Our speech-language pathologists are eager to provide you with a thorough evaluation of your child’s needs. We specialize in the areas of autism, speech production, language delays and disorders, language-based learning disorders, and stuttering. We go beyond most standard speech-language evaluations by analyzing a child’s play, social skills, and executive functioning skills as they relate to his or her communication development.
If you don’t know whether a full evaluation is needed, you may request a speech-language screening. A screening is cost- and time-effective, and allows you to get an expert opinion on whether a full evaluation is necessary.
Below is a description of the different areas we address and the techniques we use.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Our staff is very experienced and well-trained in working with children on the Autism spectrum. These children usually experience difficulty in all areas of communication. Some children need to begin with the very basics by establishing back and forth exchanges, eye contact, engagement, gestures and basic play skills, while other children who are older or higher functioning may need assistance with comprehension, abstract reasoning, and gray-area thinking. We work closely with our staff of occupational therapists to design and implement an individualized therapy plan for each child. All of our therapists are trained in DIR/Floortime philosophy and technique.
Articulation (Speech Production)
Articulation is the area of speech pathology that refers to sound development and sound production in individuals. Speech development begins from birth as a child listens to his/her environment and starts discriminating sounds of his/her language. Babies begin cooing, then babbling throughout infancy. Gradually, these sounds are refined into intelligible words. The rate of speech development varies in individuals. Sometimes the natural development of understandable speech is interfered with by hearing loss (intermittent or permanent), neurological factors like childhood apraxia of speech, hypotonia and/or weakness of the oral musculature, phonological processing difficulties, cleft lip/palate, or irregular tongue placement patterns.
Ashley Pilon, M.S., CCC-SLP, has a high level of expertise and experience in the area of speech sound disorders and leads our team in this area, providing training, support, and continued emphasis on the latest techniques. In addition to our years of combined experiences and graduate training, we have therapists who have received training in PROMPT technique, Beckman Oral-Motor Protocol, Talk Tools, and have attended numerous workshops and conferences which address speech production. We practice speech in a motivating environment to encourage participation and carryover.
Children who struggle with comprehension or self-expression may have a language impairment of an unknown origin. Our SLPs conduct a thorough evaluation of conversational skills, sentence structure, narrative ability, and vocabulary level, as well as comprehension of directions and stories. Some of our favorite individualized intervention strategies include working with full body movements to develop basic concepts, starting with concrete objects and moving to higher levels of abstractions, and a heavy use of play activities or literacy-based projects. We have also adapted some concepts used by Nanci Bell’s Visualizing and Verbalizing program. We work closely with parents to modify interactions and experiences at home and to monitor progress. We consult with teachers to discuss strategies for helping a child progress in all of his/her environments.
AAC (Augmentative/Alternative Communication)
Many children are severely impacted by an expressive language disorder causing them to be nonverbal or highly unintelligible. Every child deserves a voice and getting them that voice is crucial to language development. Augmentative and Alternative Communication includes all forms of communication (other than oral speech) that are used to express thoughts, wants, needs, and ideas. Our SLPs are trained and experienced in performing thorough assessments to determine the best mode of communication for your child. Seven of our therapists are trained in Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP), a treatment approach focusing on natural language development and consistent motor patterns. Click here to learn more about who can use AAC and common myths surrounding AAC.
Kayla LeBlanc Landry, M.C.D, CCC-SLP, who leads this specialty area, is continuously working on improving training for staff, parents, and the community.
Some children repeat sounds or syllables when they speak. They may have trouble “getting the words out.” When this happens, children can become self-conscious and avoid speaking in certain environments. Parents are often unsure of how to respond to their child when his or her speech “gets stuck.” Some disfluency in young children is normal; however, persistent disfluencies may be an indication of a fluency disorder. Our therapists are trained to know the difference. We work directly with the child and the whole family when needed to help everyone learn how to handle their disfluencies and build confidence as an effective communicator.
Both reading and writing are language-based activities. Our therapists are trained in a meaning-based approach to learning reading and writing. This approach is designed to focus on growing the foundation and essential building blocks for literacy learning, not just isolated skills that may be used in traditional methods. Children are taught to rely not just on sound-symbol connections, but on a number of different strategies to find and convey meaning. We focus heavily on the process of reading and writing, not just the product. Doing so addresses important cognitive and language skills that will be required beyond the early elementary years.
Kourtni Hayes, MS, CCC-SLP. leads the literacy specialty area. She and her team provide literacy (reading and writing) evaluations and intervention, as well as special group programs. Click here to learn more about our reading and writing programs.
Play is essential to all areas of development of a child. Observing play skills is like looking through a window into a child’s cognitive development. Play skills reflect a child’s ability to ideate, plan, and sequence activities. They reflect flexibility, thinking, and problem-solving skills. Some unusual play patterns include lining up objects, playing repetitively with an object, having narrow or no play interests, or playing only with infant/toddler toys as a preschooler. When our SLPs observe play to be different from what is expected, these skills are evaluated based on Westby’s Play Scales by Carol Westby or the Affect-Based Language Curriculum developed by Diane Lewis and Stanley Greenspan. We then design a plan that focuses on improving the child’s play skills and we give parents ideas and instructions on how to work at home.