A. SPEECH AND LANGUAGE THERAPY
The aim of speech-language therapy: To develop individual speech, language and communication program’s for each child, in addition to creating communication resources both for the classroom and for therapy purposes.
THERAPY FOCUSES ON 3 MAIN AREAS:
1. SPEECH DISORDERS
- Articulation errors: The child substitutes one sound for another consistently in his speech. E.g. : thun / sun
- Phonological errors: Errors with sound classes. For example all sounds produced at the back of the mouth are made in the front. E.g.: tup / cup & done / gone
- Oral Apraxia: An inability to control the voluntary movements of the mouth necessary for speech. Imitation of sounds and oral movements as well as connective speech is affected. Therapy may include SSB (sucking, swallowing & blowing) techniques.
- Voice disorders & Fluency disorders (E.g. Stuttering)
2. LANGUAGE IMPAIRMENT
Children often have difficulty both with the understanding and expression of language. This can be in any or all of the following areas:
- Form of the language: The syntax or grammar of the language. Many of the children have persisting difficulty with word order, regular and irregular past tense, verb agreement, pronouns & prepositions.
- Contents of the language: The meaning of language. For example – vocabulary development, understanding of concepts such as opposites, associations, categorisations etc.
- Use of language: The way language is used in different contexts and the general understanding of the rules of communication (Pragmatics) this includes things like: eye contact, initiating conversation, gauging the quantity of information to give, turn taking skills. Different contexts have different rules. E.g. speaking to a respected elderly professor as opposed to a life long friend.
For young children who are non-verbal augmentative modes of communication would be used to enhance their independence and reduce frustration. E.g. Makaton signs, PECS, communication boards and Picture symbols.
3. AUDITORY PROCESSING SKILLS
- Therapy focuses on building up concentration and attention skills through focusing on listening, E.g. Whole body listening.
- Auditory memory (rote recall, memory for instructions and story recall).
- Phonological awareness is created by working on sound related activities such as nursery rhymes, songs, rhyming, alliteration, spoonerisms etc.
- The auditory perceptual skills necessary for reading and spelling are targeted by work on the following areas:
Auditory analysis: e.g. cat = c + a + t
Auditory synthesis: e.g. c + a + t = cat
Auditory discrimination: e.g. cat / mat (rhyming skills)
Auditory closure: e.g. ele_ant = elephant
Therapy may occur on an individual, a small group and/or a class group level.
Often the therapist integrates into the class activities to assist with the transfer of skills taught on an individual level. Homework and communication occurs within the speech book, please read these comments
The Thrass method is incorporated into individual and class therapy whereby all team members work within the same framework.
B. OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY
The aim of Occupational Therapy is to develop individual programs for each pupil in order to address difficulties the pupil faces within the classroom.
At Unity, we feel that our therapy is one of our strengths. As we integrate into the classroom, we strongly believe in a team approach. We like to consider the parents part of this winning team.
Therapy occurs on an individual and group level. The learners receive the following groups once per week: gross motor (junior 1 and 2), cookery and activities of daily living groups.
In addition to the scheduled times, the O.T.’s also integrate into the classroom to reinforce the carry over of skills learnt in O.T. sessions, into the children’s class work.
THERAPY FOCUSES ON FOUR MAIN AREAS:
GROSS MOTOR SKILLS
The following areas are addressed:
- Muscle tone
- Postural control
- Bilateral integration
- Ball Skills
- General skills such as hopping, skipping etc.
FINE MOTOR SKILLS
These would include the following areas:
- Finger strength
- Pencil grip and pencil control
- In-hand manipulations skills
- Block building
- Colouring skills
- Cutting skills
- Pre-writing skills
- Writing skills
- Eye hand co-ordination
This would include the following:
- Body awareness – includes body image, concept, schema
- Concepts – shapes, colours, numbers, size
- Directionality – left and right concept
- Spatial awareness – which enables the pupil to orientate his body in relation to other objects, as well as orientate objects in relation to one another e.g. concepts like above, under, behind, in front, next to, on top, inside are used.
- Visual figure ground – is the ability to focus one’s visual attention on one object, which is a skill the pupil will need later to enable him to focus on one word at a time while he reads.
- Visual discrimination – the ability to perceive the similarities and differences between objects, shapes and symbols. At school the child will use this skill to discriminate between numbers and letters and also to see differences between two words which are very similar e.g. “sand” and “land”
- Position is space – enables the pupil to orientate his body or an object in space. This skill is used to discriminate between the “b” and the “d”.
- Visual closure – the ability to complete a figure, word or sentence which is perceived as incomplete. The pupil will use this skill when reading different handwritings.
- Visual motor integration – the ability to integrate the functions of the visual system and motor skills in order to enable the pupil to copy pictures or drawings. This will enable the pupil to copy what his teacher has written on the blackboard.
4. SENSORY INTEGRATION
Another area of focus is sensory integration, with which many pupils have problems.
C. THE ROLE OF THE PSYCHOLOGIST
The psychologist is responsible for the personal and social well-being and development of the learners, parents and staff of Unity College. Psychotherapy, play therapy (individual and in groups), parent counseling and social skills groups all form part of this therapy. The psychologist is also responsible for psycho-educational, emotional and career assessments of the learners. These assessments are used to gain understanding of the learners’ functioning, ability and interventions needed.
The therapists focus is on behaviour difficulties (e.g. anger outbursts, bullying, poor self-esteem), relationship problems (e.g. friendships, child-parent relationships, family interaction, sibling rivalry), loss (e.g. divorce, death), trauma (e.g. accident, hi-jacking), sexuality and substance abuse.
When the psychologist does psychotherapy or counselling with your child or your family, confidentiality is respected at all times.
The school policy is that all the therapists keep process notes on each child seen. In the case of psychotherapy or counselling, these notes are kept confidential. However, these will be passed on to the next psychologist to ensure continuity of therapy if the current psychologist leaves.
In order to render a holistic service, at times it may be necessary to share information with other team members e.g. teachers or other therapists. Only information that is essential to rendering a quality service to you and your family will be shared.
It may be necessary for your child to have a cognitive, emotional or career assessment. Should this be the case, you will be contacted and feedback will be given once the assessment has been completed.
Through intervention and by working hand-in-hand with parents, teachers and other therapists, the psychologist aims to achieve the following goals:
- Development of self-acceptance and self-awareness
- Identification and expression of feelings
- Development of decision-making skills
- Conflict resolution
- Independence and responsibility
- Positive attitude towards life and others
- Effective communication
- Helping and caring for others
- Team work
- Respect for authority
- Acceptance of limits and rules