3 Benefits of Speech and Language Therapy
It all began with Kenny’s problems with communication…
For a while now, Kenny’s parents had been noticing that he was not quite as proficient in communicating and understanding others as they would have expected. Quite often, he struggled to explain to his parents what he wanted. Concerned by his behavior, Kenny’s parents took the wise decision to have Kenny evaluated by a specially-trained clinician. It was discovered then that Kenny was displaying one of the core elements of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which involves communication impairment.
Does this sound like a dilemma you face with your child?
Does your child struggle with reading or writing? Do you find that sometimes your child seems to forget skills or words that he/she may have learned before?
Does your child struggle to hold a conversation?
Do you find that they talk without much expression or facial cues or perhaps they are on the opposite end of spectrum and throw tantrums to show you what they want?
Communication has various aspects to it. Only one of them is being able to understand and use spoken language.
Receptive language refers to understanding what others say and mean.
Spoken language is being able to put your words together.
Pragmatic language refers to social conventions, which includes speech volume, and how the conversation is carried out.
The nonverbal component of communication is just as crucial as the verbal, both in explaining one’s own thoughts as well as in understanding those of others. Typically toddlers learn very early on how to gesture “yes” and “no” simply with a shake or nod of the head. Communication issues can lead to long-term implications as they have an adverse impact on how an individual interacts with the world around them.
Introducing speech and language therapy to Kenny
This is why, as soon as Kenny was diagnosed with ASD, his parents enrolled him in a Speech and Language Therapy program. A speech therapist was assigned to work alongside Kenny to help improve communication and enhance the quality of his life. The speech therapist also worked with Kenny’s family, school, and other professionals in order to support him throughout the therapeutic process and help support generalizing the skills he acquired. She helped Kenny with his written as well as spoken English skills that were a part of his school work, besides helping him conduct the requisite communication with his teachers and peers. She would also use speech techniques, such as picture boards with words, in order to help Kenny communicate better.
Speech and language therapy services are defined according to an individual’s needs, goals and priorities. These services are offered both in a one-to-one (1:1) setting, as well as in a group setting, based upon the individual’s unique needs.
How did the speech and language therapy benefit Kenny?
Speech therapy is known to improve overall communication for individuals with ASD. It also improves their daily life functions as well as their ability to forge social relationships. Here is a list of ways that speech and language therapy helped Kenny:
Speech therapy helped Kenny develop the ability to express his needs
Through speech therapy, Kenny was able to communicate better, both verbally and nonverbally. His speech therapist employed visual communication techniques, such as sign language, symbols and picture systems in order to help him express his thoughts in a clear manner.
Speech therapy helped him articulate words and sentences well and communicate in a way that others understand
Children with speech and language delays or disorders may struggle with articulating sounds and putting words together in a sentence. They may also find it problematic to deal with non-literal language such as idioms, sarcasm, hints, and indirect instructions. Difficulties in pronouncing words or stuttering while talking, have to be treated using special techniques.
During therapy, for Kenny, speech pathologists concentrated on this area specifically, in order to help him grasp the context of sentences within a shorter period of time. They showed him how to ask and answer questions, how to start or stop a conversation, and more importantly, they encouraged him to seek help when it was required.
A good speech therapist will help the child understand word and sentence meaning, intonation and rhythm. Their focus is to help the child develop listening and attention skills, as well as their social interaction skills.
Speech therapy helped Kenny with echolalia
Some children with speech disorders can speak fluently and, at great length, about their favorite subject. However, the conversation can feature repetition of certain noises or phrases that they may have just heard or recently heard in the past. This behavior is referred to as ‘echolalia’ and speech therapy helps children find ways to overcome it.
Kenny’s speech pathologist helped him take the positive aspects of echolalia, which entails having strong memory skills and learning from predictable patterns, to in order to help him communicate better.
Speech therapy helped Kenny adapt to new things.
Typically, it has been observed that some individuals with ASD do not like change very much and prefer to stick to a routine, regarding what they eat, wear or activities they engage in. Speech therapy enables them to be introduced to new things such as new textures, colors, and tastes. This helps them understand that change can be good. Through therapy, they are also able to overcome social barriers and get along better with new people.
With advanced treatments available from highly qualified speech pathologists, you can definitely expect huge improvements in your child’s daily life, just like Kenny did. No matter what your child’s age, it is highly recommended to get them the treatment they need, as early as possible, in order to amplify their success with speech and language therapy. In fact, studies have shown that early identification of ASD and subsequent early intervention such as those methods that employ Applied Behavior Analysis techniques, along with speech and language therapy, can help children improve their communication skills, as well as their grasp of the spoken language. Speech and language therapy will help your child build conversational skills, communicate in ways that develop relationships and enjoy exchanging ideas and interacting with others.
Even small changes in your child’s communication ability can greatly impact his/her well-being, as well as that of your family. So, please do visit a reputable center near you for a comprehensive evaluation of your child.