As a speech-language pathologist, I’ve become sensitized to some of the challenges my patients’ families face after years of shuttling my kids to therapy appointments. Family schedules are busy and complicated. Finding balance for things most important is always worth it.
Here are some tips to make the speech therapy process smoother.
READ MORE: Understanding adult speech therapy
Schedule appointments around your needs. When choosing therapy appointment times, schedule around your family’s needs. An appointment at seven o’clock in the morning may be appropriate for a five-year old but not a teenager. Also, consider focus and energy levels throughout the day. Some medications, such as stimulants for attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have peak effectiveness periods. Caregivers can and should help find the best therapy appointment time for each patient.
Come prepared. A pediatric speech evaluation is similar to a doctor’s appointment with more toys and no shots. Come early, as there will be paperwork. Bring a snack, a drink and a favorite toy. And bring any related medical or educational reports.
Be supportive, not overbearing. Allow the patient to speak for his or her self. But advocate for them if they are unable to express their concerns. Don’t be afraid to ask for a break.
Set realistic goals. Goals need to be easily achievable and simple to understand. Small, incremental, change is more sustainable.
Personalize the experience. Patients are more likely to succeed when speech therapy reflects their interest. A speech articulation goal for a child might target the “r” sound when saying their friend Ryan’s name, for example, or when singing Baby Shark. Parents and caregivers can help identify personalized speech therapy targets.
Tell the truth. Work with your therapist to modify goals that aren’t working. Tell your therapist if the patient did not follow recommendations or do their homework. I always encourage and appreciate honest feedback.
Take homework seriously. Like any exercise program, consistency is the key to lasting change. Speech therapy homework helps to carry over learned strategies to real life.
Make homework a part of your existing routine. An additional homework task may seem impossible, so try tucking speech therapy exercises into other activities. I hid my son’s flashcards next to his dinner plate, his car seat and his toothbrush.
Add some fun and include the whole family. Homework can be on an iPad or part of a game or craft. Try exercises while watching a favorite TV show.Parents, siblings, grandparents, babysitters, teachers, and friends can all assist with speech therapy homework.
Life is hectic. I hope these tips make your family’s speech therapy experience a little easier. After all, we are here to help.