Speech Thoughts

The Role Of Patience In Speech Therapy

Speech Therapy - Behind the scene of first words

Realizing your child needs speech therapy can be a harrowing time. Just my presence on the scene means a family is no longer alone and that a professional is here to help.

Often parents want to know how long will this all take? I answer by stating over time things should  improve – the key phrase is “over time.”

The dictionary defines patience as;

“The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.”

When discussing speech therapy programs with families, I cautioned against letting the current moment frustrate. A child’s acquisition of speech and language evolves over time. Ultimately its involves the formation and coming together of cognitive, neurological, and physiological processes. To say a word, the above processes (which by the way are invisible) have to act and coordinate in a way they may have never done before.

The Good News – Speech Therapy Works

The good news is things no matter how dire almost always improve.  How do I know that?  It’s the lesson the people I’ve helped over the years have taught me. It’s something a two year with a developmental language delay who at three could say at best five words and today speaks volumes.  The child classified within the autism spectrum, who within six months moves off the spectrum. The little girl with Cerebral Palsy mastery over sign language. It’s the success stories of these individuals and the many many others who have collectively taught me the role of patience.

As a therapist, I had expectations for a child, but I didn’t necessarily know the exact moment a new word, sound a particular goal might happen. When you think about it, speech therapy is human therapy, and as such, is filled with moments that surprise and delight. I remember a mom jumping for joy when her daughter Sarah said: “Barney” (I was prompting for “ball”).  I remember laughing and commenting to the mom; at least the word started with /B/.

So does patience automatically appear when told your child has a language or speech delay? No…  knowing its importance may not make the process any easier. Moreover, it is reasonable to want quick solutions. In essence, patience is the ability to appreciate the little accomplishments your child makes over the course of therapy. It’s pushing aside the worry of the moment for the developing confidence things will someday be better. It’s celebrating progress.

So in sum, patience happens over time and is a critical piece of a successful therapy program.