Speech and Language Therapists, addressing much more than speaking.

November 23, 2021

11.23.21 Learning to say words.

Ms. Taryn is teaching N to say the words that name pictures of items she already has learned to identify receptively. You can see that the pictures are of real items, foods at the moment, and not cartoon pictures or drawings.

While working on a goal in discrete trial training sessions, a child gets a great deal of practice. As her or his level of skill increases, more words can be added to the sets, then more categories, and when all is said and done, the goal will be moved to the generalization phase of learning. That means that the materials, location, and person giving the direction are changed and data will now be collected in places like the hallway, with different materials, and the direction requested by other adults.

Seeing students increase their communication skills is something that is ultra inspiring and moving. We hope you can get even a sense of this from our pictures!

 


11.2.21 The other day, Crossroads celebrated Halloween in traditional school ways.

Children and many adults wore costumes, classes trick-or-teated through the building, and centers were set up in the gym for students to enjoy.

All of these activities were opportunities for teachers and therapists to target skills that their students are working on, but trick-or-treating by far created scenarios for students to practice communication skills. So much so that speech therapists accompanied classrooms to prompt use of PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System), an assistive device, or verbally to say “trick-or-treat,” “Thank you,” and “Happy Halloween.”

That’s a little background for this video. At this time last year, K, a newer student at the time, was learning to use a device to communicate. She had a few words, say her parents, but for the most part, she needed assistive technology to communicate. With the work of her speech therapist, Mrs. Amy, K had helped us make a “Happy Halloween” video last year, using her device.     Click for K’s 2020 “Happy Halloween!”

Now, a year later, K is using her own voice in the classroom, at home …. in her life. She has lots of words now, and so her teacher, Ms. Victoria, and K’s dad thought it would be cool to make a new video, which is below.

So many children, like K, are learning to express their thoughts and needs because of our speech therapists, and the classroom teams that help to address speech goals throughout the day. This is one example of what people support when they support Crossroads.


12.11.2020 Communication systems put the foundation in place.

In the world of Speech and Language therapy, the overall goal is improving communication.

A large percentage of students at Crossroads Center for Children have diagnoses and special learning needs where communication is recognized as a deficit. Many of the students here experience communication delays or challenges. Having a Speech Therapy team as phenomenal as ours is, is hugely important.

While the similarity in individual goals abounds, no two children are exactly alike, making vast the level of individualization implemented by the therapists.

One child’s goals in speech therapy sessions might include articulating certain sounds so that the intelligibility of verbal speech is increased. Another might be working on comprehension skills to increase their ability to follow classroom directions. Children can learn to point to items as the therapist labels them, such as body parts or foods, and later express labels themselves.

Speech students can learn to make “mands” (requests) by selecting a picture in exchange for the desired item or selecting an icon on an assistive technology device to do so.  There are many skills and many different ways of learning.

Being an ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) school, the therapists here highly individualize the structure of the way they address their students’ goals. Individual education goals are developed into “sets and steps” making each skill attainable a step at a time, as is manageable by the student. Each child’s preferred “reinforcers”- what is used to reinforce accuracy, effort, attention and so forth – are established and continuously reevaluated and documented. The materials that are most motivating are assessed to capture each child’s best work. Data is recorded for each “trial” or attempt at the skill presented. This data is analyzed in conjunction with the data of others on the team to determine true progress. Consistency is built in through exacting  descriptions of the target behavior, how to direct it through an “Sd” (discriminative stimulus). Changes in the steps and set are made by the team based on percentages and frequencies of mastery. All of this is a general description of how it works, for our readers to understand the level of communication between the team that is purposeful in helping the students to achieve their goals, learn and improve skills, and prepare for success in their lives.

Being an ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) school, the therapists here highly individualize the structure of the way they address their students’ goals. Individual education goals are developed into “sets and steps” making each skill attainable a step at a time, as is manageable by the student. Each child’s preferred “reinforcers”- what is used to reinforce accuracy, effort, attention and so forth – are established and continuously reevaluated and documented. The materials that are most motivating are assessed to capture each child’s best work. Data is recorded for each “trial” or attempt at the skill presented. This data is analyzed in conjunction with the data of others on the team to determine true progress. Consistency is built in through exacting  descriptions of the target behavior, how to direct it through an “Sd” (discriminative stimulus). Changes in the steps and set are made by the team based on percentages and frequencies of mastery. All of this is a general description of how it works, for our readers to understand the level of communication between the team that is purposeful in helping the students to achieve their goals, learn and improve skills, and prepare for success in their lives.

At Crossroads Center for Children, at any given moment around the school, you can find the speech-language pathologists working with children on their many goals. A few pictured here show some of the ways such great gains are achieved.

