Our Work

Speech language Therapy

The Kerry Branch of Down Syndrome Ireland makes regular speech-language therapy available to members. Therapy is on a fee for service basis but service is not denied if payment is an issue. Arrangements can be made for service provision to any child with Down syndrome.

Marian Dunleavy is our Senior Speech Therapist. Marian is from Castleisland and received her speech-language training at UCC. She joined DS Kerry in May, 2010.

Therapy services are provided to children and adults with Down syndrome on a weekly, fortnightly, or monthly basis depending upon need. Therapy is provided in Tralee, Killarney, Listowel, Cahersiveen, Glenbeigh, Kilorglin, Cromane, Duagh, and Kenmare. In most cases a parent brings the child to a central location for therapy; in a few cases therapy is provided in the school.

Click here for more information on Speech and language Programmes

Early intervention speech and language therapyprogramme for children aged 0-3 years

  • Feeding skills and oral-motor development: your SLT will provide advice on feeding techniques and tools to facilitate appropriate development of oral motor skills, reduced tongue protrusion and increased lip closure.
  • Pre-verbal communication skills: your SLT will provide information and advice on targeting vital communication skills that are developing from a young age and are the foundation for all communication, such as engagement with people, the environment and objects; eye contact; joint attention; cause and effect; turn taking; imitation skills.
  • Play skills: infants learn though play, and development of play skills is a large consideration for early intervention – your infant will communicate to let you know if they enjoy a toy or activity through eye contact, smiling and body movements; they will learn of cause and effect through play activities; and they will develop joint attention, turn-taking and imitation through play.
  • Early speech skills: your SLT will introduce activities to promote awareness of sounds and of mouth movements through sound play.
  • Language development: your SLT will advise you and provide activities to help develop your child’s understanding and expression of language, through use of verbal words, pictures and signs.
  • Lámh: your SLT will introduce you and your infant to early Lámh signs to facilitate development of your child’s understanding and expressive vocabulary development. Lámh is a signing system used to support communication development and research shows that the appropriate use of systems such as Lámh can improve a person’s communication skills and may support the development of speech.
  • Literacy Development: your SLT will provide guidance on introducing early literacy and reading activities as research has shown that early introduction of literacy is beneficial for children with Down syndrome

Speech and Language Therapy Programme For Adults

Our programme for adults is very individualised and the input provided varies depending on the adult’s needs and communication skills and abilities.

Your SLT will complete a comprehensive assessment and advise on what would be the most appropriate therapy input. This may include:

  • Direct Therapy: if appropriate, adults may be seen for direct therapy to work on areas such as receptive and expressive language skills, vocabulary development, asking and answering questions, inferencing and problem solving, strategies to enhance speech intelligibility and repair communication breakdown and conversation skills.
  • Indirect Therapy: it may not be appropriate for some adults to attend direct therapy but they may benefit from the SLT providing advice to staff and carers, devising a personal communication passport or implementing a communication book to provide a system of communication.
  • Social Communication Group: our adult clients may be invited to attend a social communication group with other adult clients. This group would be organised by the SLTs and would focus on areas such as topic initiation, topic maintenance, turn-taking, asking and answering questions and use of appropriate communication styles when engaging in conversation with others.

Speech and language therapy programme for preschool-aged children

  • Pre-verbal communication skills: your SLT will build on your child’s skills in this area and work on enhancing skills such as engagement with people, the environment and objects; eye contact; joint attention; cause and effect; turn taking; imitation skills.
  • Attention and Listening skills: your SLT will focus on developing appropriate listening and attention skills so that your child is ready to attend to therapy activities and the language of the preschool classroom.
  • Play skills: preschool-aged children continue to learn and develop language skills though play, and development of play skills is a large consideration for early intervention – your SLT will advise on development of more advanced and sophisticated play such as pretend and imaginative play.
  • Speech skills: your SLT will introduce more structured activities to develop accurate production of speech sounds and work on listening and discrimination of the sounds of speech.
  • Language development: your SLT will advise you and provide activities to help develop your child’s understanding and expression of language, through use of verbal words, pictures and signs.
  • Lámh: your SLT will continue to build on your child’s existing vocabulary of Lámh signs to facilitate development of your child’s understanding and expressive vocabulary development.
  • Literacy Development: your SLT will provide guidance on developing your child’s literacy through reading activities and acquisition of sight word vocabulary.
  • Feeding skills and oral-motor development: your SLT will provide advice on feeding techniques and tools to facilitate appropriate development of feeding and oral motor skills.

