Cognitive Connections

747 Main Street, Suite 307
Concord, Massachusetts 01742
United States
view phone978-369-5200
view fax866-773-7517
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We are highly experienced, certified speech-language pathologists who specialize in evaluating and treating a wide range of speech-language and cognitive issues for young children, school age children and adolescents. We focus on helping individuals learn the skills needed to enjoy learning, reading, writing and verbal communication through highly individualized programs that are based on the most current research. To maximize effectiveness and independent carryover of learned skills, we use therapy approaches that develop an individual’s “meta-skills” and “executive function skills”.

Metalinguistic and metacognitive skills refer to an individual’s ability to think about his or her own language and thinking skills. Executive function skills is a term used to describe difficulties associated with goal setting, carrying out organized steps and modifying a plan to complete a task successfully. These skills are built on the ability to learn from past experiences and apply that knowledge in new experiences. Attention, memory, impulse control, organization, planning, and hierarchical thinking problems often described by parents and teachers are the executive function difficulties that can interfere with an individual’s ability to benefit from some traditional speech-language therapy approaches.

Young children rely on all of the skills above to develop the ability to plan, monitor and evaluate a sequence of instructions for daily tasks. The development self-directed talk begins at age 3 and is important for using self-control to plan their communication and actions. Older children who posses these skills are able plan familiar tasks more independently and to organize a time line as the demands for independent learning increases. Children start to plan and organize tasks and materials in a more strategic manner using higher order reasoning skills. As the young executive system matures, essential planning skills emerge. Students are able to estimate time for tasks, sense the passage of time and break down the steps for nightly homework and long term projects.

Once engaged in tasks, students must demonstrate the critical skill of the executive system: the ability to self-monitor. They must be able to fluidly transition from one mental mindset to another and to be able to stop doing one activity and then move on to and start new tasks. At the same time, a student must also be able to pace themselves by speeding up or slowing down within a given time frame to meet expected goals. Students must use self-control and self-mediated talk to persist through tasks even if the tasks are difficult, boring or non-preferred. With repeated experiences, students use their executive skills to create episodic memories, or hindsight, so they have more automatic processes for knowing "how to study" or “how to socially act in certain situations” or “what to expect in novel circumstances.” We teach children a specific evaluation strategy that helps them develop hindsight and foresight. As adolescence comes to a close, the critical skill of cognitive flexibility becomes relatively mature. This enables the child to fluidly shift between changing task demands and to carrying out multiple complex goals to meet expected outcomes.
Every student is unique therefore a tailored therapy plan to remediate specific executive function difficulties is necessary. This plan begins with the evaluation process.