Speech and Language Pathologists help with a lot more than speech sounds and stuttering. Our team can also help your family with feeding and swallowing, as well as language development and reading. One area that many people don’t realise speech therapists can help with is what we call ‘pragmatic’ language. Pragmatic language is social language. It’s the way that we use language in social situations, including what we say, how we say it, and whether what we’re saying is appropriate to the situation. These conversation skills include body language and can be particularly hard for people on the autism spectrum to develop. With the assistance of a talented Speech and Language Pathologist, however, pragmatic language skills can be mastered and here at Whole Family Health, we like doing so in a fun, friendly environment.
As just one example, one of our young friends recently met with one of the dogs attending our centre for physiotherapy. Our little friend asked the dog’s owner, “What happened to your dog?” Our friend made eye contact with the owner and followed the owner’s pointing with her eyes while the owner explained that the dog has sore knees and sore hips. Our little friend used body language and facial expressions beautifully to show she understood the dog’s problem and had empathy for her furry friend. At the end of the conversation, our gorgeous friend said goodbye to the dog and added, “I hope you feel better soon!” If you have a child who struggles with language and social situations, we’re sure you’ll understand how proud we were of our young friend for doing so well in this conversation, and how grateful we were to the dog and her owner for allowing us to engage in this little segment of animal-assisted therapy!
Another way in which we can help is with assistive technology devices. For example, we have children and adults who are non-verbal who use special software on tablets to help them communicate. We can help trial software and make recommendations as to appropriate technology, which might include large, easy-press buttons with recorded phrases on them, too.