Language through play
At Willowcrest we offer comprehensive speech, language diagnostic and therapy services. Treatment is tailored to each individual's unique needs. During treatment sessions, in addition to traditional language therapy techniques, we may focus on traditional articulation therapy, teaching students to progress from single sounds to sound combinations and all the way up to full sentences and conversation. Therapy is focused on developing motor memory for articulation by incorporating a high level of repetition with parent training for carryover in the home environment.
Language development is taught through a play-based approach to build play skills and expand vocabulary in ways that are meaningful and functional to each child’s individual interests. Language is composed of receptive comprehension as well as verbal expression. Addressing and targeting both areas build comprehension and the ability to express oneself and interact with others.
Sensory Integration (SI)
Sensory integration (SI) is an approach to occupational therapy that seeks to normalize the organization of sensory input and permit adaptive responses to that information. Sensory experiences include touch, pressure, movement, sight and sound. These basic sensory systems form the foundation for body awareness enabling us to form a mental body map, and know where our bodies are in space. Sensory Integration, or the process of the brain organizing and interpreting multi-sensory input, is a crucial foundation for more complex learning and behavior. Often sensory integration difficulties are a significant component in autism and other communication disorders. The degree to which a child's neurology has successfully mastered sensory integration can also affect activity levels, a child's ability to unwind or calm himself, attention, impulsivity, and clumsiness, among other things. Improved sensory processing leads to more productive contacts with people and environments and addresses deficits in body awareness, muscle tone, coordination and motor planning.
Learning with Music
Music Therapy is an allied healthcare profession in which a Board-Certified Music Therapist (MT-BC) administers clinical and evidence-based interventions to support cognitive, social, emotional, motor, sensory, and wellness goals.
Since music is processed through the language pathways in the left hemisphere of the brain, music therapy helps to reinforce communication skills over time. The neural benefits include increased efficiency of synaptic firing and reorganization of neural pathways, which enhances developmental skills. It also stimulates the motor cortex (involved in voluntary movement) and supports sensory integration.
Through activation of the limbic system, music facilitates emotion regulation. This process helps children to self-soothe, connect, and reduce stress. Repetition and rhythm improve specific memory skills such as recall and retention while strengthening auditory processing abilities, thus increasing overall comprehension. Music is also highly collaborative, improving social interaction skills and feelings of connectedness with others. Making these connections from a young age can boost a child’s confidence and significantly increase their quality of life.
Learn more about our Board-Certified Music Therapist, Laura, at steppingtones.co!
Applied Behavior Analysis
Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA, is the science in which the principles of the analysis of behavior are applied systematically to improve socially significant behavior. Through experimentation, we can then identify the environmental variables responsible for change.
At Willowcrest we use the knowledge of how behaviors occur in an environment to determine strategies to help the child decrease challenging behavior (hitting, kicking, hand biting etc.) and increase positive functional behaviors (communication, independence, social skills etc). We work together with parents, teachers and the clinical team to determine which goals are appropriate for each child. Data is collected to demonstrate progress and help drive new goals or change treatment plans. ABA is a science, at Willowcrest we firmly believe there is an art to the science and make sure to paint the picture differently for each individual child.
Floortime is a systematic method of using human relationships to take a child up the ladder of critical developmental milestones. The child moves from simple attention and self-regulation to purposeful communication using gestures and words. It involves problem solving interactively and also develops motor planning skills and abstract/complex thinking. It is based on the understanding that human relationships are essential to a child's development. Human beings are created to learn and grow in the context of relating to other humans; the brain and the mind simply don't develop without being nurtured by human relationships. Without relationships, self-esteem, initiative, and creativity do not grow either.