Like children at any other school, Keren Or students range in their abilities to communicate verbally. Their challenges, however, require a more comprehensive and unique approach to speech therapy than other schools might offer.
Self-expression is often a birthright that our students have not experienced before coming to Keren Or. Many arrive unable to communicate their thoughts or needs. Speech therapists work individually with students, adapting the curriculum to the cognitive and physical capabilities of each child. Sometimes this adaptation is as basic as understanding a student’s body language and using that as a foundation for communication. Other times, students use tactile objects or “icons” and sound recordings to create their own unique avenue of interpersonal exchanges. Higher functioning students learn formal sign language and have a whole world of expression opened up for them. iPads and other technologies are used to open further opportunities for students.
Whatever their capacities, each student participating in our speech therapy program is assisted in finding a way to connect with others. This endeavor is of the utmost importance and a key component of Keren Or’s overall mission to unlock the potential in each of its students and foster understanding and connection.
At Keren Or, we have carefully designed therapeutic experience that aims not only to strengthen feeding skills, but also to deepen communication and trust between caregivers and children—many of whom have difficulty reaching out beyond their own isolated worlds. Therapy tones mouth, tongue, and swallowing muscles to help children gradually progress from tube feeding, to liquids, and then solids. This progress is important as important for nutrition as it also is for developing communication skills. Individual food programs serve to maximize each child’s self-feeding skills while providing the developmental push that can only come from an interactive feeding experience where patience and satisfaction are paramount.