Improving communications and behavior
The Guild strives to enhance each student’s communications skills through individualized programming. Research indicates a correlation between improved communications skills and decreased maladaptive and problematic behaviors. For students with expressive and receptive language difficulties, The Guild utilizes a total communications approach to improve each student’s communications skills.
The Guild’s speech and language program
- Develops all staff orientation, pre-service, in-service and ongoing advanced training materials in communication disorders.
- Identifies and assesses communications skills of all students immediately upon enrollment and subsequently on an ongoing basis.
- Identifies, selects, implements and maintains appropriate communications systems based on individual student needs. These include aided (e.g., high- and low-tech characteristics) and unaided (e.g., spoken language, sign language, body language, etc.) systems.
- Consults with multidisciplinary teams, including student caregivers, to implement, develop and generalize communication skills and systems across settings.
- Develops and implements communications training programs as outlined in each student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
- Monitors and evaluates implemented programs, adjusting as necessary.
- Performs formal reevaluation measures triennially, annually or biannually if deemed necessary and appropriate by student’s team.
- For students with medically complex communication needs (e.g., feeding and swallowing), The Guild may refer the student for evaluation at an appropriate community agency. Guild professionals are trained to implement community agency recommendations.
Manual sign, assistive technology devices, and augmentative and alternative communications skills training are used to supplement a student’s verbal speech or supplant when speech is not possible or not intelligible. Guild professionals ensure that each student is supported by at least one mode of expressive communication. However, many students utilize a combination (e.g., verbal speech supplemented by a speech-generating device). Students may also utilize high-tech devices for typing when handwriting is not an option. Professionals also ensure that each student has visual supports as necessary (e.g., visual schedules, social stories, picture sequences) to appropriately interpret and respond to their learning environment.
Social skills training
Students with social language difficulties receive structured and unstructured social skills training. Professionals address social/pragmatic communications objectives individually as well as within didactic and group-based communications and speech/occupational therapy co-treatments. Students address skills using the Social Thinking Curriculum developed by Michelle Garcia Winner, including problem solving via social interpretation and responses, theory of mind training, self-advocacy and disability awareness, among many others. By increasing effective communications and pro-social skills, students are more equipped to interact in meaningful ways with peers, coworkers, family and community members.