-time, and family time)
  • Set restrictions on the content/ apps that can be accessed 
  • Co-watch with your child so that the content is educational and appropriate. The parent can also help the child understand what they are watching 
  • Download games, apps, and YouTube content that are only educational
  • Parents can model healthy screen usage by decreasing the amount of time spent on their screens in front of their child
  • Set a family curfew for screen-usage (i.e. after 6:00pm, no more screens) 

Ways to take movement breaks:

Nowadays increased screen time is more common because of virtual learning and adults working from home. Here are some ways to take a break from the screen and get your body up and moving.   

  • 5 senses walk pointing out 5 things that you can see, 4 things that you can hear, 3 things that you can touch, 2 things that you can smell, and 1 thing that you can taste
  • Wheelbarrow walks across the room
  • Animal walks: Bear walks or crab walks 
  • Jumping jacks 
  • Crashing or jumping onto couch, mattress, or cushions 

Screen-free activities for families:

  • Make a fort out of pillows, blankets, chairs, furniture, etc. 
  • Get outside! There are so many fun activities that can take place outside; go for a walk, ride bikes, sidewalk chalk, water play with a hose or sprinkler, hide and seek
  • Karaoke or dance party 
  • Create a scavenger hunt around the house 
  • Have a game night

Screen-Free Toys under $22 that promote imaginative play and exploration:


Screen Time Carolina Therapy Connection

Better Speech and Hearing Month

What is Better Speech and Hearing Month?

Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM) was founded in 1927, by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). The aim of Better Speech and Hearing Month is to raise awareness around both speech and hearing problems while encouraging people to take a look at their own speech and hearing and to make a change if there is a problem. Developing strong communication skills is one of the most important elements to socializing and creating relationships. Communicating can be difficult for children with speech and/or language disorders, causing frustration and isolation. A Speech-Language Pathologist helps children overcome communication obstacles, and this month we are giving a huge shout out to our amazing Speech-Language Pathologists at Carolina Therapy Connection!

How can I be involved in Better Speech and Hearing Month?

According to the Center for Hearing and Communication (CHC), hearing loss affects 48 million Americans. Nearly 1 in 12 (7.7 percent) U.S. children ages 3-17 has had a disorder related to voice, speech, language, or swallowing. Considering these statistics, millions more family members and friends are also impacted. Better Hearing and Speech Month offers an opportunity for everyone to come together and bring awareness to hearing and speech related issues, educate themselves, and enthusiastically promote hearing and speech health. Anyone can celebrate Better Hearing and Speech Month, so we encourage you to get involved in your own community! In order to do your part this month, you simply can shine a spotlight on hearing health or speech issues. You could do this by sharing educational materials, encouraging your loved ones to be aware of their speech and hearing needs, telling your personal journey on social media, or simply just reading this blog to become more aware!

What are the areas of Speech-Language Pathology?

In light of Better Speech and Hearing Month, we want to provide resources for a better understanding of speech-language pathology and the roles of SLPs! The graphic below was created by Allison Fors, a speech-language resource author that creates speech therapy tools and educational resources for the public and all SLPs. View her blog here to learn more about each area of speech language pathology.

Areas of SLP

Recognize the Early Signs of Communication Disorders

As a parent, the early stages of communication disorders are easier to spot when you know the signs. Early detection and treatment of speech, language, and hearing issues is absolutely critical to improving the quality of life.

Here is a list of examples that are commonly known signs of communication disorders in children birth to 4 years old:

  • Does not smile or interact with others using verbal and nonverbal communication
  • Makes only a few sounds or gestures, resulting in using mostly nonverbal communication only
  • Words are not easily understood or language is unclear (12-18 months)
  • Has trouble with reading and writing skills (2.5 – 3 years)
  • Has trouble interacting with other children
  • Stretches out or repeats the first sounds of words: “f-f-f-f-farm”
  • Uses a nasal sounding voice
  • Uses a horse or breathy voice (frequent pauses or breathing between words)

