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17 August 2017

Run, bounce, wriggle: The secret to supporting children with language delay

For students with severe speech and language disability or delay, spending a day in the classroom can be a challenge – and not just academically.

Fortunately for these students, the Department of Education’s Language Development Centres are the ideal environment to get them on track.

At the Fremantle centre, an occupational therapist works with students and their families – and oversees Curtin University occupational therapy students.

Students are encouraged to meet the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines of 60 minutes of activity a day, and activities that send feedback through the body are strongly encouraged. This helps students concentrate and regulate their behaviour back in the classroom.

The benefits are being enjoyed by students and families, who can access the service outside the classroom as well.

“The expertise provided by an occupational therapist can help our students make progress with their language and learning,” principal Wendy Strang said.

The school’s occupational therapist Berry Johnston, and the Curtin University students under her supervision, work in classrooms to identify students who need to develop fine motor, visual perception, sensory processing or self-regulation skills.

Ms Johnston has introduced changes to classrooms and lesson plans – from new work surfaces and chairs, to more movement throughout the day.

“Children have a variety of seating options – including wobble stools, air-filled cushions, standing stations or if appropriate, just being able to lie on the floor – which allows them to decide which way of working suits them,” Ms Johnston said.

For children in the early years, Language Development Centres provide specialised language and academic intervention on an individual and small group basis.

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