There you are. You have been concerned about your child’s speech and language skills and are seeking an assessment. Or maybe your child has already been assessed and speech therapy has been recommended. What can you expect on this journey? What will happen? How can you help?
This is the first in a series of posts to help parents understand what to expect from the speech therapy process from beginning to end. As a parent, I understand how scary it is when you suspect there is something wrong with your child and you are waiting to find out what is going on (you can read my post HERE about my daughter’s health issues for our story). Then when you have confirmation that your child indeed needs intervention, a whole new set of anxieties and endless questions are bound to consume your brain.
I want to try to calm some of these fears and anxieties and answer some of those questions through this series of posts. Because knowledge is power. Let’s first start with some basic information to set the stage before we get started.
Many Factors Can Play A Role in What to Expect From Assessments and Therapy
The first important thing I want you to know as a parent, is that the therapy (and even the assessment process) for your child will look different from another child’s therapy/assessment, even if they are being seen for the same general issues by the same speech pathologist. There are so many variables that are in play when we are talking about speech therapy and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Some of these variables include:
- The setting for services. You can get speech therapy in a variety of settings, and each setting is unique in how, why, where and when speech therapy is recommended and implemented. Settings can include those funded through your state/local government like early intervention or through the school system or can include hospitals and private clinics, to name a few. Some settings provide therapy 1:1 only, groups only, or a combination of the two. Some settings provide services in a classroom-like environment while others provide services in a pull-put environment.
- The state you live in, the county you live in, and the school district you live in (assuming the therapy is provided in the school). If you are getting services that are funded through your state like early intervention or the school system, those services can look different just a few streets over in another county or district.
- The age/grade of your child. Therapy can and will look different for children of different ages due to developmental abilities to attend, imitate, read, write, etc.
- The specific issues your child is experiencing. Therapy for a child working on making an /r/ sound is going to look different from therapy for a child who is working on fluency/stuttering (however…it is common for these two children to be in the same group therapy sessions!) A child with childhood apraxia of speech (CAS)’s therapy will look different from the therapy for a child with a phonological delay, though again these two children could be in a group session together.
- The severity of those issues/delays. A child with a more severe delay may require more frequent therapy and more 1:1 therapy than a child with a less severe delay.
- Any additional delays/disorders your child may have. Some children have more than just delays in speech or language. If your child is found to have other delays as well (such as fine or gross motor) these delays can effect your child’s speech assessment and/or therapy. For example, if delays in other areas are suspected your child’s assessment may be done as a collaboration between many therapists (like occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychologist, behaviorist, etc).
- Your child’s individual personality/temperament. The shy child, the outgoing child, the silly child, the serious child…each personality type needs slightly different intervention styles to help them learn the best.
- Your child’s learning style. Some children are more visual learners while others are more auditory learners. Some children learn best with multi sensory instruction, while others do not require this. Each child’s therapy will be tailored to meet your child’s learning style.
- Your individual speech-language pathologist: Every SLP does things in their own way. Every SLP has their own unique teaching style and personality and therefore your child’s therapy may look different from your friend’s child’s speech therapy because they have different SLPs. And yet both children can be getting exactly the right services to meet their goals!
Speech and Language are NOT THE SAME
The next thing I want you to understand before we start, is that speech and language are NOT THE SAME. They are two different things that work together to allow your child to communicate. Understanding the differences between speech and language will help YOU as the parent, understand your child’s needs and his/her therapy goals and thus will empower you to be able to help your child at home.
Check out my posts below by clicking on the images to learn more about speech vs. language.
Now that you have an understanding of the differences between speech and language and have a general idea of why no two therapies (or even assessments) will look the same, we can start to talk about the evaluation process. But how to you even go about getting a speech evaluation for your child? That is up next!
To read the other installments in this series, click HERE.
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