Methods Used in Speech Therapy for Special Needs Children
Speech and language therapy for children with special needs encompasses a variety of methods, dependent upon each individual’s strengths and weaknesses. At Harbor School, we are dedicated to teaching students a way to functionally and socially communicate with others within the school community and later in life.
Our experienced and qualified speech language therapists continue to develop their expertise in order to utilize the latest research and therapy techniques in evidenced based practice.
The speech language therapists at Harbor School specialize in a variety of methods to address the communication needs of students exhibiting various disorders and/or syndromes which include autism spectrum disorders, Down Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, cerebral palsy, William’s Syndrome, Angelman Syndrome, developmental disabilities, and other rare genetic syndromes. They have been trained to deliver services to address all areas of speech and language including receptive language, auditory processing, expressive language, pragmatic language and social communication, articulation, voice, and fluency disorders as well as dysphagia, oral motor, and feeding needs.
Since communication is an integral life skill, students are encouraged to express their wants, needs, thoughts, ideas, and feelings utilizing a total communication approach. Through a caring and supportive, yet challenging environment, therapy focuses on developing students’ relationships in order to achieve their full communication potential.
Research shows that Augmentative/Alternative Communication (AAC) can help facilitate speech and language development. AAC is an umbrella term that encompasses methods used to supplement verbal speech. Gestures and sign language are unaided means of communication. Aided AAC can be in the form of dedicated Speech Generating Devices (SGD), Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCA), and Picture Exchange Communication Systems -2- (PECS), Core Vocabulary, and static boards. Several research studies have shown that these systems may help to develop verbal language and increase socialization.
A unique feature of Harbor School’s speech department is their partnership with New Jersey Pediatric Feeding Associates which provides screening and therapeutic recommendations for students with dysphagia. This feeding clinic is offered to families 1-2 times per year for anyone interested in having their child evaluated. If further evaluations are warranted, Harbor’s therapists may accompany the student to outside facilities to ensure that the continuity of care is provided.