Speech-Language Pathology at Carolina Therapy Connection

Our SLP’s at Carolina Therapy Connection design each therapy session with your child’s specific needs in mind. Our approach not only helps your child with their speech, but it also helps with communication, comprehension, social skills, expanding vocabulary, articulation, and many other areas. If your child is in need of therapy, it is best to begin as soon as possible. Children enrolled in therapy early (before they’re 5 years old) tend to have better outcomes than those who begin therapy later. Older kids may progress at a slower rate, because they often have learned patterns that need to be changed. Your child may need speech therapy if they have difficulty with speech/articulation (pronouncing sounds or words) or using words to communicate. Because the muscles and structures used for speech (such as lips, tongue, teeth, palate and throat) are also used in eating, a speech and language pathologist may also help with feeding and swallowing difficulties, also known as dysphagia. Our team of pediatric speech therapists provide screening, assessment, consultation, and treatment in the following areas:

If your child is experiencing any difficulty with communication, call our clinic for a FREE screening. A screening is a 10-15 minute conversation between an SLP and the family regarding the need for a clinical evaluation. Our focus is the wellness of the child. All of our therapists work together to insure they are receiving all the help they need to reach their highest potential!



better speech and hearing month Carolina therapy connection

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

What is AAC?

AAC stands for augmentative and alternative communication. So, what exactly does this mean? In short, it is any type of communication that replaces or aides natural/verbal speech. Most often people think of AAC as a big fancy communication device with voice output, but it is so much more than that! We all use forms of augmentative and alternative communication everyday including gestures, body language, or facial expressions. On top of that, it can also include (but is not limited to) sign language, pictures, writing (even with simple pen and paper), pointing to letters or pictures on a picture board, or communication devices.

How do we use AAC at Carolina Therapy Connection?

Here at Carolina Therapy Connection, our kiddos and their SLPs (speech-language pathologists) use a wide variety of AAC daily. This includes sign language, picture symbols and picture symbol books, and communication devices. After we evaluate your child’s speech-language skills, including comprehension of language, we can help find a system that will fit your child’s communication needs. We are very excited for some of our kiddos (and their families!) who have gone through the therapy and funding process to get their own communication devices! Here’s a look at some of our happy kiddos below!

AAC Device

Common Misunderstandings

As a speech-language pathologist, most often the first question I hear from parents is “Will using augmentative and alternative communication impact my child’s ability to produce verbal speech?” This is a very common misconception with AAC. Actually, research shows that AAC can have positive effects on speech-language development when the therapist in using it in a multimodal approach (using both alternative communication systems and working on verbal speech at the same time).

Another misconception is that a child may be too young for AAC. Again, research debunks this misconception. Instead, the research shows that early implementation of AAC can aid in the development of natural speech and language skills.

As a parent or guardian, if you are interested in seeing this research on one or both of these topics, one of our SLPs will be happy to get that information to you!

At Carolina Therapy Connection, learn more about AAC and how it can help your child from our awesome speech therapists! Please call us at (252) 341-9944 to set up an evaluation. 

—Written by: Laurel Wilsen, MS, CCC-SLP, CAS

AAC Device

Developing Speech Language Skills at Home

Developing Speech and Language Skills at Home


Home with your child more?… Now is a perfect time to work on developing speech and language skills!  Incorporating certain activities into your child’s daily routine is simple, easy and very effective!  Some parents feel as if developing speech and language skills must be a formal process of providing worksheets or setting aside a specific time each day to directly address certain skills. However, there are easy ways that are more successful in developing language and understanding when you engage your child during already established routines (such as mealtime, bedtime, bath time, play, etc.).  No matter the age of your child, these activities can be adapted for all skill levels.  Just remember to have FUN!

1.  Describe what you see


  • Verbalize and talk more often and with greater depth, describing what’s going on around you, and wondering out loud.
  • Instead of asking your child a bunch of questions try making comments and describe what you see.


  • Say: “We’re dumping sand into this big, green bucket.”
  • Instead of saying: “Are you pouring sand?”


