Why it is Necessary?
As qualified Speech & Language Therapists we work with clients, who present with a variety of disorders of communication, voice and swallowing. We work with children, who develop speech difficulties as they grow up; adults who have had strokes and can no longer swallow; individuals with voice difficulties due to strain or disease; people with disabilities that require alternative or supported communication methods. SLTs work in a variety of settings including community care, hospitals, charitable organisations and in private practice. Speech and language therapy includes the assessment, diagnosis and management of communication disorders and behaviours as well as swallowing disorders. The objective of speech and language therapy services is to enhance an individual’s ability to communicate, achieve their optimum level of communication and /or swallow in everyday environments to improve their quality of life.
We offer services to children in the following areas:
- Speech sound delay/disorder
- Motor speech disorders e.g. dyspraxia
- Language delay/disorders
- Late talking
- Fluency difficulties (stammering and stuttering)
- Literacy/dyslexia and associated language difficulties
- Specific Language Impairment (SLI)
- Childhood voice disorders
- Adult voice disorders
- Adult eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties
How do I get referred to The Speech and Language Centre?
We have an open referral policy at the Speech & Language Centre (SLC), which means we take referrals from everyone. The majority off our referrals will come from teachers and parents but we will also take referrals from doctors, public health nurses and other professionals dealing with children. In order to make a referral we ask you to Email: Joanna or Anne-Marie to make an enquiry.
What do Speech and Language Therapists do?
Speech & Language Therapists (SLTs) are qualified professionals that work with clients, who present with a variety of disorders of communication, voice and swallowing. For example, an SLT may work with children, who develop speech difficulties as they grow up; adults who have had strokes and can no longer swallow; individuals with voice difficulties due to strain or disease; people with disabilities that require alternative or supported communication methods. SLTs work in a variety of settings including community care, hospitals, charitable organisations and in private practice. Speech and language therapy includes the assessment, diagnosis and management of communication disorders and behaviours as well as swallowing disorders. The objective of speech and language therapy services is to enhance an individual’s ability to communicate, achieve their optimum level of communication and /or swallow in everyday environments to improve their quality of life.
What is the difference between Speech and Language?
Speech can be described as a verbal means of communication. When we refer to “Speech” we are referring to three things;
- Articulation: how different speech sounds are produced individually and in words.
- Voice: how we use breathing and our vocal cords to produce voice.
- Fluency: refers to the flow of words when we speak (a disruption in the flow of speech is referred to as stuttering or stammering).
Language is the set of rules, shared by the individuals who are communicating, which enables them to exchange their thoughts, ideas or emotions in order to express and receive information in a meaningful way. Language can include spoken word but may also be expressed through writing, signing or gestures.
As a parent, you may have observed that your child was able to understand many words, phrases and commands long before s/he was able to talk. Language can be divided into Receptive Language which refers to what we understand and Expressive Language which refers to our ability to communicate our message to others. This can be spoken, written or involve the use of gesture.
There are different aspect of language—
- How we combine sounds to convey meaning in a word and make new words—big, bigger, biggest. (Phonology and morphology)
- The meaning of words, phrases and sentences etc. (Semantics)
- How we combine words to make sentences—“The dog ran down the road”, rather than, “The dog down ran the road”. (Syntax)
- How we use language socially, what we say and how we say it in certain social situations. For e.g. You would speak differently when you meet a person for the first time than you would when speaking to a good friend. (Pragmatics)
Language is the understanding and use of grammar and constructing sentences. A difficulty with language could be used to describe a difficulty with any of the following; difficulty with single words, combining words, constructing short phrases or sentences, making plurals or verb tenses or having difficulty understanding instructions.
How long will I/my child have to attend Speech and Language Therapy?
This will be dependant on each individual case. The information obtained during the initial consultation and assessment will enable us to make an informed decision regarding individual diagnosis and a management plan will be decided upon between the SLT, parent and child.
I’ve just been assessed publicly; can I skip assessment and start therapy immediately?
We recommend that all individuals undergo an initial assessment with us regardless of any other assessments completed elsewhere. With your permission we could try to obtain the results of recent assessments and take these results into consideration. However, in order to make an accurate diagnosis and plan a programme of intervention we need to observe and obtain a true understanding an individual’s strengths and weaknesses, we may need to repeat certain aspects of the assessment. The assessment process is a time to develop a relationship between the SLT and their client, a good relationship is of vital importance within the therapy process.
Is Private Speech and Language Therapy covered by health insurance?
Yes, our services are covered by all major health insurance companies; you will be able to claim a certain percentage of the assessment and therapy costs, depending on your level of cover. We would advise that you check with your insurance provider to determine your entitlements as it varies between different companies. You should retain your receipt to claim from your insurance company. If your health insurance company asks you, both SLT’s working at the SLC are registered with the Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapist (IASLT).
What to Expect
The SLC is designed to put both parents and children at ease in a relaxed homely environment. We strive to obtain a holistic view of each individual child and develop a profile of their strengths and weaknesses to facilitate individualised sessions tailored to meet their personal needs.
The first part of the assessment is a parent/carer-only meeting to discuss your concerns and allow us to take a case history. The purpose of the case history is to get a clear picture of the child and their development and how they function within the context of their environment. This is an informal discussion with the parent to obtain all relevant information regarding the child’s medical and developmental history. We will take this opportunity to discuss any speech and language difficulties your child may be experiencing.
During the second session, an assessment of your child’s speech, language and communication skills will be completed. Assessment is usually a combination of informal play based assessment and more formal assessment depending on your child’s age and stage of development. The purpose of assessment is to determine your child’s strengths and weaknesses and create a profile of how your child functions within the context of their environment. The parent or carer is welcome to remain in the room, we recognise that parents know their child best and can provide valuable information about the child’s ability.
