ESTABLISH SPEECH & LANGUAGE LANGUAGE SKILLS FOR EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION
Our speech therapists help children develop speech and language skills needed for effective communication. This is achieved through the evaluation and treatment of expressive and receptive language, problem-solving and reasoning, social skills, sign language, and augmentative communication (communication devices, PECs, etc).
Our therapists also work on pre-speech and feeding skills, swallowing, and oral-motor development. We strive to assist your child in finding his or her voice. And we never forget that a kid is a kid by ensuring speech therapy is fun, safe, and inviting. Our expectation: life-changing results.
There are many reasons from low staff turnover to having over 1,000+ pediatricians referring to us for services. Above all is our parents’ feedback.
Every parent is sent a survey at the beginning, middle, and end of their therapy services. It asks: “On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to refer Westside to your friends and family.”
Here is what parents say:
This is exactly why Westside is deemed the best.
While cost varies by insurance plan, number of therapy hours, and other factors, we still inform you on what you’ll expect to pay.
We have built a sophisticated cost calculator that looks at 19 factors that impact cost. When we run it, it shows you a week-by-week prediction of cost.
This estimate occurs after your evaluation once we know the frequency of therapy. All of you do is provide us with your insurance plan details, and we handle the rest.
We work with a wide variety of insurance companies and HMO networks. We are always expanding our network – click here to view the list of our currently accepted insurances.
Graduating kids from therapy is our goal. It means that we did our job and that the child’s concerns have been addressed. We do everything we can to achieve progress as quick as possible. There is ongoing communication between the family and the therapist on the child’s progress. When it is agreed that the concerns have been fully addressed, it is time to graduate AND celebrate!
At Westside, we generally treat children 0-18 years old. Our therapists are trained to work to work with kids, toddlers, and teens.
Similarly aged children typically come to therapy at the same time frames, too. For example, many of the teens come after-school and socialize with each other as a part of speech therapy.
Most Speech Therapy treatment plans are 1-3 hours per week in-clinic, with 1 hour per week being the most common.
Our therapists teach the parents and the child how to carry over the exercises at home. This complements the in-clinic treatment and leads to lasting change.
Speech therapy sessions are 45 minutes long. The therapist will speak with the parent at end of each session to provide an update on what was worked on.
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is a term used to describe various methods of communication that can help people who have limited speech or who are unable to use verbal speech to communicate. AAC can support both receptive language and expressive language skills.
Augmentative means to add to someone’s speech. Examples of that include waving, gestures/signing, pointing to pictures or objects.
Alternative means to use something other than speech. An example of that is using an AAC device. There are different types of devices that are used where children can point to pictures, or click buttons that give voice output, etc.
Simple communication devices can include simple picture books, PECS (Picture Exchange Communication Systems), picture boards, and basic recorded speech devices (Go Talk Communication Aid, BIGmack Communicator).
More advanced options include electronic tablet speech applications (examples: ProLoQuo2Go, Snap Core First utilized on an iPad). More advanced options also include dedicated speech devices that are devices that can only be used as a communication device (no other applications can be run on the device). These include devices by Dynavox and Saltillo.
Since there are different types of devices a child can use, the evaluation process will help determine the child’s communication strengths and find the best fit for the child.
AAC devices improve ability to functionally communicate with others. AAC devices also provide other therapeutic benefits. Simply using a device has been shown to improve language skills. Research results indicate that AAC interventions do not impede speech production. In fact, most studies report an increase in speech production.
AAC devices allow children to practice using their language in social and real-life situations, which is is essential for development, especially when verbal communication is challenging.
Your child might benefit from AAC if your child is not talking at all (beyond the age of 2), your child isn’t talking much (preschool or early elementary age) or your child is talking, but it is extremely difficult for others to understand his/her speech.
Early communication intervention that incorporates AAC use can aid intentional communication behaviors in children.
There are no prerequisites for learning to use an AAC device, other than the ability to produce a purposeful movement. “All individuals should have access to AAC systems or devices that promote effective communication.” (ASHA)
In normal development, children learn meanings of first words by playing with sounds made in the mouth and seeing the reaction of others. Consistent motor movements result in consistent voice output that when integrated with social responses provides meaning to the word. A high-tech device with consistent motor patterns and voice output allows the non-speaking child to learn language in this same manner.
It is different for every child. There will be times when a child is excited to use the device and there are times when there will likely be push-back to use it. Both of these times are a normal part of learning AAC and it is important that family and team members keep modeling vocabulary, showing enthusiasm about communication, and having the device available for use.
Modeling using an AAC can be similar to modeling on how to use verbal communication. A child can learn by seeing their family using the device to request, express emotion, ask questions, etc.
AAC Evaluations are completed by licensed and certified speech language pathologists who are specifically trained in the area of AAC. The evaluation typically takes place during a 90 minute appointment. The goal is to determine what AAC supports are the most appropriate for an individual’s communication needs.
At the end of the evaluation, the therapists, child and family spend time with each device, and at the end of the trial period, will decide which AAC is most appropriate. Key factors looked at include: motivation, communication autonomy and communication efficiency.
Ongoing therapy will be necessary following completion of the AAC assessment and gaining a device. In therapy, the speech/language pathologist will model use of the device in a variety of situations. Opportunities will be set up for the child to use the device functionally. As therapy progresses, the goal is for the child to independently utilize the device for functional communication with a variety of conversational partners in a variety of settings (therapy, home, school, community). Therapy should also include family education which will include guidance on how to become familiar with their child’s device, how to model use of the device and ways to encourage the child’s attempts to use the device.
As a child progresses in their development and ability to use their AAC, more buttons or functions can be added to their device to keep increasing communication.
If you are interested, submit an inquiry below. Our Intake Team will call to help you determine a plan forward. If you are still unsure, you can call us anytime at (815) 469-1500 for more information.