A blog by Joanne Stephen, Program Coordinator (Senior Speech Pathologist), AEIOU Foundation
Happy Speech Pathology Week! This week, us speechies are celebrating our ‘everyday’ with you all. This is life for me, Joanne Stephen, Senior Speech Pathologist at AEIOU.
As I stopped this morning to watch the beauty of the rising sun, I thought about how amazing it is that the day starts without any prompts and delays. It’s as though, under the veil of the dark night, different parts of nature worked frantically in preparation for the awakening of a perfect new morning.
I liken this to what a transdisciplinary team looks like at AEIOU. Each day, we as therapists prepare our individual areas of responsibilities, ensure that programs and goals are up-to-date, and resources are ready for therapy. When our day starts, the therapy team work in unison to deliver the best care and therapy supports for the children in our service. The one thing that keeps me coming back for more: the day could start the same, but what happens in the course of the day always changes.
Being part of the transdisciplinary team has been instrumental in the development of my career as a Speech Pathologist. I have had the opportunity to work very closely with Occupational Therapists, Educators and Behavioural Therapists, and we each bring a different perspective to each child we meet. I learn new skills from my colleagues every day, from changing a nappy, to learning how to support the development of imaginary play and managing behaviours in different situations. In a transdisciplinary team, we do have our moments of clinical debate, but it’s so empowering to work together in harmony to build the skill sets of these children. Each day brings a new set of challenges, a fresh set of ideas and a new burst of energy when we see those little feet walk into our service.
Giving each child a means to be ‘communicating with confidence’ is a Speech Pathologist’s priority. Each child has a story to tell, comment to share, and a request to make. They need tools and ways to communicate with the people in their environments in a way that is flexible and functional. Communicating should be—and can be—fun and easy!
As a Speech Pathologist in a transdisciplinary team, my goal is to support not only the children that I work with to ‘communicate with confidence’, but my colleagues as well. A huge part of my day involves upskilling all staff I work with in communication methods and systems that create an environment to facilitate multimodal communication. This ensures that communication is facilitated throughout the day across all environments by all staff who work with the children.
5 tips from a speech pathologist when communicating with your child:
- Wait for your child to initiate communication
- Stop, wait and listen (with your eyes, too!)
- Practice the 1:4 rule. Model 4 comments for every question you ask your child
Examples of comments:
- Name the item: “Look! These are bubbles.”
- Add a describing word: “This is a big bubble.”
- Add an action: “Let’s pop the bubble.”
- Add a fun noise: “Pop, pop, pop!”
- Add a function: “You blow bubbles.”
- Add a pronoun: “These are MY bubbles, those are YOURS.”
- Make a comment: “I love bubbles.
4. Repeat what they have said or copy the sounds they make.
*For children that are pre-verbal, give them the biggest social praise when they initiate a communicative intent.
5. Extend on their productions, if they say “car”, you could say “car driving”.
*For pre-verbal children, model what they would say through single-word or two-word phrases.
The next time you watch the sunrise, I hope it reminds you that each of us—speech pathologists, occupational therapists, behaviour therapists and educators—play a special and critical role as we work busily in the background to provide the children in our care with the best opportunities for their development in each new day. I hope it also reminds you to appreciate that even though the day may start the same, each day brings new lessons and, quite often, surprises!