A Collaborative Model for Speech-Language Therapy Services

by Michelle Turkoglu, M.S., CCC-SLP; Speech-Language Pathologist

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder as well as many other children with developmental delays experience a constellation of symptom that can affect many areas of development. The SLP’s (Speech-Language Pathologist) scope of practice includes evaluating and treating many of these areas, including: speech (articulation disorders, oral-musculature disorders, apraxia, stuttering), language (vocabulary, syntax, grammar), social-pragmatic skills (eye-contact, body spatial awareness, tone of voice), play skills (turn-taking, pretend play), eating/feeding skills, swallowing (dysphagia), reading (phonemic awareness), auditory processing, voice & cognitive skills.

Typical private speech-language services are often performed 1:1 in a clinic setting. In the school system, therapy is often performed in small groups within the classroom (push-in model) or in the speech room (pull-out model). Overall therapy time can range from 20 minutes to a couple of hours per week. While each of these therapy types is important, treating the wide range of needs for some of these children is challenging if not impossible. Since speech, language and social skills occur all day, every day, in various settings and with various people, forming a collaborative model with teachers, parents, aides and other therapists becomes essential.

Many children with Autism receive Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy and/or attend a specialized classroom or school. These children will spend a significant amount of time each week working with their ABA team and attending school. Also, many of the goals of the ABA team, the school and the speech-language pathologist will overlap. Therefore, it makes sense that a collaborative model will give each child an extended period of time to work on their goals as well as to have the opportunity to generalize these goals into various settings and with various people. 

The following are some examples of how a collaborative model would work:

Behavior Management

With ABA’s expertise in behavior analysis and behavior management techniques, the ABA staff can advise the SLP on types of rewards and consequences that work or don’t work for the child. For instance, the SLP is working on labeling actions in pictures with a child. Whenever this task is attempted, the child “tunes out” and/or tries to leave the table. After many hours of behavior analysis, ABA has found that all labeling tasks are difficult for this particular child and he greatly benefits from the use of a token economy system with a reward at the end. Now, the SLP has the tools she needs to keep the child engaged during labeling tasks.

For the rest of this article, visit out blog: ABA in Utah