May is Better Speech and Hearing Month and we often get questions about what the role of our Speech-Language Therapists within our early childhood intervention strategy is.
According to the Health Professions Council of South Africa (2017), the scope of practice of a Speech-Language Therapist include:
- Communication and swallowing
- Clinical services
- Prevention and advocacy
- Education and training
- Various practice settings
We are passionate about our little patients and help them with communication and swallowing activities within the following areas (not limited to):
- Speech sound production
- Language – receptive and expressive
- Language use and the social aspects of communication
- Pre-linguistic communication which is joint attention, intentionality and communicative signalling
- Cognition, attention and memory
- Feeding and swallowing, including feeding-related behaviours and oral motor functions
- Diagnosing, assessing and treating communication and swallowing disorders
By screening and assessing these domains, our Speech-Language Therapists can provide early identification as well as early intervention.
Some of the clinical services that our team provides are:
- Providing intervention and support services for persons diagnosed with speech, and language disorders.
- Addressing behaviours (e.g. perseverative or disruptive actions) and environments (e.g. classroom seating, positioning for swallowing safety or attention and communication opportunities) that affect communication and swallowing.
- Providing speech-language therapy services to patients and their families or caregivers (e.g. auditory training for children with hearing aids, speech- and language intervention secondary to a hearing loss).
- Developing, selecting, and prescribing multimodal augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems, including unaided strategies (e.g. manual signs and gestures) and aided strategies (e.g. speech-generating devices, manual communication boards or picture schedules).
- Counselling patients, their families, co-workers, educators, and other persons in the community regarding acceptance, adaptation, and decision making about communication and swallowing.
- Collaborating with other professionals (e.g. identifying neonates and infants at risk for hearing loss and participating in palliative care teams) where necessary.
- Assisting with appropriate educational placement.
- Providing referrals and information to other professionals, agencies, and consumer organisations and using data to guide clinical decision making and determine the effectiveness of services.
- Making service delivery decisions (e.g. admission or eligibility, frequency, duration, location or discharge).
- Facilitating the process of obtaining funding for equipment and services related to difficulties with communication and swallowing.
Education and training form an integral part of our early intervention strategy. This includes educating the public and fostering awareness about communication and swallowing disorders and the treatment thereof. In addition, we also provide in-service training to families, caregivers and fellow healthcare professionals. (www.gpwonline.co.za)
If you are concerned about your little one’s development in any of the above-mentioned domains, contact us to book an appointment with one of our Speech-Language Therapists.