Parents used to sit quietly in a waiting room or watch through a two-way mirror while their child would receive care from a speech-language pathologist. However, parents now often are asked to be active participants in a speech therapy session. While your child might interact with a speech therapist once or twice a week, he is around you every day of the week. It is important for you as a parent to reinforce and practice what your child learns during his speech therapy sessions.
Why Parents Should Be Involved
According to the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists, children acquire language skills through social interaction, which means parents can join with their children to improve their speech. According to the Hanen Centre, children learn to communicate through everyday activities and with the important people in their lives -- most notably, parents. While a speech therapist might be more focused on your child saying words correctly, you as a parent might be interested in your child’s participation and building his confidence. Both of these areas need to be addressed in speech therapy.
Therapy Happens Everywhere
Speech therapy is concentrated during a session, but that doesn’t mean the therapy stops when the session with a speech-language pathologist is over. A speech-language pathologist will typically teach you skills or strategies to use at home. When a child learns therapeutic tools throughout daily activities that are meaningful to him, such as playtime or bedtime, therapy tends to work better because it has a purpose.
According to a 2011 study by Megan Roberts and Ann Kaiser of Vanderbilt University, parents who interacted more with their child and responded to their child’s attempts to communicate had a positive effect on their child’s vocabulary, grammar or speech understanding development compared to children who received no therapy or sessions led only by a speech-language pathologist. The study actually found that parents were more effective than speech-language pathologists at improving language and grammar. According to KidsHealth, children had the quickest and longest lasting results when their parents were involved.
You Know Your Child
When you start a regimen with a speech-language pathologist, that professional relies upon you to communicate your child’s personality and preferences, so that he can tailor the sessions for the best motivation for your child. Feedback from parents also helps a therapist formulate goals. Also at times, your speech-language pathologist might change. You, however, remain a constant in your child’s life. You can help maintain some stability and consistency in your child’s therapy.
- Hanen Centre: Parents as "Speech Therapists": What a New Study Shows
- Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists: Parent Involvement in Speech Therapy: Practical Ideas for Parents and Clinicians
- KidsHealth: Speech-Language Therapy
- Apraxia Kids: The Importance of Parent Involvement in the Speech Therapy Process
- Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images