How do I make the most of my child’s therapy sessions?

Q. My four-year-old daughter just started receiving private weekly speech therapy to address some articulation issues. Our weekly co-pay is expensive and a bit of a financial investment for us, so I want to make sure that my husband and I are doing all we can to make the most of her sessions. What are some ways that we can help her progress?

A. Kudos to you for wanting to play an active role in your daughter’s progress during speech therapy. In my practice, I see the value that parent involvement brings to the therapeutic process. Parents often play an important and vital role in their child’s ability to meet therapy goals as they have the unique opportunity to practice with their child beyond the scheduled therapy sessions. Their participation often helps drive progress towards goals and an overall change in their child.

Here are some ways that you can make the most of your daughter’s speech therapy experience:

Be present
It’s ideal to have a parent attend therapy sessions and sit in on the sessions to see how the speech-language pathologist elicits desired skills and provides cueing and feedback. If your presence is distracting to your child, consider coming into the room for the last few minutes of her sessions to observe and have a detailed conversation with the therapist afterward.

Practice at home
Your daughter’s therapist should be providing you with activities to do at home to encourage the skills she is practicing in therapy. The activities the therapist assigns will enable your daughter to practice her new skills throughout the week in a comfortable setting. Incorporate these practice sessions into your daily routine and do your best to make them fun and enjoyable for your daughter, your husband and you.

Always ask
While therapists try to use parent-friendly language, there may be terms that you do not understand during sessions or on written documentation. Be sure to ask questions to ensure you have a good understanding of the issues the therapist has raised and how to address them. The more that you understand about your child’s therapy sessions, the better prepared you are to help at home.

Talk to the therapist
Do your best to keep an open line of communication with your daughter’s therapist. Tell the therapist if the strategies she has assigned are or are not working for your daughter. Express your excitement for progress that you see or concerns for issues that may arise. Your feedback is a key component in the therapeutic process.

Parents certainly play an important role in their child’s progress and success during speech therapy. It is wonderful that you already recognize this and are eager to be an active participant. Try implementing some of the tips above so that you can help your daughter achieve therapy goals and learn new skills. Your involvement can make a huge difference in the progress she makes and the time it takes her to reach goals. Good luck!

Allison Crumpler is a speech-language pathologist and the director of clinical compliance for Raleigh Therapy Services, Inc., a multidisciplinary pediatric therapy practice in North Raleigh. (919-791-3582)

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