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What is AAC?

AAC stands for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. It encompasses all of the ways in which an individual may communicate outside of speaking verbally. Augmentative communication means to add to someone’s existing speech skills, and alternative means to be used in place of verbal speech. There are many different kinds of AAC including, but not limited to: gestures, facial expressions, writing, pictures symbols (e.g., picture exchange communication system/ PECS), drawing, sign language, high-tech speech generating devices, communication boards, etc. Some people may use one of these modalities, and some may use multiple modalities depending on the way in which they can most quickly and clearly communicate the topic.

Who Needs AAC?

Many different people use AAC throughout their lifetime. It can be used across the lifespan by any age, at any time, and for a variety of different reasons. Some people use AAC for their entire life, and some use it for only a short period of time. AAC can help any person who has difficulty fully or partially meeting their daily communication needs such as expressing wants and needs, socializing, asking questions, and a variety of other functions.



How can AAC help your child?

AAC may be able to help your child if they have difficulty being understood by others, have a limited vocabulary, demonstrate limited spontaneous speech, are non-speaking, and a variety of other different reasons. There are no prerequisite skills to your child beginning to use AAC. One common misconception is that AAC will hinder language development or cause your child to become dependent on it for communication. While some children may have minimal to no verbal speech throughout their lifetime, there is research to show that AAC can actually help children to develop language. Using AAC can also help to reduce frustration surrounding communication attempts, and help your child to communicate their needs more clearly, quickly, and effectively.



Parent’s Role in AAC

When introducing AAC to your child, it is important for family members/ caregivers to make the commitment to help the child succeed with the chosen AAC device. Your input is crucial in helping to choose and develop an appropriate AAC system, and using the device at home and in the community is a vital step to help both you and the child continue to learn the system. According to Jane Korsten, SLP, the average 18-month-old has been exposed to 4,380 hours of oral language at a rate of 8 hours/ day from birth. A child who has a communication system (AAC) and receives speech/language therapy 2 times/week for 20-30 minutes will reach the same amount of language exposure (in their AAC language) in 84 years. It is our role as professionals and caregivers to help minimize the communication gap between oral language users and AAC users. 

Modeling:  Modeling is an awesome way to both learn your child’s AAC system, and teach them an example of how they can use it. The best way to model is to speak and use the system at the same time, although you do not always have to select an icon for every word you say. For example, you may verbally say “time to go to school” while modeling “go” and “school” on the AAC system. A general rule of thumb is to model the number of icons your child is currently using, plus one. If your child uses 1 icon at a time, you may choose to model 1-2 icons at this time. It is important to model without expectation, meaning that you use the AAC system without expecting or requiring the child to respond, withholding items or activities, or “testing” their skills. The goal is to provide an example to the AAC learner, which they will then learn by watching and listening to what you do/say.


How can CTC help you and your child?

Whether your child is already receiving speech/language therapy services at our clinic or not, CTC is ready to help support both parents and children through their own individual journey with Augmentative and Alternative Communication. If you believe that your child may benefit from the use of AAC, talk to one of our many incredible speech-language pathologists to begin the process of figuring out what type of system (no tech, low-tech, mid-tech, high-tech) will work best. This process can take time, but with your support and the support of your SLP, it is possible to find the right system for your child! 

Our Fall Programs – Greenville

Our Fall 2023 Programs

We had such an awesome response to our Summer camps this year, so we are so excited to announce our upcoming Fall programs for 2023! Carolina Therapy Connection’s group programs are open to all individuals that fall within the posted age range. Please contact us if you feel like your child would benefit from being in a group with children younger or older than them. Age ranges are posted to ensure all children can participate and engage in activities chosen for that specific program.

Sports Skills Program – SIGN UP HERE

Sports Skills Program Carolina Therapy Connection Greenville, NC

Join us for our sports skills program that will help encourage your child to join their peers in playing sports by covering the basics. In this program, your child will work alongside our physical therapist and ECU PT students to work on the foundations of sports skills including, kicking, catching, throwing, higher level balance, agility, and hand-eye coordination.

Ages: 7-12 years old

6 Week Program – Tuesday, September 12th – Tuesday, October 17th

Every Tuesday Afternoon: 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM

AACepting Voices (Augmentative and Alternative Communication Program) – SIGN UP HERE

AAC Program Carolina Therapy Connection Greenville, NC

Work alongside our SLPs to help you and your child navigate through all aspects of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). Join us for our group program to help educate and promote the use of AAC devices while building community with other families and friends!

