Here are some of the symptoms that may be exhibited by children with speech and language delays or disorders:
- Lack of eye contact
- Disinterest in other children/people
- Inappropriate or limited play; doesn’t pretend
- Limited vocabulary; not consistently learning new words
- Inability to understand or follow simple instructions without gesture cues
- Lack of focus/attention
- Not combining words by age 2
- Difficult to understand
Please keep in mind that these symptoms are only surface-level observations that can help to determine whether you need to seek a further assessment for your child. In order to truly evaluate your child’s development, please talk with your doctor and discuss the need for a further evaluation or referral.
How A Child’s Knowledge Can Conceal A Disorder
Some children show an early intense interest in specific skills such as counting, numbers and letters. This “knowledge” can sometimes mask the fact that the child is not acquiring other expected vocabulary and social language skills. Being aware of this kind of behavior may be the first step in identifying fundamental gaps in your child’s speech or language skills.
Limitations Vs. Behaviors
It’s sometimes easy to assume that because your child “doesn’t talk” or “won’t listen,” he or she is simply stubborn or acting out. Many times, these children truly do not understand your directions or are unable to form the words to ask for things. A speech-language pathologist can help identify any underlying difficulties that may be contributing to your child’s behaviors.
The Initial Evaluation: Getting To Know Your Child
An evaluation consists of a parent interview, observation of your child, and direct interaction and testing. This process takes approximately two hours and will include an audiology test to rule out hearing problems, unless your child has already had a recent hearing test.
During this evaluation, one of our speech-language pathologists will carefully observe your child’s behavior and play to observe any patterns that may emerge. We will assess your child’s overall communication abilities, including non-verbal communication (gestures, pointing), language (vocabulary, ability to follow directions, word combinations, sentence structure) and speech skills (articulation of sounds, how well he or she can be understood).
When we meet with you and your child, our goal is to determine whether your child’s communication skills are developing typically. If not, we will determine whether he or she is experiencing a speech problem, a language problem or a combination of both. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association:
- Speech is the verbal means of communication and includes articulation, voice and fluency. 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.
- Language is the socially shared rules including what words mean, how to make new words and what word combinations are best in specific situations. 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.
If Additional Medical Attention Is Needed
If your child needs further evaluation, our team may suggest that he or she be referred to a medical specialist, neurologist, developmental pediatrician, or psychologist. If your child is referred, The Emerge Center will be happy – with your permission – to coordinate care with your child’s medical professionals.
Federal Assistance For Children Under Three Years Of Age
If your child is under three years of age, he or she may be referred to the state’s EarlySteps program, which provides early intervention services for those children who qualify until they reach three years of age. Some or all of the costs associated with the treatment will be covered by EarlySteps, which provides therapies in the home or daycare settings. The Emerge Center will be happy to assist you with the referral process.
We offer two types of speech-language therapy: individual therapy and group therapy. These two models offer different benefits for the child, and placement is based on a child’s specific needs. Some children may receive both group and individual therapy to best meet their needs.
The Foundation Program is our group speech-language therapy program designed for young children ages 2 through 5, who present with deficits in speech, language, and/or social skills. In this program, the child’s speech-language goals are addressed within a classroom-type setting, promoting natural communication and interaction with peers. All activities are led by the speech-language therapist, who helps each child participate and communicate to the fullest extent possible. The primary goals of this program are to improve the child’s ability to understand words and directions, to increase the child’s use of words or other forms of communication, to encourage the child to communicate across a variety of activities and with a variety of people, to foster initiation and independence, and to build social interaction skills.
Group speech-language therapy schedules vary depending on age, language level, and need. Children in the Foundation Program typically attend two or three times per week, with each session lasting between one and three hours. The groups, typically made up of 4-6 children, use a preschool-like format, engaging children in play, structured circle time, snack time, and outdoor time. When appropriate, these children may also receive individual speech-language therapy and/or occupational therapy. Children with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder will have the opportunity, when appropriate and openings become available, to add Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy.
The Foundation program is the core of our therapeutic services at Emerge. In its basic form, this speech-language group therapy model was started at the Baton Rouge Speech and Hearing Foundation (now Emerge) over 30 years ago and has been championed by us ever since. The program was born from a desire to make the greatest impact on the greatest number of children, which is a goal that continues to drive our services today. We are amazed at the progress the children make and we believe that, by giving the children a strong language foundation and teaching them skills necessary to function within a classroom-type environment, we are giving them the best chance possible to succeed in their eventual school environments. While we make changes and innovations to the program each year, this core program defines us in many ways, and we are proud of the strong history of creative programming and successful outcomes it represents.
Individual speech & language therapy is designed to address the specific needs of your child in a one-on-one context. This follows the traditional “speech-language therapy” model, and may be ideal for children with articulation deficits or motor speech disorders, or children needing intensive work in specific language skills. Individual therapy may also be recommended for children who are not yet ready for our group therapy program. Other times, individual therapy may be needed to supplement a child’s group therapy.
Individual therapy usually:
- -Takes place two or three times per week, depending on the child’s particular set of speech and/or language deficits.
- -Consists of sessions that are 30 minutes in length.
- -Involves tasks that you will be asked to carry out at home before the next session. These can range from modeling simple words or “pretend play” to practicing production of specific sounds. Our goal is to encourage you to be a vital part of this process.
Some children at Emerge use an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device to support their communication development and learning. Use of an AAC device is typically recommended by the speech-language therapist after trial use within therapy. The Emerge Center offers an AAC Loaner Program, made possible by generous donors. This allows a family to have a 6-12 week trial period with a device. During this period, the family will participate in 4-6 parent training sessions along with their child, to learn how to best support their child’s communication development using the AAC device at home.
There is not a day that goes by that we don’t lay our heads on the pillow at night thanking God for our years at The Emerge Center. Jack and Parker are textbook examples of early intervention with Speech Therapy being the key to digging deep, doing the work, and pulling out all the potential they have to live their best life. Autism can be a dark place – but the Emerge Center was our light. Our boys would not be where they are today without our years of Speech Therapy, among many other services offered at the center, spent with the dedicated staff at Emerge loving them and working with them to find that light.”