Browsing articles in "Technology"

Research Tested, Parent Approved

Feb 23, 2016   //   by clcadmin   //   Academics, Blog, Research, Special Needs, Technology  //  No Comments

by Kurt Dragomanovich

Almost every day, we here at CLC overhear a parent talking about their child’s struggle with reading, inability to pay attention, or difficulty listening to and understanding what their teacher is saying in class! Little do these parents know that an online-based program backed by over thirty years of independent research could make a difference for their child in as little as 30 minutes a day.


Fast ForWord targets the foundational skills for learning.

Fast ForWord does what no other intervention can do: it starts with cognitive skills like memory, attention, processing speed, and sequencing and works from the bottom up, using the principles of neuroplasticity. Fast ForWord aims to remediate the underlying difficulties that keep struggling readers and English language learners from making progress.

The Center for Communication Skills is proud to be a private provider for the Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant programs developed by Scientific Learning. Recently, we came across three parent success stories that we thought were too good not to share. Check them out!


Amanda VanDeWege’s story about her daughter: “Fast ForWord® User Review Journal Entries”
4 weeks into Fast ForWord: “My DD is READING!!!  She is reading over my shoulder as I type. She is reading sentences in books. She is reading labels in the stores as we walk by.  This is amazing!  She has been learning to read for over two years…Her working memory capacity is also noticeably increased in that she can play the sound memory game now without difficulty.  This is evident in her reading in that she can now read a whole 5-7 word sentence all the way through once and remember the beginning words.”

Samantha Taylor’s story about her son, Joey
Between 3-7 weeks of Fast ForWord: “We see it in the classroom,” his teacher said. “He’s paying more attention because he is processing more of what we are saying.” I remembered that Joey’s private speech therapist had recently noticed that the past few weeks he was more relaxed, cracking more jokes, and flying through exercises that he had struggled with. “It’s just going to get better from here,” the teacher exclaimed.

Tess Messer’s story about her son: “Fast Forward Review, Central Auditory Processing Disorder and ADHD”
“My son has been using an CAPD software program called Fast ForWord that has helped him tremendously. It works to improve and increase language skills and it also works on auditory memory and on reducing detailed information to a more basic representation. He has completed his second module and his auditory processing and language skills have improved tremendously.” 

A large number of the parents who have had their children complete Fast ForWord with us over the years have excitedly written testimonials of their own. We are always happy to hear about how the program has helped so many struggling learners become successful students!

To learn more about Fast ForWord, visit the Online Programs section of our website, or call us at (559) 228-9100 for a free demonstration of the program!

About the Author
Kurt Dragomanovich is a Speech-Language Pathology graduate student at California State University, Fresno. He also serves as the Program Coordinator of the Center for Communication Skills’ Learning Academy and Online Programs.

What is your tech IQ?

Jan 22, 2013   //   by clcadmin   //   Academics, Blog, Technology  //  Comments Off

by Kathryn Wage

Few of us have escaped the impact of smart phones, tablets, computers or e-readers in our lives. Even if you are one of the few who have avoided owning these devices you are confronted by the fact that your doctor, your teacher, your family, and your support system all rely on smart technology to an increasing degree.

One of the most promising areas where technology has had an impact is in learning environments. Just a few years ago it was rare to see a teacher or therapist with a tablet computer or smart phone using it for teaching or for therapy Today the world of educational has been revolutionized by technology. There are hundreds of thousands of apps for education and therapy with more being created daily.

The word app is a noun, and it’s short for “application.” Application in this case refers to a software application — in other words, a software program.

How have apps and smart devices changed the classroom?

If you have school-age family members you might have observed that teachers have at their disposal books, videos, learning apps, tests and more, all available through a variety of devices for their use. Gone are the days when the VCR was the high tech piece of classroom equipment. Now teachers are being encouraged to incorporate cell phones and tablets into their classrooms since so many of the children have access to these devices. Even social networking apps such as Twitter are proving helpful for students to communicate with their teachers and with experts about the content of assigned lessons. Now you can “Tweet” major authors and scientists, ask your questions directly. And they respond!

