A Parent’s Guide to Successful Speech Therapy
After a long cold winter, May is finally here and brings with it not only warmer weather, but the celebration of national Better Speech and Hearing Month!
As speech pathologists, our hope is to provide children and their parents with the most effective and productive treatment possible. The goal is to make significant improvements and help your children acquire age-appropriate language skills as quickly as we can.
To ensure that happens, here are 8 important points parents should look for in a quality speech and language therapy session:
1. Established rapport between your child and the therapist
The treatment room should be child-centered and a place where positive things happen. The therapist is the bearer of fun. Your child should be excited about their session.
2. Attainable Goals
Treatment goals should be logical, clear, sequential and appropriate to your child’s level of functioning.
3. Motivators should be chosen specifically for your child’s interests
Motivators are extremely important for attention and focus, cooperation, play and reinforcement. A variety is best, if possible, with input from you on your child’s favorites.
4. Therapy should be fast-paced to get the maximum number of responses during the session
This provides your child with the most opportunities to practice and learn the skill.
5. Easier skills your child has already mastered should be intermixed with new goals
This leads to skill maintenance, continued cooperation, and feelings of success.
6. Proven teaching procedures, imitation, and structured tasks should be used to teach skills
Flexibility should be evident by the therapist being able to adapt or simplify goals, vary treatment pace, and incorporate a variety of strategies to obtain attention, cooperation, learning, and progress. Successful teaching procedures, taken from the principles of applied behavioral analysis (ABA), include errorless teaching, the fading of prompts, and reinforcement.
7. Typical sessions should include a mix of structure
Tabletop learning is best for teaching, and play works well for skill generalization.
8. Communication between you and the therapist should always be welcomed
The therapist should provide specific suggestions to you in order to establish a strong home program. It is very important that you get specific guidance and your child be given numerous opportunities to practice goals across all environments. If needed, you should have the opportunity to practice with your child and the therapist in the treatment room.
It is the goal of speech-language pathologists to make significant and positive impacts on children’s communication skills and lives. You can help by being your child’s advocate and communicating your questions and concerns with the therapist to ensure success.