  • Say: “Wow! That’s a big, blue circle!”
  • Instead of saying: “What color is that circle?”


2.  Describe the activity

  • “Your car is so fast! My car is slow. My car can beep the horn and go under the bridge. Let’s have a race with our cars.”


  • Your child will learn many words and concepts/ideas when you describe your shared experiences.


  • For younger kids, pointing is an important part of communicating. You can model pointing anywhere. It’s helpful to pair the pointing with a verbal label.
  • “Look! A big dog!”
  • “Police car! It’s so loud! Wee-ooh-wee-ooh!”


2.  Give choices


  • Giving choices empowers children but also allows you to maintain control of the tasks.


  • “You can wear your boots or your sneakers. Which pair of shoes would you like to wear?”


  • “Would you like some strawberries or blueberries?”


  • “We can go outside and play on your bike or play with chalk?”


3.  Talk about, describe and compare objects


  • Watermelons are so much bigger than oranges! Watermelons are heavy and round. We have to peel this orange before we can eat it.


  • Give the child a banana unpeeled. Wait and look at your child expectantly. “Oh, you want me to peel it? You say, ‘peel banana.’ I’m peeling the banana!”


4.  Self-Talk


  • Talk your inner monologue out loud.


  • Let your child hear your process. This will help them to develop logic, reasoning, problem solving and more advanced language skills.


  • “I wonder how we will get all of these bags of groceries from the car into our house. They are too heavy to carry all at once. Let’s get a wagon.”


5.  Make connections from the books you read together to compare what is going on in your own life


  • Talk about similarities and differences when you can.


6.  Parallel-Talk


  • Become a play-by-play announcer


  • Talk about what your child is doing in the moment:
  • “You’re building a tall tall tower!”
  • “You’re mixing blue and red paint. Hey, that looks like purple! Red and blue mixed together make purple!”


  • When engaging in parallel-talk, you can interpret your child’s actions:
  • “You’re pointing to the bookshelf. I see the truck up there! Do you want the truck? Tell me, ‘truck.’ You say, ‘truck.’ ‘truck.’”


7.  Repetition, repetition, repetition is the way to learn and hold on to new words.


  • For example, if your child is working on his/her use of the word “is,” then incorporate that into their play and during daily routines:
  • “Let’s introduce our babies to one another. Here is Rosie. Rosie is a girl. Casper is a boy. Here is Rascal.  Rascal is a dog.“


  • Cue your child to finish your sentence. Repeat it several times… repetition is key!


8.  Imitation


  • All children learn by imitating! Imitation is an important part of teaching and learning. For many children, mutual imitation (i.e., going back and forth imitating each other’s sounds, facial expressions, movements) is the most significant form of sustained social-interaction that they can achieve. When you imitate your child, for example, following his/her lead with a toy they are playing with, you are demonstrating focused attention on your child. By reflecting his/her actions, you can experience a wow moment of connectedness and fun! The next time your child picks up a musical toy and bangs on it, join in and imitate his/her sounds and rhythms. Remember to pause and wait for your child to continue.


  • For many parents, letting go of your own control and allowing your child to lead can be a new and difficult concept. But don’t forget — practice makes perfect! You do not need to be the director of your child at every moment, especially during play. Take a step back and see what your child can show you. When you imitate your child, you are showing them that “I’m doing what you’re doing” and this sets the stage for him/her to then imitate you.


9.  Have FUN!


  • Don’t forget to be playful and imaginative with your kids.  Kids love it when adults act silly and make mistakes. So how about next time you head out of the house with your child, leave your shoes behind and walk a few steps out the door…
  • “Oh silly me, I walked out of the house without my shoes!”


  • See if they even notice! If they don’t, try this again another day and see if you can prompt them to pay attention to your mistake. By mixing up a routine, you’re allowing your child to notice and make a comment. Give your child a fork with ice cream, wait, while looking at your child to see if and how they respond to this scenario?
  • “OH my goodness, I gave you a fork instead of a spoon. Oops, silly me!  It is hard to eat ice cream with a fork isn’t it?”


