Our guest chat host tonight on November 5, 2001, is Dr. Howard Goldstein from
Florida State University. Howard Goldstein, Ph.D., CCC-SLP will be leading
us in a chat about Early Childhood Language.
Dr. Howard Goldstein is a Professor and the Chair of the Communication Disorders Department at
The Florida State University. He has been involved in research and the education of children
with developmental disabilities for the past 30 years. His work has focused on early intervention
and the development of instructional approaches for teaching generalized language and social skills
to children who are severely disabled. Dr. Goldstein also has worked with numerous school districts and health
care agencies on a number of projects and research grants, including the development of in-service training
initiatives, clinical research and development, and a distance education graduate training
program. He is an ASHA Fellow and a certified speech-language pathologist and has extensive
expertise in training and supervising master's and doctoral students in Communication Disorders.
His current interests include peer-mediated interventions to promote social communication in
preschool children with developmental disabilities; early literacy interventions for high-risk
children in preschool settings and the home, effects of communication interventions in early
intervention settings, interdisciplinary doctoral training on prevention and early intervention of developmental
disabilities and uses of technology in personnel preparation. Dr. Goldstein has just published a book about social
communication, Promoting Social Communication: Children with Developmental Disabilities from Birth to
Adolescence, (Goldstein, H., Kaczmarek, L., & English, K. , Editors). He will be making several presentations at
the upcoming ASHA convention, including Part-Time Distance Learning Master's Degree Program in SLP,
Web-Based Coaching's Impact on School SLPs' Objectives, Regional Coordinators: Roles and Responsibilities
in Distance Education Graduate Programs, Teaching Low SES Parents to Use Decontextualized Language
During Reading, and Peer Training and Visually Cued Social Interventions for Children With Autism.
<Robin> Welcome! We are chatting tonight with Dr. Howard Goldstein about Early Childhood Language.
<Robin> Dr. Goldstein has been involved in research and the
education of children with developmental disabilities for the past 30 years
<Robin> I have a nephew with developmental
disabilities who is in early intervention now which has given me a
whole new appreciation of those working with the 0-3 age group
<Dr. Goldstein> I'm just starting to work with that younger age group. Most of my work
has been with preschool age children.
<Dr. Goldstein> Come to think of it. I guess I've worked with all ages. My favorite may
have been working with 6 month olds on speech perception studies.
<Adrienne FSU> how did you measure that?
<Dr. Goldstein> We used a head turn response--kind of like visual reinforcement
<Adrienne FSU> how did you differentiate sound from speech?
<Robin> what were the results of the study?
<Dr. Goldstein> The infants were able to distinguish phonemic differences, for
example ba vs. pa even if the speakers or intonation contours changed.
<Adrienne FSU> how can you tell?
<Dr. Goldstein> That's a pretty sophisticated behavior. The acoustic signals are very
different, but the infants demonstrate that perceptual constancy that is related to
<Dr. Goldstein> We used a repeated stimulus paradigm. the babies keep hearing the
various versions of ba and learn to turn their head when they hear pa. The tester in the
room with the baby and the mom could not hear
<Dr. Goldstein> so they couldn't influence the baby's response
<Dr. Goldstein> We listened to music under headphones and tried to keep from
<Adrienne FSU> that's interesting!
<Adrienne FSU> lol
<Robin> It must have been a challenge working with 6 month olds!
<Dr. Goldstein> six month olds are very cooperative and easy to condition. From
babies I moved on to children with severe disabilities
<Dr. Goldstein> That's been a little more challenging.
<Dr. Goldstein> But fun
<Adrienne FSU> is it very individualized?
<Adrienne FSU> as in varying with the disability
<Dr. Goldstein> most of my work has used peers as intervention agents, teachers sort
<Dr. Goldstein> the interventions focus on increasing social communication skills in
children who are socially withdrawn
<Robin> how can you assess the language skills of a severely disabled child?
<Dr. Goldstein> there are a number of assessment instruments you can use. Basically
you are trying to determine how they express themselves and for what purpose
<Dr. Goldstein> For example, some children follow a fairly predictable sequence of
gesturing, vocalizing, and verbalizing
<Dr. Goldstein> You also look for what kinds of functions are being expressed. For
example, babies are most concerned about their basic needs.
<Dr. Goldstein> They do notice cool things in the environment and their gaze may be
an indication. Eventually they coordinate that communication and use other people to
help them regulate their environment
<Robin> what if they are visually impaired?
