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Administering Effective Healthcare in ASHA

I attended a graduate school program that took great pride in a multi-disciplinary approach. They ASHAheavily emphasized the importance of working together to obtain the most accurate diagnosis within a medical model that was centered on patient wellness and experience. “It’s the wave of the future!” they said, “Funding in healthcare will be directly related to a patient outcome!”

When I started working at North Shore Pediatric Therapy, I couldn’t believe that the ‘wave of the future’ concept (simply translated to: increased and improved communication between patients and health care providers) was something that had been fundamental to this practice for so many years! They were so ahead of their time because they thought about how they wanted their family, friends, and children to be treated within a healthcare setting. It’s something that I find value in everyday and would like to share more information about in the upcoming paragraphs. *Of note, this blog post is in response to information derived from an article found in The ASHA (the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) Leader (a monthly publication sent to licensed speech-language pathologists) titled What Does the Patient Want? by Sarah W. Blackstone.

This blog post seeks to explain the ways in which the model of care NSPT has implemented for so many years is compliant with the recent changes in health care laws, policies, and regulations for patient-centered, communication-supportive care.

  • Why has the government recently realized this as a need in healthcare? Because, “Successful patient-provider communication correlates positively with patient safety, patient satisfaction, positive health outcomes, adherence to recommended treatment, self-management of disease and lower costs.”At NSPT, we have been working this way since day 1! We’re familiar with the positives of this model and know how to set up the challenges for success. We use these skills to impact our patients and improve our practice every day!
    • NSPT EXAMPLE: A colleague of mine had a client with a speech impediment and an upcoming school play. She reached out to the girl’s teacher (with the permission of her mother of course!) and they worked together to obtain a passage that had fewer of the sounds that were difficult for her. After the performance, all 3 parties rated the experience to review how the collaboration worked for everyone!
  • Participation in interprofessional rounds to generate relevant concerns and questions for our patients!
    • NSPT Example: I am a speech-language pathologist that works with physical therapists, occupational therapists, behavior therapists, social workers, and family child advocates. Some of our more involved kiddos see more than one therapist to address multiple areas of concern. This is where “rounding” is particularly helpful. It is the process of checking in and making sure that everyone is on the same page regarding the plan of care. Rounds are also a place to problem solve new challenges and talk about a client’s recent progress!

These are only a few of the ways that NSPT has already incorporated novel health care concepts into the foundation of what we do to convey our appreciation for the wonderful families we work with!

Resources:

Blackstone, S. W. (2016, March). What Does the Patient Want?. The ASHA Leader, 38-44.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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The Best Games for Language and Social Skill Development

Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good family game night? A little friendly competition, some yummy Blog-Language-Development-Main-Landscapesnacks and, of course, fun! As a pediatric speech therapist, I use games every day in my speech sessions. To be honest, I would be lost without them. Games are exciting, motivating, and best of all, they help children learn important speech and language skills without even realizing it!  There are many games that encourage the development of speech, language, and social skills. You can work on everything from learning how to take turns, to categorizing, making inferences, and oral narratives (i.e. story telling). Grab one of the following games for your next family game (and learning!) night!

These first few games are perfect for children who are just learning to play games as they are not language heavy. These games are great for promoting skills such as joint attention, turn-taking, cause and effect, commenting, and learning basic vocabulary and concepts (i.e. on, off, in, out, next). Some of these games introduce letter, shape and number concepts as well.

  • Sneaky, Snacky, Squirrel by Educational Insights
  • Frankie’s Food Truck Fiasco by Educational Insights
  • Frida’s Fruit Fiesta by Educational Insights
  • Hoot, Owl, Hoot by Peaceable Kingdom
  • Feed the Woozle by Peaceable Kingdom
  • Pop-Up Pirate by TOMY
  • Pop the Pig by Goliath Games
  • Zingo by Think Fun
    • There are many varieties of Zingo including numbers, letters, and telling time.

The next few games support turn-taking and overall social skills, but delve a little deeper into specific language skills.

