In most cases where children require speech or language therapy, parents are a very important – if not the most important – part of their child’s path to improvement.
There are specific programs that are developed with parents in mind as “therapists.” In these programs, the Speech-Language Pathologist teaches strategies directly to parents so that they can be implemented at home during everyday interactions. The SLP is responsible for planning therapy sessions, assessing interaction and providing immediate feedback and additional strategies. The SLP keeps track of progress (the child’s and the parents’) in an objective way and continues to plan appropriate steps.
Outside of these programs, parents still play a very important role. The reasoning behind this is very simple: parents know their children best and spend far more time with them than a professional ever will. An SLP may spend 45 min to an hour once a week with the child, but parents are with their kids for far, far longer. In addition to what we know about the success of therapy in a natural setting, imagine how much “therapy” parents can provide to their children at home doing normal home stuff?
The truth is, no therapy for children with a speech or language delay is going to succeed if parents or caregivers aren’t actively participating during times away from the SLP. That’s why parents are strongly encouraged to watch closely during therapy sessions so that they can copy some of the same strategies at home. They may also be given handouts to help them remember what to do at home (kind of like homework!). Often, parents are asked to join the session to practice some techniques. (This is if they are not already enrolled in a parent training program).
Check out the “Services” tab for more information about parent training programs. If you have questions or concerns about your child, please call, email, or fill out an online referral form.
Your SLP has the tools you need and can teach you to use them!