Vanessa Zimmer-Powell

The Learning Sphere - Pediatric Speech Therapy

Credentials: M.A., CCC-SLP
Hours of Operation: Monday - Thursday: 9:00 am - 5:30 pm
Treatment locations: Office/Clinic - Private Office
7670 Woodway, Ste 115
Houston, Texas 77063
Phone: 713-517-9131

Overall Treatment Approach:
   I make sure that the child has a way to express himself/herself. Many of my kids do well with signing. To target oral language , I determine which phonotactic structure is the right level for the child. I start with whatever the child can motor plan easily in imitation with 1 or 2 cues ( I usually use my own variation of Kaufman cues to help the child imitate), and no frustration. I try to make sure that I am targeting words that are frequently occuring in the child’s day and have just enough motor planning challenge not to frustrate the child. My approach depends upon the child’s age and interests. If the child is having fun and engaged, we have a lot of learning opportunity. I know that I need to get in as much repetition as possible. I make available activities that I know the child likes and will allow me to get in maximum repetition. I also make sure that the target words for the pattern don’t all have the same sound so that he/she doesn’t just get stuck on one sound. For example, in an activity targeting reduplicated words the child might practice “mama,” “bye-bye,” and 3 “dada.” I also cue the child, as needed, to help the child know what sound to produce in context of their motor plan. Once the child can say the word easily and rapidly when cued, I reduce the cues to imitation, or provide an opportunity for the child to produce spontaneously. I give feedback when there is an error (ex: “wa o?” if the child is trying to say the practiced word “water.”). I usually have the parent in the session, and we keep a running tally of the words that the child produced successfully in imitation during the session, and then have the parent work on the words at home with the child. I also show the parent how to do the cues in case she/he needs to give the child a little help with the correct sound. Sometimes for older kids I use Kaufman cards and workbook to assist in moving up the motor planning hierarchies-- I use them in the context of a game. I just ordered the Building Speech kit after doing that workshop, and am looking forward to using that as well--I find these words to be a little more applicable to words of daily living. I also use the kit as a guide, to help me think of new target words for the next level of a motor plan.

Percent of CAS cases: 5-10%

Parent Involvement:
   Parents usually observe the session, and take notes. I have them jot down target words to work on at home, and show them how to do cueing.

Community Involvement:
   For approximately 18 years I have been involved by treating children with CAS and training colleagues and parents. I did not know that there was an organized community until almost two years ago when a very challenging new patient came to see me. His mother drove from over an hour away to see me. She reported that in past therapy her child had only been given communication devices, and that his SLPs had ruled out oral communication. She had heard from another parent that I might be able to help her child talk. I noticed that in addition to Autism, her child had CAS. We all worked together (mother, child, me), and he started spontaneously babbling and using jargon (9yrs old) in addition to saying words and phrases. The dedication that this mother had to helping her child speak impressed me greatly. The experience increased my interest in expanding my CAS knowledge, developing my own CAS related materials, and learning more about the Apraxia community. My brand new private 5 practice, The Learning Sphere, recently participated in the Apraxia Walk at the Westview School in Houston, and we hope to do more in the future.

Professional consultation/collaboration: Yes

Min Age Treated: Birth - 18

Max Age Treated:

Insurance Accepted: No