Categorizing

  • Spot It! by Blue Orange
    • There are many varieties of Spot It, from Junior Edition to the special Frozen Spot It
  • Scattegories Junior
  • Speedeebee by Blue Orange
  • Rally Up by Blue Orange
  • HedBanz by Spin Master

Following Directions

  • Hullabaloo by Cranium
  • Cat in the Hat, I Can Do That! by Wonder Forge
  • Roll and Play by Think Fun
  • Ring It! by Blue Orange

Story Telling

  • Rory’s Story Cubes by Gamewright
  • Tell Tale by Blue Orange

Grab a game and have some fun!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

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Understanding Your Child’s Speech and Language Assessment

Taking your child to a speech evaluation may seem intimidating. Below are some tips to help you navigate the results of your child’s speech and language assessment.Blog-Speech-Evaluation-Main-Landscape

Speech Intelligibility by Age: These percentages are an estimate of how much of your child’s speech should be understood by various listeners across a range of environments at a certain age.

  • 19-24 months of age: 25-50%
  • 2-3 years of age: 50-75%
  • 4-5 years of age: 75-90%
  • 5+ years of age: 90-100%

If you think an unfamiliar listener would estimate your child’s intelligibility percentage to be lower than what is listed above, they will most likely qualify for speech therapy. However, qualifying for speech therapy also depends on additional factors.

Phoneme Development: Listed below are specific speech sounds your child should have acquired by a certain age. They are listed in a range as children acquire different sounds at different ages.

  • 1-3 years of age: p, m, h, n, w, b
  • 2-4 years of age: k, g, d, f, t, ng, y
  • 3-6 years of age: r, l, s
  • 4-7 or 8 years of age: ch, sh, z, j, v
  • 5-8 years of age: voiced /th/ and voiceless /th/

When your child attends a speech and language evaluation for articulation concerns, the speech-language pathologist will conduct a formal assessment that will allow them to determine if your child has all of the age-appropriate sounds in their repertoire. The SLP may also try some exercises with your child during the assessment to see if your child is stimulable for these sounds. In other words, they may check to see if your child can produce these sounds with some modeling or if the sounds are extremely difficult for your child to produce.  If your child can produce these sounds without difficulty, the SLP may recommend monitoring your child and conducting a re-evaluation in the future as the sounds may develop on their own.  If your child cannot produce the sounds easily, the SLP will most likely recommend weekly speech therapy.

How long will my child need speech therapy?

This is a question we are frequently asked by parents and unfortunately, there is no definite answer.  Each child progresses at their own rate and some children may acquire sounds more easily than others.  The length of therapy will also depend on the severity of your child’s articulation delay.

What can I do to help?

Your child’s SLP will most likely send home weekly “homework” that will include articulation exercises you can do with your child.  The more practice, the better!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

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My Child Chews on Their Shirt

Many children chew on various things such as clothing, toys, and other household items. Blog-Chew-Main-PortraitThis can be a way of your child exploring his environment, fulfilling a sensory need, or it is being used as a calming strategy. Chewing on items is very common in children with autism as well as some typically developing children. Shirts are most often the item that gets chewed on because it is always available and easily accessible.

Below are a few tips on how to properly address children who chew:

  • Replace the shirt with a chewing toy. These items will allow your child to get that oral input of chewing without destroying their clothing. Chewing toys come in many forms such as tubes, necklaces, bracelets and shapes, and they are widely available on many therapeutic websites. Make sure this chewing toy is always accessible, and if you see your child begin to chew on his shirt, immediately give him the chewing item, or better yet have your child wear the chewing item so it is easily accessible.
  • If the chewing is something your child does when he is nervous, begin to explore other calming techniques in an attempt to replace the chewing with something more socially appropriate.
  • Reinforce your child during times when he is not chewing on his shirt.
  • Taking chewing breaks throughout the day. Engage your child in very fun and reinforcing activities, but let them know the chewing item needs to be put aside while they engage in the activity. Activities can include swinging, going to the park, playing a game on a tablet, singing songs, or whatever activity is really reinforcing to your child.
  • Engage your child in various oral exercises such as singing, blowing bubbles, making different sounds with their mouth, etc. Be creative and make these exercises fun and enjoyable.
  • If it seems like your child is in pain while he is chewing on items, it is important to seek the opinion of a medical professional to rule out any medical or dental issues.

