Thursday, November 30, 2017

5 Tips to Get the Most out of Speech Therapy

by Lauren Barnett, NA, CCC-SLP

If you are considering Speech therapy or have been referred to a Speech Pathologist (SLP) by a doctor or your child's school, there are a few things you should know about to get the most out of this experience! 

1. Get A thorough review of the thorough evaluation 

2. Find A therapist that you like. 
3. Understand and DO homework! 
4. Ask questions 
5. Get school staff and the family involved. 

Ok - now for some details about each of these!

First, and this one is sort of a double, you'll need a thorough review of the thorough evaluation. Let's start with a thorough evaluation. Make sure the company you select values the diagnostic process. Sometimes a quick test will not reveal areas of weakness. The evaluation should have a good selection of both formal and informal measures.  Then, after the evaluation is complete the report should have details about how your child did, what the scores mean and how your child compares with same age (and sometimes same gender) peers. You should end the thorough report review feeling like you've gotten a college level class on the topic of your child's communication skills! Then your therapist should go over the report explaining each part to you. I've worked with a few therapists' children but typically I work with families have no background in Communication Disorders. Your therapist should go over the report and Plan of Care (that's the goals that will be addressed in therapy), answer all of your questions and make sure you understand what the report says. 

Second, and maybe this should be first, find a therapist that you like! Your child is going to spend a lot of time with the therapist and you'll be communicating with her (I say "her" because the majority of SLPs are female) on a regular basis. If there is a personality conflict between you or your child and the therapist, progress will be effected and it won't be the wonderful experience that it could be! Make sure your therapist shares your desire to see improvements in your child's communication! She should have a passion for what she is doing that seems to ooze from her! 

Third, make sure you understand and DO homework! This is where good communication with your child's therapist is super important! If you get an assignment and have no idea what to do, you should be able to contact her for clarification! Then once you know what to work on, make sure you work on your assignment at least a few times during the week! Think of therapy like food... you wouldn't eat once or twice a week, right? Or workout once or twice, and expect to make good progress in the area of your health! A little bit every day is best! 

Fourth, ask questions and keep your therapist up to date with changes in your child's medical situations! Like any good relationship, the therapist-client relationship needs to have open lines of communication. This is important for little things like when your child had a rough night the night before his therapy session as well as new diagnoses or updates on tests like hearing tests. 

Fifth, get school staff and the family involved. We believe a team approach is best. I love working with the staff at schools to show them techniques that work for my client or basic communication skills that would be good for any child. If your therapist just drops off your kiddo and rushes to the next child, the teacher will not know how she can help too. Teachers are wonderful and spend many hours a day with your child. I have yet to meet a teacher who didn't want ideas and actives they could do to help!  I have some teachers who will incorporate the child's activities into their classroom routine and others who spend special one-on-one time with the child to work on skills. If grandparents or aunts and uncles spend a lot of time with your child, fill them in on the activities and goals your child is working on and have them incorporate it into their interactions!

What should you do if you are unhappy with your therapist?

First, I would recommend talking with her. Tell her what you are frustrated by or confoabout or what is bothering you. If she's willing to change a little in your direction or help you understand the reason for a particular activity, give it a little while longer. If after a few sessions you are still unhappy, ask the company for a different therapist. They don't want you unhappy! If there are no available therapists with that company, I'd recommend contacting ASHAs ProFind or ask friends for recommendations. 

Once you have half a dozen names, check out their blogs (like this blog!), social media accounts (like Facebook and Instagram) and websites (here) to get a feel for their personality and their philosophy about speech therapy. Call the different companies or therapists and talk with them. You can get a lot of information just by hearing how they answer your questions!

It's very important to work with a therapist that both you and your child like! The therapeutic process should be fun and exciting as you watch your child learn new skills and communicate more effectively!!

Do you have other tips for having a great experience with Speech Therapy? Please share below!

Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Please know that I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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