At the California Learning Connection both Speech-Language Therapists and Occupational Therapists use smart phones and tablet devices daily for many aspects of their work. The therapy schedule is available and coordinated with the office network. Email and texting are available instantly to communicate last minute changes. There are record keeping apps that help track a client’s responses in a therapy session. Recording apps can be used over time to either video or voice record a client’s progress. There are an ever increasing number of apps that have been created to practice skills that therapists teach ranging from fine motor skills to higher level language tasks. Best of all, most are free or at very low cost.

Apps and technology will not take the place of the human interaction and the art of therapeutic intervention; but when used wisely, they can make the teacher or therapist more effective by offering more opportunities for practice and learning.

I Want to Say….

Apr 20, 2012   //   by clcadmin   //   Blog, Special Needs, Speech, Superstars, Technology  //  Comments Off

by Kathryn Wage

Kayla Takeuchi is no stranger to starring in feature films. “I Want to Say” is a new film about Kayla and others who use technology in new and exciting ways to move past their limitations and take their place in the world.  Hewlett Packard started the project to find new markets for their TouchSmart technology.  From their efforts emerged Hacking Autism, an initiative to develop and deploy technology to give people with autism a voice.  You can read more about the movie and watch a trailer at the link below.

The Power Of An Insight Poignantly Comes To Life, Sparks Social Good

Feeling Overwhelmed?

Apr 3, 2012   //   by clcadmin   //   Blog, Research, Technology  //  Comments Off

by Kathryn Wage

How many people do you know who would answer a resounding “YES!!!” to this question?

Most of us, at one time or another, feel that there is too much to do and not enough time. Time Management Consultants make a living helping others manage time, priorities and life events so that more can be accomplished. Our electronic devices including computers, tablets and smart phones have certainly changed our lives. Could we call these changes an improvement? Or just a more intrusive and demanding path to becoming a slave to get things done anytime, anywhere?

Have we reached the point where there is no physical way that more can be accomplished, even with the help of all the electronic gadgets we can think of? How many times have you had the experience of trying to speak with someone while they are also messaging someone else? You never really get their full attention. At the dinner table the vibration of a phone often gets more attention than the person sharing the table.

Tony Schwartz, author of The Energy Project Blog, states that one of our problems is that there are not stopping points, finish lines or natural boundaries from one activity to another. The boundaries between work and home have blurred. Work follows us everywhere through our tablets and portable devices. It is difficult to ignore these constant reminders that there is something that needs our attention. When the device signals it’s like an “itch” that needs to be scratched.
Mr. Schwartz offers these suggestions to help us reclaim the boundaries between work and personal life and to manage our energy and time well.

1. Do the most important thing first in the morning. It is important to resist distractions and it is also important to determine a starting and stopping point with discrete goals to be accomplished. Doing this will naturally increase your productivity and allow you to function without being interrupted or distracted.
2. Establish regular, scheduled times to think more long term, creatively, or strategically. If you are constantly “putting out fires”, chances are you have not had regular planning time to make sure that the important things happen the way they should. Urgency takes away from your ability to think of open-ended more creative solutions. These solutions come when you are more relaxed and have time set aside for strategic thinking.
3. Take real and regular vacations. Real means that when you’re off you are not bringing work concerns with you. Regular means several times a year if possible, even if some are only two or three days added to a weekend. The research strongly suggests that you’ll be far healthier if you take all of your vacation time, and more productive overall.

Keeping Your Brain Young and Vital

Feb 2, 2012   //   by clcadmin   //   Academics, Blog, Health, Research, Technology  //  Comments Off

by Kathryn Wage, for Posit Science

Keeping your brain healthy should be a high priority, no matter what your age. Just as maintaining your physical health contributes to a high standard of quality of life, good brain health supports your potential for success and wellbeing. When you are young, obtaining enough nutrients and fostering a rich, nurturing environment leads to good cognitive skills for learning. When you are middle-aged, you rely on your brain to excel at work and in your personal life, so that you can meet daily demands without faltering. In the later years, you may be concerned about your brain health and wonder what consequences brain health might have on your independence and overall function. However, no matter what your age, the goal should be to have your “brain span” match your “lifespan.”

