Does your child have speech and behavioural therapy needs at the creche or preschool level? The good news is that you have caught this at a good age. Copious amounts of research and conventional wisdom supports the idea that early intervention produces the best outcomes.
The Star Academy caters for your child’s speech and behavioural therapy needs at the creche or preschool level, but also caters for older children and adolescents. Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) is a research-based method of intervention for children with speech and behaviour difficulties, amongst many other difficulties.
Early identification and intervention can get two out of three pre-schoolers with autism improve communication skills and their grasp of spoken language. Also important to note is that speech can be learnt, and in the case of autism, special care needs to go into how it is taught to children in order to maximise results. There are various techniques which are involved in teaching speech, and these include:
- Focus on nonverbal communication. Gestures and eye contact can build a foundation for language. Encourage your child by modelling and responding these behaviours.
- Create opportunities for your child to communicate. Instead of guessing, inferring or predicting what they want, hold it out to them and have them give what you know is their best attempt at communication, then reward them by giving them the item they desire.
- Encourage play and social interaction. Children learn through play, and that includes learning language. Interactive play provides enjoyable opportunities for you and your child to communicate. Try a variety of games to find those your child enjoys.
- Consider assistive devices and visual supports. Assistive technologies and visual supports can do more than take the place of speech. They can foster its development. Examples include devices and apps with pictures that your child touches to produce words. On a simpler level, visual supports can include pictures and groups of pictures that your child can use to indicate requests and thoughts.
- Simplify your language. Doing so helps your child follow what you’re saying. It also makes it easier for her to imitate your speech. If your child is nonverbal, try speaking mostly in single words. (If he’s playing with a doll, say “baby” or “doll.”). Break instructions down into single steps. For example, instead of saying “Go to your room and get your socks”, say “Go to your room”, walk behind your child to his room, and once there say “Get your socks”.
- Talk to your Star Academy case supervisor about the level of communication you should be giving your child the most opportunities to practice, e.g. echoing sounds or words, making requests, commenting, asking questions, or answering questions.
These methods, practiced with consistency have proven to be effective in child speech and behavioural therapy.