Joint Occupational/Speech & Language Therapy
How does this work?
There are certain circumstances when it is in the best interests of the individual client to have both the Speech Therapist and the Occupational Therapist work on overlapping goals at the same time.
Very broadly speaking, there are four main areas where it can be best to have both an OT and SLT work together at the same time (Social Skills, Attention, Play Skills and Feeding). It is not a hard and fast rule, and as always, it is the clinical recommendation as to what is best for the individual, that drives the decision.
Generally the Occupational Therapist focuses on the sensory and motor co-ordination areas which enables us to live our lives and perform daily tasks. Additionally, the Speech Therapy discipline focuses on the areas of communication, understanding and speech. When it comes to areas such as Social Skills, Play Skills, Feeding (and feeding issues), and Attention (and attention issues), the roles of the SLT and OT may overlap. Each of the therapists will have a different angle or approach on the same issue, which can be helpful in addressing difficulties from a holistic point of view.
For example, some children find it difficult to engage in therapy tasks, or have difficulty paying attention. Joint sessions can be very helpful, to get the optimal results from therapy sessions. The Occupational Therapist helps the child to attend to tasks, for example by helping them regulate themselves from a sensory perspective. Movement activities also may lead to increased speech attempts. The Speech and Language Therapist helps to create a language enriching environment during activities, and also help support communication attempts during the sessions.
Referrals for Joint Speech & Language/Occupational Therapy arise in several ways:
- Directly from a parent or carer.
- As a result of existing SLT or OT services, where the therapist feels better results may be obtained by a Joint Therapy session.
- Referred from another healthcare professional, such as Psychologist, or GP.
CATTS provides a Class Screening service for Preschoolers or Infants/Senior Infant level in Primary Schools.
The screening can be performed by either a Speech & Language Therapist (SLT Screening), Occupational Therapist (OT Screening), or a combination of both professionals to give a Joint OT and SLT Screening for a class.
What benefit would a Class Screening have?
There are many Red Flag signs in the early years which may be spotted by a routine standardised screening of a pupil. In short, a screening can catch those early signs that may possibly give rise for concern later.
The outcome of the screening is usually a short report for the pupil’s parent, along with a debrief at class level for the teacher.
What a Class Screening is not:
A Class screening is not an assessment for any pupil which the teacher or parent may have expressed a concern about regarding motor ability, sensory awareness, or speech development. Where you as a teaching or childcare professional have a concern about a pupil, or pupils in your class, please contact us regarding an OT or SLT Assessment to determine any needs.
If you have a concern regarding a pupil and require assistance getting your concern heard at parent or guardian level, we have a Red Flag document which has been found useful by teachers and childcare professionals in the past in explaining when a delay may be a cause for concern.
In order to provide a screening, we would require:
- Parental Permission for each child (CATTS will send you a form you can use, or we can use the school’s own one if easier). When we do not receive a parental consent letter, we cannot perform a screening or any other observation (informal or otherwise) on that pupil.
- Use of a spare room or quiet corner of a classroom.
- We usually try to keep the cost of screenings nominal, usually €20 or €30 per child, which is payable on the day.
As well as the usual range of SLT and OT services, we also offer specialised consultation and support to mainstream schools, and schools with additional Special Education units:
1. Consultations (SLT and/or OT) 1/2 day or full day
The therapist will provide support to you, and your class. Usually this support is planned in discussion with you as the Special Education teacher, to ensure that priorities for all pupils are met throughout the year. Our weekly ½ day supports are set up to operate on the basis of 40 visits per school year. This allows for flexibility around the events and logistics that may take place in your school. We have a range of pricing methods, which we can tailor to your school based on the time of the year you wish to involve us, and the method of funding your school wishes to use. We also offer our training services, as listed below, as part of the consultation package if desired. We can tailor a blank-slate solution for a school which has unique needs.
2. Individual pupil consults, assessment and therapy
We can provide once-off or regular support to an individual student where there is a concern. This student does not need to be in a Special Education class. In these instances, depending on location and parental consent, we can see the child at one of our clinics as well.
3. Teacher training to help students requiring additional support in class
We have a range of teacher training talks and workshops available, which we can provide to the school’s teaching staff, such as identifying OT or SLT needs in a mainstream classroom, practical tips and strategies, sensory processing, and introduction to AAC, or how to use visual supports in the classroom.
We also offer a workshop on Voice Care for Teachers (keeping your voice healthy). Teachers often suffer from hoarseness, laryngitis or other voice disorders and SLT’s can provide preventative advice and therapy. We have received amazing positive feedback from teachers who have attended this workshop. It is always best when the whole teaching team in the same school can participate together, as many of the benefits are only gained by frequent use, and having the support of peers throughout the school year.