While one preschooler has progressed from selecting a picture to request his preference using PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) to finding that same picture on an iPad and then having access for a set time to that video that he prefers, another of our young children has learned to label several objects and is learning to verbally ask for what he wants. Another is working on saying the word “more” together with a request word. Another is learning to touch his head on request, important so that he can indicate to others what hurts when he doesn’t feel well. And yet another is working on saying the word “stop” when it is just too much.

For most students, the requirement is made that the student looks at the therapist, so that he or she learns to attend. When eye contact is gained, there is immediate positive reinforcement given for “good looking” and then the direction or cue is given followed by positive reinforcement for accuracy, effort, appropriateness, and other desired behaviors.

Why is developing the communication skills of our students important? It’s necessary in life for people to be able to tell others what they want and need. To be understood. To understand others, too. To tell another person something, to listen so someone else, to find our human commonalities, work together for the good of ourselves and others in the world around us.

If not, that’s when we see frustration often manifested in maladaptive behaviors such as tantrums, aggressions, self- injury, withdrawing from others and more. Those maladaptive behaviors, when reinforced, become stronger behavioral patterns that can go lifelong. At Crossroads, the aim of our mission is lifetime success. We know that improving communication is essential to that aim.

Many thanks to our wonderful therapists for the work they do each and every day!

Join our Team.


7.21.2020 Body Parts, Directions and an Apple!

It’s awesome to see students and therapists working in person together again here at Crossroads. Today, Mrs. Amy was able to get this little guy to clap hands, stomp feet, ask for his turn with a video and say “apple!”

D says “apple” 5 second video click here to watch.

Scroll down to learn more about the work done by our Speech Department.

6.16.2020   Social Stories discovered by our SLPs.

Here are some great resources shared by Mrs. Melanie, Speech Language Pathologist. These are from AutismLittleLearners.com

There are several social stories related to COVID on the first link. The second link provides social stories about why therapists may look different wearing a mask.

https://www.autismlittlelearners.com/search/label/COVID-19

https://www.autismlittlelearners.com/2020/06/why-does-my-speech-therapist-look.html


1.10.2020 Watch a real short video – DTT, “Get truck.” IMG_4425 

This little superstar has been working hard on so many skills here at Crossroads and making so many gains. In this recent session with her speech therapist, she did a great job with identifying objects, and manding for the reinforcer she wanted to work for.

What objects are in her current array? Things that she uses or plays with on a regular basis, such as shoe, cup, ball, bubbles and (toy)truck. Ms. Brittany provides lots of social reinforcement along the way!


9.12.2019   Speech and Language Therapy. Many of us think of it as learning to say our /s/ sound correctly, or making an accurate /th/ sound.

Articulation is certainly part of speech and language therapy and something our speech therapists can address. Students do work on articulation skills here, but very often there are prerequisite skills that need to be met first. Most of the students who come through the doors at Crossroads need help learning to use speech and language in the first place.

Our children can learn speech, language and communication skills when they are taught, step by step. Using techniques and principles of Applied Behavior Analysis, our Speech and Language Therapists and Pathologists work every minute of their days with kids. Whether in small groups or individual sessions, they are busy helping children to increase communication and language concepts. They work on anything and everything from pointing to a requested picture in an array, to answering questions about a story.

Many times, skills that are learned incidentally with “typically developing” students are not gained incidentally at all by children with developmental disabilities.  Here’s are some of the ways our Speech Therapists help kids at Crossroads.

Making eye contact with others is one of the most basic forms of communication, and something that our students need help learning. Our speech team works on helping their pupils to get their needs met, starting with looking at a person.

Learning to “mand” or communicate wants and needs is one of the earliest forms of communication, along with “tacting,” or labeling what we see around us. Our Speech and Language team teaches students to point to items or pictures, and to hand over pictures to make requests.

Many students are taught to communicate using the Picture Exchange Communication System, (PECS). There are several stages for PECS learning, and children using PECS might be working on very different objectives from one another, yet it is the Speech-Language Therapist or Pathologist, in conjunction with the child’s classroom team, who sets up the materials, the actual icons, the PECS book, and who practices the skills with the child instructionally, each on an individual basis.

Our therapists work on following instructions, also called “functional directions.” Such skills and directions might include, “get the tissues,” or “sit in the red chair,” or “look at me.”

Students learn to ask, such as asking permission to feed the fish or get a toy.

Students can work on turn-taking with peers and telling each other that it’s the peer’s turn. Some might work on retelling events from a story, picking the item that goes with a picture, or telling someone else about a picture.

Some work on understanding idioms, or using pronouns, while other children are making connections from pictures to have a conversation.

Crossroads Center for Children’s Speech-Language Therapists and Pathologists are the most excellent therapists in the field. These are just some of the ways they’re working each and every day to help our students. Thank you to our amazing Speech and Language Therapy Department for all you do for the children and families of Crossroads Center for Children.

Arnold Cogswell – a grant THANK YOU!“Want to PLAY?”