Speech and Language Therapy
The primary focus of speech therapy for most students is language development and pragmatics (social language). Skills taught in therapy depend on the development of the child and their particular needs. All services are completely individualized. Therapy may involve imitation skills, labeling skills, increasing mean length of utterance (sentence length), initiating conversations, requesting help, following functional directions, etc. Skills are taught using strategies of applied behavior analysis (ABA) such as least-to-most prompting, positive reinforcement and shaping procedures. Depending on the student’s skill level, the following approaches may be used: discrete trial training, incidental teaching, or generalization training. Likewise, therapy sessions may be provided individually or in a group setting with either a push-in or pull-out model. Social language goals are a large focus during group therapy and push-in sessions.
A secondary focus of therapy, when appropriate, is articulation. Speech therapists, as well as classroom staff, are trained to implement Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS) and a variety of other Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC) devices to facilitate expressive language. All classroom staff are trained to implement speech therapy goals. As a result, students receive extra practice in this area.