<Dr. Goldstein> Robin-visual impairments presents additional challenges. but
children with visual impairments still communicate.
<Robin> I am seeing what this is like first hand with my 15 month old nephew
Dr. Goldstein> you may focus more on gestures and vocalizations. Gaze and eye
contact is not going to be as meaningful, depending on the extent of the impairment
<Robin> he responds well to sounds, voices, and touch
<Dr. Goldstein> and how do you see him communicating?
<Robin> vocalizations, all vowels at this point
<Robin> he has oral apraxia, and has issues with sucking
<Dr. Goldstein> Does he express different functions, for example, showing that he
likes and dislikes different toys. Expressions of familiarity with objects, voices, music?
<Robin> he definitely responds to music and familiar voices
<Dr. Goldstein> it sounds like he has some motor involvement. is it mainly related to
<Robin> no, he has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, so his motor involvement is
<Robin> He is receiving OT, PT and speech
<Dr. Goldstein> well, it is good that he is attempting to communicate different things in
different ways. If motor involvement is limited then one might be considering some
forms of augmentative communication. We have faculty members here with more
expertise in AAC then me (Drs. Lasker and Wetherby)
<Robin> Thank you, Dr. Goldstein . THe SLP working with him has presented him with
a simple switch device....Dr. Lasker has chatted with us about AAC
<Linda Le> Dr. Goldstein, I am currently a grad student and a speech therapist, do you
always work with the preschool age in groups? 4 languagage stimulation I mean
<Dr. Goldstein> Linda-when I am focusing on peer intervention the kids are naturally in
<Dr. Goldstein> We have focused mostly on pairs or groups of three, but sometimes it
is in the context of a whole classroom.
<Anonymous2468> I'm a Grad. student in Speech, hello all
<Robin> Hello! If you have any questions, please ask, 2468 and 5219!
<Linda Le> Dr Goldstein, I am seeing a Spanish speaking child indivdiual, she can talk
in Spanish, in full sentences.
<Linda Le> But when she comes into my room, first, I can't get her in the door,
<Linda Le> So I play with other kids, and she is interested, but when it comes to her
<Linda Le> she just starts to cry and throws a tantrum, suggestion?
<Dr. Goldstein> Crying and tantrums are forms of communication. It may take some
observations to determine what is being expressed.
<Dr. Goldstein> Perhaps it is escaping demands. It may be that simple communicative
responses need to be reinforced first, before shaping more sophisticated language.
<Linda Le> So, if she is interested in the activity just keep on doing it, and in a few
sessions, she will want to participate?
<Linda Le> What do you mean by simple communicative responses?
<Dr. Goldstein> I would not just wait probably. I'd invite participation. Give the child a
highly attractive toy. Maybe have other children invite the child to play.
<Dr. Goldstein> Children can be a lot less threatening than adults. What age is the
<Linda Le> She is about 3.5, and is in a Spanish speaking home, no English is spoken
<Dr. Goldstein> and I presume little exposure to English?
<Linda Le> Yes, little to none
<Dr. Goldstein> Being in an environment with a new unfamiliar language is pretty
frightening for even highly competent communicators.
<Linda Le> Umm, we've played with clothes and she does have receptive vocabulary,
about 50% of the items she can name
<Linda Le> that's on a good day,
<Dr. Goldstein> This sounds like a case of second-language learning and not a
<Dr. Goldstein> is that right?
<Linda Le> no, because she was assessed in Spanish, expressively she was
significantly reduced in Spanish as well
<Adrienne FSU> she was fortunate to be assessed in her first language!
<Linda Le> So, I have a child with a language disability in Spanish, but I only speak
<Linda Le> Adrienne, I'm is Southern CA, so yah, it is very nice that she was assessed
<Dr. Goldstein> Can you tell me about the family? their wishes for the child's
language? Are they more concerned with her Spanish or her English?
<Linda Le> The family just want her to communicate with other children, in either
language because she gets in fights and just cries in a social situations
<Dr. Goldstein> You are certainly at a disadvantage by not speaking Spanish.
However, at the preschool age level you can concentrate on basic vocabulary and
concepts and get the other children involved.
<Linda Le> So basic concepts, like sequencing, or should it be more meaningful kinds of
<Dr. Goldstein> Given the challenging behaviors, simple appropriate social responses
might be appropriate targets.
<Adrienne FSU> how do you insure that she has opportunities for those specific
responses when you're relying on the peers?
