Speech Therapy addresses language and production aspects of communication. Speech and language therapy treats 5 domains; semantics, pragmatics, phonology, morphology, and syntax. Semantics has to do with meaning, so in a sense, vocabulary. Pragmatics addresses the social communicative aspect of language. Phonology relates to sound production, with the smallest sound segment being a phoneme. Morphology refers to word formation, such as past tense or comparatives while syntax refers to sentence formation, like using the correct subject verb agreement. So these last two domains will seem reminiscent of studying phonics and grammar in grade school. For pediatric speech therapy Richardson families may visit www.speechandot.com to learn more about speech-language development, evaluation and treatment.
There are many evidence based practices (EBP) for treating speech and language disorders. One set of practices, used frequently with developmental disorders and autism spectrum disorders, is Naturalistic intervention (Franzone, E. (2009)). These practices coordinate interaction techniques, planned environment, and strategies based on principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA). Naturalistic interventions use natural reinforcement to encourage appropriate interactions as well as the development of targeted communication goals. These strategies should be used throughout the day to assist in generalization of new skills in all settings with all typical communication partners. Collaboration between the family, therapist and school is important for the most effective progress in a child’s communication abilities.
In Naturalistic Intervention, a therapist uses preferred activities to capture the child’s attention and then uses these highly motivating activities to promote the use of targeted treatment goals. Activities and materials should be used that can help generalize the targeted skills in other settings with other communication partners. Using a toy or activity that require the help of the therapist or parent (such as opening bubbles) is an excellent strategy for encouraging initiation or requesting. Any game that requires turn-taking will help build basic communication skills related to the back and forth nature of human interaction, a building block for a conversation.
There are many other therapy strategies in the Naturalist intervention model. Strategies should be individualized based on the treatment plan. A treatment plan is assessment-driven and is comprised of measurable goals. Parent or caregiver training is an important part of pediatric speech and language therapy so a therapist should spend time modeling strategies and training families in how to implement activities for carryover success.
Early intervention is important. Private insurance will often cover speech therapy, so it is a good idea to see if your policy covers evaluation and treatment if you suspect your child may have a speech or language disorder. Visit www.speechandot.com to complete a child development survey. A speech language pathologist will contact you to discuss your child’s results free of charge. Speech therapy for the Richardson area is available in our East Plano location near George Bush and Central Expressway.