If the chewing does not decrease over time or begins to worsen, there are a variety of therapists that are able to help with this behavior. These therapists can include Board Certified Behavior Analysts, Speech Therapists, Occupational Therapists, or Social Workers. Once the function of the behavior is determined, your child could begin one of the above therapies to assist in decreasing the behavior.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

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Pronunciation Library

There are 44 phonemes (or speech sounds) in the English language. These speech soundsBlogPronunciationLibrary-Main-Landscape can be broken into the two broad categories of consonants and vowels. When a consonant is produced, the air flow is cut off partially or completely. When a vowel is produced, the air flow is unobstructed. In order to make this wide array of sounds, our articulators do a lot of work! Our articulators include our lips, teeth, alveolar ridge (the ridge on the roof of your mouth behind your front teeth), hard palate (the roof of your mouth), soft palate (the back portion of the roof of your mouth), jaw, vocal folds, and last but not least, our tongue. Each speech sound is made by placing these articulators in different positions, pushing through air, and turning our voice on or off.

Each sound has an age range at which it is typically emerging and mastered by. While producing these sounds comes naturally to some children, many children struggle to make certain speech sounds, and describing to a child how to make these sounds with muscles they cannot see can be even trickier! Below is a pronunciation chart of 24 early, middle, and later developing speech sounds and a description of how to make each sound:

PHONEME DESCRIPTION OF PLACEMENT OF THE ARTICULATORS
Early 8 Emerging pronunciation development between ages 1-3, consistent production around 3 y/o
/p/ Press your lips tightly together and push air up into your mouth, feeling the air build up behind your lips. Let the air push your lips apart creating a “pop.”
/b/ Press your lips tightly together and push air up into your mouth, feeling the air build up behind your lips. Turn your voice on and let the air push your lips apart.
/m/ Lightly press your lips together, turn your voice on, and let air flow through your nose, just like you are humming.
/n/ Open your mouth slightly and press the tip of your tongue right behind your front teeth. Turn your voice on and let air flow through your nose like you are humming.
“y” Lightly touch the back of your tongue to the roof of your mouth and pull the corners of your lips back. Turn your voice on and then move your bottom jaw down, pulling your tongue away from the roof of your mouth.
/w/ Round your lips and pull them close together in a tight circle. Then, raise the back of your tongue so it touches the roof of your mouth. Turn your voice on and then pull your jaw down and relax your lips.
/h/ Let your mouth rest slightly open. Quickly push breath through your throat.
/d/ Lift the tip of your tongue and place it right behind your top front teeth. Push your tongue, turn your voice on, and let your tongue drop slightly as you let the air burst through.

 

Middle 8 Emerging pronunciation development between ages 3-6.5, consistent production around 5.5 y/o
/t/ Lift the tip of your tongue and place it right behind your top front teeth. Push your tongue and let your tongue drop slightly as you let the air burst through your tongue.
“ng” Lift the back of your tongue to touch the roof of your mouth and turn your voice on, letting the air flow through your nose. Keep your voice on as you pull your tongue down away from the roof of your mouth.
/k/ Bring the back of your tongue up to touch the roof of your mouth while keeping the tip of your tongue down. Push your tongue up and then let a puff of air out between your tongue and the roof of your mouth as you pull your tongue slightly down.
/g/ Bring the back of your tongue up to touch the roof of your mouth while keeping the tip of your tongue down. Turn your voice on as you push your tongue up and then let a puff of air out as you pull your tongue slightly down.
/f/ Place your upper teeth on your bottom lip and push air through.
/v/ Place your upper teeth on your bottom lip and turn your voice on as you push air through your teeth and lip.
“ch” Touch the front of your tongue to the ridge behind your top front teeth and push your lips out (slightly rounding them). Let the sides of your tongue touch your upper back teeth to trap the air. Push a puff of air over your tongue as you let the tip of your tongue fall slightly.
“j” Touch the front of your tongue to the ridge behind your top front teeth and round your lips. Let the sides of your tongue touch your teeth to trap the air. Turn your voice on as you push a puff of air over your tongue as you let the tip of your tongue fall slightly.

 

Late 8 Emerging pronunciation development between ages 5-7.5, consistent production around 7 y/o
“sh” Touch the sides of your tongue to your upper back teeth, tilt the tip of your tongue down, and push your lips out (slightly rounding them). Push air over your tongue and through your front teeth.
“zh” (as in ‘treasure’) Touch the sides of your tongue to your upper back teeth, tilt the tip of your tongue down, and push your lips out (slightly rounding them). Turn your voice on as you push air over your tongue and through your front teeth.
/s/ Put your teeth together, slightly part your lips, lift the sides of your tongue to touch the insides of your top teeth, and bring the tip of your tongue down. Push air down the middle of your tongue and out through your teeth.
/z/ Put your teeth together, slightly part your lips, lift the sides of your tongue to touch the insides of your top teeth, and bring the tip of your tongue down. Turn your voice on as you push air down the middle of your tongue and out through your teeth.
Voiceless “th” Place your tongue between your top and bottom teeth and push air through.
Voiced “th” Place your tongue between your top and bottom teeth and turn your voice on as you push air through.
/r/ Pull the back of your tongue back and up. Press the sides of your tongue to the insides of your upper back teeth and slightly curl your tongue tip up. Turn your voice on and let the air flow through your mouth and over your tongue.
/l/ Lift the tip of your tongue and place it behind your top front teeth. Turn your voice on and let the air flow through your mouth as you let your tongue drop down.

