Speech and language therapy is proven to have long-term, positive impact on many areas of learning and development, including social-pragmatic communication, executive function and literacy. Early intervention is essential because children brain’s develop connections faster in the first five years than at any other time in their lives – and language learning is rapid during this period.
The first step to initiate therapy is a complimentary phone consultation. A followup, in-person speech and language screning may be necessary to obtain additional information. The screening is a 30-minute assessment of your child’s speech and language, observing play and social interactions. This allows the therapist to get an initial impression of your child’s abilities and to make further recommendations, including frequency and duration of therapy services (also refer to "scheduling" tab for more details).
Speech & Language
Speech refers to the production of individual sounds as well as how we say sounds together. A speech delay may be due to difficulty with the coordination and movements of the muscle necessary to process and/or produce sounds. Language, on the other hand, refers to how we understand what we hear or read (receptive language) and how we use words to express what we are thinking and feeling (expressive language). Receptive Language includes concepts (e.g., more/less, before/after, etc.) questions, directions, and sequence of events. With receptive language growth, children understand lengthier and more abstract information such as stories and inferences. Expressive language includes vocabulary, grammar, and sentence types. With expressive language growth, children are able to express themselves more clearly and elaborately; they are able to engage in conversations and tell stories. Language therapy evaluates and treats underlying areas of receptive and expressive language deficit.
We use social-pragmatic communicaiton, also called social skills, to interact and communicate with others. These skills are broad and complex because they include both verbal and non-verbal language such as body language and gestures. To engage in conversation, one has to listen and understand what is being said; at the same time, follow expected rules, consider the thoughts and feelings of another and react appropriately. This requires a range of skills, including foundational ones such as manners and following directions to more advanced ones such as resolving conflict and showing empathy. Difficulties in any component of language and/or social skills will negatively impact a child’s ability to communicate, connect, and form meaningful relationships. Language therapy supports children in understanding, learning and practicing social skills in a safe and supportive space so they feel prepared and confident to engage in social situations.
Executive function skills helps us with listening, learning and participating in all contexts. Our executive functions are part of a larger, interconnected system called self-regulation. A child who is able to self-regulate can appropriately process information and external stimuli and adapt their behavior and emotional reaction to function in a meaningful way. A child who has difficulties with self-regulation may present as restless, agitated or defiant when in fact their brain and nervous system are experiencing underlying challenges with processing information, body sensations and/or environmental stimuli. On the surface, the child may show signals that include: - dislike of certain textures or fabrics - difficulty engaging with others - challenges sustaining interactions for an extended period - ignoring warnings about safety, etc. Children who learn skills to self-regulate and cope with daily discomforts, develop into adults who are resilient, confident, and prepared to participate and connect socially. Language therapy can support children with executive function challenges in the following ways: - developing awareness and managing their impulses - enhancing memory - sustaining focus - understanding and developing vocabulary to express emotions - learning organizational skills to initiate and complete task
There is a reciprocal relationship between spoken and written language. If a child experiences any deficits in the foundational language areas of understanding and speaking (see speech & language) they will most certainly experience difficulties in the more complex areas of language, which is reading and writing. This is because you have to understand what you hear in order to read and you have to be able to put ideas into words and organize those words into sentences in order to write. Language therapy in literacy prepares children to evaluate and breakdown stories and complex text. Children are better prepared to define unknown vocabulary words, compare and contrast character traits as well as make inferences, predictions, and understand a main idea. In writing, therapy breaks down the writing process to make it less overwhelming and more accessible. Children learn to generate an idea and construct simple to complex sentences. They gradually learn to expand and edit their ideas in a purposeful way as to learn the strategies to do so independently and with confidence.
In keeping with our philosophy to prioritize collaboration, supplemental consultative services with caregivers, teachers and other related service providers (i.e. occupational therapists, child psychologists, etc.) are available.
It is evidenced that caregivers’ interest and encouragement in a child's therapy can impact a child's motivation to participate in therapy and help them feel more supported. That is why at Key to Growth, caregivers are welcomed and encouraged to participate in therapy sessions. The therapist provides guidance, support and expert knowledge while the caregivers are able to continuously monitor and assess how a child is progressing - what is working, what is not - and why. Through this collaborative approach, the therapist is able to understand how to adapt and make changes to strategies and techniques to meet the evolving needs of the child and family. Caregivers feel more prepared to model and teach skills and concepts discussed in sessions Regular check-ins between the caregivers and therapist are a necessary part of a child's therapy. Together, they can discuss challenges across all contexts and generate solutions and strategies to empower continual growth.