Therapeutic Day Programs for Accomplishing Speech and Language Goals

A therapeutic day program stands alone in all the benefits it is able to offer to your child. Therapeutic preschools and programs staff several professionals, including occupational, behavioral, and speech therapists. In combination, the results greatly enhance those achieved through one-on-one therapy.

From the moment a child enters a therapeutic day program, staff members are actively implementing activities and opportunities that satiate each child’s individual goals. The therapeutic team comes together to compile several lesson plans that are developmentally appropriate for each age group and are particular in choosing activities that elicit each child’s individual developmental goals. When a child, or several students within a class, satisfy a goal, the team reconvenes and works diligently on setting a new goal for the child while altering the lesson plans, paving a gateway to advancement and success in their overall language development.

Most programs offer a variety of engaging activities and lesson plans. During free play, children may demonstrate difficulties with sharing, such as wanting a toy that another child is possessing. Rather than observing the situation, and solving it themselves, staff members within a therapeutic day program use this as an opportunity. A staff member might ask the child, “what can we do if we want a toy another friend is playing with?” The child is required to respond verbally with appropriate skill level, such as “my turn,” or “can I have that toy, please?” The longer a child serves in a therapeutic day program, the longer their utterances will become. Exposure to situations that require verbal responses, as well as exposure to peer models exponentially increases a child’s language development.

During circle time activities, students sing songs, recite names, answer questions, and request items. For instance, each day the class might greet one another by singing a song that prompts motor speech production. The song might require using the first letter of each child’s name, and make the sound that correlates with that letter. Instructors are over exaggerate when prompting sound production, by visually displaying the positioning of the lips required to produce a specific sound, and gesturing so the children can successfully produce the sound independently. Circle time activities elicit similar speech and language related outcomes, including yes-no questions, requesting a turn, counting, and prompting choice selection.

Reading is another great circle time activity for speech development. The instructor might use the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. Again, instructors would visually prompt children to produce the /c/ sound, as well as break down the word into syllable segments; having the children break down caterpillar, into cat-er-pill-ar, while adding claps in between each syllable. This not only familiarizes the child with the sounds within the word but also engages them in the story, waiting for the next opportunity to participate in the sound production.

While every therapeutic program is structured differently and focused on the needs of the children in class, the examples here highlight how the entire class is utilized for speech-language development. Making learning activities into play time or fun opportunities further engages the student and makes these therapeutic programs uniquely successful.

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