We see students with a variety of speech, language and communication difficulties that may or may not have resulted from their underlying diagnoses such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Global Developmental Delay and Intellectual disability. These children first undergo an assessment to identify areas in which they are either not developing at the same level as children their age are, or have significant difficulties that impact their functioning in daily life.
Subsequently, these children attend therapy sessions to work on goals targeted to their varying needs. Some of these goals include:
There are several ways in which you can support your child’s language and speech development.
Here are some suggested strategies that you can adopt:
Be interested in your child’s interests
Your child will be most motivated to communicate on items, activities or events that capture their interest. Observe your child to see what they show interest in and how they react to it. They may react using sounds, words, gestures or facial expressions. You can respond by imitating them, interpreting what they are trying to say or commenting on what they show interest in. Your child will know that you are interested in what they are seeing and doing, and be more motivated to communicate with you.
Create communication opportunities for your child
You may also engineer opportunities for your child to motivate them to interact and communicate. This involves creating situations in their environment in which they would be motivated to initiate communication. Such situations include:
Your child may respond to these situations through a variety of non-verbal communication modes (e.g. look at you, make sounds, reach out to an item, or appear excited). You can respond by interpreting their actions and expressions and giving them what they want (e.g. “Do you want the juice? Here you go.”)
Read books with your child and talk through them. You can ask them
Use of total communication (gestures, pictures, body language)
Your child may have difficulty understanding and using spoken language due to their underlying condition. When speaking to your child, you are encouraged to support your communication with gestures (e.g. Pointing to objects, key word sign), pictures (e.g. books), and body language (e.g. facial expression, body posture). Your child will have a better understanding of your message when you deliver it both verbally and non-verbally. They may also adopt these means of non-verbal communication to enhance the clarity of their communication.