That’s the ultimate benchmark for a life of optimal and total health. It’s important to think about brain health during all stages of life to increase the probability of achieving the existence you desire. Luckily, neuroscience is giving us more insight into how to create and maintain good brain health throughout our lifetime. Knowing and learning about your brain can help you appreciate all it does for you, as well as understand the benefits of taking care of it.

The idea of having our thinking capacities diminished for any reason usually results in anxiety, and with good reason. Having sound memory, good problem solving skills, and the ability to respond with curiosity to our surroundings are all essential to meaningful, daily engagement with the world. Likewise, the ability to be a good listener, find the right words, and think quickly are important elements for maintaining social connections. When we have good brain health and are functioning optimally, our mood is elevated and we feel confident and optimistic.

These characteristics are just a few hallmarks of a youthful, vital brain. While most of us expect some level of “deterioration” as we grow older, which is aptly reflected in numerous expressions associated with aging and loss of cognitive function, preserving and enhancing a healthy, youthful brain is possible at all stages of life. Jokes aside, exercising your brain is an important daily activity.

Adapting to the rapid changes all around us is what a healthy brain does best. In fact, there is evidence that shows our brains are capable of adapting to new circumstances and information until the moment of our very last breath of life. Surely, this proves what a wondrous organ the brain truly is!

What diminishes brain health?

There are many conditions that impact the integrity of our brain functioning; some are temporary, and some take their toll over a longer period of time. Temporary conditions include side effects from drug or alcohol use, sleep deprivation, and short-term illnesses. Chronic conditions or injuries, by contrast, can have permanent effects that require life modifications and/or compensations. There is a long list of diseases and chronic conditions that affect brain health, including (but certainly not limited to): chronic poor nutrition, head injury,
stroke, and HIV. Genetics plays a role in some types of cognitive decline, and some medications such as chemotherapy may result in decreased function, giving birth to what some sufferers call “chemobrain.” Many of these and other conditions are being studied to determine if the effects of this can be mitigated or improved upon. And, in some cases, we already know the answer is a resounding “yes.”

Brain Maintenance Manual

Regardless of any diagnosis, there is absolutely no reason to sit helplessly by while your brain function diminishes with age or illness. You can actively take part in improving cognitive ability in many areas such as memory, speed of processing, accuracy, mood, and recall. It is not necessary that age takes its toll on mental skills or that disease and injury result in permanent damage to brain function. Thanks to neuroscience research performed around the world, the body of knowledge surrounding maintaining a healthy brain is dramatically more advanced than it was 20 years ago. With the help of brain imaging techniques and continuing studies, restoring function and increasing your current potential are no longer lost causes.

And, the good news is that the tools to build a vital, healthy brain are not exotic or out of reach. They are readily accessible and when you know what to do, your daily choices will make a difference in how youthful your brain is. Just as lifestyle has an impact on our bodies, the way we live impacts our brain health as well. New Learning is the Key Being a “creature of habit,” it turns out, is not the best way to maintain brain health. Habits are important because they allow us to do many things throughout the day without having to make a conscious effort. Think of it like this: when you do something repeatedly in the same way, you are creating deeper and deeper tracks, or neuropathways, in the brain. These neuropathways eventually become so deep that trying to learn a new behavior is very difficult. In contrast to this, if you complete daily activities in a new and different manner, you are stimulating your brain to make new connections rather than deepening the existing grooves. The more new connections you create, the more opportunity there is for recovering or maintaining health, particularly if your brain is challenged by illness or age. There is much research that has proven the old saying “use it or lose it” also applies to Mental maintaining brain flexibility in thinking and the ability to adapt. Think about your current habits and experiment with replacing them with new ones for the purpose of improving or maintaining a vital brain. And, after your new course of action becomes a habit, change it, because once again, you will only be deepening the grooves.

