7 Speech/Language Therapy Tips for Multiply Impaired Preschoolers

Daily PreSchool Tips from Looks-Like-Language
Have you been following my daily tips on IG this winter? If not, no worries! I'm recapping them here. I've worked with kids from below the 1%ile to the 10th %ile for a while now, but I had a lot to learn when I first got started. Maybe you know all of the information I've been sharing, but I thought there might be some SLPs out there who don't generally work with such impaired students and might like to see what I've learned the hard way!

Last week was an exciting break, posting about teaching kindness with The Frenzied SLPs. If you missed that post, be sure to catch it since it was a blog hop with links to lots of freebies you can download!

My prior posts on my IG themes were  for autism and for unintelligibility. This week, I'm blogging about my preschool tips. It has been a while since I worked in the full day preschool, but I loved that population! The kids had lots of needs, and took a lot of energy, but they were so cute! It is a vital time to provide therapy since you can have such a big impact!

Preschool tips from Looks-Like-Language!
Preschoolers, in general, don't have very long attention spans. When you combine this with other learning problems, you'd be wise to have a lot of back up ideas for each session!

Bubbles, playdoh, and favorite toys seem to be items that all preschool SLPs keep on hand.

For my main therapy plan, though, I always tried to incorporate a book as my central theme to develop literacy skills while eliciting language. I tried to find books related to my theme with big pictures and simple repetitive text and plan hands on activities related to the plot as my go to's. It worked!

Preschool tips from Looks-Like-Language!
Having toys related to the story serves several purposes. More practice with the vocabulary, sentence structures, or sounds in the words occurs in a natural way. Playing the plot of the story helps kids to understand the language in the book, while building play schemas.

Connecting books with play helps kids see that books are fun, which is helpful for developing literacy skills. When students understand the language and plot, they become more interested in the book and will attend longer! It is a win-win all around.

Have I convinced you yet? Start shopping garage sales, thrift shops and ,of course, the dollar bins at Target to pick up hands on items that relate to your favorite therapy books!

Preschool tips from Looks-Like-Language!
It is so helpful when the books have a repetitive refrain! That is the basic level for understanding and retelling story narratives.  Students will remember the refrain and join in, giving that extra practice for speech sounds and language goals.  It is easy to play, as it often involves one main activity with lots of characters.

Additionally, at this level the pictures usually match the text exactly, so that your kids will see what they hear and comprehend it more quickly.

Preschool tips from Looks-Like-Language!
If you are working in a home setting, using a central therapy theme of around the house is a no-brainer. It will help the child be able to communicate better with the family and will let you build carryover with the parents so easily by demonstrating what to say to elicit the skills as part of the daily home routine.

In my area, we switched away from center based therapy to home based therapy many years ago just so that the parents could be involved and carry over the skills automatically.

Preschool tips from Looks-Like-Language!
If you are working with young children who go to a preschool, you can't go wrong using seasonal themes. Every preschool I've ever visited uses seasonal/time events as part of their curriculum. So many skills can be worked on through basic season, holiday and category themes. Time is such a difficult concept for students with learning problems to comprehend!

If you really want carryover, try to tie what you are doing in with the theme the preschool teacher is using that week/month.  There will be so many opportunities for practice, and it will help your students be more active participants in the activities!

I touched on play skills before, but I can't stress enough how important it is to look at a student's play skills along with their communication skills. If you see a student with advanced play skills but little verbalization, I would bet you will find that they have more expressive language problems than receptive!

Preschool tips from Looks-Like-Language!
My students in preschool were delayed in multiple areas, so I found it to be a wonderful therapy technique to work on language, articulation and play skills at the same time.  It takes a little practice to figure out what you can elicit with the toys you have on hand, but hands on activities are so important for little ones!

The iPad has provided a multitude of fun activities that truly capture children's attention, but it is still important to see what level of play skills your student has. Higher level students are not as big of a concern, but students with multiple problems will not gain a variety of cause-effect and higher level cognitive and language skills only from touching or pressing on a flat surface, from my experience. Balance the apps with the hands on!

Preschool tips from Looks-Like-Language!
This one may be controversial to you, since we all love our craftivities, but please read on!  Higher level preschoolers, with mild delays in a minimal number of areas, will learn when provided the right kind of stimulation no matter what the activity. When working with lower functioning preschoolers who have multiple areas of need, making a craft is the icing on the cake that is so fun to use to generalize the skills you have been addressing!

When students are very impaired, all of the fine motor skills involved in doing crafts can involve so much of their attention and processing skills that they are not able to do that and learn the language at the same time.  Having these students do a craft after they have learned to label, request and understand the language forms involved- well, that is fun and a great way to generalize!

I can't believe that it is almost Valentine's Day! I hope that you have been feeling the love!
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