What You Can Expect From Speech Therapy {A Guide for Parents} Part Five: The Ins and Outs of Speech Therapy

Welcome to the fifth installment of What You Can Expect from Speech Therapy {A Guide for Parents}. Today, I am going to talk about the ins and outs of speech therapy, or Frequently Asked Questions about Speech Therapy.

What to Expect from Speech Therapy part five

Speech Therapy FAQ’s

Before we start: A few important points:

  • There is no one-sized-fits all therapy approach
  • There is no one-sized-fits all therapy schedule
  • There is no one-sized-fits all speech-langauge pathologist
  • All therapy will be unique and developed for your individual child and tailored to his/her needs
  • No two therapy sessions will look identical, even if the children have the same general needs/goals. There are many many factors that play a role in your child’s therapy design.

With that…let’s get started!

Who Will be Providing my Child’s Speech Therapy?

A certified and possibly licensed and/or credentialed  (depending on your state) speech-language pathologist should be the ONLY person delivering speech and language services. Unfortunately, sometimes in some settings, like early intervention, you may end up getting another professional providing “speech and language” intervention. Make sure to check the credentials of the person providing the services.

Where will the Speech Therapy Take Place?

This depends on the setting of the services.

  • Early Intervention: Therapy may take place in your home, in a private practice office, or another service providers office (like a preschool designed for children with delays)
  • In the schools: Therapy will most likely be on the school campus either in the SLPs office/room or your child’s classroom. 
  • In the Medical Setting: Therapy will most likely take place in the hospital/clinic setting
  • In Private Practice: Therapy may take place in the private practice’s office, in your home, or possibly even in your child’s day care/preschool.
  • In the University Clinic: Therapy will take place at the university clinic itself

How Often Will my Child Have Speech Therapy Sessions?

Many factors determine how often your child will have speech therapy sessions including:

  • Age of child
  • Severity of the speech/language delay/disorder
  • Type of speech/language delay/disorder
  • Any concomitant issues/disorders
  • The setting of therapy (early intervention vs. schools vs. private practice vs. medical/hospital)

Genrally speaking, children receive speech therapy anywhere between once a month to several times a week.

How Long Will the Sessions Be?

The length of the sessions also will depend on the factors discussed in the first question. Generally, sessions tend to be anywhere from 20 minutes to 60 minutes at a time, with some exceptions. For example, there is a great program being utilized for articulation therapy where students are seen 5 minutes a day 3-5 days a week. This may not seem like a lot, but for children with just a couple articulation errors. this method of service delivery can actually be MORE effective than 2 sessions a week at 25 minutes!

Will My Chid Have Individual or Group Sessions? Will My Child Receive In Class Sessions or Consultations?

The type of service delivery your child gets (i.e. how the service is delivered) also will depend on the factors mentioned in the first question. Children will typical receive speech therapy in the following ways:

  • Individual sessions: This is when your child receives therapy 1:1 with an SLP and no other children are there. This is common for early intervention services. 
  • Group sessions: This is when your child receives speech services in a small group setting (3-5 kids). This is a common way for services to be provided on the school
  • In Class/Push In services/Team Teaching: This is when your child receives his speech therapy within the classroom setting. This includes when an SLP goes into the classroom and works with your child (push-in) or when the SLP goes into your child’s classroom and team teaches with his regular education teacher.
  • Consultation services: This is a type of indirect service model where the SLP does not work directly with you child, but rather consults with the professionals who DO work with the child and discuss/teach those professionals the ways to work with your child to help him succeed (this is important for generalization of skills).

Will I be Able to Observe/Participate in the Sessions?

The answer to this depends on the setting of the services and the guidelines that setting has set up. Most of the time, there should be some way for you to observe a session here and there regardless of the setting so that YOU can watch and learn and use those strategies your child is being taught in the home.

For in-home services (Early Intervention or private practice) you SHOULD be involved in the sessions! If not, ask. Sometimes you are just involved for part of the sessions, sometimes just for part of them. Talk to your SLP to find out how you can be involved in your child’s sessions.

