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WHY WE MIGHT RECOMMEND CO-TREATMENT AT ICAN

By: Janna Gallagher, M.S., CCC-SLP

Co-treatment, or sometimes referred to as a co-treat, refers to when two different disciplines provide treatment for one child at the same time. For example, the speech-language pathologist and occupational therapist work together to implement both of their goals into one therapy session.

At ICAN we offer co-treatment between all rehabilitation disciplines including speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. Research has shown that co-treatment can improve treatment outcomes, particularly in individuals with ASD and other complex developmental disorders.

Every case and every child’s needs are specific and there are times when a co-treat is not indicated. Co-treatment may be recommended on a recurring basis or for a short-term situation. Here are four main reasons why we may recommend for co-treatment as the best approach for your child.

  1. IT’S HOLISTIC—Children’s strengths and challenges are not insular and often bleed into different disciplines of intervention.  For example, a child who communicates with system that requires fine motor skills may benefit from having both the speech-language pathologist and the occupational therapist present during treatment sessions. Integrating communication and fine motor skills is important to him functioning in meaningful ways in his everyday life.
  • SAFETY—Our patients’ and staff’s safety are our top priority. When clients engage in potentially harmful behaviors or may require an extra pair of hands to keep them safe, co-treatment may be recommended.
  • REGULATION—There have been many studies indicating that co-treatment with occupational therapists can be beneficial for children with complex developmental disorders. Occupational therapists are trained to support a child’s regulation. Regulation is the ability to manage their own behaviors and emotions. When a child is well regulated their brain and bodies are ready to learn new things and are more receptive to other therapy techniques. 
  • COLLABORATION—Patients with complex needs require collaboration across all their interventions. Co-treatment allows for the highest level of involvement between disciplines. Often, being present to work together in the moment allows our therapists to problem solve difficult issues and provide the most integrated care.

ICAN believes in the best hope and future of your child and we strive to offer the most effective interventions available to help them meet their goals. Co-treatment is part of the best care out there based on evidenced based practice and the experience of our trained practitioners. Please reach out to your therapists if you have questions about co-treatment and your child’s treatment plan.

Sylvester, L., Ogletree, B. T., & Lunnen, K. (2017). Cotreatment as a Vehicle for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice: Physical Therapists and Speech-Language Pathologists Collaborating in the Care of Children With Severe Disabilities. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology,26(2), 206-216. doi:10.1044/2017_ajslp-15-0179

Lund, E., Young, A., & Yarbrough, R. (2019). The Effects of Co-Treatment on Concept Development in Children With Down Syndrome. Communication Disorders Quarterly, 41(3), 176-187. doi:10.1177/1525740119827264

Jordan K.A., Lofland K.B. (2016) Collaborative Teaming: OT and SLP Co-treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder. In: Cardon T. (eds) Technology and the Treatment of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism and Child Psychopathology Series. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-20872-5_5

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