Does Speech Therapy Help?
Recently I received this blog post from a parent of a three-year-old “My son is now 27 months and hardly speaks. I’ve tried everything to make him talk but am at a loss for what to do. Does my child need speech therapy- will it help?” Questions such as these often precede the therapy process. It’s the realization by a parent or caregiver that the current situation won’t heal by itself and there’s a need to act.
Additional questions I have encountered include;
Why doesn’t my child:
Put words together?
Establish eye contact?
Just the fact I can address such parental questions had a calming effect on the situation. But as a therapist, beyond answering questions, just what is my role? What could I do to make the situation better?
Going back to my grad school days, I remember a professor posed a similar question to ‘does speech help?’ when he instructed my class to write the “role of a speech therapist” on an index card. I wrote two words, “To Help.” I was the first one to finish the task and remember a sense of trepidation as some classmates filled both sides of their cards. You can imagine my shock when my professor chose my response for class discussion. Back then I knew I wanted to help others but was somewhat short on the specifics for how everything might occur moving forward.
Six Ways Speech Therapy Can Help
After decades of work in the field, I can offer six ways speech therapy does help.
1.Understand the problem
Parents have come to realize something’s not right with their child’s speech and have made a call for help. From here it’s the role, of a speech therapist, to diagnosis a problem (should one exist), give it a name and determine a level of severity. Is this a speech and or language delay? Is there an issue with receptive language processing? This is where the schooling and the experiential base of Speech-Language Pathologist come into play. There are many possible speech etiologies, and the diagnosis made here will determine all that follows.
2. Formulate a plan to resolve the problem
The next step: write short and long-term goals Michael will say the /F/ sound or Sarah will put two words together, e.g., “Want cookie.” Such objectives present a vision for what to expect during therapy. In addition, it sets up a means to assess the therapy process itself.
3. Begin Speech Therapy
Now with the problem and goals on paper, it’s time to work with the child. It’s time to integrate and mix my knowledge of speech therapy with the world of the child. Now it’s time to have some fun. Depending upon the level of severity speech therapy occurs between one and three times a week. Sessions can last weeks, months, or however long it’s needed.
4. Coordinate with Others
It helps to coordinate with the OT, PT. Nurse, teachers, and other professionals on a case. Working with others, I often gain new perspectives on what works. Maybe a new word is said in OT, or the physical therapist identifies a particular position that facilitates speech play. Collaboration is the key to success, when everyone is on the same page the child wins!
5. Paperwork, Paperwork, Paperwork
Writing is a big part of a therapist’s job. It documents progress, conversations with other professionals, thoughts on what to do next, home programs and more. My notes provided an up to the minute accounting of the therapy process for a parent to see. It further gave me the opportunity to reflect on the current state of my therapy. Is everything on course? Is there a need for adjustment?
6: Organizing the team
In reality, I was only a with a child for a fraction out of a week; Anywhere from one to three hours. So when possible I found it helpful to seek the support of others – a parent, caretaker, teacher, brother, the family pet – whatever. Without question, therapy works best when everyone works together.
Speech Therapy Does Help!
Given all I know now, I doubt my response to my professors question back in grad school would be much different today. You see as a therapist it was my mission “To Help.” Each time I walked into therapy room, spoke with a parent, a nurse, a teacher, a doctor, insurance company, there was only one mindset and that was “To Help”:
Johnny say the word “ball.”
Ann put two words together
Mike speak fluently
Secure an ACC device for Thomas
Petition more insurance coverage
Educate someone about the happenings in therapy
Speech therapy was but the tool I used “To Help” and in the final analysis it does help, can help, and somewhere in the world just helped.