What is speech and language therapy?
Speech and Language Therapists provide treatment, support and care for individuals in the areas of communication, eating, drinking and swallowing. Speech and language therapy looks at how we send messages and communicate with others as well as how we understand and interpret the messages that are sent to us. Speech and Language Therapists can also help individuals with exploring the social context of language, providing support to those who might struggle with communication within a social context. Speech and language therapy is for people of all ages. Individuals may need different levels of support across the lifespan.
How can I find a Speech and Language Therapist?
Speech and Language Therapists are key members of local disability teams. There are a number of people you can contact to get some information about Speech and Language Therapists, including your early intervention service team, your school or private speech and language therapists (Independent Speech-Language Therapists of Ireland). Some Speech and Language Therapists may also be involved with specific groups or associations. A good place to start would be to get in touch with your service provider and ask them for more information about the services you require and they can direct you to somebody who is suitable.
What should I expect from my first session?
Before your first session with a Speech and Language Therapist you should reflect on your communication, or if attending with your child, their communication. You should also spend some time thinking about what it is you are hoping or expecting will change from working with your Speech and Language Therapist. Your first session is a chance for you and your therapist to get to know each other. Initially, there may be a lot of observation as you begin to build a relationship with your therapist and interact with one another. If you are attending a session with your child, they may be encouraged to play.
What tools does a speech and language therapist use?
Speech and language therapists use both formal and informal tools and techniques in their assessments. Informal tools the therapist might use include observation, creating opportunities for play, or providing direction for opportunities so that parents can interact with their child. During these informal sessions there is a lot of opportunity for learning. Speech and Language Therapists may also use formal assessment tools to gather information about your communication methods. One example of a more formal tool is questionnaires. The therapist might ask you to fill in forms reflecting on your communication. These questionnaires could be completed in advance of a session, or you may even complete them during the session with the Speech and Language Therapist.
What role does a Speech and Language Therapist play in supporting autistic individuals?
In recent years, autism assessments are becoming more multi-disciplinary with a speech and language therapist often a core member of that assessment team. Communication is an important aspect of the autism assessment and is a core part of both the diagnostic and intervention teams of an autism assessment. Speech and Language Therapists may be involved in building skills with autistic people directly, and/or with their family, caregivers and educators.