We offer comprehensive assessment and treatment for students experiencing a wide variety of academic difficulties including:
- Dyslexia assessment and intervention
- Academic language & vocabulary development
- Attention & behavior
- Sensory Processing & Self-regulation
- Social skills
- Accommodations & Advocacy
All of our speech language pathologists (SLP’s) have master’s degrees and are certified by the American Speech, Language, and Hearing Association (ASHA). The clinicians who assess and provide intervention for reading disabilities have extensive training in language-based reading disabilities. They have all participated in a 40 hour Yoshimoto Orton-Gillingham training which is an accredited teacher training program by the International Dyslexia Association. Their background and training enables them to individualize each student’s intervention program and progress students as quickly as possible through their intervention program. Reading comprehension, vocabulary, and the writing process are incorporated into each student’s intervention program.
Why Are SLP’s a good fit for working with children with reading disabilities?
The reciprocal and multiple relationships between spoken and written language make it appropriate for SLPs to play an integral role in helping children become literate. SLPs understand individual differences in normal and disordered language development across the age span, as well as the role of sociocultural differences in language acquisition. Knowledge of language and its subsystems—phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics/social skills—is highly relevant for prevention, identification, assessment, and intervention of literacy problems. SLP’s possess such skills, as well as skill in diagnosing and treating children with a variety of language-based learning differences.
Many children with language-based learning difficulties such as dyslexia struggle with the language demands in their academic environment. While no difficulties may be apparent in conversational language, they may struggle with vocabulary, language retrieval, organization and sequencing within their academic environment. If they can’t say it, they can’t be expected to write it. Our SLP’s are highly trained in working on higher level expressive language skills with students. Support may need to be provided in both verbal and written domains and can range from basic thought formulation to literary devices (e.g., metaphors, imagery, mood, etc.). For many of these students, these difficulties do not become apparent until third or fourth grade when demands on academic content increase significantly.
For children experiencing significant difficulty mastering the motor demands of handwriting, further evaluation of fine motor skills (grasp, strength, endurance, and motor planning) by one of our occupational therapists is typically recommended. It is important to determine if the student’s writing difficulty is stemming from deficits in fine motor control/planning or if the difficulty is a secondary consequence of a child’s language-based learning disorder. This will help determine the appropriate course of intervention. This distinction will also help determine if the child would benefit from working on writing as part of a multisensory-based approach to teaching reading and spelling or if specific work with an occupational therapist on fine motor development and coordination is needed.
Our occupational therapists are skilled in addressing fine motor concerns related to handwriting and implementing a sequential approach as well as selection of appropriate tools (pencil grips, slant boards, postural support, specialized writing paper etc.) for improving these skills. For older children, a keyboarding program is often recommended as part of their intervention program.
Attention can be a large barrier to a student’s ability to make academic progress. It can coincide with other learning disabilities, as well as, stem from a variety of other underlying factors such as being hungry, tired, frustrated, or overwhelmed. We often use “The Alert Program” and “The Zones of Regulation Program” to help students understand how their bodies are feeling. Students are directly taught strategies to increase or decrease alertness so that their bodies are at the optimum arousal level to work. Our occupational therapists will work with both the student and teachers on strategies and tools that can be utilized in the classroom to help your students pay attention to optimize their learning potential and participation.
Sensory processing difficulties become a problem when they impact a child’s ability to participate in daily activities, such as school, social, community, and family activities. Occupational therapy intervention in the school setting focuses on providing both teachers and students with skills to succeed in the academic setting. Approaches used include directly working with the student on understanding and learning about their behavior (Zones of Regulation), establishing clear and individualized expectations for that student in the classroom, working with the teacher on management of sensory difficulties and supportive accommodations, and teaching the student advocacy skills to recognize when they need to assume responsibility for their behavior and how to take control over their body.
Social skills are important for children of any age. It allows them to successfully engage in a positive way with their peers and others in a variety of settings. Social skills are important for socioemotional development, self-esteem, making and keeping friends, and feeling included in their community. Many bright children struggle to develop social skills and benefit from structured learning opportunities. Children who struggle with social skills are more prone to anxiety and depression. Signs that your child may be struggling with social skills development include:
- frequently left out of peer activities (play dates, birthday parties)
- has acquaintances but no close friends
- has difficulty participating in team sports
- prefers to play alone rather than with peers at recess
- has difficulty following another child’s lead in play
- displays rigidity and seems inflexible with unexpected change
- has restricted interests
- tends to see the world in black and white
- has difficulty understanding humor and sarcasm
- tends to interpret things literally
- has difficulty initiating or maintaining a conversation with others
- has difficulty attending to and listening to others
- has difficulty understanding others point of view
- has difficulty maintaining eye contact
- has difficulty understanding personal space
- has difficulty with voice volume regulation
We use a variety of programs in our clinic to support the development of social skills including many programs by Michelle Garcia Winner (Super Flex Curriculum, Thing About You Thinking About me, The Incredible Flexible You, Social Detective etc.) along with use of Social Stories (Carol Gray), role playing and peer to peer guided interactions for development of specific skills.
An integral part of our intervention programs work on supporting each individual child’s needs in their academic environment including determining the most appropriate accommodations, and, depending on age, the introduction of technology. Building self-esteem, teaching each child about their unique set of strengths and needs, and working with students on advocacy skills are integral to their success throughout their lifetime. Students need to know how they learn and how to advocate as they progress through their academics and careers. We have a wonderful set of resources for both student and parents to assist them in meeting their goals.