Speech & Occupational Therapists Help with Developmental Disabilities and Delays

By AASLMarch 2, 2020

How Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy can Help with Developmental Disabilities.

Developmental disabilities are disabilities that interfere with a child’s normal trajectory of development, either physically or mentally. Speech, language, and physical disabilities can affect a child’s progress in development, learning, and academic performance; they can also interfere with a child’s ability to function in everyday life and social situations. These areas are where speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists can help children with developmental disabilities. If you have concerns about your child’s development in speech and language, visit a speech- language pathologist. If you notice problems with your child’s coordination, everyday functioning, or physical development, visit an occupational therapist. Properly trained professionals will be able to recommend the correct type of therapy your little one may benefit from.

Developmental Delays and Disabilities Requiring Occupational Therapy

For children with developmental delays or disabilities, occupational therapy can help improve their motor, cognitive, sensory processing, communication, and play skills. The goal of improving in these areas is to enhance development, minimize the potential for developmental delay, and help families meet the special needs of their infants and toddlers.

How Occupational Therapy can Help

Occupational therapy can help improve skills in a variety of ways listed below. Keep in mind though, the point of improving the skills below reaps benefits far beyond just enabling the child to improve that specific skill. Many skills below are not only a part of daily living, but also related to cognitive development. Such skills that can be improved by occupational therapy include…

  • Developing fine motor skills to enable children to grasp and release objects and develop handwriting or computer skills.
  • Improving hand-eye coordination so they can play, learn, and master skills needed in daily living and in school.
  • Mastering basic life skills such as bathing, getting dressed, brushing teeth, and self-feeding…all the way through independent living, self-care, and pre-vocational skills.
  • Learning positive behaviors and social skills, to enable interactions with others and management of emotions in a productive manner.
  • Acquiring and learning to use special equipment to help build independence. This includes wheelchairs, splints, bathing equipment, dressing devices, and communication aids.

Developmental Delays and Disabilities Requiring Speech and Language Therapy

Therapy by a speech-language pathologist can focus upon multiple aspects of communication: namely, the development of speech-related skills, feeding-related skills, or language-related skills.

Some developmental delays and disabilities require speech therapy and may focus on the following areas:

  • Articulation problems: Not speaking clearly and making errors in sounds.
  • Fluency problems: Trouble with the flow of speech, such as stuttering.
  • Resonance or voice problems: Trouble with voice pitch, volume, and quality.
  • Oral feeding problems: Difficulty with eating, swallowing and drooling.

Some developmental delays and disabilities require language-based therapy which may focus on the following areas:

  • Receptive language problems: Trouble understanding (receiving) language.
  • Expressive language problems: Trouble speaking (expressing) language.
  • Pragmatic language problems: Trouble using language in socially appropriate ways.
  • Academic areas: Reading and writing.

How Speech & Language Therapy can Help

Speech and language intervention activities build skills in a variety of ways, including modeling and giving kids feedback. No child is the same and you know your child best. If you feel that your child has a speech or language disorder or is experiencing delays in any of the related skill areas, contact your pediatrician to discuss treatment options.

Speech and Language Pathologists use strategies tailored for each child’s particular challenge. Strategies might include:

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