I’m getting backing into the blogging routine. This post has been rattling around in my head for sometime. If you have a child getting speech-language therapy, you need to know that you are part of the therapeutic process. A very important part, actually. So, here are some things that your child’s speech therapist wants you to know.
1: Every word we say, every toy we present and every action we do has a purpose.
Very little is random in a therapy session. We choose our words carefully. Our words purposefully model new vocabulary, utterance expansion, grammar corrections or a complex sentence. Our questions are crafted to prompt problem solving or perhaps to plant a new idea. Listen to how we communicate with your child and copy our techniques. Ask us why we did or said what we did or said.
2: We are always counting and collecting data
In a therapy session, I am very aware of the clock. I’m am counting the number of minutes my students play, stay engaged in an activity, are non-compliant or are silent as they process information. In my head, I’m counting verbal exchanges, the number of morphemes (sentence parts) your child uses and they and a general percentage of accurate for errored phonemes. I’m noting the use of new words, verb tense, directions followed without visual cues and the quality of speech. Listening for the quality and quantify of speech and language is second nature us to. Ask us what we think about a communication exchange.
3: Sometimes, silence really is golden
Often, adults are afraid of silence. They have the need to fill in the empty spaces with words and actions. But for us SLPs, silence is a tool. We know which kids need extra time to process and we are ok with waiting for that response. We also know which kids are not talking because they feel shy or anxious, have motor control deficits or are just being stinkers. We can wait it out. Waiting validates that what they have to say is important, and worth waiting for. Don’t answer for your child. Don’t prompt responses. Be comfortable with the pause and be an alert listener. You might be surprised by what your child has to say.
4: Play is valuable time spent, no matter what the age
Play is work. Most would agree that is true for a preschooler. But play is work for an elementary child as well as a middle or highschooler. Play looks different at different developmental levels, but its important for learning new vocabulary, constructing sentences, problem solving, creating, interacting and cooperating. Like many speech language pathologists, I mask the work of play by calling it a “break” or “free time”. To an observer, it might look like I’m slacking off on the job. But I’m not. Every toy option has a purpose. Sometimes I play too, sometimes I interact from afar and sometimes I keep a distance and observe. It depends on the child and what I’m seeking to achieve during the play time. Take some time to just watch and listen as your child plays. Explore ways to make your child’s play time/down time more purposeful. Maybe it will be the type of toys offered, the number of toys offered or how you interact. Ask your therapist to help you. We’re experts in this.
5: Don’t be afraid to overshare
I am a speech language pathologist working on a child’s speech, language and play skills. Believe it or not, it helps me to know what they are afraid of, what they refuse to eat, how they slept, what happened at school, if there is new stress at home, if they pooped recently, what bugs them and what really makes them happy. Its helpful to know what other therapies the child is receiving and how they are struggling. Communication is only a piece of your child and all of the pieces are connected. So, fill your therapist in….the good and the bad. Believe me, its hard to shock us. Maybe we can be a support for you too.
So, get to know your child’s SLP. Ask questions. Learn the hows and whys. In the long run, your kid will be the one who benefits…one word at a time.