Rachel Myatt is one of Step by Step Care Group’s speech therapists in Chicago, IL. Rachel completed her undergrad studies at Miami University in Speech Pathology and Audiology with minors in child studies and family relationships. She received her masters in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Marquette University. I had the privilege of asking Rachel some frequently asked questions about her field of work.
Q: How would you define child speech therapy?
A: Early Intervention speech therapy is an opportunity for speech therapists and parents/ caregivers/ teachers to work together in therapy, so they can best support the child's language skills in all environments. By going into homes, daycares, and schools, caregivers get a chance to play an important role in a child’s therapy by learning how to carryover their child's language goals into the home. Speech therapists engage children in motivating, play-based activities to target speech, language, and feeding goals through motivating toys, games, and songs,
while collaborating with caregivers in how these skills can be incorporated into their everyday schedules.
Q: What are some common milestones you focus on with your patients?
A: Frequently, I work on having a child request and label objects with increasing phrase lengths. I also include direction-following opportunities into our play-based activities.
Q: What are child speech therapy exercises you use frequently?
A: Play is an important part of learning, language, and social development for children, so I design all of my activities to be both engaging and play-based. Some of my favorite toys to use are a velcro fruit set, play dough, and a magnetic bug puzzle, since each can be used in so many different ways. I love using it for 1-, 2-, and 3-word requests, direction-following, and targeting speech sounds (cut, eat, food).
Q: What are some at home speech therapy exercises parents can do with their children?
A: At home, a great thing that parents can do is narrate what they are doing or what their child is doing in short phrases, using 1-2 more words than their child uses. So if their child speaks in one- word phrases, they can narrate their daily activities in 2-3 word phrases (e.g. cut apple, I am eating, big apple, etc). Reading books is another great way to target language skills. Parents can talk about the pictures in the books, ask their child where an object is on the page, or find actions on a page. It can be fun to take turns acting out these actions too! Finally, giving your child two choices sets up a wonderful opportunity for a child to request. Choices can be used during all parts of the day! For example, when getting ready in the morning, you can give your child two choices of shirts to wear (e.g. want blue or want green?).
Q: Explain a case that was extremely successful for you as a therapist?
A: Working with medically fragile children has always been a strong interest of mine. One of the most exciting moments was when one of my clients who wore a Passy-Muir Valve verbally requested a toy for the first time. In general, I honestly feel like there are “big” moments in therapy frequently, whenever a child does a skill we are targeting independently for the first time — the excitement of that never gets old!