At Treehouse, our goal is to provide every child with an individualized experience to best serve his or her unique needs. Your journey begins with a comprehensive evaluation tailored to the concerns of the family, teachers, pediatricians, and/or the child themselves. Through standardized testing, observations, and parent or professional report we assess your child’s level of functioning and their specific areas of need.
SPEECH AND LANGUAGE THERAPY SERVICES
Articulation and Phonology
As children grow and develop, they are learning to make new sounds. Just like learning any new skill, there are common errors that occur. A speech sound disorder occurs when these mistakes or patterns continue past the age when the sounds should be made correctly. An articulation disorder is incorrectly making a sound while a phonological disorder is when errors occur with sound patterns.
Speech production involves thinking of what you want to say and coordinating your breathing with the movement of the mouth. In some cases, the brain may have problems planning the movement of the jaw, lips, and tongue to produce speech. The child may know what he or she wants to say but has difficulty coordinating the movement necessary to say those words. This is called Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). In other cases, there is weakness in the muscles of the mouth, face, and respiratory system which is called dysarthria.
Fluency is the rhythm of our speech. Disfluencies are the interruption in our rhythm. Everyone exhibits disfluencies in his or her speech. There is a range of disfluencies including more typical, e.g. hesitations, fillers (like, um) and less typical, e.g., blocks, sound repetition. When these disfluencies impact our ability to effectively communicate they are considered a disorder. Fluency disorders include stuttering and cluttering.
Voice is the use of our breathing and vocal folds to produce sound. Change in vocal quality can occur for many different reasons, such as colds, allergies, or yelling at a sporting event. When a change in voice such as hoarseness or breathiness persists, a more serious issue can be the cause. An otorhinolaryngologist (ENT) is often referred in order to rule out any structural or functional causes and speech therapy is initiated to treat the voice.
Expressive and Receptive Language
We use language to communicate with the world around us by expressing our thoughts and emotions, making sense of complex and abstract ideas, fulfilling our wants and needs, as well as establishing rules and maintaining our culture. Expressive language is our use of language including speaking and writing. Receptive language is our comprehension of what we hear or read.
Pragmatic language is our social use of language. Pragmatic language involves three major communication skills: using language for different purposes, changing language given your listener or situation, and following rules for conversation and storytelling. This includes not only what we say but how we say it as well as our gestures and expressions.
In order to navigate through the day, children and adults use their executive function skills. Executive function is a set of mental processes that help connect previous experience with the present action. People use it to perform activities such as planning, organizing, attending to new information, remembering details, and managing time and space. As a child develops, there are different expectations for the acquisition and use of these skills at home and in the classroom.
FEEDING & SWALLOWING
Feeding is the act of gathering food in order to suck, chew, or swallow it. When children begin to eat, they learn to use their jaw, lips, and tongue. They learn to close their lips to clear the spoon or fork, sip from a straw or cup, and move their jaw and tongue to chew. Once the food is in their mouth the act of swallowing beings. If there is difficulty or interruption with any of these skills a disorder can occur. These include but are not limited to food falling out of mouth, aversion to tastes, textures, or temperatures, gagging, choking, coughing, gurgly voice, and/or recurrent pneumonia.
OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY SERVICES
Sensory integration is the nervous system’s process of receiving messages from all the senses (touch, sight, sound, taste, smell, movement, and body awareness) and turning them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. Children with sensory processing issues may fidget constantly, seem uninterested, or act out making it difficult to learn effectively. Occupational therapy will help pinpoint the sensory input your child needs to maintain focus and self-regulation needed to get through the day successfully.
Fine motor skill is the coordination of movement of the small muscles of the hands. This includes dexterity, grasp, object manipulation, strength and control of hand muscles in order to be successful with daily activities.
Children use fine motor skills when learning how to hold classroom and household objects, such as eating utensils, writing utensils, and manipulating small objects. Children with delayed grasping patterns may fall behind their peers, become frustrated and rely on adults to complete these tasks for them.
The small muscles of our hands must be well-developed in order to be successful in writing and drawing tasks. Children who have trouble copying shapes, coloring in the lines, or forming letters and sentences may benefit from occupational therapy intervention. At Treehouse, we utilize the Handwriting Without Tears program and a multisensory approach to make teaching handwriting fun.
We rely on our motor skills to complete many daily living activities, such as dressing, manipulating clothing fasteners, tying shoes, feeding, bathing and using the bathroom. Children with difficulty in these areas may have underlying weakness that can be addressed to facilitate independence in home, school, and community environments.
Along with the development of our hand muscles, hand-eye coordination is vital to success in school, play, and sport activities. Children who have trouble with cutting tasks, completing puzzles, and/or functional vision skills (such as tracking and scanning) may require skilled occupational therapy intervention to facilitate success.
Gross motor skill refers to the larger movements of the arms, legs, trunk, and entire body. This includes crawling, running, jumping and climbing in a coordinated and safe manner. These skills lay the foundation for improving skills that require more precision such as writing and reading.
Following the comprehensive evaluation, a formal report and feedback session will explain the results and findings. If necessary, an individualized plan will be developed to target your child’s specific needs.
Treehouse Pediatric Therapy provides individual, 1:1, treatment in order to meet each child where they are currently functioning. We use both traditional therapy approaches as well as innovative, current treatments to provide the highest quality of care. Parent and/or caregiver involvement is highly encouraged to speed the rate of progress and provide carryover into the home environment.
When applicable and necessary, group treatment is available to target social language skills. Children are matched based on age, personality, and therapy goals.
Part of the Team
As your child’s speech-language pathologist, it is important to advocate for their needs and function as a member of their team. At Treehouse, we encourage a multidisciplinary approach and will actively collaborate with other professionals to best serve your child. We are available for phone calls, team meetings, and school/day care observations.