Hearing your child’s first word is one of the most highly-anticipated moments for any parent. While the joy of hearing your baby speak for the first time is a momentous occasion, a child’s communication development begins long before the first word.
The first three years are critical: The ability to communicate effectively with others is the very foundation of a child’s social, emotional and educational development; and, research has shown that the first three years is the most critical period for growth.
Early identification and intervention of speech, language and hearing disorders is absolutely key: the earlier a communication disorder is identified, the better the chances for improvement or even recovery. Because learning is a cumulative process, difficulties early-on can have a cascading effect on the rest of a child’s life. A slow start out of the gate will mean playing catch-up for years to come.
When a person is unable to produce speech sounds correctly or fluently, or has problems with his or her voice, then he or she has a speech disorder. Difficulties pronouncing sounds, or articulation disorders, and stuttering are examples of speech disorders.
When a person has trouble understanding others (receptive language), or sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings completely (expressive language), then he or she has a language disorder.
Both children and adults can have speech and language disorders. They can occur as a result of a medical problem or have no known cause.
No. However, you may need one for group benefit or insurance coverage. Anyone can refer a child or adult for private speech therapy services as long as parents are aware of and consent to the referral.
As part of the free consultation time, we will talk briefly about your concerns and determine if private therapy services will benefit you or your child. We will talk briefly about your general hopes and goals for therapy.
At the first session, I will spend some time getting to know your child’s likes and interests. We may play with games and toys so I may hear their speech and language skills while engaged in conversation and free play (with no goals in mind other than to explore what they can do now). With your permission and explanation of what I would like to achieve, we may engage in assessment activities either formal or informal. Near the end of the session, I will give you my opinion of what should be our initial goals.
I utilize a play-based therapy approach integrating the child’s therapy goals into a variety of fun, playful activities that are motivating and engaging. We may read a book that highlights a specific sound pattern or language goal, a craft, or listen to fun and engaging music. Everything we do in my speech therapy sessions is geared towards achieving each child’s therapy goals. Sometimes our activities are selected to give a fun break or something to look forward to playing with after some work has been done.
Children don’t know they are using the latest ground breaking and research supported therapy techniques available today, they think they’re playing!
I prefer that one parent or caregiver attends the entire therapy session. First and foremost, your child is likely to feel more comfortable knowing that you are here with him or her. Secondly, you will get more out of your child’s therapy sessions – you will see firsthand how I engage and interact with your child to get the most out of our time together. As well, being an active player in your child’s therapy session you will learn many strategies and activities that you can use at home to work on your child’s goals. Finally, I can coach some of the play to give you “in the moment” ideas expanding your skills to help you bring the best out of your child.
Please bring with you any previous speech therapy assessment reports from Public Health Services or School Services to assist me in knowing what has already been done or current goals. Generally, if this information is less than 6 months old, I can use the information to guide me in setting therapy goals for your child.
If you are unable to find childcare for other siblings, they can usually be accommodated and incorporated into our sessions. While sessions that include siblings are different from ones that do not, they are not necessarily ‘worse’ or ‘more challenging.’ Siblings can be great communication partners, and it can be very helpful for them to learn the same strategies that parents or guardians are using. Just let me know if you need to bring a sibling or more along to your sessions, and I will prepare to include them!