Don’t forget… It is NEVER too early to find out if your child could benefit from speech and language services.  The earlier the better!  We encourage you to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have.  We are here for you and your family!

speech and language skills

Speech and Language Development

Speech and Language Development

All children have speech variations during their early language development. Perhaps your child switches different consonants or still mixes words with baby talk. All of these things are normal to a certain age. Some children grow out of these practices or figure out articulation once they have learned to read and see how things are spelled. Many parents wonder is this normal for a child their age, or is there a problem? And if so, what should they do?

Is This Normal?

“Parents should be able to understand at least 50% of what a toddler is saying by their second birthday. By age three, parents should understand most (90%) of what a child is saying. By age four, strangers should understand most (90%) of what a child is saying,” says Laura Mize, a pediatric speech-language pathologist in her blog, Teach Me to Talk.

Thankfully, there are developmental milestones that can help determine if your child needs help with articulation. Teach Me to Talk has a list of first targets for speech intelligibility in toddlers.

What Do I Look For?

The first question to ask yourself is Is my child using the correct number of syllables in a word? 

Even if your child is not saying words perfectly, look for the correct use of syllables. This helps with determining what word they are trying to say, and helps differentiate from other words that may have similar sounds. If your child is having trouble with this, try clapping out syllables to help them hear the difference. This will help with communication before they use full sentences.

Next, Is my child using correct vowel sounds in words? 

If your child has an issue with dropping particular vowels, you can introduce those sounds in play. Using troublesome vowels as sound effects while playing helps your child become familiar with a sound that is difficult for them.

Can my child use two different vowel sounds in words, or does he always copy the first sound for the next syllable?

When a child is learning to speak, repeating vowels, such as “baba” for bottle, are used to simplify words. However, some children do not grow out of this stage, and therefore need help learning how to change the second vowel.

The next question to ask is, Is my child learning consonant sounds in the beginnings of words and syllables? 

Omitting beginning consonant sounds make if very hard to understand what a child is saying, especially when many words are strung together in a full sentence. Speech therapy is a wonderful tool to help a child develop those missing sounds.

And lastly, Is my child using ending consonant sounds? 

Dropping endings, lisping, and ending in vowel sounds instead of the desired consonant are some of the most common reasons for speech therapy. There are many tips and tricks to help a child learn and be aware of those ending sounds.

What Is The Next Step?

If you notice your child is not reaching these milestones, there are options! Speech therapy is a wonderful tool that not only helps your child with their speech, but it also helps with communication, comprehension, social skills, expanding vocabulary, articulation, and many other areas. If your child is in need of therapy, it is best to begin as soon as possible. Children enrolled in therapy early (before they’re 5 years old) tend to have better outcomes than those who begin therapy later. Older kids may progress at a slower rate, because they often have learned patterns that need to be changed.

ASHA describes articulation disorders as the difficulty of producing sounds in syllables or saying words incorrectly to the point that listeners can’t understand what’s being said.

Mommy Speech Therapy gives a great overview of the process of articulation therapy. “First practice the sound in isolation, then in syllables, words, sentences, stories, conversation and finally generalizing the target sound in all contexts of language.”

Where Should My Child Go?

There are various approaches to articulation therapy. Our speech therapists here at Carolina Therapy Connection are specialized in articulation therapy, and each session is designed with your child’s specific needs in mind. They physically show the child how to make certain sounds, and may demonstrate how to move the tongue to produce specific sounds. Not only do our therapists work with your child, but they work with you as a parent to enhance learning in the home.

One of the many strengths of Carolina Therapy Connection is the multi-disciplined aspect of our clinic. Some children with speech needs only need speech therapy, but often, children have a need for other therapy as well. We offer speech therapy, feeding therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and educational assessments. Our therapists are trained to notice any other needs for children they treat, and can help determine if an evaluation is needed. Our focus is the wellness of the child. All of our therapists work together to insure they are receiving all the help they need to reach their highest potential!

speech therapy for kids