Speech + Language Therapy

The Pillar Schools’ speech departments provide a wide range of services aimed at improving students’ functional communication skills.

Speech-language pathologists work to assess and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive, and swallowing disorders. All speech language specialists collaborate with our Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) teams to provide clinical services such as evaluations, consultations, treatment and documentation. Individual and group treatment focuses on goals established for each student’s individual needs to promote independence and achieve maximum social and communication potential.

Close up of student getting change in cash register
Therapy Spaces
School Store

A functional store is set up within the high school to provide opportunities for students to use language to communicate greetings, follow multi-step directions, and practice money skills within a therapeutic environment.

Functional Community Trips

Therapists coordinate goal-driven outings into the community to carry over communication skills into real world settings. This provides an opportunity to carryover functional communication skills, enriching the therapeutic experience.

Student smiling at computer

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)

Individuals with speech or language impairments may need to find alternative ways to communicate. There are many types of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) that students can learn to use. Students can participate in AAC/AT assessments to determine the right communication system for them. Light-tech options include sign language, picture symbols, communication books, Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display (PODD), etc. High-tech systems combine symbol-based language with a form of technology hardware such as a computer, tablet, iPad, etc. Speech-language pathologists at Pillar Schools have experience selecting, programming, and implementing a variety of AAC systems to support students’ communication and participation in everyday life.

Interventions and Activities

Our Speech-Language Therapy Department customizes intervention strategies for the unique needs of each student, taking into consideration the whole child. We collaborate with families to support a student's ability to communicate and interact with family, friends, and members of the school community.

  • Feeding and Swallowing
  • Totally Wired
  • Hearing Screening

Every Pillar student has an individualized feeding plan, based on his/her needs. Speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists work together to meet the needs of each student at mealtime including: seating/positioning, feeding equipment, and diet texture. Specialized equipment can include bowls, plates, cups, and utensils. These items are available and can be adapted for each student. Classroom staff is trained for each student’s feeding plan, to encourage independence and safety during mealtime.

Totally Wired is a therapist-run group for high school students who are primarily nonverbal and are learning to use AAC systems to communicate. Speech therapists work on expanding students’ use of vocabulary including emotions, descriptions, social comments, and more. Totally Wired also supports students learning to use alternative access via switches or eye gaze. Totally Wired performs in school wide assemblies, including the annual holiday show. In the past, students have read books aloud using AAC, provided instrument sounds to popular songs using switches, and sung songs using AAC.

All students receive an annual screening of their hearing to identify and address any concerns.

How to Help

Our supporters are critical to helping our schools to go above and beyond for our students. There are a number of ways you can help.