At the end of the second session, we will provide you with verbal feedback, a written summary and hold a discussion about our clinical recommendations.
Following assessment your child will either be; seen for therapy sessions, advised that they will be seen for review in an agreed period of time or discharged if there are no significant difficulties. Direct intervention is not always required; the parent may be given advice/activities to do at home and the child will be reviewed again in an agreed period of time. In a lot of instances individual children benefit from a home programme which would complement the work being done during the SLT sessions. We ask parents to cooperate and assist their child in completing this home programme as appropriate. This may only take a few minutes per day but must be done frequently and consistently in order for it to be effective. We will also work in collaboration with the child’s teacher.
If therapy sessions are indicated, these are arranged in blocks of 6 sessions. At the end of a therapy block, you will be advised to continue the home programme with your child and they will be reviewed after an agreed period of time, typically 6 weeks. This time allows your child to consolidate their new skills and generalise what they have learned. A decision will then be made to decide if further therapy sessions are required.
Why do people choose private Speech and Language Therapy?
Waiting times for private speech and language therapy are usually shorter in comparison to the public services. At the SLC we aim to provide speech and language services at a rate and frequency according to clinical need within a short time frame, rather than offering therapy based upon the availability of resources.
Does my child need SLT?
If you have any concerns about your child’s speech and language skills, you can talk to your GP, public health nurse, nursery / school teacher, or you can call us at the SLC for an informal discussion. Early intervention is an important part in helping a child’s communication development. Evidence based research demonstrates that early intervention is an effective method of treating children with communication difficulties. We would advise all parents who have concerns about their child’s speech and language skills to contact us at the SLC.
What should I look out for?
Every child is different and the development of speech and language skills can vary considerably from one child to another. However, the following are some general guidelines to observe for in your child’s speech and language development:
- By 6—12 months: Babbles and vocalises, giggles and laughs, can vocalise excitement and displeasure. Uses gesture to communicate for e.g. puts up hands to be picked up or points to obtain something. Responds appropriately to his/her name other peoples tones, turns head and looks in the direction of sounds.
- By 12—15 months: Uses one or more words with meaning, saying more words every month. Understand and respond to simple instructions especially if vocal or physical cues are given. Let you know they want something by pointing to it.
- By 15—18 months: Says approximately 5-20 words and the vocabulary is made up mostly of nouns. Appears to understand more words than he/she uses. Puts two words together for e.g. “more juice” and “bye bye”.
- By 18—24 months: Can name a number of common objects within his/her environment. Uses some prepositions for e.g in/on/under. Uses a range of short phrases e.g. “mama gone”, “more milk”. My and mine are starting to emerge. Follows simple commands such as ‘show me your eyes’. Understand much of what you say. Asks for food/drink when hungry/thirsty.
- By 2—3 years: Speech is understood by unfamiliar listeners most of the time. Uses three or four words together in a sentence to talk about or ask for things. Uses k, g, f, t, d, and n sounds. Know colours. Directs attention or asks for things by name. There is evidence of the use of prepositions (in/on/under), pronouns (he/she), regular plurals (cat/cats) and other grammatical structures. Understands the differences between “big-small”, “in-on” or “up-down”. Follows two step commands, e.g. “get your book and put it in the car”. Listens to and enjoys stories.
- By 3—4 years: Talks about things that are not here and now, eg talks about friends at school or about something they did earlier or plan to do later. Unfamiliar listeners usually understand your child’s speech. Ask a lot of why questions and uses sentence with four or more words. Grammar improves with some errors remaining. Usually talks easily without repeating syllables or words. Answers simple “Who?” “What?” “When” “Where?” and “Why?” questions. Often indulges in make believe.
- By 4—5 years: Use complex sentences e.g. “I ate all my dinner before I had desert”. Use more advanced grammar and uses sentences that provide lots of detail. Can say most sounds correctly except a few like l, s, r, v, z, ch, sh, th. Speech has only a few errors. Recognise some letters/words in simple books/signs. Pays attention and can answer questions about a story. hears and understands what is said at home and in school.
All children develop differently and at different times. As a parent, you know your child best and if s/he is struggling to communicate in comparison with other children his age, it may be appropriate for him to have a speech and language therapy assessment.
What information should I have prepared before I go the SLC?
Before you attend your first appointment we ask you to recall your child’s developmental history. Below are a number of questions that we may ask you during the case history:
- When did your child start making sounds (babbling)?
- When did they use their first words? Use two words together?
- When did they first crawl? Take their first steps?
- When did they independently dress/feed themselves/use the toilet?
Can I attend therapy through public agencies at the same time?
Whether you attend public or private SLT is up to you and your/your child’s individual needs. The SLT’s at the SLC can work in collaboration with other SLT’s in other services to ensure that you are receiving the most appropriate service for your needs. It is in your own/your child’s best interest to inform the SLT if you are receiving any other therapy which may be relevant to you/your child’s progress.
Can I claim tax back on Speech and Language Therapy?
Yes, you can claim tax back at the lowest tax band rate. We will provide you with a printed receipt which you should retain and apply for tax back through the MED 1 form. The MED 1 form is available from your local tax office.
Are you fully qualified Speech and Language Therapists?
Yes, we are all fully qualified Speech and Language Therapist registered with CORU (www.coru.ie). Joanna has a BA in Psychology and MSc in Speech and Language Therapy from the University of Limerick. Anne-Marie has a BSc in Nursing and a BSc in Clinical Speech and Language Studies from Trinty College Dublin. We are all registered with the Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists. As health care professionals we are dedicated to evidence based research and continuing professional development.
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