If your child is continuing to struggle with one or many sounds past the age at which the sound is typically mastered by, a speech-language pathologist can help!

[1] Johnson, C., & Horton, J. (2009). Webber Jumbo Artic Drill Book Add-on (Vol. 2). Greenville, South Carolina: Super Duper Publications.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

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When to Be Concerned About Your Child’s Articulation of the L Sound

“I Wove You!” For young children, substitutions of the /l/ sound are common, but when should ‘wove’ become ‘love’? Blog/l/-Articulation-Main-Portrait

The /l/ sound is characterized as one of the ‘late eight’ sounds or, the later developing sounds in English-speaking children. Research has shown that 90% of children master the /l/ sound by 6;0. (Data from Templin, 1957; Wellman et al., 1931). (Sanders, 1972)

So…What Does This Mean for My Child?

In young children, these articulatory errors are developmentally appropriate and often resolve on their own. However, if you are noticing the persistence of these errors around 5 or 6 years of age, a speech and language evaluation might be an appropriate next step. An evaluation could be warranted sooner if there are other accompanying speech errors, or if you are concerned about your child’s overall ability to be understood.

How to Make the /l/ Sound:

This sound can be taught as “the singing sound”. The /l/ sound is made with the tongue elevated to touch the alveolar ridge or, the bumps on the hard palate behind the front teeth. Have your child watch your mouth as you say ‘la-la-la’, then, let her have a try.

Having your child practice in front of a mirror can be a particularly useful tool as well, giving her the opportunity to trouble-shoot her productions. Talk about the bumps on the roof of the mouth behind the front teeth as being the ‘magic spot’ where we want our tongue tip. If your child is comfortable with it, use a tongue depressor to touch the alveolar ridge if tongue placement is particularly difficult.

One of the most common errors associated with production of /l/ is called gliding, where /l/ is substituted with a glide sound (/w/ or /j/). If your child is substituting a /w/ for an /l/, it’s important to discuss relaxing the lips (or even having them in a slight smile) to avoid lip rounding.

Feel free to make this fun and interactive! Use a play dough head and make a tongue out of dough to demonstrate tongue tip elevation. Find what makes this interesting and salient to your child!

Shape the sound from one the child already has!

-Have your child prolong an ‘ahhhh’ sound and have her slowly elevate her tongue tip to the alveolar ridge.

-If your child is able to produce a /t/ or /d/, talk about having your tongue tip in the same spot for /l/ as for these sounds. Alternate between saying /ti/-/li/, /ti/-/li/.

Once your child is able to produce /l/ in isolation and in syllable shapes, begin targeting this sound in various positions in words (i.e., initial, medial, and final).

*It is worth noting that /l/ has two different placements depending on its position in a word. Light /l/ occurs at the beginning of a syllable (e.g., leaf), and dark /l/ occurs at the end of a syllable (e.g., milk).

Suggestions for Activities:

The /l/ sound is everywhere! Feel free to be creative.

Here are some activities to try out:

-Build a Lego tower and formulate two-word phrases (e.g, red Lego, blue Lego) as you build.

-Point out objects in your environment with /l/, or play I spy.

-Read a book with your child and have her produce some of the words with /l/.

The following books are heavily loaded with /l/ sounds:

Llama Llama Red Pajama, by Anna Dewdney

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, by Eileen Christelow

Lyle, Lyle Crocodile, by Bernard Waber

The Luckiest Leprechaun, by Justine Korman

It Looked Like Spilt Milk, by Charles G. Shaw

Should you have concerns about your child’s articulation, consult with a licensed speech-language pathologist.

