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playground therapy sessionIn celebrating Better Speech and Hearing month, I want to give a shout out to all the Speech Language Pathologist’s (SLP) out there who help our children with so many different speech, language and hearing isms from expressive and receptive language, to pragmatics, to swallowing, to articulation and so much more.

I have worked with many SLP’s over the years.  I actively encourage them to get their kiddos out of the chair and moving, jumping, swinging and more during therapy sessions.   All that activity really helps increase language skills.  We have to move in order to learn.  When you are challenging a child with a difficult task like perfecting their K and G sounds, putting the child on a swing may yield  better results.

There are moments when a child needs to focus in a less stimulating environment, but none the less, I continue to encourage the SLP’s I work with to start their sessions with some sort of movement activity. Simple movement ideas include:

  • swinging
  • bouncing on a ball
  • jumping on the trampoline
  • jumping jacks
  • spinning a few times in each direction in a computer chair
  • or skipping down the hall

Co-Treating is a HUGE Plus

When Occupational Therapy (OT) and Speech Language Pathology (SLP) combine their resources, successful outcomes with the child that you are working with can be obtained.   Currently, I work with a lot of kids who are initially referred to speech therapy due to language delays.  Often times, after their speech evaluation, the speech therapist recognizes that the child has a lot of sensory and/or behavior issues.  The child will not be able to obtain the maximum potential benefit from speech therapy until after they have had some OT first.  A regulated child is a child who is more apt to learn new skills.

A lot of the time, we will then schedule co-treats for OT to focus on the sensory and behavior and the SLP to work on functional communication. When you can regulate the child’s sensory system with sensory rich activities like:

  • a simple obstacle course
  • jumping on the trampoline
  • crashing to crash pad
  • crawling through tunnel
  • and swinging on swing…

…and have the child follow a visual schedule or say specific sounds or words while performing sensory rich activities, you are implementing a holistic approach to best suit the individual child’s needs.

Team Up for Functional Communication

Even when I am not co-treating with the speech therapist, I always work on functional communication as part of my therapy session. I always consult with the speech therapist, so we are on the same therapeutic page.

If we decide we are using sign language as the main form of communication, then I use that as well.

If the speech therapist is working on K and G sounds, then I will try to get the child to say things naturally and correct the child if needed.

I encourage the speech therapists, even if the child is not receiving OT, to incorporate movement breaks into their sessions for every child to help increase their focus and attention to task. This will in turn help them learn better and produce more sounds.

Enhance Social Skills

Both OT’s and SLP’s work on social skills with children.  When developing social skills is part of the therapeutic care plan, pairing up with two children at the same time is a huge plus!

If I am seeing a child and an SLP co-worker is seeing a child at the same time and the kids both have social skill development in their care plans, we may play a game together even if their goals are different.  We try to ensure that the children are around the same age or developmental level for added success.  Pairing children during a co-treatment session can help reinforce social interactions which is oftentimes a much-needed skill for most of our children with isms.

If you are struggling with equipment restraints in a school based setting consider the playground!  The playground can become  a wonderful place to host a speech therapy session.  Cold or rainy? Just get a simple exercise ball for the therapy room or treatment space and use the hallway for skipping, hopping or wheelbarrow walking.