Do I, or does my child or loved one, need Speech-Language Pathology?
This can be a difficult question to answer without assessment. If you feel that you, your child or your loved one is having any kind of difficulty speaking, comprehending verbal language, reading or writing, or if you feel that your/their social language skills differ significantly from those of their peers, you should seek the advice of a Registered Speech-Language Pathologist. If you have any doubts, questions or concerns, don’t be too shy to call – we welcome inquiries, initial consultations are always free and there are no stupid questions when it comes to getting the help that’s needed!
At what age should my child be speaking?
The majority of children produce their first “meaningful” word around 12 months of age. However, there are children who speak earlier and some who speak later. By 18 months of age a child should have a speaking vocabulary of 25 or more words. At this age they should be appearing to learn new words on a daily basis. At two years of age a child should have a vocabulary of more than 100 words and should be combining words into two word sentences (ex. “want milk”). If your child appears to be delayed we recommend that your child have a speech and language evaluation to determine if a problem exists.
Will my child “out-grow” the problem?
Often, without speech and language intervention a child will develop some speech and language skills and be speaking by the time they go to school. However, during the time that their speech and/or language skills were delayed his/her peers were developing a broader use of language and will continue to be ahead of your child. In addition, your child may have difficulty with the more subtle aspects of language that can interfere with social skills and create behaviour issues. Though late talking children can catch up with their peers, research shows that they often have difficulty reading, spelling and general learning. Early intervention is the key to developing age-appropriate communication and language-learning skills.
How young is too young to have my child seen by a Speech-Language Pathologist?
Children as young as 12-18 months, whose parents have concerns about communication skills, can be seen by a speech-language pathologist.
How do you determine your rates?
Like psychology or physiotherapy, speech-language pathology is performed by highly trained, professionally qualified and provincially registered clinicians who have completed training at a graduate level. All registered SLPs must have a Master’s degree, have passed a national certification exam and are accountable for continuing their professional education throughout their careers. Speech-Language Pathology involves a specialized skill set that requires a great deal of academic training and clinical experience; payment is designed to be commensurate with that training and experience. Our fees are in accordance with the fee-for-service guidelines set by the Alberta Speech-Language Association of Private Practitioners (ASAPP) and are comparable to those of other private SLP companies across Western Canada (please see www.asapp.ca).
Does speech-language therapy work?
Yes, with regular, intensive practice. Research continually shows that treatment programs that are high intensity (i.e. generate lots of daily practice using challenging, real-life tasks) create noticeable treatment effects in as little as a couple of weeks. High intensity therapy takes advantage of the brain’s natural ability to create new neural pathways (such as during childhood development or after a stroke) by pushing it to learn or relearn skills during challenging, repetitive, therapy tasks. It’s our job to customize therapy tasks to your needs and push you to achieve your therapy goals. Further, we use tangible outcome measures to show you your progress.
Do I have to be at therapy sessions with my child?
Yes, an adult (preferably one or both of the parents) need(s) to be present for the entire therapy or assessment session, every session. If parent is unable to attend someone else such as grandparent or other relative may attend with the parents’ permission. Therapy gains are usually made faster when parents are aware of goals and learn practice techniques and strategies from the SLP
Can I bring a child’s siblings to his/her therapy session?
Yes, we are happy to accommodate busy families, but you must be responsible for controlling the other children’s behavior and keep them from interfering with therapy. In some cases, the therapist may incorporate the other children into therapy games or activities; however, much of the session may require that the child is not distracted by his brothers or sisters.
Can family members or caregivers of adult clients come to therapy or assessment sessions?
Of course – in fact, we strongly encourage it. Treatment outcomes are usually better when a family member can be present to help the client learn new skills, learn improved strategies for communicating with the client themselves and help the client to use skills learned in treatment in their everyday lives.
What if my child can’t pay attention or stay on-task for 60 min of therapy?
Therapy sessions for children usually involve a variety of fun activities that keep kids engaged. It’s our job to keep your child engaged in therapy tasks by switching activities when their interest wanes. One way to maintain interest is to take short “play” breaks in which crucial speech-language skills are still being taught/ practiced.
How long will it take to complete a speech-language therapy program?
This is a difficult question to answer. It varies depending on the nature and severity of the communication problem, its causes and the ambitiousness of therapy goals. Usually, therapy is devised to work on just 1-3 goals for which we track progress. If a goal is reached, the therapy period could end, or another, new goal that was identified in the assessment could take its place in a new or extended therapy period. Of course, goal setting and therapy periods are always negotiated with the child’s parents or client and several options are usually suggested. The Speech Language Pathologist may be able to give you some idea as to the length of the therapy after the assessment or once therapy has been initiated and, as always, therapy is optimized to fit your available time and budget.
Can I get shorter sessions?
At this time, Dialog Speech Therapy offers 60 min sessions only. This is partly due to the challenges of scheduling different session lengths, but mainly due to the fact that we find that shorter sessions do not provide adequate time for all the necessary aspects of a therapy session (ex. a review of home practice and/ or brief evaluation, therapy tasks, consultation with parents/ caregivers and home practice explanation). Shorter sessions may leave you feeling that you just got started when, suddenly, you have to leave. Further, given that providing maximum opportunities for practice is what changes function in SLP therapy, 60 min sessions are better suited to provide the therapy intensity most clients need. If you are looking for ways to lessen the cost of hourly services, consider inquiring about group therapy (which is dependent on finding another client of roughly the same age, communication impairments and scheduling needs). Group therapy is offered at a reduced individual rate.
Will you work with people with dementia?
Yes, in fact, it’s one of our specialties. Ryan has several years of experience working with challenging and complex dementia populations and has seen considerable, lasting communication improvements following intensive language therapy for people with certain types of dementia. If the client does not have aggressive or overtly disruptive behaviours, is oriented and motivated enough to attend therapy and has the cognitive ability to learn new skills, SLP intervention can be very helpful. Even in cases of more advanced dementia, communication training for caregivers and teaching of behavioural management strategies may be very useful, even if traditional client-based therapy is not. If you’re concerned about your loved one with dementia, please contact us to find out how we can help.
Do you assess and treat swallowing disorders?
Yes, we can provide a comprehensive clinical or “bedside” swallowing assessment for clients older than 16 using standardized assessment procedures and food/ liquid consistencies. If necessary, we can refer you to public services such as the Outpatient Dysphagia Clinic where you can receive further instrumental assessment. We can also prescribe, and help you with, swallowing rehab exercises designed to strengthen muscles in your mouth and throat. Pediatric swallowing intervention is not offered by Dialog Speech Therapy; however, we can help refer your child to the the appropriate public services if needed.
Do you take SLP students?
Not yet, but, as Dialog Speech Therapy grows, we plan to accommodate full student practica in the near future!