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SPEECH THERAPY AND AUTISM


Speech therapy involves much more than simply teaching a child to correctly pronounce words. In fact, the speech therapist working with children with autism most probably works on a wide range of skills. The speech therapy programs we can offer at the Dolphins are as follows: 

  • thrice weekly sessions at school, executed by a trained teacher, or if available, the speech therapist (therapist from Holland or other foreign country), concerning the increase in vocabulary and simple mouth motor skills.

  • if the speech therapist is available, the following other domains can be targeted, by means of professional techniques in the form of one-on-one therapy session (either during or after schoolhours):

    • Non-verbal communication. This may include teaching gestural communication, or training with PICTO-Cards and other non-verbal communication tools.
    • Language problems. How to make appropriate sentences and use them in a proper way.
    • Speech pragmatics. It is good to know how to say "good morning" but it is just as important to know when, how and to whom you should say it.
    • Conversation skills. Knowing how to make statements is not the same thing as carrying on conversations. The speech therapist may work on back-and-forth exchange, also known as "joint attention."
    • Concept skills. A person's ability to state abstract concepts doesn't always reflect their ability to understand them. Children with autism often have a tough time with concepts like "few," "justice," and "liberty." The speech therapist may work on building these concept skills.
    • Nutritional problems. Many children with autism struggle with limited interests in food, difficulties eating in the meaning of swallowing, chewing etc.  We at the Dolphins try to target these by means of stimulating the pupils to daily drink milk or water and eat some fruit (or other small snack) during a vast time at school. These ‘ snacktimes’ will be guided by the speech therapist if needed and desired.

Prior to starting the speech therapy sessions each pupil will be screened on possible difficulties. Based on the results, the speech therapist will discuss treatment possibilities with the parents (and the teacher), and from thereon create a treatment plan, in order to be able to work as effective as possible.  The chosen approach will be evaluated regularly, to keep track on the progress of the pupil, plus to see whether the offered treatment is in place.

Marlous Karhoff  Speech therapist at the Dolphins, August-Mid December 2008
Graduate speech therapy, faculty of healthcare, Academy of Utrecht, the Netherlands