Speech and Language Therapy
What is Speech and Language Therapy?
The key components of helping our students become fluent and strategic readers can be outlined into two main areas: word recognition and language comprehension. We do not always associate language development with reading but it is one of the two critical factors.
At AIM Academy, we take the research in reading seriously by providing full time Speech and Language Pathologists who are available to support students in the classroom, support the teachers as they individualize instruction and provide one-on-one therapy where the individual plan for a child indicates this is needed. Additionally the SLPs have provided assessment in areas such as phonological awareness and reading comprehension to assist classroom teachers in monitoring students’ progress in those areas.
Consultation/collaboration with teachers typically involves providing insights into underlying language deficits that may be affecting academic performance and collaborating on strategies to help the student improve the deficit or compensate by minimizing the impact. SLPs are also available to faculty during progress monitoring meeting to add their perspectives.
In individual work with students, the SLP in the Lower School may work with students on articulation for sounds such as /r/, /l/, /th/ and /s/ or may work with the students in improving their ability to hear sound differences, blend sounds, sequence sounds, and various other skills commonly referred to as “phonemic awareness”. Additionally, the SLP frequently works with students’ expressive and receptive language skills. Common areas of intervention for students may include services to improve use of grammar; formulation of meaningful, complete sentences; explanations, descriptions of experiences; retellings of stories in a fluent cohesive manner; and use of academic vocabulary within the classroom environment. Additionally, the SLP may work with students who are struggling in academic areas with heavy language emphasis such as reading comprehension and written expression.
In Middle School, students receiving speech-language therapy services are supported in increasing their oral and written language skills while strengthening their understanding of curricular content. Students may be supported both in and outside of the classroom to develop strategies related to vocabulary, syntax, reading comprehension and multiple aspects of written language, including planning, organization, sentence-level grammar, incorporation of age-appropriate vocabulary, and punctuation. Services frequently include help in breaking down homework assignments and projects into manageable chunks and in developing strategies to prepare for tests and exams. Specific student goals are individualized and consistently redeveloped as needed. Speech-language pathologists work closely with the academic team, including teachers and occupational therapists, to support students’ success in achieving their potential and independence as learners.
In the Upper School, Speech and Language Pathologists target individualized goals relating to speaking, comprehension, reading, and writing through contextual material. Using discussion, modeling, and rehearsal, speech and language intervention incorporates reading strategies and uses homework assignments to help students recognize how understanding the morphology of words improves vocabulary. To target written language, students learn and use strategies for developing more varied and complex syntax. Students who need support to initiate or edit their written work may have challenges composing a main idea, developing details, or using proper writing mechanics. To target comprehension skills, students work with clinicians to identify the main idea and the details that support it in their reading. Examples of successful intervention strategies include rereading with a clinician using “questioning for answers”, chunking, visualizing and charting. Support is provided to develop strategies for building competencies ranging across a complex set of meta-linguistic skills, from understanding double-meaning words to inferring from context. A goal for all Upper School students is to increase self-awareness and self-advocacy, and to develop the personal resources needed for their educational and professional experiences after graduation.