What is Early Identification?
Many people falsely believe that speech language treatment cannot and should not begin until a child begins to talk. Yet research has shown that children know a great deal about their language even before the first word is said. For example, children can distinguish between their native language and a foreign language, use different non-verbal utterances to express different needs, and imitate different patterns of speech through babbling.
Early identification includes the evaluation and treatment provided to families and their children under 3 years old who have, or are at risk for having, a disability or delay in speech, language, or hearing. A child can quickly fall behind if speech and language learning is delayed. Early identification increases the chances for improving communication skills.
Who Should be Evaluated?
Children identified as at-risk or high-risk, such as those from neonatal intensive care units, should be tested early and at regular intervals. Other risk factors include diagnosed medical conditions (i.e. chronic ear infections), biological factors (i.e. fetal alcohol syndrome), genetic defects (i.e. Down Syndrome), neurological defects (i.e. cerebral palsy), or developmental disorders (i.e. delayed language).
Children with no high-risk features should be evaluated if their speech and language is not similar to other children of the same age.
What is speech-language treatment?
From the results of the evaluation, certain services may be recommended. Prevention includes those children who have been identified as at-risk (i.e. low birth weight infants) for a communication delay or disorder. Services are provided before a specific diagnosis has been made. Remediation increases function in area identified as delayed or disabling and may serve to prevent other related problems.
What is feeding therapy?
Oral-motor skills are important for feeding as well as for speech functions. If the oral apparatus is not developed properly and the child never learns proper chewing and swallowing, overbite could be developed. Thumb sucking leads to an overbite as well as the prolonged periods of use of a pacifier. This condition is called a tongue thrust. Feeding therapy in conjunction with articulation therapy usually corrects this issue.
Feeding therapy is also provided for children who do not accept different textures of foods. Then, in conjunction with occupational therapy children are eased into accepting textured foods.
What is ABA therapy?
Behavior analysis focuses on the principles that explain how learning takes place. Positive reinforcement is one such principle. When a behavior is followed by some sort of reward, the behavior is more likely to be repeated. Through decades of research, the field of behavior analysis has developed many techniques for increasing useful behaviors and reducing those that may cause harm or interfere with learning.
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the use of these techniques and principles to bring about meaningful and positive change in behavior.