How are Goals Determined?

Your child’s SLP will be determining goals for your child’s speech and language needs. These goals are based on many factors including:

  • Your child’s present levels of functioning in all areas of development
  • Your child’s specific type of speech/language impairment
  • The severity of that impairment
  • Any concomitant issues your child has
  • The setting of the services

In the school setting, goals are written as part of the Individualized Education Plan and are written for yearly intervals. Different settings will develop their goals for different time frames depending on the general set up of therapy, but generally they are written in intervals of 3 or 6 or 12 months.

How Often will I Receive Progress Reports?

This will totally depend on the therapy setting. Usually every 3 to 6 months or so.

What do Speech Therapy Sessions Look Like?

Like everything else, the sessions themselves will vary depending on all the variables I have already discussed. However, here are some basic things you may see in a session:

  • Sessions will have a beginning, middle and an end
  • Sessions may start with a review of the last session or review of homework
  • There will be activities set up and often these are play based (until you get unto the much older grades)
  • The SLP will work with the child/children on their goals in various ways through the play based activities.
  • At the end concepts worked on may be reviewed and homework may be assigned OR if the child is very young, session goals and homework will be addressed with the parent
  • Some speech sessions will require the parent to be very involved and hands-on. This is especially true for little ones.

But Aren’t Your Just Playing with my Child?

Aaaahhhh yes. We SLPs hear this a lot 😉 Particularly in early intervention/preschool aged children. Yes, we sometimes will play with your child, but that play is very deliberate and planned and even though you may not notice it at first, we are using many “tools” in our tool box (methods/strategies) to help your child expand his/her speech and language skills. I promise you, we are not really “just playing.” Play is how children LEARN, which is why we use PLAY in our therapy as much as possible. Flashcards are useful when children are working on articulation practice, but beyond that, you shouldn’t see too many of them in your child’s therapy.

You can read more about the importance of PLAY on my post HERE.

Regarding the use of “games” in therapy, we also often set up our lessons in game formats so that your child stays motivated. Changing speech and language behaviors and learning these new skills can be hard and often the use of games (used correctly!) enhance and promote learning and progress. We are not *just* playing games.

Will There be Homework?

Most of the time, there will be some kind of homework/home practice for either your child or for YOU. Yup, I said YOU may have homework! This is especially true for very young children as their success is very dependent upon the adults in their life helping them learn and use language. For older children in the school setting or private practice setting, there most likely will be some kind of home practice. And doing this home practice is so important for your child’s progress! 

How Long will My Child Need Speech Therapy?

Another answer that depends on all the variables already discussed. There is not one-sized-fits-all therapy schedule or duration. All children learn at different paces and all settings offer therapy at different paces which also effects progress. That said, overall speech therapy is not a quick fix. Mild issues may be resolved in 6-12 months where as children with more severe disabilities may get therapy for years.

There are some of the most FAQ’s I get about therapy. Do YOU have any questions I should add?

To read the other installments in this series, click HERE

Don’t want to miss future posts? You can have posts delivered via email! just click HERE (be sure to watch for the confirmation email). You can also follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for even more speech and language information and fun!


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  1. Jennifer says

    Hello, I’m new to speech therapy and have a lot of anxiety.. My youngest who is 3 almost 4 just started therapy. Before she turned 1 she had several ear infections which ultimately ended with tubes being put in. She started saying mama and dada around the usual time but then abruptly quit babbling all together. A couple months later everything she said was eee.. “I want that”=”E eeee eeee”. She is just recently starting to say understandable sentences but the SLP said she thought she might have a language disorder! To hear this is heartbreaking for me. I know that my daughter gets frustrated too which makes me feel even worse. Will this get better?! Therapy twice a week.. I’m ALWAYS working with her myself, I just want someone to tell me that everything is going to be ok. Will she eventually speak normally? I would appreciate any advice. Thanks.