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Speech and Language Therapy
Speech and Language Therapy aims to maximise children’s ability to communicate through speech, gesture, and / or supplementary means, such as communication aids, and to enable them to become independent communicators.
Speech and Language Therapist assess and diagnose communication delay and disorders including: speech, language, interaction, voice, fluency and pragmatics (social skills). This includes being involved in the team assessment and diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
As the problems experienced by children with a diagnosis of developmental delay range widely, there is no single universally appropriate form of treatment.
Intervention can focus
- on developing interaction skills – such as turn-taking, motivation to communicate
- on expressive language
- on receptive language (understanding) development,
- on speech
- or on helping children to develop conversation and social skills, such as asking questions and ‘repairing conversation’ when misunderstandings occur.
Intervention can be given to children directly on a one-to-one basis or in groups, or indirectly by training familiar conversation partners to alter communication environments and provide more opportunities for interaction eg Hanen Programme for Parents or the EarlyBird Programme.
SLT intervention varies in its intensity and the location in which it is given – visits and programmes may be given to preschools, schools and home if appropriate.
The Speech and Language Therapist’s role also includes assessment, diagnosis and provision of intervention in the area of feeding – eating, drinking and swallowing skills.
All therapy is provided in the context of a team – every effort is made to provide therapy in a coherent way that is individual to the child – eg some children would benefit from a period of OT intervention to help develop their joint attention skills required to participate in interaction and thus a period of SLT intervention would follow.
Some interventions recommended following SLT / communication assessment may equally be provided by other members of the team appropriately trained in the area – eg PEC’s (Picture Exchange Communication System) or Floortime.