Research has shown that toddler and preschool children exhibiting speech and language delays and disorders in communication skills can benefit greatly from small group therapeutic sessions. The goals of a group session are quite different from the specific individual goals for any particular child enrolled in speech-language therapy.

Toddler and preschool speech-language groups enable the Speech-Language Pathologist to facilitate the children to use their own words and gestures within a naturalistic play context. Turn-taking, sharing, giving, requesting and regulating are some of the goals which are trained. Children are encouraged to use their words during natural play settings where they are motivated to communicate their intentions. Usually, at NSSLA, the group session is split between "floor" time and "table-top" time. The "floor" time fosters speech and language usage through activities where the children can manipulate and share various toys and objects centered around a theme. Routines and songs are usually performed to encourage consistency and familiarity. The "table-top" time consists of semi-structured activities like cooking, making, doing, creating, and constructing via various tasks (e.g., water play, food).

The children have much to do and talk about in a group therapy session and it is inherently child-directed groups, as opposed to an individual, traditional therapy session which is adult-directed. Groups help children who are otherwise reluctant to use words in an unfamiliar environment. The therapist models appropriate peer-peer discourse in this context.

The groups at NSSLA are small, only 2-4 children, and parents are always encouraged to observe or remain in the room. Separation of parent and child is a natural, gradual process, and never forced.

The children are chosen for the group based upon their needs and their communicative functioning levels. Every effort is made to group children according to their communicative abilities.

Groups at NSSLA are scheduled at mutually convenient times for all involved.

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Copyright 1997 North Shore Speech-Language Associates
Last modified: July 16, 1997