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Speech and language therapy

What does a Speech and Language Therapist do?

Speech and Language Therapists assess, diagnose and deliver therapy to people with communication difficulties. The SLT may be part of a multidisciplinary team but may also operate independently.

What is Speech and Language Therapy?

Communication involves the use of different skills including the ability to form words, the understanding of language and the understanding and use of visual and social cues. Language acquisition can be broken down into different areas of development and the SLT will assess the individuals fluency and understanding of grammar, syntax, semantics and pragmatics as well as their ability to form sounds and words. They are then able to develop an individual programme of therapy.

Why do people with ASD need Speech and Language Therapy?

People with ASD often do not see the need to use language and may not have developed the skills required to communicate efficiently and effectively with others although there is no physical reason for them being unable to do so. The SLT will also address the reason for using language and give the individual the means and create opportunities for the individual to use language to communicate with others.

What questions should I ask a Speech and Language Therapist?

When looking for a Speech Therapist for your child you may want to consider the following information and advice

  • Are they a member of the IASLT (Irish Association of Speech & Language Therapists) or additionally the IASLTPP (Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists in Private Practice)
  • Do they have any autism specific training or any other credentials. This may include, but not be limited to
    • PECS Certification (Picture Exchange Communication System)
    • Hanen Certified. Hanen is a course taken by therapists to enable them to train parents in SLT techniques. The core course is ‘It Takes Two To Talk’. There is a further autism-specific course the therapist may take called ‘More Than Words’.
    • Lámh Training.  Lámh is a manual sign system used to support or extend communication. Therapists may have Module 1 & 2 Lámh training, or be trained as Lámh Tutors to deliver courses including the Lámh Family Course.
    • Greenspan Floortime. Child driven, play based method of intervention. Can be especially useful for very young children with language learning difficulties.
    • Carbone Verbal Behaviour training. Teaches the use of verbal imitation in an ABA format.
    • Kaufman Apraxia Kit. An apraxia kit which can be paired with a verbal behaviour programme.
    • Nuffield Dyspraxia Programme. A programme designed to help children with an additional diagnosis of verbal dsypraxia.
  • Bear in mind that if you are using PECS or Lamh at home with your child, you ideally want a therapist who is also trained in and using these tools.
  • If your child has a lot of behaviour problems it may be difficult to deliver the therapy and I would be helpful if the therapist has experience of working within a behavioural intervention format. If your child is already being taught within an ABA framework, you should ask the therapists opinion of ABA and whether they are able/willing to deliver the therapy within that framework to give the child continuity of delivery and avoid confusion for the child? The SLT may want to provide therapy in their own format and, though it is not ABA, it can still be appropriate.
  • Are Parents allowed to be present during therapy and allowed to participate. If not, will the therapist train you in the techniques they are using so that you have some tools with which to continue to work with the child at home?
  • How often will the therapy be and what is the duration of the sessions?
  • Is this continuous therapy, or will it be delivered in blocks with big breaks between blocks?
  • If the therapy is delivered in blocks, will you have homework’ to do to span the weeks without therapy sessions?
  • Where is the therapy held?
  • Is the therapy delivered individually or in group sessions?
  • What is the cost?
  • If you hold a Medical Card or a GP Card, can you have a discount?
  • You may be able to claim some of the cost back though your Private Health Insurance. Generally the Med 1 should cover some of the cost.

For further information

IASLT http://www.iaslt.com or phone 01 8780215

IASLTPP http://www.iasltpp.com or phone 01 8787959

PECS http://www.pecs.org.uk

Hanen http://www.hanen.org

Lamh http://www.lamh.org

Kaufman Kit http://www.kidspeech.com

Nuffield Kit http://www.ndp3.org

Carbone Verbal http://www.drcarbone.net

Floortime http://www.floortime.org