While every person with Autism is unique, the most common difficulty they experience is in the area of communication.
At the CDI we are very focused on functional outcomes, meaning we want to teach the children skills that will allow them to function more effectively and independently in the world around them, and participate meaningfully within their family and community.
Children with delayed speech and language skills are often frustrated because they can’t communicate what they want, what they need or how they feel. This has a significant impact on their ability to function and will often result in behaviours due to this frustration.
Developing a child’s speech and language skills is a fundamental element of all programs delivered at the CDI. On our team we have a Certified Practicing Speech and Language Pathologist, Danielle, who supports all of the children enrolled in our Inclusion Readiness Program, consults to our team of Key Workers and has a caseload of children that receive weekly Speech Clinics.
The Inclusion Readiness Program (IRP) is our 3-hour group program where children learn the skills necessary to participate effectively in a community education setting. Each child has a set of goals they are working towards which always include communication and social skills.
Our Speech Pathologist reviews every child enrolled in IRP when they commence and every 6 months following. Each child will receive an individualised Communication Profile.
This profile will summarise how the child communicates, identify current speech and language strengths, how their therapists, educators and family members can support them to communicate, and what their goals are.
This communication profile helps parents understand what they can do to help their child and is particularly helpful if your child is meeting new people such as a new teacher at childcare, a new babysitter or any other formal or informal support person.
It also ensures that every therapist working with the children in IRP are able to embed specific communication strategies into their interactions and give the children opportunities to practice these skills.
All children at the CDI who participate in our Early Start Denver Model programs will have an individualised set of ESDM goals. These are comprehensive and cover all developmental domains.
Our Speech Pathologist will work with each of our Key Workers to refine identified expressive and receptive communication goals and assist them to put in place effective, evidence-based strategies that can be delivered within the ESDM framework. This gives each child the best chance of successfully achieving great functional outcomes.
Our Speech Pathologist also runs clinics for children who need a bit more help or have more complex challenges such as Motor Speech Disorders, including Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) and Dysarthria, Developmental Language Disorders (DLD), Augmented and Alternative Communication (AAC) and Dysphagia (swallowing difficulties).
Speech clinics are focused on
Home practice is absolutely essential and will affect how successfully a child will achieve their functional outcomes. As they always say, practice makes perfect. And in this case the more practice and reinforcement a child can get, the faster their skills will develop and their frustration will ease.
This means that parents must participate in every speech clinic. During the sessions our Speech Pathologist will demonstrate techniques, will identify cues to watch out for, will explain what the child is doing and get the parent to give it a go themselves.
The ‘homework’ requested of the parents is not arduous or require any additional time in their day – it can be embedded into everyday moments and routines throughout the day eg. Driving in the car, at bathtime, during story time.