Speech and Language Services
Speech therapy addresses communication skills in a variety of areas, including- speech sounds (articulation/ phonological disorders, apraxia), fluency, language, voice, and social skills. A speech disorder refers to a problem with the actual production of sounds. A language disorder refers to a problem understanding or putting words together to communicate ideas. Speech therapy can help kids learn to speak more clearly. This helps them feel more confident and less frustrated about speaking to others. Kids who have language issues can benefit socially, emotionally and academically from speech therapy.
Early reading intervention is imperative for children who struggle to develop emergent literacy skills (which start to develop at 2 years old!) in order to prevent reading failure. Successful readers have better academic and future economic opportunities than those that never acquire reading proficiency. Research based methods and a client specific treatment protocol are the foundation to our literacy treatment programs.
Autism Spectrum Disorders
In 2018, approximately 1 in 59 children were diagnosed with Autism, with boys four times as likely to receive a diagnosis than girls. Autism can be reliably diagnosed as early as 2 years old, and early intervention is key to support appropriate speech and language development. Hallmarks of ASD may include limited or loss of language, behavioral challenges, restricted interests, limited eye contact, persistent repetition of words or phrases (echolalia).
Acquired Brain Injuries
Brain injuries can have devastating, long term effects such as memory loss, visual neglect, cognitive reasoning, and impaired speech and language. Aphasia is an acquired injury to the brain, often due to a stroke, and typically involves the left hemisphere. Traumatic Brain Injuries are acquired brain damage usually caused by outside trauma, such as from a car accident. Treatment goals are to create the highest level of independent function specific to each patient.
Sometimes referred to as stuttering or stammering, fluency disorders are difficulty speaking with smooth, rhythmic speech. Stuttering can occur in both children and adults with some known factors such as genetics and affects over 3 million people in the United States alone.
Refer to words or methods we use to communicate and understand others. By 18 months, children should say 50 words and by two years old, they should be combining words to form simple phrases. Difficulty understanding what others say (such as identifying objects or following directions) is referred to as receptive language, while using words or gestures to communicate is expressive language. Pragmatic, or social language skills are also a specific language impairment area. Children with social language difficulties have difficulty playing with peers, formulating, and maintaining friendships. Language disorders may persist into late childhood/early adulthood and affect academic skills such as reading, writing, math and can include executive functioning skills (includes working memory, cognitive flexibility, inhibition, and self control).
Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders
Abnormal resting postures of the jaw, lips, and tongue, and/or abnormal swallowing (reverse swallow pattern). Often associated with persistent speech sound errors and repeated orthodontia intervention.
Dyslexia is a neurobiological disorder that affects a person’s ability to process phonology and written (orthographic) language. It is a type of learning disability rooted in language, and affects a person’s ability to read, write, and spell. Individuals with dyslexia may also experience difficulties with spoken language, including the ability to say and read multisyllabic words, word identification, and decoding of real and nonsense words.
By 4 years old, children should be 95-100% understandable to an unfamiliar listener. Difficulty with articulation can significantly impact academic skills such as reading and writing later on. Most speech sounds are developed by 6 with some later sounds such as “th” and “r” developing by 8 years old. For best outcomes, therapy on the “late eight” sounds should begin by 7 years old. Articulation disorders include phonological disorders and Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). Children with CAS require frequent, intensive therapy to address speech sound errors.
Signs of swallowing disorders include coughing, choking, spilling food or liquids from the mouth, food getting “stuck” in the throat. Difficulty swallowing and managing an oral diet may result in aspiration pneumonia, weight loss, or dehydration. A speech pathologist can train compensatory swallow strategies and implement an exercise program to strengthen the muscles used to swallow and make recommendations on diet modifications.
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA Therapy) is a scientifically derived, one-on-one therapy used to explain how learning takes place. When a behavior is followed by some type of reward, the behavior is more likely to be repeated. ABA utilizes research based techniques to increase useful and positive behaviors and reduce those that may cause harm or interfere with learning. ABA therapy is the most effective evidence-based treatment for Autism and is recommended by physicians, the American Psychological Association, and the US Surgeon General.
A BCBA will observe and interact with your child as well as gather information from caregivers. The consultant will provide recommendations as to treatment including, but not limited to, hour of services per week, skills to target, best environment for services to take place in (i.e. home versus clinic), and more. Your child will also be evaluated using a curriculum-based assessment (e.g. ABLLS-R, VB-MAPP, ESDM). The information gathered in the initial assessment will be written into a report.
We work on communication, social skills, appropriate play, academic skills, self-help skills, and more. When teaching communication skills we utilize the verbal behavior approach, created by B.F. Skinner, which analyzes language according to its function rather then its form. We also work on decreasing inappropriate behavior and teaching appropriate replacement behaviors. Therapy is conducted by motivating the child so that learning is fun!
Parent & Caregiver Training
Parents and caregivers are a critical piece of the treatment team. Intensive training is provided to family members to ensure comprehensive treatment. Extended family members are also encouraged to participate.