Speech and Language therapy
Speech and language therapists (SLTs) work with children who may have difficulties with communication, eating, drinking and swallowing. They will show you ways to support your child’s communication or feeding skills.
The development of communication involves many skills including:
- Social interaction
- Movement of the mouth and speech
- Understanding language
- How to express themselves
These may be the focus of your child’s speech and language therapy.
Communication skills change as we grow – babies cry, while older children can be more specific in their communication. There are many ways to communicate including the use of:
- Gestures and Signs
- Photos, Pictures and Symbols
- Specialised communication aids
What a speech and language therapist does
The speech and language therapist aims to work jointly with you to: talk with you about your concerns regarding your child’s communication or eating, drinking and swallowing. assess your child’s strengths and needs in the areas of communication, eating, drinking and swallowing. provide opportunities, such as one-to-one or group therapy with other children or parent support groups, to help with development of your child’s communication. set short and long-term goals link with other relevant services, for example, hearing assessments or assistive technology to enhance communicative abilities if required. liaise with schools and teachers where appropriate to support language development and school curriculum.
Sensory integration is a therapy-based intervention, which people usually do with an occupational therapist. For example, an occupational therapist might design and implement an individual program of sensory experiences for a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Sensory integration therapy is for people who have sensory integrative dysfunction, or who have trouble understanding sensory input. This might include children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Sensory integration therapy is used to help children learn to use all their senses together – that is, touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing. It’s claimed that this therapy can improve the challenging behaviour that’s caused by difficulties with processing sensory information. Most people experience events that stimulate more than one sense at the same time. For example, when we read a book, we see the words on the page, we hear the pages turning, and we feel the book in our hands. We might even be able to smell the book if it’s old or dusty. We take in all this varied sensory information and combine it to give us a clear understanding of the world around us. Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can have trouble combining sensory information in this way. The idea of sensory integration therapy is to use physical activities and exercises to help children learn to interpret and use sensory information more effectively.
Handwriting is one of the most complex skills that is learnt and taught. It requires motor, sensory, perceptual, praxis and cognitive functions, and the integration of these functions. When the complex nature of this skill is considered, it comes as little surprise that many children experience difficulty in mastering this area. When an occupational therapist observes that a child referred to the service is having difficulty with handwriting, it becomes necessary for the therapist to administer procedures to identify the strengths and weaknesses that will then become the basis for a remedial programme. We teach the easiest skills first, and then build on prior knowledge. All letters are taught in small groups of similar formation. Children master the easier letter groups, and then move to the more difficult letters groups. We incorporate stages of learning from imitation to copying to independent writing We help children develop their writing skills through explicit, multisensory, play-based instruction Children move, touch, feel, and manipulate real objects as they learn the habits and skills essential for writing. We use music to speak to children and promote movement and memory.