Physical Exercise

A study done by the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia found that even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. The benefits of physical exercise, especially aerobic exercise, have a positive effect on brain function on multiple fronts, ranging from the molecular to behavioral levels. When you exercise, your increased heart rate pumps more oxygen to your brain, releasing hormones, which aid in nourishing new brain cells. These new brain cells make new connections in the brain, allowing brain plasticity or adaptation to occur in a wide variety of areas in the brain. Similarly, research from UCLA demonstrated that exercise increased growth factors in the brain, making it easier for the brain to grow new neuronal connections. To depict this point, maybe you have heard of, or have experienced a “runner’s high.” This effect is actually a dose of natural antidepressant-like neurotransmitters that are associated with a drop in stress hormones. A study from Stockholm showed that the antidepressant effect of running was also associated with more cell growth in the hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

Optimum Diet

It makes sense that diet is important to brain health. After all, we know that a “starved” brain suffers and cannot develop. It is not so clear, however, what exactly constitutes a good diet for brain health maintenance. So far, although not conclusive, eating foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, has topped the brain-food list because they reduce inflammation throughout the body, including in the brain. Vitamins and other food sources have been a major focus of research in brain health as well, but have also produced conflicting results. Unfortunately, there is still so much to study and learn about nutrition and the brain, so the best advice for now is to maintain a healthy and balanced diet.

Mental Exercise

The best way to exercise your brain and keep it young is to LEARN NEW THINGS. When we learn something new, we are pushing our brain to create new connections and increase neurotransmitters. Practice repeatedly until you have mastered a new skill; once you’ve accomplished this, you can rest assured that you’ve just added a new groove to your thinking arsenal! Anything that you have always done the same way creates a “roadway” in your brain that makes it difficult for you to change or adapt. When we are young, we rapidly learn new things. As the brain is exposed to new input, the neurons keep forming new connections. In adulthood, however, we tend to stop actively learning. We get into maintenance mode, which does not challenge the brain to its full potential. And challenging the brain is exactly what we need to constantly do in order to ensure continual brain growth, thus warding off mental decline.

Take Control of Your Brain

Research shows that if we keep challenging our brains with new activities, we can keep them young. Even if your brain shows signs of loss, don’t forget that you truly can turn back time. If you are concerned about your current brain health, consult with a professional who is trained in how to measure your current capabilities, and who can also counsel you on changes that may improve your brain adaptability. You can even test your own brain health at home and do daily brain exercises at Don’t sit passively by; take charge of your habits to improve your brain span, and ensure your mind is there to match your body every step of the way.


About the Author:

Kathryn Wage, M.A., CCC-SLP is a private practice speech language pathologist and Director of the California Learning Connection in Fresno, as well as a former lecturer at Fresno Pacific University and California State University, Fresno.

Play with a Purpose

Dec 30, 2011   //   by clcadmin   //   Blog, Health, Technology  //  Comments Off

by Kathryn Wage

This is the season where once again the latest and greatest new technology is put before us as a temptation. If you are purchasing gifts for friends or family you may want to consider gifts that keep on giving, even when the novelty has worn off. Certainly in these tighter economic times looking for value in what we spend money on is a priority.

Finding economic value in play makes more dollars and sense than you may think at first. The key is deciding what you want to encourage and knowing that with the right kind of play you can enhance many things. O. Fred Donaldson, Ph.D. has termed this high value play as “original play.” He believes it is important to learn how to play and that play is the optimum learning relationship. In other words, learning should be fun. Play is important for children, but it is also important for adults. It helps us adapt to the fast changing world around us.

The benefits of play throughout life are many. Play has emotional-behavioral benefits and can reduce fear, anxiety, stress and irritability. For many, being able to play again facilitates the healing process for pains. There are social benefits in play as well. Play can enhance feelings of acceptance, empathy, compassion and sharing. It helps us see options and choices and it is a way to improve nonverbal and verbal socialization skills.

There are bio-physical benefits of play that include increasing positive emotions, efficiency of immune, endocrine, and cardiovascular systems. Play decreases stress, fatigue, injury and depression. The overall effect of play is that it increases cognitive efficiency of brain function.

The good news is that this is true throughout life if we engage in the right kind of play. You can use the short list of questions when you are shopping to determine if you are getting play value from your purchase.

  1. Does the toy promote playing with others?
  2. Does the purchase promote physical activity?
  3. Does the purchase promote positive learning outcomes?
  4. Is there creative thinking required?
  5. Is it fun?

If the answers are “yes”, it is probably a good investment and gift because when you are shopping for value, there is no better value than giving someone coping skills, emotional well-being and health.

Center For Communication Skills, Speech & Language Pathologists, Fresno, CA