therapist working with smiling child relaxing in a chair
Allied News March 10, 2020

Developing Communication Skills in Early Childhood

Developing communication skills in early children is an integral process if we are to ensure that children are getting the help they need to progress. As SLPs, we wear many hats, especially when working with the 6-21-year-old community.

We often work very closely with families, other allied health professionals, and teachers to create a child’s platform to success. The school-age years are an integral part of this process and act as a foundation for not only their self-esteem but also their ability to learn going forward. 

CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS TO HELP CHILDREN WITH COMMUNICATION DISORDERS

How do I get parents involved in their child’s communication therapy? 

Without parental involvement, communication skills for children in early childhood will surely suffer. This important aspect of a child’s progress is often misunderstood by parents who simply need a little guidance on the things they should do to help children who have communication disorders. Begin the process by establishing a communication channel with parents (email, phone calls, etc.), then learn more about the family, their home routine and how they can incorporate speech language therapy into their day-to-day routine. 

Are there any informal assessments that can be used to supplement standardized assessments?

Depending on the population of patient that you’re working with (for example, pediatric patients), standardized assessments may not show the full picture. 

Supplement these assessments with non-standardized assessments that explore multi-setting observations, implement a parent/teacher rating scale and include interviews with caregivers to help you tell the entire story. 

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How can I motivate my pediatric patients with communication disorders?

Children, especially pediatric aged children, can sometimes cause additional challenges when conducting communication disorder therapy. Some clinicians integrate moving into their speech therapy, including obstacle courses with objects in the classroom or home, scavenger hunts and even play-based activities where you interact with the child on the floor and on their level. 

How does communication goal formulation work for public vs. private settings?

As you already know, goals will vary from setting to setting. When speech-language therapy goals are made in school settings, they are required to support the child’s academic progress and participation in the classroom. This is in stark contrast from goals created in a private clinic or home health where goals are often decided by parents who may not be aware of the necessary tactics for success.

Are there transferable skills I can gain by working with school age children and then take into a medical setting?

Speech language pathologists wear many hats and thus have many diverse opportunities to shine in a variety of settings. Skill sets learned when working with school aged children can be easily transitioned into a new setting. Simply take some time to consider how collaboration, family communication, multi-tasking and prioritizing urgent tasks, and flexibly scaffolding therapy not only work with children, but also with any population of patients.

To practice your SLP communication skills with children, consider a career as a travel SLP with Club Staffing. As one of the largest allied healthcare employers in the nation, we have a variety of jobs working with pediatric, adult and school-aged children. 

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