[1] Sanders, E. (1972). “When Are Speech Sounds Learned?”. Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders, 37, 55-63.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

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What to Expect in a Pediatric Speech and Language Evaluation

The purpose of a speech and language evaluation is to determine your child’s strengths and challenges related to a variety of areas and conclude if therapy would be beneficial in further developing skills and aiding his/her ability to communicate effectively with SLPmainothers. Parents may request an evaluation if they have concerns, or children may be referred by a pediatrician, teacher, or after a developmental screening. While it may vary across settings, the following is a general outline of what you can expect from a formal speech and language evaluation.

  • Background and Developmental Information: Upon beginning the process, most facilities will request information regarding your child’s early developmental history. This will include things such as birth history, age milestones were met, and significant medical history. If your child has previously participated in therapy or related developmental/educational evaluations, providing copies of these reports to your therapist will be extremely beneficial in helping develop the whole picture of your child. In some settings, the therapist will obtain information from your child’s teacher regarding challenges specifically related to classroom learning and peer relationships.
  • Caregiver Interview: An essential portion of the evaluation will be information provided by the child’s family. The therapist will guide a discussion regarding your major concerns, what you would like to achieve by participating in the evaluation, and goals you might have for your child. The therapist may ask for specific examples of times you’ve noticed these challenges, thoughts about your child’s awareness toward the issue, and other questions to develop an overall understanding of how your child is communicating. Depending on the age of the child, he/she may participate in the interview portion to share feelings and thoughts on the area of difficulty, and what he/she would like to accomplish. Based on the background information provided and the caregiver interview, the therapist will choose assessment tool(s) to evaluate the area(s) of concern.
  • Assessment and Observation of the Child: Initially the therapist will spend time talking and/or playing with your child to develop rapport and make observations based on how he/she interacts and communicates in an unstructured setting. Then, your child will participate in assessments that may include:
    • Oral motor assessment to observe the structures of the face and mouth at rest and while speaking, as well as oral musculature and motor planning of oral movements.
    • Standardized assessment of the area(s) of concern (not an exhaustive list)
      • Expressive (what he/she produces) language and/or Receptive (what he/she understands) language
      • Speech production and fluency of speech
      • Pragmatic or social language
      • Feeding and Swallowing
      • Reading/Writing skills
  • Evaluation Report: The therapist will then compile all of the information gathered from the family, observations, and assessments and summarize it in a formal report. It will include a description of each area of assessment and its findings. Based on the results, the therapist will determine if therapy is necessary and if so, develop a plan for treatment. Specific goals to target the areas of need and a time frame for doing so will be included in the report.

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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

NSPT is in-network with United Health Care

North Shore Pediatric Therapy is Now In-Network with United Health Care for Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapy Services

North Shore Pediatric Therapy is now in-network with United Health Care for Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapy services in addition to our current in-network offering of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. Our goal is to make our services convenient and accessible to all Chicago area families, and this is one more step toward making that a reality.

According to our CEO, Maria Hammer, “We are excited to provide another option for insurance coverage for many of our current NSPT families and we anticipate being able to help more new families as we go in-network with United Health Care.”

Services that are covered by United Health Care:NSPT is in-network with United Health Care

NSPT also offers Neuropsychological Testing, Applied Behavior Analysis, Social Work, Dietetics, and Academic Services.

With 6 locations, North Shore Pediatric Therapy (NSPT) is the only concierge health and wellness center for children and young adults, that combines the power of multiple disciplines, first class service, and inspiring results, that has become the company’s hallmark. Deemed a Thought Leader in pediatric therapy, NSPT brings Peace of Mind to thousands of children and their families with its invigorating blend of positive environment, heroic staff, and blossoming kids.  NSPT provides the ultimate discovery that challenges can be overcome, and happiness restored.  Our team is comprised of Neuropsychology, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Social Work, Nutrition, and Academic Specialists.  Visit us at www.KidsBlossom.com.

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when will my child be done with speech language therapy

When Will My Child Be Done With Speech-Language Therapy?

Society as a whole is goal-oriented; as human beings we want to have a plan for the future. The unknown is anxiety-provoking, and people want straight answers. Therefore it is no surprise that a common question when a child is first recommended for speech-language therapy is how long will my child need speech-language therapy? The tough answer to this challenging question is there is no scientific way to determine a child’s timeline for speech-language therapy. However, there are a several components to speech-language therapy that can facilitate greater progress in therapy, possibly resulting in faster discharge.