<Linda Le> Should I just reinforce her constantly when she does have appropriate
<Dr. Goldstein> I was thinking of words and concepts that are used with toys, play
activities, and interaction themes in the classroom
<Dr. Goldstein> You don't want your reinforcement to be too intrusive if the child is
getting postive responses from peers, but you certainly want to encourage her
attempts to communicate
<Linda Le> definitely stay away from pencil and paper task and play with her
<Robin> 9510, do you have any questions for Dr. Goldstein?
<Anonymous9510> Robin, I am an undergrad student, so I'm just taking it all in
<Robin> ok, 9510!
<Linda Le> Thanks Dr. Goldstein!!
<Dr. Goldstein> peers are not real good at serving as intervention agents without
some training and encouragement
<Linda Le> I see, so training the group will help her utilize her skills in a more natural
<Dr. Goldstein> We have tried to simplify the training by focusing on "Play, Stay, Talk"
<Adrienne FSU> so you bribe them with candy or just let natural consequence of new
friends reinforce them?
<Dr. Goldstein> Candy is not always a positive reinforcer and it doesn't sound like that
relates to the challenging behavior
<Adrienne FSU> lol, I was not really serious about giving them sugar... but how do you
reinforce the peers involved?
<Dr. Goldstein> Access to toys, getting other kids to do preferred activities, fit into
different roles--is that what you mean by natural reinforcers?
<Linda Le> How would I appropriately reinforce the group?
<Adrienne FSU> what is "Play, Stay, Talk"
<Dr. Goldstein> We often set up contingencies based on play attempts,
communicative attempts, and such. It sounds contrived, but it is often very useful to
establish positive interaction patterns. The reinforcers
<Dr. Goldstein> often are preferred activities, sometimes toys/trinkets that the kids can
take home, special time with teacher or a friend.
<Adrienne FSU> are they able to connect the rewards (consequence) with the behavior
of playing with the delayed child?
<Dr. Goldstein> Play, stay, talk was an easy way for preschoolers to learn and
remember that they were supposed to play
<Dr. Goldstein> with their "buddy", stay with them and pay attention to what the buddy
likes to do. talk about the activity--
<Dr. Goldstein> what you are doing and what your buddy is doing. It is basically a way
to get the children to initiate, e.g., suggest play ideas, and to get them to be very
<Adrienne FSU> so the peers are aware playing with this child requires extra effort...
<Adrienne FSU> I guess it's hard to remember children are not so selfish
<Linda Le> What if they are non verbal, do you use pictures?
<Dr. Goldstein> playing with buddies with developmental disabilities takes extra effort.
If you have younger siblings you may remember that sometimes you have to give up
some of your own desires to play successfully
<Dr. Goldstein> and avoid little blow ups. preschoolers seem to think of the children
with disabilities as younger kids, even though they may be bigger.
<Adrienne FSU> interesting
<Dr. Goldstein> they are not that judgmental. we do try to avoid long, intense periods of
peer intervention. One of our discoveries had to do with how to spread peer
intervention across the day instead of just at play time
<Linda Le> Dr. Goldstein, thank you for the suggestion, I have to go now, they are kicking
me out of the computer lab. Once again, thank you for you advice and time
<Dr. Goldstein> It was my pleasure. Good luck
<Adrienne FSU> Do any of you observers want to ask a question before we wrap up
<Robin> Please feel free to ask questions!
<Adrienne FSU> This chat has been informative, I'm glad we got to work out some real
<Dr. Goldstein> It has been interesting to find that teaching peers is easy and they
really help zero in on appropriate communication skills without specifiying target
behaviors for children with disabilities
<Adrienne FSU> we should learn from the children about natural and functional
<Dr. Goldstein> Right on!
<Robin> we will be having upcoming chats about working in the schools and autism
<Robin> Dr, Goldstein, I see that you will be busy presenting at the ASHA convention!
<Dr. Goldstein> Robin, I'll be talking about peer intervention with children with autism
with one of my former doc students, Kathy Thiemann
<Dr. Goldstein> This has helped to get me psyched up.
<Dr. Goldstein> I've enjoyed chatting with you. I need to work on my on-line typing a bit.
but this has been fun.
<Adrienne FSU> You were great! Thanks for joining us tonight
<Dr. Goldstein> Thanks.
<Dr. Goldstein> Hope to see you and meet you in New Orleans. Bye!
<Adrienne FSU> goodnight!
<Robin> Thank you so much for joining us!