SPOT: Speech Pathology and Occupational Therapy Groups

Ever wondered what SPOT actually stands for? Why run SPOT groups? In this article we answer some frequently asked questions and give you some tips and tricks when playing at home with your child.

What is a SPOT group?

A SPOT group is a play based group that is created and run by both Speech Pathologists (SP) and Occupational Therapists (OT). It’s a great opportunity to access both allied health services without having to spend big bucks. Speech Pathologists work in the areas of speech, language and social skills. And Occupational Therapists work in the areas of fine motor, gross motor and sensory regulation.

What’s SPOT PLAY!

Early Start Speech Pathology and Ability Focus Occupational Therapy have teamed up and have created SPOT PLAY!

SPOT PLAY! Is a play based, group program that promotes speech and language development whilst engaging in fine motor and gross motor activities. All the activities are play based so the children are receiving therapeutic input without even realizing they are doing therapy. The SPOT PLAY! Program was created by Amy Pollitt, Speech Pathologist and Director of Early Start Speech Pathology and Rachel Elliot, Director and Occupational Therapist of Ability Focus Occupational Therapy. Together they bring a wealth of experience and passion, which is demonstrated by the quality of the SPOT PLAY! Program.

Amy & Rachel created the SPOT PLAY! Program based on a need within the community to offer children aged 3-5 a chance to access both speech pathology and occupational therapy in put without costing the earth. They are both passionate about working with children and believe that having strong play based skills has a ripple effect for children’s future development.

The SPOT PLAY! Program is run at Ability Focus OT’s beautiful Mayfield clinic. It has an outdoor area that is perfect for running and playing and a quiet in door area, perfect for more focused fine motor work.

Does it matter if my child is only needing speech pathology?

It doesn’t matter at all. The SPOT PLAY! Program is accessible to all children whether they are needing speech pathology, occupational therapy, or both, or are just needing some focused play time. It’s a great opportunity for the children to engage socially with peers and have an opportunity to practice all their skills they have been learning in one on one sessions. It’s also a great chance for parents to have a chat to the Speech Pathologist and Occupational Therapist to pick up any tips and tricks to continue the work with their child at home.

What can I do to help my child’s speech and language at home?

Amy Pollitt, Speech Pathologist and Director of Early Start Speech Pathology answers:

Play is the best thing that you can do for your child to help develop their language and speech skills. Children love it when we get down to their level and follow their lead. Too often as adults we jump in too quickly and forget to start with what the child has already offered. For example if a child really likes to drive a toy’s cars wheels back in front of their eyes, that’s where we start. Lie down with them and see what happens. Can you drive a car past them and see what happens? Couple play with language wherever you can, “My car is going fast”.

Books are another great place start to direct and develop children’s language and engagement skills. You don’t have to read the words if the child isn’t interested. Start with pointing out pictures, get them involved, make animals noises and sing songs.

When we are working with language difficulties in children it’s important to keep your language simple, but not too simple that we forget the little words like “a” & “the” and “s” endings. So if the child says “red car”, we can say, “red car’s going fast”. Extending what they are saying but simply.

Remember with speech sounds that they develop at different rates depending on the child’s age. If your child makes an attempt at a sound that’s hard for them, give them lots of praise and encouragement. Try not to correct but rather model the correct way to say it. For example if the child struggles to say his “k” sounds and says “tat” instead of cat. You could say, “yes, cat, that’s a pretty cat, a cat with a long tail, what a nice cat.”

What about fine motor and gross motor skills?

Rachel Elliot, Occupational Therapist and Director of Ability Focus Occupational Therapy answers:

Like Speech Pathology, Play is the best thing that you can do with your child to help develop their physical skills, hand skills and sensory regulation skills. At this age, a child’s full-time “occupation” is play and they learn through exploring their environment. Their ability to play in their early years forms the foundation for many skills later in their childhood.

Follow your child’s lead during their play and use their interests to expand on their play skills. For example, if your child likes craft, you can encourage your child to explore their environment (inside and outside) to make collages or craft items. Your child will be developing their imagination and fine motor skills during this play.

Another great way to develop your child’s motor skills is playing outside, either the backyard, park or beach. Your choices are limitless in what you can do outside. We love to encourage kids we work with to create their own obstacle courses where they are crawling, jumping, climbing, etc. These develop the bigger muscles known as gross motor skills.

Messy play is amazingly fun and super cool for keeping little ones occupied. All types of play are so essential for your child’s development. Messy sensory play allows your child to use all their senses to discover and explore their world, develop their creativity and imagination, problem solve and of course develop their gross and fine motor skills. Try using some household items such as rice, water, dried pasta and corn flour with water to make goop. Let your child explore the different textures not only with their hands but with utensils such as scoops, little bottles, sieves, etc.

Early Start Speech Pathology and Ability Focus Occupational Therapy will be teaming up again in term 2 to run the SPOT PLAY! Program. It will be held Friday morning 9.30-11, fortnightly. Call today to reserve your child’s place in this exciting, innovative program, 49555415.