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Early Intervention Speech Therapy

Treating Children With Rare Conditions

Published September 17, 2013 8:00 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling

Now that the school year is well under way, I am getting to know and love a whole new crop of children. As speech therapists working in early intervention we know that all children are unique and special in their own way. Years of therapy prove this to be true time and again, year after year.

This year I am working with several children who have been diagnosed with rare conditions I am not familiar with and have not previously treated. In order to ensure success and the most effective treatment plan possible, there are some key steps I have taken and will continue to take while working with these children.  

1. Read the paperwork - Make sure you do your homework and read through the child's file. Look at their testing, family and medical history, any review meeting updates, IFSP/IEP goals. Understand as much as you can about this particular child, their background and current level of functioning. How is their condition/disease/disorder affecting them and their speech and language development?

2. Interview the parents - Meet the family and ask questions! This of course is much easier when working in home care. Ask about the child's birth and early years. When did they meet various developmental milestones? Gain as much knowledge as possible to help give you a complete picture of this child and their development. 

3. Observe at home/school/child care - Spend some time watching the child. Much information can be gained through simple observation in order to learn about behavior, communication, relationships, etc.

4. Speak with the teacher - Does the child attend child care or preschool? If able and appropriate, speak with the child's teacher(s) about how the child is doing, their strengths and weaknesses.

5. Speak with colleagues who are already working with the child - If the OT, PT and/or special instructor have been working with the child prior to you, consult with them.

6. Read as much as possible about the condition/disease/disorder - RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH! Get online and begin researching the condition/disease/disorder. Look for books written on the topic, find out how the diagnosis may or may not affect the child's speech and language development. Websites such as WebMD and the Mayo Clinic are well-respected by the medical community and often hold the most accurate medical information.

7. Trust your instincts - You are an educated, trained and certified SLP. You are qualified to work with speech and language delays/disorders. Even if you do not always know what to do all the time, you should know enough to trust your therapist instincts and if not, know where to find the information you need to be effective and successful.


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About this Blog

    Stephanie Bruno Dowling, M.S. CCC-SLP
    Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist
    Setting: Early Intervention in Delaware County, PA
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