Speech-Language Pathologists work with families and clients to address communication delays or disorders. Speech therapy for children generally involves pursuing milestones that have not been reached due to developmental delays or disorders. Treatment targets identified areas of difficulty with receptive language, understanding what others say; expressive language, communicating wants, needs, feelings, and thoughts; and/or pragmatic language, verbal and non-verbal rules of social communication. Intervention may also address the mechanics of producing words, such as articulation, phonology, motor planning (apraxia), pitch, fluency, and volume. Therapists may utilize alternative means of communication to help clients express themselves such as using sign language, pictures, or communication devices. For older children and young adults, therapy may target higher level activities such as written expression, executive functioning, auditory processing, and social skills. Disorders that may effect communication include: Apraxia of Speech, Auditory Processing Disorders, Autism, Down Syndrome, Hearing Loss, Mitochondrial Disease, Cerebral Palsy, and other chromosomal/genetic disorders.
Feeding Therapy may be provided by trained Occupational or Speech Therapists in collaboration with parents and other medical professionals. Therapist help infants and children with a wide array of feeding difficulties including: reduced or limited intake, food refusal, food selectivity, dysphagia, oral motor deficits, or delays in feeding development. Feeding therapy is important to address possible growth and nutritional concerns as well as unsafe swallowing. Feeding evaluations will include oral motor and physical assessments to determine if the problem is structural or caused by aversions or learned behaviors.
Formal swallow studies may be required prior to initiating feeding therapy if there are signs or symptoms of aspiration. If the problem is physical or structure, therapy may target increased strength and coordination of the oral structures through exercises or compensation by changing the presentation, consistency, or texture of foods. Therapy for food aversions and refusal will utilize techniques to reduce anxiety about eating and increase acceptance of foods through the use of sensory integration, behavioral modifications, food chaining, and play.
Occupational therapists collaborate with parents/caregivers and other professionals to identify and meet the needs of children experiencing delays or challenges in development; teaching and modeling skills and strategies to children and their families, to extend all aspects of daily life tasks; and adapting activities, materials, and environmental conditions so children can participate.
Interventions for infants, toddlers, and young children address motor developmental milestones; learning to pay attention and follow simple instructions; developing the ability to eat, drink, and dress independently; learning to cope with disappointment or failure; reducing extraneous environmental stimuli; building skills for sharing, taking turns, and playing with peers; and participating in age appropriate daily routines.
Interventions for older children and teens includes items such as adapting or modifying the environment, or activities to support participation in routines and learning activities; navigating more complex social relationships; strengthening self-determination and decision making skills, and enhancing overall independence; helping with vocational planning and transitions, including executive functioning and independent living skills. www.aota.org
Physical Therapists work with children and their families to assist each child in reaching their maximum potential to function independently and to promote active participation in home and community environments. Physical Therapists treat a variety of developmental, neuromuscular, congenital, skeletal, and acquired diseases such as with cerebral palsy, spina bifida, developmental delays, and torticollis. They focus on improving the child’s balance and coordination, gross and fine motor skills, strength, endurance, as well as their cognitive and sensory processing and integration. Physical therapy promotes a child’s independence, increasing their participation, motor development and function, improves their strength, enhances their learning opportunities, and eases care giving for family members. www.pediatricapta.org