Children struggling to communicate are challenged as their needs and wants are unheard or misunderstood. Often times children will begin to engage in disruptive behaviors to communicate or drop in levels of engagement. Without timely intervention this can lead to a pattern of learning that challenges the child and their families resulting in negative social experiences.
Speech and Language Intervention
Speech and language intervention applies learning principles to teach children to emit sounds, letters words and phrases and the power of communication by arranging reinforcing consequences following their attempts to communicate.
The focus of intervention include four main domains:
Engagement. The child's engagement is pivotal to be able to present enough learning opportunities. Engagement is ensured by embedding interests into learning, diversifying presentations of learning ranging from floor play to table tasks, systematic teaching and maintaining high level of success rate.
Oral motor development. Oral motor development consists of exercises that help to develop movements of the areas of the speech apparatus which when coordinated helps to produce speech sounds. Exercises include areas of the lips, tongue, soft palate, larynx and breath control.
Speech output. While developing the child's oral motor movement the therapist teaches the child to imitate vowels and consonants, blend the different sounds together and fluently articulate words and phrases. The level of sound that is accepted relates to the child's development and is shaped to more accurate sounds in the long run.
Functional communication training. With functional communication training the child learns the power of communication as by communicating the child is able to contact positive reinforcement. Parents and family members are highly involved during this training so the child learns to communicate to others across different contexts and environments.
If in the case interfering behaviors such as inattention, restricted and repetitive movements or aggression are observed a comprehensive intervention program is designed to improve treatment outcomes.
Through direct interaction the therapist assesses the child's speech and language repertoire using informal method of observation and formal assessment tools. Following assessment the child's goals and treatment intensity are determined which can range from 10 to 30 hours a week depending on the child's needs, engagement level and pace of skill acquisition.
Once intervention begins the child's performance is carefully assessed on a routine basis and performance of target sounds, words and phrases are recorded and communicated. Parent involvement is highly encouraged and programs are flexibly adjusted to ensure progress.
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