Some children who are referred for speech/language services also have co-existing disorders and symptoms that cross a wide variety of developmental areas. For example, a child who is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder will most likely have sensory processing difficulties, as well as communication difficulties. Articulation disorders may also be linked to fine motor skills since both target the coordination of small muscle movements. For some children, sitting through a speech therapy session may be difficult. This may be due to a sensory processing disorder or attention difficulties, which can both be identified and addressed by an occupational therapist.
There are many great benefits of occupational and speech therapists working together. The multi-disciplinary approach is one of the most effective ways to see results. This approach encompasses therapy from a variety of viewpoints. During therapy, the patient can get exposure to sensory or motor activities while also working on language. For a speech pathologist, the main focus of therapy is language but sensory breaks can be built into make therapy more fun and interactive. This way, many goals can be targeted and the child is exposed to both language and sensory/motor concerns. For an occupational therapist, while working on motor planning, speech commands and cues are incorporated into treatment as well so that the child is getting language exposure outside of speech therapy. Working hand in hand helps increase the child’s exposure to both types of therapy, making the experience holistic and more successful.
Incorporating speech in occupational therapy and vice versa can make therapy more fun! If an occupational therapist knows the child’s speech goals, they know the appropriate set of standards for communication with the child. If the speech pathologist understands that the child has sensory sensitivity or motor delays, they can adjust treatment so that the child is comfortable and comes to therapy excited to learn.