Speech Therapy is provided by, or supervised by, an RDI® Program Certified Consultant who is also a licensed Speech/Language Pathologist. The goal of the TAG Speech Therapy Program is to increase the child’s overall communication skills, and is not limited to work on verbal communication alone. It includes work on engagement as well as nonverbal and verbal communication, with an emphasis on building both receptive and expressive language skills. It is built on the principle that engagement must be established first to set the stage for language development, as this is how the process occurs in typical development. The TAG Speech Therapy Program incorporates RDI® principles and sensory supports to help the child be as regulated, attentive and responsive as possible during sessions. Continual evaluation occurs during speech therapy to determine the specific supports the child needs to make progress towards goals. Parents are included in sessions to assure carryover to work at home, which is an essential part of the Speech Therapy Program at TAG, Inc.
In place of a formal assessment, an informal assessment is completed which includes a parent questionnaire, and time with the child during which there is an emphasis on reducing the demands, supporting engagement, minimizing distractions and giving the child time to process and respond to the therapist’s input. This time together is videotaped and reviewed by the Speech Pathologist/ RDI® Program Certified Consultant in order for the child’s communication strengths and challenges to be properly identified. An assessment report is thenprovided which includes information about both verbal and nonverbal aspects of the child’s communication in both the receptive and expressive realms. Also included in the report will be specific goals that address both developmental and functional communication considerations.
Nonverbal communication goals may include gesturing, facial expressions, vocal changes, eye gaze and body orientation. They may also involve establishing joint engagement or a “shared focus” between the child and his or her communicative partner, an essential precursor to a child’s motivation for communication. Verbal communication goals will typically include receptive and expressive components that are based on functional communication and establishing communicative intent. If deemed appropriate, augmentative communication could also be included as a goal area. Data is collected to determine goal mastery, and re-evaluations are completed on an as-needed basis.
Therapy sessions are typically two or three times a week (50 minutes in length) and parents are encouraged to be present. During sessions, declarative language is often used to help the child feel comfortable, to create an undemanding atmosphere and to create an opportunity for responding in his or her own way. Patterns are established to give the child a competent role in conjunction with the therapist’s role. This sets the stage for engagement and supports a child in developing motivation for communication.