SPEECH AND LANGUAGE THERAPY
The aim of speech therapy in the intermediate phase is to continue to build on basic communication skills and to develop meta-linguistic skills such as reasoning, problem-solving, abstract language and inferential thinking. There is also a strong emphasis on social language skills including areas such conversational rules, expressing opinions, asking for help and clarification, engaging in group debates and addressing different people formally and informally.
Therapy may occur on an individual, a small group and/or class group level based on the needs of the child. The therapists incorporate themes, concepts and skills necessary for classwork into their sessions to assist with consolidation of skills at all levels. Homework and communication between the therapist and parents occurs within the learner’s Therapy Book.
Children receiving speech and language therapy in the Intermediate Phase will have aims set up for them in their Individual Developmental Programs and these aims will be targeted through the year.
Areas targeted in individual, small groups and class groups will depend on the needs and levels of the children, but will address the following main areas:
- Vocabulary development
- Sentence construction and expansion on a verbal and written level
- Comprehension skills of longer piece of information, texts and stories
- Reasoning skills
- Problem solving skills
- Inferential thinking and abstract language
- Social language skills
Group therapy is most common in this phase of the school. Children are grouped according to their abilities
In the intermediate phase occupational therapy involves a combination of consolidating emerging skills, as well as promoting the development of new skills. A holistic approach is utilised to understand each intermediate learner’s specific needs. Each learner’s specific needs are used to guide the focus of therapeutic intervention. Each learner’s therapeutic needs may involve the development and consolidation of skills such as may involve fine motor, gross motor, visual perception, visual motor integration, motor planning, postural control and sensory integration.
In the intermediate phase focus is placed on developing each learner’s handwriting, reading and spelling. Furthermore, the learners are involved in weekly prevocational groups, which are focused on developing the learner’s ability to work through the different steps of a task, to develop an end product over a period of time. In these groups the learner learns to critically evaluate their end products, as well as the ability to problem solve. These prevocational groups provide an opportunity for the learners to receive constructive criticism, as well as to learn new skills such as sewing. The degree of supervision provided to each learner in these groups is graded to meet the needs of the learner, as well as to provide each child with an opportunity to work as independently as they can cope with. The groups are planned so that the products of the groups are created over a few sessions to promote the development of delay of gratification, as well as to learn the process of production from start to finish. The skills learnt in this group aim to prepare the learners for when they start to participate in the work experience program once they enter the senior phase.
THE ROLES OF THE COUNSELLOR AND PSYCHOLOGIST
The counsellor and psychologist form a team that is responsible for the personal and social well-being and development of the learners, parents and staff of Unity College. Psychotherapy, play therapy (individual and in groups), parent counselling and life skills groups all form part of this therapy. The therapists focus on behaviour difficulties (e.g. anger outbursts, bullying, poor self-esteem), relationship problems (e.g. friendships, child-parent relationships, family interaction, and sibling rivalry), loss (e.g. divorce, death), trauma (e.g. accident, hi-jacking), sexuality and substance abuse.
Personal and social skills groups for the lower intermediate classes:
The Intermediate one and two classes receive one thirty minutes personal social skills group a week. The purpose of these groups at this early stage of the Intermediate phase is to develop the learner’s awareness and ability to manage more complex social interactions that occur in pre-teenage and teenage years. Emphasis is on integrating the social and emotional skills learnt in the junior phase of the school. The skills that are developed include decision making skills, conflict resolution skills, and learning about abstract social values such as honesty, tolerance and integrity.
Personal and social skills groups for the higher intermediate classes:
Personal and social skills groups for the Intermediate three, four and five classes are designed to develop the learners’ ability to cope with stressors and situations encountered in life on a day-to-day basis. Topics covered range from the exploration and facilitation of moral functioning, good manners and social etiquette, healthy diet, development and understanding of relationships, identifying and managing of emotions, conflict resolutions, negotiation skills and sexuality education. Each group is presented with similar topics but differentiation occurs between the classes in order to introduce each subject at the appropriate level for each group’s needs.
The psychologist is also responsible for psycho-educational, emotional and career assessments of the learners. These assessments are used to gain understanding of the learners’ functioning, ability and interventions needed. It may be necessary for your child to have a cognitive, emotional or career assessment. Should this be the case, you will be contacted and feedback will be given once the assessment has been completed.
When the counsellor or psychologist does psychotherapy or counselling with your child or your family, confidentiality is respected at all times. However, in order to render a holistic service, at times it may be necessary to share information with other team members, e.g. teachers or other therapists. Only information that is essential to rendering a quality service to you and your family will be shared.