At Children's Hospital Colorado, our specially trained pediatric speech-language pathologists provide current and evidence-based care for your child’s communication, feeding and swallowing and learning needs. We are a national leader in comprehensive, family-centered therapy care for children and their families. Our goal is to give you the knowledge and skills needed to maximize your child's progress and to help them achieve their full potential in communication, learning, growth and development.
Services provided by our speech-language pathologists
Pediatric speech-language pathologists provide a wide range of evaluation and treatment services for children from birth through adolescence in both inpatient and outpatient settings. These include:
- Extensive diagnostic evaluations
- Individual and group speech-language therapy programs
- Parent-child interaction programs
- Parent counseling and support
- Family assistance with community services
- Speech-language, learning and feeding telemedicine
- Evaluation and treatment for children who speak Spanish
- Support for multilingual children and their families
Our experts have unique skills and training to address communication, feeding, swallowing and learning needs in such specialty areas as:
- Apraxia of speech
- Articulation disorders
- Autism spectrum disorders
- Feeding and swallowing problems
- Hearing impairments
- Language disorders (delayed speech development, difficulty understanding, word confusion, etc.)
- Resonance disorders
- Speech-sound disorders
- Social skills
- Voice disorders
- Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)
Augmentative and alternative communication services
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) strategies help anyone communicate more effectively.
At Children’s Colorado, we provide AAC services for children who are verbal, minimally verbal or non-verbal, which can result from a variety of conditions, including cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, apraxia and traumatic brain injury.
AAC uses multiple strategies to help children communicate:
- Vocalizations and verbal approximations
- Gestures and sign language
- Facial expressions and eye-gaze
- Postural change/tone
- Tactile cues, tangible symbols and objects
- Pictures (labels, photographs, Picture Communication Symbols)
- Speech generating devices (SGDs), also called “talkers”
AAC strategies can increase learning and reduce challenging behaviors by:
- Providing an appropriate language replacement to behavior
- Increasing understanding of concepts through auditory and visual input
- Using visual schedules to help children follow directions within tasks and across activities
- Using selected software and/or apps to provide motivation, structured learning opportunities and active participation in learning tasks
Our team provides comprehensive multidisciplinary diagnostic evaluations to determine whether AAC is right for your child. These evaluations include:
- Skill and needs assessments
- Coordination of physical access and positioning needs in collaboration with an occupational therapist
- Assistance in obtaining funding for recommended equipment and services
AAC treatment and support
Our team offers comprehensive AAC treatment services for children and young adults up to age 21. These services include:
- Individual and/or group therapy
- Parent and caregiver training in technology use and implementation strategies
- Coordination of assessment and treatment services with school and other support networks
- Co-treatment with occupational and/or physical therapy
- Intensive one-week training at Talking With Technology Camp
- Extended weekend training for families new to augmentative communication at First Steps Camp
AAC systems include a variety of low-tech and high-tech devices. Our ten-part video series focuses on learning to use speech generating devices (SGDs) with robust language systems that offer a large vocabulary and access to a keyboard and applies to all systems currently available on the market. The videos address the process of learning how you can communicate with your child through AAC devices and discuss the integral role parents and caregivers play in their child’s communication development.
To learn more about AAC, communication and strategies to support a child who uses a talker, reach out to our AAC team at firstname.lastname@example.org
The video series was made with the amazing support of the Scottish Rite Foundation.
An Introduction to Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)
“AAC is a Journey” video - Learn about the levels of communication and the path to becoming an effective communication partner and AAC device user.
“How We Communicate” video - Understand the different ways we communicate and how you can more effectively communicate with AAC device users.
“Why We Communicate” video - Understanding the reasons we communicate, or “communication functions,” can help us look for body language that gives us clues and helps us communicate more effectively.
“Vocabulary” video - Learn about “core” and “fringe” words and how we can program certain phrases into AAC devices to better communicate.
“Interests and Motivation” video - Learn what compels your child to want to communicate and why a small difference in motivation can be a big difference in communication.
Communication Partners and Strategies
“Communication Partners” video - Learn about the different communications partners that may be in your child’s life and how different communication partners can mean different levels of communication.
“Aided Language Stimulation and Modeling” video - Learn how this powerful communication strategy helps an AAC user learn to use their AAC system.
“Wait Time” video - Learn about this communication partner strategy, how to successfully use it and how it helps an AAC user better compose their thoughts and communicate effectively and independently.
“Sabotage” video - Learn about this communication partner strategy, how it can help you gather clues to better communicate with an AAC user and create language opportunities.
“Open-ended Questions” video - Learn about this communication partner strategy and how to use it to encourage a broader level of communication with an AAC user.
Multidisciplinary clinic support
In addition to evaluation and therapy services within the Department of Audiology, Speech-Language Pathology and Learning Services, our pediatric speech-language pathologists also participate in multidisciplinary clinics to support children with complex needs. If needed, our experts are part of the following teams:
Speech-language therapy we offer
Studies have shown that children reach goals and show more rapid progress when caregivers and professionals work together, which is why pediatric therapists at Children's Colorado have access to a variety of models of therapy. Therapy goals are designed to work toward developing new skills that will make your child more successful at home, in school and in the community. Your child's progress is assessed at each session and parents are given progress reports at regular intervals. Your child's therapy plan includes information about the number of therapy sessions that will be given, the length of each therapy visit and when to expect therapy to end.
There are five models of therapy used at Children's Colorado:
Weekly therapy is the most common option for speech-language needs. With weekly therapy, your child is seen once a week in either an individual or group program. Weekly therapy is ideal for children who are making rapid changes from week to week and demonstrating regular, steady skill growth in speech and language.
Periodic therapy is provided once a month, twice a month, every other month or at another schedule that best meets your child's needs. This type of therapy is used if progress towards speech or language goals is slow, or if noticeable changes do not happen from one weekly session to the next. It may also be best if:
- The child is moving to a new school or other private therapy program
- The child needs practice blending speech and language skills into daily life
- The length of a family's commute makes it hard for them to take part in weekly therapy
Consultative therapy is a one-time visit used to evaluate the progress or maintenance of a child's speech-language skills. During consultative therapy, you can talk about changes in your child's development and the possible need for therapy. It is also ideal if challenging behavior or health issues previously prevented your child from participating in weekly, periodic or group therapy, but now you think your child may be ready.
Intensive therapy is generally two or more times a week for a limited number of visits. It is typically used for children with apraxia of speech who need more intense support and show rapid gains from increased frequency of visits. This is short-term and often recommended for children who've experienced a sudden neurological event, such as a traumatic brain injury or a stroke. Intensive therapy may also be recommended for families with a long commute who cannot accommodate weekly trips for therapy.
These therapy sessions are 8 or more weeks, depending on the group. Group therapy may be recommended for children who need practice using speech and language skills in a social setting, or if the child is a social learner.
Telemedicine speech-language therapy is provided through video with a computer or tablet. Occasionally, families seeking services at Children's Colorado do not have access to appropriate, pediatric-trained clinicians in their home communities. In these cases, our team can provide telemedicine consultations.
Speech-language camp programs we offer