Speech language pathologists often utilize research-based strategies to enhance the speech and language of clients. One of the main strategies that is used is milieu communication training (MCT). MCT is an evidence-based intervention that has proven to be effective with children with developmental disabilities such as autism spectrum disorder, late-talkers and cognitive impairments. This therapy strategy is typically used with young children at the early language development stage.
MCT incorporates the child’s interest and initiations as opportunities to drive language learning in a naturalistic way. The clinician uses natural prompts, time delays, models, recasts and imitations to increase the frequency of the child’s communication. Simultaneously, the speech therapist provides natural reinforcers that encourage the child to continue to communicate their wants and needs. Over time, the child builds a natural language repertoire to connect with other people through play.
Play is known to be a child’s form of work. It not only entertains the child but also builds language, creativity, independence and peer interactions. Play-based therapy strategies tend to be the most fun and motivating to children, while at the same time being one of the best ways for children to learn. Children try harder, learn faster, retain more information and return to therapy more often when they are highly motivated by the task.
In order to encourage play skills and language building, speech language pathologists might offer play-based rooms to spike interest and motivation in the child to communicate during play. Therefore, the environment is set up to create communication temptations for the children and encourage natural language growth. As the children choose their toy of interest, the clinician demonstrates the appropriate language and provides natural reinforcers.
Naturalistic reinforcers bridge the gap from the therapy room to the real world. At a young age, children grow an understanding of how the world is working around them and how they fit into the world. Milieu communication training helps generalize language skills to different environments such as at home, school, and playground and with different conversational partners such as their family members, friends and teachers.
Parent training is one of the main goals of all speech language pathologists. In order for milieu communication training to reach its highest potential, parents and/or caregivers must be active participants in their child’s speech therapy growth. At Budding Voices, parents are provided education to help generalize speech and language skills into new environments and situations. The speech language pathologists strive to not only meet the client’s needs but also meet the parents’ needs.
For more information on milieu communication training (MCT), contact Budding Voices at www.buddingvoices.com and 844-410-2878.
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