Speech and language therapy programme for school-aged children and adolescents

  • Conversation Skills and Pragmatic Language: as your child moves from early school-age to adolescence their conversation skills continue to grow and develop and this is a hugely important aspect of speech and language therapy sessions. Your SLT will work on areas such as topic initiation, topic maintenance, turn-taking, asking and answering questions and use of appropriate communication styles with your child.
  • Speech intelligibility: your SLT will implement therapy to target speech sound errors in your child’s speech and work on pacing and sequencing of sounds in multisyllabic words to improve speech intelligibility. As your child’s gets older they may work on strategies to support intelligibility if communication breakdown occurs with conversation partners.
  • Receptive Language Development: your SLT will work on developing your child’s understanding of language, such as general vocabulary; questions; linguistic concepts (e.g. prepositions, adjectives); grammatical structures (e.g. pronouns, verb tenses); sentences and instructions.
  • Expressive Language Development: your SLT will target your child’s spoken language skills such as general vocabulary; sentence production; use of grammatical structures; narrative and story-telling; asking questions.
  • Higher-level Language: this involves working on areas such as inferencing, problem solving, and following complex instructions.
  • Fluency: if your child presents with dysfluency your SLT will provide advice, guidance and therapy if appropriate to address this.
  • Literacy: your SLT can link in with your child’s teachers to discuss literacy skills and progress if required.
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication: some children need extra supports to effectively communicate with others, for example if their speech is persistently unintelligible. Your SLT can provide advice on the augmentative supports that may benefit your child and help to maximise your child’s communicative effectiveness using a total communication approach. This may include use of Lámh, communication passports, personal communication books or high-tech communication devices.

Therapy services address speech intelligibility, vocabulary development, sentence structure and production, conversational skills, and cognitive development. Speech-language therapy begins in infancy, with sessions provided on a group and/or individual basis for infants and toddlers. Parents are always included in these sessions. Early childhood and school age services focus on intelligibility and language development. Therapy continues into adulthood for many individuals, with adults benefiting from the social, cognitive, and communication aspects. Sessions are structured so that the client enjoys the interaction while learning the target skills. Most children and adults enjoy the therapy sessions and are eager to participate. Parents and other family members are welcome to observe and participate in the therapy session. When appropriate, teachers and SNAs have participated, and on many occasions the therapists have visited schools to share information with personnel.

Any family member of a person with Down syndrome, or any young adult with Down syndrome may contact us at downsyndromekerry@hotmail.com to obtain further information about this service.

OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY SERVICES

Occupational therapy services are provided under a contractual arrangement with the Sunflower Clinic in Cork. Currently services are provided in 8 week blocks in both Killarney and Listowel. These services address fine motor skills, balance, and sensory processing.

Occupational Therapy is up and running again in both Listowel and Killarney with Helen and Mary Rose. Please make your payments to Susan Hennessy (087) 2828721 or Kathleen McNamara (087) 7737008 at your earliest convenience. There will be a new 8 week block starting in May and anyone wishing to avail of this please contact one of the coordinators. Cost is €20 per hour. Remember Occupational Therapy and Speech Therapy are both eligible for tax relief and health insurance rebait as outpatient expenses.

OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY

In October, 2008, the Kerry Branch began providing Occupational Therapy services. This therapy is available two days a week in Killarney and is provided under contract with the Sunflower Clinic, Cork. Down syndrome clients from all areas of Kerry are eligible to request assessment. Once assessment is complete, the Occupational Therapist will make and implement recommendations.

DEENACH LODGE

Our tea rooms at Deenagh Lodge reopen for business on 18th April. We have some new young adults who will commence their training at the lodge this summer and wish them every success along with our existing group.

Down Syndrome Kerry’s goal is to help people with Down syndrome make their own futures as bright and independent as possible by providing them with education, support and friendship every step of the way. To ensure this aim, we have taken the lease for Deenach Lodge in Killarney. We have opened a tea room where we serve delicious coffee, tea, food and great company.

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