Speech and language therapy education is imperative for parents of children with learning disabilities

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Here’s all you need to know from the expert Smita Bhimjiani, Master of Communication Disorders, Australia. Speech Language Specialist, USA. Consultant, Speech Language Pathologist at Aditya Birla Integrated School.

All children require love, encouragement, and support, and for those with learning disabilities, such positive reinforcement can help them to arise with a strong sense of self-worth and shine academically. Children with learning disabilities often present a wide range of speech and language concerns which in turn hinders their communication skills in day-to-day.

They often experience difficulties in one or more areas:
1.Poor usage of vocabulary
2.Expressing themselves using grammatically incorrect sentences
3.Understanding inference skills (predicting, comprehending abstract 4.questions, use of contextual cues)
5.Pronunciation of speech sounds
6.Usage of appropriate tone /volume of voice during conversation
7.Having frequent interruptions or repetitions while speaking
8.Initiating, maintaining and ending a conversation with peers
9.Narrating a story or event by means of proper sequence and content
10.Following multiple instructions
11.Helping children cope with learning disabilities
12.Assessment and treatment of children with communication difficulties 13.involving a collaborative approach with the child’s parents, teachers, psychologist, special educator and occupational therapist can help reap great results.

A speech language pathologist would conduct a detailed assessment with the help of standardized test /parental checklist/ rating scales in order to identify the child’s weak areas and then work on them via individualized therapy programs.

Most importantly, parents play a vital role during the assessment process since they offer key information related to the personality of the child, what are their likes and dislikes, what motivates the child the most and what are the most concerning areas for the child.

Speech and language therapy education is imperative for parents of children with learning disabilities
The benefits of parental involvement in therapy are:

1.Parents have better insights on the child’s problem
2.Child gets several opportunities outside therapy set up to practice
3.Parents can provide valuable feedback to the therapist regarding the 4.child’s progress during intervention
5.Therapy becomes more meaningful and fun
6.Facilitates ‘Generalization skills’ in children across different settings
7.Motivates the child to perform better
8.Home intervention for goal-based learning therapy program
9.The speech therapist often asks the parents to observe therapy sessions and then give them home assignments which can be given in the form of worksheets, exercises, reading books, word games and/or watching educational videos.

During the intervention session, a speech therapist would also make use of specialised learning programs, exercises, drills, group therapies and goal-based home plans so that the child can achieve age-appropriate communication skills.

Goal 1: Practice production of /p/ sound.

Home Assignment: To encourage the child to name all the objects having /p/ sound on the dinner table. Eg: pizza, plate, pasta. Parent is asked to reinforce the correct responses.

Goal 2: To encourage the child to use slow rate of speech.

Home Assignment: The child is encouraged to wear a band at home which reminds him to speak slowly and the parent has to facilitate the same by modelling it.

Goal 3: To encourage use of past tense markers

Home Assignment: Mother could narrate a bed time story to the child by emphasizing on the past tense words.

Language facilitation: Tips for parents

  1. Encourage the child to take the lead in communicating in daily situations Example: Placing an order at a restaurant, answering phone calls.
  2. Have a dedicated play time and use different board games to target different skills. Example: Scrabble word building. Treasure Hunt for understanding riddles.
  3. Use open ended questions for eliciting elaborate responses from the child. Let the child share his own thoughts and opinions. Example. How was your day? What was the best part?
  4. Organize planned playdates at home.
  5. Share jokes with them to develop a sense of humour.

The ultimate goal of therapy is to help children develop communication skills so that they become confident individuals and better conversation partners in the outside world.

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