Today’s blog post is in response to a very common question we are asked by parents in their first sessions with us. “What is a parents’ role in speech therapy?”
If you feel unsure about your involvement in the therapy process, you’re not alone! And today’s blog is just for you.
To begin, let’s consider some key background information. Research completed by The Hanen Centre (here) looked at parents’ expectations as they started language intervention for their child. Parents reported:
- They expected that the speech pathologist would be the one carrying out the therapy directly with their child (and that the parent might sit in reception while this occurred).
- They were willing to be involved in therapy, they were uncertain about what would be expected of them and some were anxious about their involvement.
- They were uncertain about their ability to carry out the intervention themselves.
It’s perfectly normal to feel uneasy as you begin the intervention process. It can be even more of worry to learn that you will share the focus of the therapy with your child! As Speech Pathologists, it’s our role to provide parents with the training and strategies they will use with their child in everyday situations to help their child develop certain language skills.
Research shows that parents make a difference!
For most children, seeing a speech pathologist once per week isn’t enough time to develop language skills. In fact, it’s hard to learn ANY new skills if it’s only practiced for 45 minutes per week. By working together with your therapist, you can devise goals and activities that you can do at home each day that will make a huge difference in your child’s language learning and their overall outcomes.
Two studies found that:
- Parents can learn to use strategies in everyday life to help their child
- When parents use these strategies, their children’s language skills improve
- Parents can have a considerable impact on children’ language skills
Ways Parents Can Get Involved In Therapy
There are many ways that you can become involved in your child’s intervention. At Active Speech Pathology, we suggest:
- Sharing information with your therapist about your child’s personality and preferences that can be used to motivate them.
- Helping your therapist understand how your child responds in frustrating situations and how you manage challenging behaviours at home. This information can help your therapist to provide consistency when working with your child in therapy sessions.
- Helping to set goals for your child
- Describing daily activities and routines so your therapist can best introduce strategies that will work with (and not against) your everyday agenda.
- Reporting changes and progress you see
- Providing feedback and determining next steps; working to troubleshoot activities and strategies that require tweaking
By working together with your child’s speech pathologist, you become the primary person delivering the therapy and your therapist functions as coach, consultant and cheerleader.
Rest assured that parents can be as effective as speech pathologists when it comes to providing intervention for toddlers with language delay. The everyday interactions you have with your child provide countless opportunities for language learning.
So if you feel uneasy about taking a front seat in your child’s therapy, rest assured. You won’t be alone in the process – your speech pathologist will be there to guide you and provide advice so that you ensure you are helping your child reach his or her potential.
- Davies, K. E., Marshall, J., Brown, L. J. E. & Goldbart, J. (2017). Co-working: Parents’ conception of roles in supporting their children’s speech and language development. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 33(2), 171-185.
- Rakap, S. & Rakap, S. (2014). Parent-implemented naturalistic language interventions for young children with disabilities: A systematic review of single-subject experimental designs. Educational Research Review, 13, 35-51.
- DeVeney, S. L., Hagaman, J. L. & Bjornsen, A. L. (2017). Parent-implemented versus clinician-directed interventions for late-talking toddlers: A systematic review of the literature. Communication Disorders Quarterly, 1-10.
- Roberts, M., & Kaiser, A. (2011). The Effectiveness of Parent-Implemented Language Intervention: A Meta-Analysis. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 20, 180–199.