Other Therapeutic Specialists
During the course of your child’s Speech and Language treatment it may be necessary to work with other specialists. We have provided a short-list of the predominate specialists and a description of their function. Please note that we have also provided links to Websites that contain valuable information about these fields. Some of these sites contain directories for locating a specialist in your area.
An occupational therapist (OT) uses various educational, vocational and rehabilitation activities to help physically, mentally or emotionally disabled people of all ages to gain or regain the skills they need to live independent lives.
OTs analyze a patient’s potential and limitations, select and implement activities to help minimize the handicapping condition, work to increase daily living skills, evaluate training programs, work with employers to arrange paid employment opportunities, design and construct splints and other orthotic devices for injured patients, teach fine motor skills to persons who need to develop skill using one hand, or who have poor bilateral fine motor control, evaluate developmental level of high risk children and infants and provide treatment to those in need, help patients in mental health centers learn personal and social behavior skills, teach business and industrial skills such as typing, and conduct community living skills programs to prepare patients for their return to the community.
In an educational or private setting an OT may be responsible for evaluation and developing skills which are delayed or disordered including fine motor skills such as used for pointing, grasping, drawing and writing. They may also be specialized in sensory-motor integration and worked with children with deficits in this area. This is an important area for children with autism and PDD.
A physical therapist (PT) evaluates and treats individuals with temporary or long term physical disabilities to relieve pain, restore function, and promote healing by applying the therapeutic properties of exercise, heat, cold water, electricity, ultrasound, massage and other forms of treatment. The physical therapist treats the “whole person” by psychologically preparing the patient for treatment and working to rebuild confidence.
PTs evaluate, plan and administer treatment to patients with problems related to neuromuscular and musculoskeletal systems, administer and interpret tests and measurements for muscle strength, coordination, range of motion, and respiratory and circulatory efficiency, instruct patients and their families in the care and use of wheelchairs, braces, canes, crutches and other devices, maintain patient records, and devise special tools and treatment for the specific needs of patients. Some physical therapists specialize in pediatrics, geriatrics, orthopedics, sports medicine, neurology, industrial rehabilitation or cardiopulmonary diseases.
Educational Therapists perform professional work which requires applying the concepts, principles, and practices of education and rehabilitation therapy. They have undergone specialized training in specific techniques designed to remediate learning disabilities. Some educational therapists have specialized in the treatment of patients who are partially sighted or blind.
Educational therapists plan and carry out treatment using educational situations, equipment, and methods to habilitate or rehabilitate patients. Educational therapists also evaluate the learning ability or educational level of patients by using formal and informal educational tests, tools and measurements. The activities of educational therapists are directed toward achieving therapeutic objectives such as diminishing emotional stress of a patient, providing a sense of achievement, and channeling energies into acceptable forms of behavior.
Educational therapy is typically an intensive one-on-one service for children or adults, and treatment is intended to help develop academic skills or compensatory skills for a variety of academic deficits caused by learning disabilities, developmental delays or emotional problems. Educational therapists are trained to deal with deficits in such areas as basic reading skills and reading comprehension, math calculation and word problems, spelling, writing, problem-solving strategies, organizational skills, vocabulary development and auditory and visual processing skills.
The Behavioral Therapist seeks to effect positive and lasting change by working with the client to modify maladaptive thoughts and/or behaviors. These techniques follow from the premise that maladaptive behaviors are learned, and therefore can be unlearned as well. Among the behavioral techniques employed are training in both assertiveness and relaxation, and gradual desensitization to feared objects. Behavioral interventions have been demonstrated to be highly successful in the treatment of a broad range of specific problems including phobias, repetitive habits (nail-biting, hand- wringing, etc.), as well as more non-specific generalized complaints such as anxiety and/or depression. Behavioral Therapists provide a means of examining not only the manner in which an individual views themselves and their environment, but also the way in which they act on that environment.
There are behavioral therapists who work specifically with individuals with special needs, including those within the autistic spectrum. They typically work with a team of individuals, including the family, who are providing education and intervention for that individual. Behavioral therapists may employ a variety of techniques (e.g., floor time techniques, ABA, discrete trial training) aimed to teach a child a wide variety of appropriate behaviors, skills and knowledge. For example, the curriculum or program may include modifying undesirable behaviors and development of skills in language, cognition, personal care, play, socialization, motor function, academics, and so forth. Data is generally collected regarding behaviors and performance. The curriculum reflects the child’s abilities and needs, and positive reinforcement and informative feedback are used to effect change.