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The school speech therapist aims to develop the children's abilities to communicate, by improving intelligibility of speech and developing language skills. By improving breath control and structure and function of the speech organs, more distinct and intelligable speech is obtained. In cases where oral speech is not possible, an alternative means of communication is developed. Children with little or no functional speech are introduced to Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC) systems, which may include real objects, photographs, picture symbols or even communication devices - depending on the learners's representational level. Makaton and South African Sign language is used to augment the communication of staff and learners.
Feeding assessments and therapy are conducted to facilitate better oral motor control and develop correct feeding habits. Written communication is aided by making use of the computer.
In- class intervention is tailored to the learner's needs in the environment - in this case, the classroom environment. By working with learners during classroom activities, the speech-language pathologist works individually with students, circulating around the room; working with small groups during an activity; and even team teaching with the classroom teacher for a whole lesson.
We acknowledge that most of our learners prefer the visual over the verbal modality for learning. Often, the therapist also provides support and expert guidance in the classroom or other environments by continually making efforts to create a visually explicit school environment that will enhance clear communication.
The speech therapist is very involved in the social skills aspect of curriculum delivery. The philosophy is to develop communication and social skills within context. Individual speech therapy is only offered in exceptional instances by senior university students under supervision.