These therapies address any type of communication deficits presented by an individual. These may include traditional speech/language therapy to improve receptive and/or expressive language, social language skills, such as greetings or conversational turn taking, reading others non-verbal cues, such as eye contact and facial expressions, for example. The goal of these therapies is to improve how an individual communicates with others for a variety of reasons, in a variety of settings.
Who is qualified to provide communication therapies?
You should look for a certified Speech Language Pathologist (SLP). SLP’s who are certified by the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) have completed extensive coursework at the Master’s degree level and have met stringent clinical qualifications to practice in their field.
What does a typical speech/language therapy session look like?
How is therapy conducted? Because communication includes so many areas, a therapy session may look very different from what you imagine, depending on the age and/or functioning/severity level of the child, the specific goals/objectives being addressed, and/or the therapy model used by the clinician. Most therapy programs will fall somewhere between a child-centered model where the therapist uses a less structured, play-based context to address therapy goals and a clinician-directed model, where the therapist chooses the treatment activities and directs the session in a more structured manner. Typically, a therapy session will look more like a “hybrid” approach, encompassing components of both. There are a number of newer, computer based communication therapies which exist, as well. For example, FastforWord, is a software program to improve auditory processing skills.
Examples of therapy goals/objectives:
1. Building play behaviors: how to use objects, how to play appropriately with toys, and/or playing with others.
2. Developing a communication system; how to use and understand pictures (e.g., PECS), learning signs/gestures, voice output systems, for example.
3. Improving understanding/comprehension of language; identifying objects or pictures when named, for example.
4. Developing early word/vocabulary learning, putting words together, improving sentence grammar, and/or developing story structures to describe experiences or procedures, retell stories, or engage in conversations with others.
5. Building communicative intent: The therapist may be trying to get the child to communicate more often, for more reasons. For example, by placing desired objects out of reach, or violating a routine, the child is pushed to communicate a request, or even a protest (which is better than no communication at all). The way the parent responds to the child, combined with environmental modifications, more frequent, varied attempts to communicate can be elicited.
6. Improving auditory processing skills.
7. Strategies to reduce word retrieval deficits