Speech & Language Therapy

Christina Talks About Her Son's Speech Journey

 

The speech and language pathologists at STAR Institute provide services to help children communicate. 

We offer consultations, comprehensive evaluations and individual therapy services

Our speech pathologists believe in using play-based, natural interactions to address:

Our therapists are trained to use the following approaches:

Our speech pathologists are trained to integrate a sensory-based approach to help children with SPD build the foundations needed to develop engagement and attention on which to build and expand communication skills.

Developing communication skills is one of the most important elements to socializing and creating valuable relationships. Our goal is to help children to become successful communicators and independent language learners by tailoring our programs specific to each child's needs.


Language based engagement and interaction: describes the foundational skills for social communication.  Engagement encompasses the ability to share rich experiences with others in order to communicate affect and emotion.  Interaction begins through shared attention, gestural responses, and affective exchanges. These critical language skills are the building blocks for complex expressive language.

Receptive Language: describes the comprehension/understanding of language. Comprehension involves attention, listening, and processing the message to gain information. Areas of receptive language skills include: attention, receptive vocabulary, following directions, and understanding questions.

Expressive Language: is a broad term that describes how a person communicates their wants and needs. It encompasses verbal and nonverbal communication skills and how an individual uses language. Expressive language skills include: facial expressions, gestures, intentionality, vocabulary, semantics (word/sentence meaning), morphology, syntax (grammar rules), and narrative/story telling development.

Language Therapy for children with Autism: Speech and Language therapy for children with Autism at STAR Institute is provided in collaboration with other therapies to help the child maximize their potential. Speech and Language therapy supports expressive, receptive, play, and cognitive communication needs. Some of the tools used by speech language therapists at STAR Institute include:

  • Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS),
  • Social scripting
  • Activity schedules
  • Facilitated social interactions
  • Cognitive skills development
  • Social stories
  • Video modeling

Auditory Processing Skills: in order to process language heard, one has to be able to attend, discriminate, remember and comprehend auditory information. Some children struggle with these skills even though their hearing is within normal limits. Difficulties in any of these areas would benefit from speech and language intervention to teach compensatory strategies, to improve auditory processing skills, and to facilitate memory.

Articulation and Phonological delays: relate to how clearly a speech sound is produced. Children or adults may have errors in speech for one specific sound, or a group of sound classes. For example, a child may say "tat" for “cat." For children, when multiple speech sounds show a pattern, errors are classified as phonological disorders.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech: is a motor speech disorder that impacts a child's speech clarity. Children with apraxia of speech have difficulty planning and producing refined movements of the jaw, lips, and tongue needed for clear speech. It is characterized by inconsistent sound production and difficulty planning and producing the precise, highly refined and specific series of movements of the tongue, lips, jaw and palate that are necessary for clear speech.

Dysarthria: is another motor speech disorder that results from neuro-motor impairment to the muscles of speech production. Often, people with dysarthria show muscle weakness and fatigue during a therapy session. Dysarthria is characterized by sound distortions, imprecise sound production, and other deficits in muscle tone, range, and speed of movement.

Social and Play Development: Good social skills are critical to successful functioning in life. These skills enable us to know what to say, how to make good choices, and how to behave in diverse situations. The extent to which children and adolescents possess good social and play skills can influence their academic performance, behavior, social and family relationships, and involvement in extracurricular activities. Speech pathologists can help children learn to use appropriate non-verbal and language skills in different social situations, and understand how thoughts, emotions and behaviors impact our social interactions with others.

Phonological Awareness and Pre-Literacy skills: Phonological awareness is a person's explicit knowledge of the sound segments (phonemes) which comprise words. Phonological processing skills include the ability to recognize and produce rhyming words, segmenting or breaking apart words into syllables/sounds, identify where a specific sound occurs in a word, and blend sounds into words. Problems in these areas can indicate later difficulties learning to read.


OUR METHODS

Augmentative and Alternative Communication:  A child who is non-verbal or has difficulty with speech production skills may sometimes benefit from an augmentative communication device or system.  A successful alternative communication system can support a child’s ability to make friends, participate in group settings, and develop literacy skills. The speech language pathologist may assist in selection of a voice output device or augmentative communication system (e.g. signs, pictures).  The therapist would then educate the family and staff on how to facilitate communication, as well as directly teach the child to use the AAC system within his/her environment.

PROMPT is multidimensional approach to speech production disorders developed by Deborah Hayden, MA CCC-SLP.  It incorporates the well-known physical-sensory aspects of speech motor performance, but also its cognitive-linguistic and social-emotional aspects. PROMPT is about integrating all speech and language systems to address communication needs.  The PROMPT method uses tactile-kinesthetic (touch to the mouth and jaw) cues to facilitate production of functional speech.  For more information visit www.promptinstitute.com.

DIR/Floortime 

The Hanen Approach facilitates parents to help their children learn to communicate more effectively.  Using well researched methods, the therapist helps the parents learn to facilitate interactions, cue effectively and expand understanding and use of language. For more information visit www.hanen.org.

Social Thinking is a treatment framework and curriculum developed by Michelle Garcia Winner targets improving individual social thinking abilities, regardless of diagnostic label. Speech pathologists can use these methods to build social thinking and related skills in children and adults. Social Thinking books and materials offer a range of strategies that address individual strengths and weaknesses in processing social information. For more information visit www.socialthinking.com.

PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) was developed as a unique augmentative/alternative communication intervention package for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and related developmental disabilities. PECS has received worldwide recognition for focusing on the initiation component of communication. PECS does not require complex or expensive materials. It was created with families, educators, and resident care providers in mind, so is readily used in a range of settings. For more information visit www.pecsusa.com.