Article Written By: Melissa Gagnon, Owner and Speech-Language Pathologist
Speech and language development is one area of child development which overlaps with many other areas that are supported by a variety of professionals and people. This is why it is so important for us to have a network of people that we can connect with, consult with, and refer our families to. Let's consider for a moment some of the areas that we as Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP) work on in our sessions that overlap with other professionals.
Dentist: When a child comes to Empower Communication Services and they present with speech sound delays, we always want to assess their oral development by looking their tongue, lips, and jaw strength and movement. Sometimes we may observe structural differences in their jaw (such as over bite or under bite), in their pharynx (such as a heightened pharynx), or in their tongue (such as a tongue tie). All these structures are involved in speech sound development and may be impacting a child's ability to correctly produce sounds. If we notice any structural differences that may be impacting speech sound development, we may suggest the family see a Dentist and/or Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctor (ENT).
Early Childhood Educators (RECE): RECEs bring their knowledge of early childhood development and help us look at the whole child in terms of their development. Because they are with the children for many hours in a day, they are essential in helping children meet their speech and language goals. As a SLP, we often coach teachers and RECEs on how to incorporate a child's goals in the classroom setting.
Occupational Therapists (OT): OTs work on a variety of different skills that are related, but not limited to, feeding, sleeping, fine motor, attention, and school readiness. SLPs and OTs fit together like a puzzle, in that an SLP can work on language during a puzzle activity, while the OT works on fine motor. Another example is the SLP and OT can both work on spelling! While the SLP targets letter names and sounds, the OT can target pencil grasp and fine motor skills! Joint sessions with an SLP and OT can be very beneficial!
Music Therapist: Music can be used as a valuable tool to help children improve their listening skills and further develop their language. They can also be useful for teaching vocabulary, sentence structures, and routines! Songs are very beneficial for most children and are a great addition to the classroom. Music Therapy can also be very effective for children with diagnoses (e.g. Autism) because it is processed in both hemispheres of the brain. Therefore, it can stimulate cognitive functioning, help to express emotions, and may be used for remediation of some speech/language skills.
Social Workers: SLPs work with social workers to help support the child’s and families needs, providing them with a support network as they navigate services. Social Workers are an amazing resource and are able to address the needs of the family as a whole.
Physical Therapists (PT): SLPs and PTs work together in much the same way that SLPs would work with OTs. They would collaborate with the PTs about how language can be incorporated into gross motor activities. It is important to involve many people in the carry over and generalization of speech and language skills.
In conclusion, it is widely accepted that collaborative treatment approaches are an effective method of practice when serving children of all ages and abilities. Here at Empower Communication Services, we believe that we are better together!