As speech language pathologists at HSS, we are often asked: “Why is speech therapy offered at an orthopedic hospital?” We work alongside occupational and physical therapists to provide integrative care for children from birth to 21 years of age. By taking an interdisciplinary approach to care, we help our patients with their communication skills so that they can successfully participate in their daily life. Whether it be following directions given by a soccer coach, forming sentences when engaging in conversation with peers, or being understood by an unfamiliar person, we help children in a variety of ways to communicate effectively in their environment.
In order to understand why we are we here, it is important to understand what we do. We assess and treat children with speech, language, oral motor, feeding and swallowing difficulties. Below is a more detailed description of some of the services which we offer at HSS:
- Speech: Parents will often come in frustrated, feeling as though they need to act as their child’s translator. Parents also often share that their child can become frustrated when they are not understood by others. To determine the area of breakdown in speech production, we initially evaluate the child to determine the sound and movement patterns that are impacting their communication with both familiar and unfamiliar people. We then begin working with the child to improve the clarity of their speech using different treatment techniques such as traditional articulation therapy and motor-based approaches such as PROMPT and Dynamic Temporal Tactile Cuing.
- Language: There are three main areas of language that we assess and treat; receptive, expressive and pragmatic. Receptive language refers to a child’s understanding of language which includes following directions, pointing to a target photograph, and understanding questions and rules of grammar. Expressive language refers to a child’s use of language including labeling pictures, formulating grammatically correct sentences, answering questions, and telling a story. Pragmatic language refers to the social use of language which includes forming and answering questions in a conversation, engaging in age-appropriate play, turn taking, and understanding and using nonverbal cues such as eye contact.
- Feeding and Swallowing: In addition to evaluating and treating speech and language, we also work with pediatric and adult patients who have difficulties with feeding and swallowing. Whether it’s a child who is a picky eater or an infant having difficulties transitioning from a bottle to a cup, we support the growth of a child’s feeding skills by assessing and treating the motor and sensory systems related to feeding. Additionally, we evaluate postsurgical inpatient adults who are have difficulty swallowing and recommend dietary modifications and strategies to ensure safety when eating and drinking.
There are many important components of a child’s developmental process. At HSS we provide a variety of services on an inpatient and outpatient basis. Our goal is to support the growth of the whole child with emphasis on their speech, language, feeding and swallowing needs. Communication is the commonality in every interaction. As speech language pathologists we provide the keys to communication, so children can be an active participant in their lives, wherever they may go.
Amanda Slaboden is a speech therapist at HSS Pediatric Rehabilitation. She treats on an outpatient basis, and consults on inpatient dysphagia screening and management. Amanda has specialty training in the diagnosis and treatment of auditory processing disorders, as well as a clinical interest in the treatment of motor speech disorders, receptive-expressive language disorders, and articulation disorders.