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- 55 Miller Street
- Capital Area Intermediate Unit
Therapy should be fun! I know I am doing a good job of instructing and motivating a student when parents tell me their child can't wait to come and "play" with Miss Heidi. CAS therapy in the early intervention setting is an art all its own. My goal is make the child successful in their communication attempts. These children are often quite reserved as their attempts in the past to communicate have been so challenging. Establishing trust is paramount. It is only after you've established that trust that a child will take a risk to talk or try your recommendation of where to put their tongue or their teeth or their lips to produce a word. I try to stick to the same routine for each session. I follow a visual schedule so that the session is predictable each time. I use their favorite toys, stories, games, songs, crafts and photographs of the special people in their life in the session so that it is highly motivating. I intersperse drill work with silly fun. I provide carryover activities in a homework folder to encourage accountability.
I've been part of a professional learning community at my work place to help design therapy materials suitable for treating students with CAS. I've also created my own program, Speech Sound City, which includes a parent and therapist manual for outlining the course of treatment and a workbook with carefully selected stimuli with visual cues embedded. The gestural cues used in the program are based on the work of David Hammer, incorporating place or manner of articulation to aid in sound production.
Parent involvement is critical to the therapy process. As a team, therapy targets are selected based upon the child's most pressing needs to communicate. Parents are encouraged to participate in therapy sessions and complete home activities to maintain progress. Community resources are provided to help parents connect with other families facing the same challenges and to provide support.
I use both low tech and high tech AAC in my therapy sessions, when indicated. I like to use programs such as Writing with Symbols, Board Maker, and Lesson Pix to help create visuals for frequently used words or requests. I also use these programs to adapt books when working on increasing intelligibility in phrases and sentences. If prognosis for intelligible speech is poor, I have worked to obtain high tech speech output devices, such as those on an iPad, by writing a letter of medical necessity to the physician and obtaining funding, through private insurance or medical assistance, to secure the device for the family.
I am able to secure high tech AAC devices, as needed, through the charitable program, Variety: My Voice.