As a speech therapist for the past 33 years, I have always looked for opportunities to have parents observe and participate in therapy sessions with their children. Doing so allows me – the therapist – to model direct and visual cues to teach core vocabulary. For example, to help your child communicate “I want more?”, I may point to the picture or word associated with “more” on his/her device. Having parents see my approach and technique allows them to simulate it at home and maintain consistency.
Parent involvement in therapy is extremely beneficial. Here are a few reasons why:
- Parents know their child better than anyone.
- Typically, a child may see different therapists throughout his or her lifetime, but a parent will be their teacher for life.
- Parents can “carryover” interactions from a therapy session to the home and continue to generalize skills. Parents can provide choice-making situations instead of just doing for the child. Parents can pretend to not know a word so the child can fill in the blank. There are countless situations where parents can facilitate communication by participation in therapy.
- Parents need the knowledge and tools learned in sessions to develop their child’s communication abilities.
- When augmentative communication devices are involved, parents must also adapt and grow with the device to help their children tap into their fullest potential.
One-on-one training is best. However, sometimes factors such as transportation or routine inhibit accessing a therapist in his/her office. Get creative and think of ways to connect therapists to your life at home. Create a communication notebook. If possible, establish a secure network connection with a therapist and collaborate via email. Consider sharing pictures or video clips of therapy techniques with family members to involve them.
Engage everyone you can in your child’s therapy. Teamwork IS the ultimate solution to progress!
For more information or to schedule an appointment with a certified speech-language pathologist, contact United Ability’s Outpatient Therapy Program at 205.944.3944.