Ages: 4-6 years old

6 Week Program – Monday, September 18th – Monday, October 23rd

Every Monday Afternoon: 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Social Skills Program – SIGN UP HERE

Social Skills Program Carolina Therapy Connection Greenville, NC Fall 2023

Ages: 3-5 years old

6 Week Program – Friday, September 15 – Friday, October 20th

Every Friday Morning: 9:30 AM -10:30 AM


Fall Programs Carolina Therapy Connection Greenville, NC

All Things Speech Therapy at CTC

Happy Better Hearing and Speech 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 therapists at Carolina Therapy Connection! We also want to highlight all the areas that our speech therapists specialize in and treat on a daily basis in our clinics.

What is Speech Therapy?

Speech therapy is the assessment and treatment of communication problems and speech disorders. 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:

  • Early Intervention Services
  • Feeding and Oral Motor Development
  • Articulation/Phonological Disorders and Delays
  • Language Disorders and Delays
  • Motor-Based Speech Disorders including Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)
  • Fluency Disorders
  • Hearing screenings available with Speech/Language Evaluations
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Evaluations

What is a Speech Sound Disorder?

A speech sound disorder is a term to describe difficulty producing or articulating speech sounds, including difficulties with perception, motor production, or phonological representation of sounds. Children develop speech sounds at different rates, though most follow the same general pattern of development. Functional speech sound disorders are common, and can be divided into 2 general categories: articulation and phonology. If a child is slower in producing age-appropriate speech sounds, they may have an articulation or phonological delay. Articulation disorders focus on errors including distortions and substitutions in production of individual speech sounds. Phonological disorders focus on rule-based errors or phonological processes that affect more than one sound.

What are general signs of a Speech Sound Disorder?

According to the American Speech Language and Hearing Association (ASHA), signs of symptoms of a speech sound disorder include:

  • Omissions/deletions—certain sounds are omitted or deleted (e.g., “cu” for “cup” and “poon” for “spoon”)
  • Substitutions—one or more sounds are substituted, which may result in loss of phonemic contrast (e.g., “thing” for “sing” and “wabbit” for “rabbit”)
  • Additions—one or more extra sounds are added or inserted into a word (e.g., “buhlack” for “black”)
  • Distortions—sounds are altered or changed (e.g., a lateral “s”)
  • Syllable-level errors—weak syllables are deleted (e.g., “tephone” for “telephone”)

Children generally develop articulatory precision of sounds at the following ages: 

  • 2 years old: P
  • 3 years old: B, T, D, K, G, M, N, NG, F, H, Y, W
  • 4 years old: V, S, Z, SH, CH, J, L
  • 5 years old: TH (voiced “THem”) R
  • 6 years old: TH (voiceless “paTH”)

What is Apraxia?

Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a motor-speech disorder that impacts a child’s ability to perform the motor movements required to produce speech sounds. Children with CAS have more difficulty planning a specific series of movements of the tongue, lips, jaw and palate that are necessary for intelligible speech. As opposed to a true developmental speech delay when the child is following the “typical” path of childhood speech development, children with CAS may exhibit vowel distortions, inconsistent errors, and inconsistent voicing.

What is a Language Disorder?

A language disorder is a term to describe difficulty understanding the message that is coming from others (receptive language) and difficulty relaying their message or information to others (expressive language). Children learn language all the same way, though they do not always learn at the same time. Children with language disorders can have difficulties understanding and/or using written language, spoken language, or both. Also, language disorders differ from  speech sound disorders. A speech sound disorder is characterized by difficulties making sounds, whereas with a language disorder, a child can make the sounds but exhibit difficulty using them to communicate. Learning a second language does not contribute to a language disorder. If your child has a learning disorder, they will exhibit difficulties in both languages.

What are the general signs of a language disorder?

According the the American Speech and Language Association (ASHA), signs and/or symptoms of a Language Disorder are as follows:

  • Birth to 3 years: Not smiling or engaging/playing with others
  • 4-7 months: Not babbling
  • 7-12 months: Producing/making only a few sounds; not using gestures (smiling, waving, blowing kisses, etc.)
  • 7 months – 2 years: Difficulty understanding what others are saying
  • 12-18 months: Saying only a few words
  • 1.5 years – 2 years old: Not putting two words together
  • 2 years old: Saying fewer than 50 words
  • 2-3 years old: Difficulty playing and talking with other children

Preschool Age

Children may have difficulty understanding what is being said to them. Some signs they may exhibit include: 

  • Understanding meaning behind gestures, like shrugging or nodding
  • Pointing to objects or pictures
  • Following directions
  • Answering questions

Children may have difficulty talking/communicating. Some signs they may exhibit include: 

  • Naming objects
  • Asking questions
  • Using gestures
  • Putting words together to form sentences
  • Learning songs/rhymes
  • Knowing how to start and keep a conversation flowing

What is a Fluency Disorder?

