Speech/Language Pathologists serve special needs children and their parents in a myriad of ways. The earlier the intervention the better the outcome, and the less likely non-verbal habits will develop which will later have to be unlearned. The speech language pathologist focuses on areas of communication that include, but are not limited to: oral motor, speech, language (receptive and expressive), voicing, swallowing and feeding, alternatives to verbal communication, and auditory comprehension skills. Early on speech/language pathologists help children to develop the important pre-learning skills of listening, attending, responding and connecting of daily life expe- riences with language and communicative output. Improving and increasing communication skills often reduce behaviors that impede successful interactions and improve overall learning skills.
If communication is viewed as behavior, then it occurs all day throughout the day and the parent will be sup- porting the goals of therapy, facilitated by their therapist. Observing your child’s ability with the therapist helps you determine the best way to follow up to access their potential. Each therapist has a different technique and the personality of the therapy itself varies. Consulting with one or two therapists before deciding upon a therapeutic plan and specific individual will help you understand the needs of your child and place you in the role of team navigator. The clinical, eclectic, and academic background of the therapist will support the type of therapy an individual will receive. Speech/ language pathologists in private practice must have a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American, Speech, Language & Hearing Association (ASHA) and maintain ethical practices as outlined by ASHA. When choosing a therapist a parent may refer to ASHA.org for listings of speech/language pathologists in a specific demographic area as well as by expertise and specialty.