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I have a sign hanging by the door in my office for my clients to read (if they are able to) on their way out. It says: “STOP! Think about it…. WHY do I come to speech? WHAT did I learn today? HOW can I use it outside of speech?”
The meaning behind this sign is so important. I try to address these questions with all of my clients. In order to make progress it is so important for clients to know what they are working on and why it is important. While it is easier for my older clients to take ownership of their therapy than it is for my younger clients, a key piece to the puzzle is also the caregivers.
As a parent of a child in speech therapy it is so important to be involved. Being “involved” may mean a variety of different things depending on you, your child and your child’s therapist. For some families it may be beneficial for the parent to sit in the therapy room for every session. This will allow the parent to watch the techniques the therapist uses, understand the goals that are being worked on and easily take away strategies to use at home. For other families, having the parent in the room can be too distracting for the child. In this case, the parent may instead choose to sit in for one session every month or every other month. Or, if possible, the parent may watch the therapy through a one-way mirror in an adjoining room.
Whether the parent is in the room or not, it is important for the parent and therapist to have open communication. In my clinic, I try to take the last 5-10 minutes of my session to talk with the parent. I inform them about what goals we addressed that day, what activities we completed and what carryover activities can be done at home. This is also a time for parents to ask any questions they may have. Parents and therapists should work as a team to have open communication and share ideas/strategies to increase the progress of the child.
If you are a parent of a child in speech therapy (or any other kind of therapy!) I urge you to truly be involved in your child’s therapy. Think about the words on the sign:
Know WHY your child goes to therapy.
Know WHAT your child is working on in therapy.
Know HOW you can promote the carryover of skills to outside of therapy.
You are your child’s best teacher and advocate!