The SLPs at Children’s Speech and Language Services work with the youngest of children who display delays in learning to use words to communicate. It is not unusual for our offices to receive phone calls from parents who are concerned because their child isn’t using words but instead “just grunting and pointing” at home for wants and needs…or using words but “nothing that can be easily understood”. Parents very often recognize frustration in their child lack of verbal communication and want to be proactive in addressing the problem.
We evaluate toddlers and young preschoolers using a combination of formal testing, observation during play activities, and parent interview. The SLP will ask questions about how speech sounds are used at home, how the child communicates daily needs, how intelligible the child is to other members of the immediate family, relatives, and strangers. Other important information might include gathering a clear idea of how others react to the child’s communication attempts and how the child behaves when not understood. Parental observations are very helpful to the evaluation process. It is not unusual for our Speech and Language Evaluation to be conducted across two sessions, with a week or two in between the sessions, to allow for growth and changes directly related to indirect intervention…suggestions provided to the parent for home activities.
Should it be determined from the results of the assessment that a child would benefit from therapy, weekly sessions are scheduled with one of our staff. Language stimulation and parent coaching may be suggested for jump-starting a child’s use of words. The child typically works with the therapist 1:1, followed by time with the parent in the room for learning helpful and practical home carryover activities. In some cases, direct parent coaching may be recommended, where the parent takes an active roll in 15-20 minutes of the therapy session, learning and practicing language expansion techniques, and language scaffolding during an activity under the direction of the therapist.
Some youngsters have difficulty with their speech intelligibility or articulation skills. We know that difficulties in developing adequate motor abilities for speech production negatively impact language development as well. During the assessment, speech production would be observed both formally and informally. The SLP would determine what kinds of input… verbal/auditory cues, visual cues or tactile-kinesthetic-proprioceptive PROMPTs are most beneficial for bringing about changes in sound and word productions.
No matter what kind of therapy is recommended, Children’s Speech and Language Services strives to create a nurturing environment for your child, where he/she can begin to takes risks and to learn how to communicate more effectively.