These Components Will Help Determine How Long a Child Will Need Speech-Language Therapy:

  • Early identification is a key component for success in intervention. It is highly recognized that when speech and language disorders when will my child be done with speech language therapyare identified and treated as early as possible, there is a better prognosis. Developmental milestones can be helpful in identifying children who may be in need of speech-language intervention.
  • With any speech-language disorder there is a spectrum of severity that can occur. Often with a more severe speech-language disorder, therapy will be more intensive and may require a longer treatment period. Looking at the percentile ranking of your child’s score on a standardized test is helpful at determining where your child’s skills are in relation to the typical population.
  • There are several components of a therapy plan which can affect the rate of progress. Receiving consistent and frequent therapy can both positively impact a child’s progress. The greater amount of time a child is spent working on a skill, the faster that skill is likely to improve. Additionally, completing home programs or home activities given by your child’s therapist will facilitate carryover of the child’s targeted skills into other environments.
  • Lastly, every child is different in their areas of need for speech-language therapy. Therefore, each child’s therapy approach will be unique to him or her. A child’s diagnosis will ultimately affect what skills will be targeted and how many target areas there will be. Concomitant issues may also affect a child’s therapeutic approach, resulting in additional goal areas to target through therapy. The presence of multiple diagnoses does not necessarily mean slow progress, but may correlate with the reality that there may be more goals to be met before discharge.

This list is by no means all-encompassing of components which could facilitate faster progress in speech-language therapy. Overall, it is important that the child, family and clinician become a team to target that child’s speech and language needs. Then as a team, goals can be addressed positively in a variety of environments and communication situations.

Click here for more help understanding a speech-language evaluation.




is direct speech therapy necessary

Is Direct Speech-Language Therapy Really Necessary?

 

 

 

In the wake of recent news articles espousing a position that speech-language therapy can be implemented at home through apps and other forms of technology, many parents may wonder, Do I really need to bring my child to the clinic? The answer is: YES!
Apps and other activities can be helpful to supplement and support individualized intervention. However, they should not be used as a substitute for one-on-one speech-language therapy. Oftentimes speech-language pathologists (SLPs) will incorporate apps into therapy sessions to serve as motivators and to provide new materials.

See below for the top 5 reasons that direct speech-language therapy is best:

1) Individualized approach: Direct intervention conducted by a licensed SLP is tailored specifically to each child’s individual needs. Clinicians determine each child’s goals and create treatment plans to target these goal areas. Apps rely on a “one size fits all” approach, and while that may be helpful for some children, others will continue to struggle. If children, for example, are working on an /r/ sound, apps won’t teach the various ways to make an /r/, they will provide word lists and sentences for practice. A licensed SLP can determine which manner of production works best for an individual child and then use apps to create word lists.
2) Diagnostics: SLPs evaluate every new child prior to starting therapy. This process may assess speech, language, or both, in order to determine areas of need. Parents may not be aware of typical speech and language milestones and at what ages they should be concerned. A thorough evaluation conducted by an SLP can outline a course of treatment and determine goals for therapy sessions.
3) App selection: With millions of apps available, it can be daunting to pick the best apps to target specific goal areas. Incorporating apps out of the clinic to increase carryover of skills can be a great way to practice target words in a fun and motivating manner. In order to ensure that apps are appropriate and target areas of need, an SLP can provide families with suggestions and explicit instructions on how to use them. For example, apps for articulation are often broken down by sound into initial, medial, and final positions. If a child is working on initial /s/ at the word level (e.g., sea, soup, sink, sand, etc.), it may be too challenging to practice /s/ sounds at the sentence level (e.g., Sally sells scissors at the sea).
4) Feedback & cueing: During sessions SLPs are constantly modeling appropriate production or language for clients to imitate. When clients, for example, produce a distorted /s/, SLPs are able to provide verbal, visual or even tactile cueing to help with accurate tongue placement. This feedback ensures that children don’t practice sounds in error, further hindering progress.
5) Expertise: SLPs are master’s-level educated individuals who work with children (and adults) to improve communication. SLPs are licensed both by the state in which they practice and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). This expertise allows children to receive evidence-based treatment and helps to educate parents throughout the therapy process.
The benefits of combining technology into therapy sessions and supervised home programs are immense. Apps and other technologies can serve to motivate children, track progress, and provide accessible ways for parents to help build skills!

Click here for a list of great speech and language apps to supplement your in-clinic therapy service!