At My Therapy House® in Adelaide, the Speech Pathologists work as part of the multi-disciplinary team and use a relationship-based, social-emotional individualised approach to language and speech development to help families understand their child’s:
- Ability to read social cues: this refers to the way children understand and read non-verbal information such as facial expressions, gestures, body movements, as well as subtle verbal information such as verbal inferences. As speech pathologists, we work with children and families to help them understand what social cues are and how to better facilitate the child’s ability to read and express them. We work with parents to help them make their cues easier for their child and others to read. This gives them the opportunity to model, as well as to build a more grounded relationship with their child.
- Intentionality: this refers to the way the child uses their behaviour or words to express what they are meaning. For example, the child may cover their ears when there is no noise, but lots of movement or visual clutter. The hands over the ears may mean, “This environment is overwhelming for me.”
- Comprehension skills: this refers to what the child understands in verbal language. Sometimes it may appear that the child has, “good language comprehension,” because they may have either learnt how to respond to certain formal language tests or they have learnt what certain words mean in certain situations with familiar routines. Many children we see have difficulty with comprehension, which is often hidden or masked by their understanding of what needs to happen in a given routine or situation. Comprehension is core to language and self development. The more we understand, the more we can relate and communicate with others and understand how the world works and where we fit into the world.
- Communication development: this refers to the way children communicate. Communication is not only verbal. In fact, in neurotypical language development, before children learn to talk, they are able to use their non-verbal gestures for up to 60 circles of communication exchange where there are both initiations and responses. Many of the children we see have challenges with body awareness, moving their bodies, or sequencing their body movements, and often will not use gestures or facial expressions naturally. Communication development requires a team approach where children can learn about their bodies and how to use them to communicate their intentions. When children have challenges with communication development, we work closely with families to help them learn to read their child’s communication and intentions.This helps make the child feel seen, listened to, understood and accepted; building confidence which then helps the child learn new skills and feel like they are confident and competent communicators.
- Social skills: this refers to the way children use their faces, gestures, bodies, verbal language and themselves to initiate, maintain and terminate interactions with other people. Many children we see may have great language skills but are unable to understand how to start a conversation topic, or how to build on someone else’s ideas; and how to change the conversation topic or finish the topic without hurting someone else’s feelings. Many children don’t even know the impact their behaviour has on others; for example, standing up and walking away in the middle of an interaction because they are no longer interested in the conversation topic. We work with children to highlight the social information that they may often not be aware of, or understand, in everyday interaction exchanges and what this may mean.
- Emotional development: this refers to how children develop a sense of self and other, and how they understand and express their inner emotional world. People often think emotional development refers to teaching children basic feelings such as ‘happy’, ‘sad’, ‘angry’, ‘frustrated’. Many children we see may have learnt what these words mean,but are not able to connect them to the way their bodies may be feeling in a given moment. Many children present with signs of anxiety, and families may not even be aware of this. We use a variety of approaches to facilitate language development including the Hanen Parent Training Programmes, Marte Meo, DIRFloortime and Play Therapy principles around emotional development, and encourage parents to go on their own journey of emotional development to understand what they do, how they do it, and why they do it. Children feel their parent’s or caregiver’s anxiety or worry and may react to it in different ways. Together with the family, we explore different ways to help both the child and parents feel less anxious and worried.
- Relationships and ability to make friends: Humans are wired for relationships. It may sometimes appear that children living with Autism may not be interested in relationships, but often it is a matter of knowing how to connect with and engage the child. Other children may present with separation anxiety. In this case, we work slowly with the child and parent, helping both parties separate for a short amount of time then building on this so both the child and parent feel comfortable with the separation. The first relationships a child learns are with their family. Throughout our sessions we work on the foundations of relationships within the family and then extend these to the child’s peers.
Our DIRFloortime® certified Speech Pathologists in Adelaide are trained in many different evidence-based language and speech development approaches, including Marte Meo, a variety of Hanen Parent Training Programs and Circle of Security. They understand that comprehension and language development are complex processes and often require a team approach to address other challenges which may be impacting the child’s development. These include attachment and regulation, visual-spatial processing, auditory processing, timing and rhythm, and sensory-motor processing.
Please contact us for more information.