It’s normal to catch yourself using disfluencies while talking to a friend, such as saying “um” or repeating a word a couple of times. However, a fluency disorder is characterized by the excess presence of disfluencies, which significantly interferes with one’s ability to communicate with others. The most common type of fluency disorders is stutteringStuttering includes speech behaviors such as sound/word repetition, prolongation of sounds, and difficulty initiating a sound/word. People who stutter may also have physical and emotional/psychological symptoms.

What are the signs of a fluency disorder?

The signs of stuttering include:

  • Whole word repetitions (e.g., “My-my-my-my friend is here.”)
  • Sound/syllable repetitions (e.g., “That’s my d-d-d-dog.”)
  • Prolongation of sounds (e.g., “Ssssssssssssstop it!“)
  • Blocking, which is when a person who stutters is trying to initiate a word but no sound comes out
  • Body movements (e.g., fist clenching, leg tapping, head nodding)

Stuttering can also result in secondary psychological, emotional, and social symptoms such as social anxiety, decreased self-confidence, and avoidance of social situations.

How do I know my child needs a fluency evaluation?

It’s developmentally normal for children to experience more sound and word repetitions when they are between 2-3 years old, since their language is rapidly expanding and their brains are trying to keep up with all the new information. However, it is important to seek an evaluation from a licensed speech-language pathologist if your child is experiencing frequent disfluencies and presents with one or more of the following factors:

  • There is a family history of stuttering
  • The child is demonstrating negative social, emotional, or behavioral reactions to stuttering events
  • The child is experiencing physical tension (hard blinking, fist clenching, etc.) during a stuttering event
  • Stuttering events are impacting the child’s ability to effectively communicate
  • Other articulation or language delays are present

At Carolina Therapy Connection, our pediatric speech therapists will demonstrate and provide you and your child with education and strategies that:

  • Enhance and/or modify your child’s fluency
  • Reduce overall tension that causes stuttering
  • Minimize or prevent negative reactions to stuttering
  • Help your child advocate for their speech needs

How can Carolina Therapy Connection help?

At Carolina Therapy Connection, our treatment for language, speech sound and fluency disorders are highly individualized to your child’s needs. A standardized assessment will be administered to detect any delays or errors within all realms of speech and language compared to same-age peer norms. Our speech therapists will work with you and your child to develop a plan for enhancing their speech and build confidence across all social environments (home, school, social groups, etc). If you have any concerns or questions regarding your child’s speech or language, call our clinic at (252) 341-9944 for a complimentary speech therapy screening. This screening will determine if your child would benefit from a formal evaluation.

Speech Therapy at Carolina Therapy Connection Greenville, Goldsboro, New Bern NC

Eliminate Stress from Virtual Learning!

We Want to Help Your Family Eliminate Stress from Virtual Learning

School has started and the stress associated with remote learning is already overwhelming for many families. In addition to assuming the role of teaching, parents are trying to work their own job and continue to provide for family needs. All of this can create a chaotic home, at a time when we are already struggling with how this pandemic has changed our world. Carolina Therapy Connection is here to help children and their families eliminate stress from virtual learning!

Parents and students want to resume a sense of normalcy. The unknowns cause anxiety and fear for all of us. We need to create more routine, structure and consistency in facing these challenging times. Children need and want boundaries to feel safe and secure. The behaviors and feelings experienced when boundaries become cloudy, inconsistent or even ignored, can significantly reduce the learning and well-being of our students.

Carolina Therapy Connection is Now Providing a Virtual Learning Program

Beginning in September, CTC will be offering a Virtual Learning Support program. Some students may rotate between virtual learning and face-to-face learning every other week, while others may be receiving their education completely online. Students will attend the clinic on a weekly basis depending on their individual needs. Each week will allow for 8 hours of time with our academic coaches. Pricing for services will depend on the frequency of weeks requested. Call our clinic to discuss your child’s school schedule and any other specific needs they may have, so we can find the perfect time for you. 

During this time, students will focus on assignments and skills from their school. Having a schedule that your child can rely on for face-to-face instruction can ensure that they receive a higher-quality education and improve their understanding of concepts they have trouble with. 

CTC academic coaches will:

  • Keep students organized and motivated
  • Build confidence and independence
  • Provide clarity and understanding of assignments
  • Reinforce academic skills
  • Provide structure and consistency
  • Help with motivation to complete all work
  • Provide a learning environment that reduces distractions

The Health and Safety of Your Child and Family is Important to Us

  • When you arrive at the clinic, you can call us and we will come out to greet you at your car.
  • Prior to entering the clinic, your child will have their temperature taken and their hands washed.
  • All desks, computers, tablets, and other equipment will be sanitized between each visit.
  • Throughout your visit, all staff in the building will be wearing masks.
  • Before leaving we will have your child wash their hands one more time!

Now is the time to start the school year off right for your child and family at Carolina Therapy Connection! Start early and call us at 252-341-9944 to set up weekly virtual learning support.

virtual learning support