Assessment and Treatment
Assessment includes an appraisal of the important factors that may affect daily communication activities. As well, the individual’s goals, social environment, and personal responsibilities are incorporated into the assessment process.
Treatment plans are customized to address each client’s needs. Methods include education regarding the specific communication disorder, exercises to improve communication abilities, developing individualized strategies to help manage daily communication tasks, and helping family members and other important people to assist in important and useful ways.
Areas of communication that may be part of an assessment and treatment plan:
- Speech: Neurological impairments may interfere with the ability to make and coordinate the sounds of speech, using the tongue, lips, larynx, and other parts of the speech mechanism.
- Language: Receptive language ability includes understanding verbal information in spoken or written forms; expressive language ability is putting thoughts into words, either spoken or written. Gestures and illustrations may also be used to convey concepts and ideas. Speaking/Understanding and Reading/Writing may become problematic after a brain illness or injury. Problems may appear at the word, sentence, paragraph levels and beyond.
- Cognitive-Communication: Cognitive problems in the areas of attention, memory, information processing, and executive functions all interfere with complex communication tasks. Verbal tasks such as engaging in conversation, making presentations, reading articles and books, writing email and documents, solving problems, and making decisions, can all become challenging when cognitive impairments intrude.
- Conversation: Conversation occurs when two or more people exchange thoughts and feelings and follow the commonly understood social rules that make conversation possible. Problems in the areas of speech, language, and cognitive-communication all interfere dramatically with participation in conversations. Both the individual and significant conversation partners may participate in the communication therapy program.
Workplace and School Programs
Participation in school and work require complex cognitive and communication skills. Each individual is supported extensively in order to achieve success. The requirements of each job or academic program are analyzed, effective strategies are developed, and collaborative programs are established with colleagues and other significant parties.
People who have communication disorders often have difficulty gaining access to services in the community. They may not be able to get and give important information easily and completely, and thus cannot fully participate in essential activities such as health care, shopping, and government programs and facilities.
There are laws in place such as the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA 2005) and The Accessible Canada Act (2019) that aim to improve accessibility and remove barriers for those with communication disabilities.
Reducing communication barriers requires that service providers learn new ways to communicate, such as speaking in ways that are easy to understand, waiting for the person to finish their message, and making meetings and public forums inclusive.
Most importantly, when an individual with a communication disability asks for specific communication accommodations, service providers can do their best to comply with these requests.
One of the essential skills included in our treatment plans is a focus on developing a list of specific communication accommodations that will help the individual gain access to community services. For example, if listening to spoken language is more difficult than reading, someone may ask that questions that will be asked in an intake appointment with a service provider may be given in writing, in advance.
Learning to ask service providers to communicate differently can be challenging. Our treatment plans include a focus on becoming better at asking others to use specific communication accommodations. Essential skills include knowing the list of specific communication accommodations and learning the best and most appropriate ways to ask others to help.
I am on the roster of Communication Intermediaries with Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC).
A communication intermediary is a speech-language pathologist who is trained to assist with two-way communication in police, legal, and justice settings. They help the individual to understand and ask questions, provide answers, and verify that the information shared is correct.
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