What are the roles of the speech therapist in the diagnosis and treatment of babies born prematurely?
The speech therapist monitors development in the areas of hearing, communication, play, language (understanding language and expression) and speech. He assesses the newborn's communicative and pre-verbal abilities. In case of developmental delay in these areas, a therapeutic response is given to the baby accompanied by parental guidance. In addition, the communication clinician evaluates the newborn's eating and swallowing functions (sometimes during the stay in the nursery), and offers intervention and referral to other relevant factors for treatment if necessary.
When do you meet with a speech therapist for premature babies?
Speech therapists have the diagnostic tools to assess the hearing and the development of communication, play, language and speech of the premature baby at every stage from the moment of birth. An initial assessment and intervention by the communication clinicians will be carried out already in Pegia for the purpose of auditory screening and for the purpose of assessing eating and swallowing. Later, as part of the follow-up at the premature clinic at the Child Development Institute and according to the developmental need, there will be an observation and assessment of pre-verbal abilities including communication, interaction and play skills, as well as verbal abilities (understanding language, expression and speech). As part of assessment and intervention, parent training will be provided. The referral to a speech therapist is given by the developmental doctor/pediatric neurologist who monitors the prematurity. However, it is important to know the areas of specialization of the speech therapist in order to seek diagnosis in cases where the parents feel that there are difficulties that may indicate a delay in development. Usually, a full diagnosis in the clinic Prematurity is carried out from the age of six months, with the development of interaction, gestures, communicative intentions, play and the development of nonverbal language (this will be expanded upon later).
Why is it important to consult a speech therapist?
Difficulties in the development of communication, language, speech, eating and swallowing may have consequences for the child in adulthood. The premature group is known to be at risk of developing difficulties in eating and swallowing and delaying the development of communication, language and speech. In the long run, these may lead to difficulties in expressing and understanding language, difficulties in maintaining attention and concentration, various learning disabilities and difficulty in developing high-quality mutual communication. It was found that early therapeutic intervention contributes to reducing developmental gaps. Therefore, it is of great importance to contact a speech therapist for diagnosis as early as possible, especially in cases of premature birth, in order to receive an adequate therapeutic response for the baby and his family and in order to promote and reduce gaps that may arise in relation to the expected age. It is important to note that the group of premature babies is not uniform. Each premature newborn has individual characteristics that affect development in a different way, and it is not bound by reality that a delay will develop in the various areas. However, it is extremely important to raise awareness about the warning lights for abnormal development in the first years of a baby's life, and to reach follow-ups at the Child Development Institute.
How can difficulties in eating and swallowing be identified?
Babies born prematurely are at risk of developing difficulties in nutrition, eating and swallowing. There are babies who have difficulty breastfeeding, due to ineffective sucking. Difficulty sucking leads to long mealtimes and/or eating amounts of food that are insufficient for growth. In cases of difficulty in sucking and sucking, it is recommended to contact the preterm clinic staff at the Child Development Institute, which will provide a diagnostic and therapeutic response to deal with difficulties Nutrition in premature infants. Signs of additional eating difficulties will manifest in coughing during and/or after eating/drinking, yellowing of lips, repeated emissions from the nose or mouth, arching of the back as a sign of pain, wheezing and unexplained fever. The appearance of these symptoms increases the risk of developing lung infections and therefore in these situations, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible.
What are the milestones in the development of communication, language and speech, and how can difficulties in the development of these areas be identified?
In the first year of a newborn's life, communicative and pre-verbal abilities develop. In this booklet we will focus on the development of the newborn from birth to 6 months (revised), during which the newborn discovers and explores his environment, and it is the parent's interpretation that gives meaning to his behavior. In the first six months, one should expect to maintain high-quality eye contact (even while eating), the appearance of a smile in response to a familiar voice or face and laughter in response to an amusing activity, crying to gain attention, imitation of facial expressions (such as sticking out the tongue) and taking turns with an adult in vocal production . In addition, we observed a cessation of crying when talking to the baby, turning the head in the direction of a voice, an initial response to being called by name and distinguishing between a friendly voice and an angry voice. In the field of vocal production, we will observe the sounds of miming and vocal play in different and random sounds, and the beginning of repeated and varied mumbling (the repeated syllable ba-ba). In cases where the baby is quiet or in cases of non-appearance or delay in the acquisition of the milestones indicated above, in the first six months, the Child Development Institute should be contacted for a developmental diagnosis.
How can you encourage quality communication and enrich the language of the premature newborn from the day of his birth?
Language is acquired naturally and through consistent exposure. The newborn's hearing develops further during pregnancy, and from birth he is exposed to and learns the mother tongue. In order to encourage quality communication and enrich the newborn's language, talk a lot and transcribe everyday situations, while treating the baby as an active partner in communication and conversation (even though he is not yet speaking). The parent's language is required to be adapted to the preschool age, that is, the use of short and precise messages and intonation adapted to the baby. The role of the parent is to mediate the environment for his child through the use of words, and to provide an interpretation of the baby's behavior and the world around him. The interpretation must be given in as many and varied situations as possible with an emphasis on regular routines that repeat themselves during the day (during diaper changing, showering, feeding, walking outside, dressing, etc.). In addition, language develops at the same time as the ability to play. Play a lot together with your children with different toys that will interest him (rattles, handkerchiefs, arching objects at each other, etc.) and in different singing games. It is recommended to minimize watching TV (up to half an hour a day) and minimize electronic games of all kinds.