5 Reasons YOU are your child’s best Speech and Language Therapist
Speech and Language Therapists are keen to get parents involved in the therapy process, but is this just a cop-out to avoid doing the work themselves? Yes, it can be tricky to convince a child to practice their new words with you (and most likely the last thing you want to do) when you’ve just spent 20 minutes convincing them to eat one green bean. But there are really good reasons therapists want you to be closely involved:
- You experience their ups and downs.
- You know what really motivates them, and what really frustrates them.
- You’ve been through it all with them.
But don’t just take your own word for it, research has been carried out which shows that parent’s opinions and questionnaires about their child’s language skills, are as accurate as some of the tests Speech and Language therapists do to measure language abilities (Dale 1991).
What’s the point in learning how to say ‘more cake’ unless there’s a real cake on offer? Why practice listening to items to pack in a school bag if it’s not actually time for school? Plus there’s limited realistic opportunities to practice signing ‘hello’ in a therapy session, but countless times throughout a day.
You can see why some children are perplexed by the activities they may be asked to carry out in a therapy session, even though the parent and therapist know there is a clear reason behind them! But you can incorporate your child’s communication targets into everyday activities.
So your child just got a trampoline for their birthday? Let’s take the therapy outside! The cartoon character they loved last week has been replaced by a new favourite? No problem, they can practice clapping out that name instead!
A therapist can give you pointers as to what kinds of activities to carry out, into which you can then incorporate your child’s interests. Imagine being able to give your child access to Speech and Language Therapy for most of their waking hours, or one hour a week. Which option would you pick?
Let’s add in to that scenario that the one hour a week could be at a time when you’re child’s just woken up from a nap, so are grouchy, or maybe they’re so focused on the toy shop you walked past on the way to the session, they aren’t listening to the therapist…
Training you up as the therapist means that you can provide therapy to your child on a daily, even hourly basis, and you can keep activities short and sweet because you know there will be other chances that same day. Let’s be a little selfish here, and also return to point number one. Who does your child talk to most often, and therefore who needs to understand them when they talk the most? You!
Who might also be most needing the tips and tricks to work out what children mean when they are having difficulties communicating? Or need the strategies to manage conflicts raised by the social communication difficulties? By building your skills as therapist, learning some of those little tricks and strategies, you will help both of you enjoy the time you spend together. And that’s what it’s all about… just promise to share with us teachers and therapists what you learn about what helps your child!
- You know your child best
- You can practice communication ‘in the moment’
- You can personalise your child’s therapy
- Your child gets more therapy sessions
- It might just make things easier for you…
Written by Alys Mathers, Speech and Language Therapist