It’s difficult to overstate the importance of parental involvement in a child’s speech and language development.
Numerous research studies have shown that when parents play an essential role in their child’s intervention – as opposed to being passive observers – children make considerably more progress towards their speech and language therapy goals.
As many speech-language pathologists (SLPs) know, this can be easier said than done. When children receive speech therapy in a school or clinic-based setting, sessions are often exclusively between the SLP and the child. We do our best to update parents in the lobby of the clinic or during an annual IEP (Individualized Education Program) meeting, but this format isn’t conducive for the in-depth coaching and skill-building it takes to get parents truly involved in their child’s communication goals.
While we do our best to use techniques and evidence-based strategies to improve communication, there’s no substitute for the unique role parents play in their ability to reinforce best practices at home.
If you’re struggling to get parents more involved in their child’s care, here’s a few talking points that can help parents understand their role and value.
1. Parents Know Their Child Best
We do our best to get to know each child we serve: their preferred learning styles, how they perceive problems, their struggles. However, an SLP can never replace a parent’s intuitive connection with their child. They know their child’s personality and temperament best – and building close partnerships with parents can help us better develop a treatment plan tailored to each kiddo.
2. Learning Should Happen All Day, Everyday
Let’s face it, we only have limited time with a child every week. Whether a child is learning to articulate a new sound, answer comprehension questions, or produce simple sentences, teaching must be practiced and reinforced routinely. Parents have the advantage of spending ample time with their child. And considering children learn to communicate during everyday activities and conversions, no one is better positioned to do that than their family. Speech therapy doesn’t require a desk and a chair; it can be delivered during bath-time, play-time, and trips to the store.
3. Conversations With Those Who Matter
The ultimate goal of speech therapy is to help children improve language skills so they can communicate fluently with those that matter most in their lives – their parents and family. We help kids learn valuable skills – but when children speak with their family, they put those skills to use.
4. Comforting Environment
If we’re being honest, schools and clinics aren’t always the most conducive environments for speech therapy. Working with a child from home, in an environment that’s familiar, is a stress-free way to test the new skills they’ve learned at therapy. It’s also a reason why more and more families every day are turning to online speech therapy.
How Teletherapy Benefits SLP and Families
As mentioned, there’s a clinical consensus that speech and language outcomes are better when parents and guardians are more involved in therapy.
Traditionally, home-based speech-language pathologists (SLPs) have a significant advantage over therapists in clinical or school-based settings when it comes to engaging parents. When therapy is delivered at home, SLPs find more opportunities to interact with parents and educate them on how they can help promote speech and language goals throughout the week.
Online speech therapy provides even more opportunities to interface with parents and families. While teletherapy allows parents to visit with SLPs from the comfort of their home, the medium also offers a couple conveniences that aren’t usually available with traditional home-based therapy.
For example, the additional flexibility afforded by online providers can make it easier for parents to schedule therapy at a time when they are more likely to be available after traditional work hours. This can make it much easier for parents to make the time to fully participate in their child’s therapy.
Additionally, for many, hosting someone in your home can be a burden when you have a lot on your plate. It’s definitely a relief when all you have to do to receive great therapy is hop on a webconference.
Have You Heard of Expressable?
Recently, I was made aware of an innovative company called Expressable. They offer online speech therapy via modern video conferencing software that families can access from the comfort of their home and on their schedule – mornings, nights, or weekends.
Since therapy is administered online, Expressable doesn’t have to pay for overhead, insurance, marketing, or administrative costs. These savings get passed down to families – providing therapy at a reduced price point. Additionally, they’re able to pay therapists a very generous wage.
Expressable also has a really unique model that reimagines parental involvement. Their therapists focus on supervising parent/child interactions so they can coach parents on how they can best help their child meet their individual goals. After each session, parents walk away with a new set of skills they can confidently use in conversations with their child.
It also provides several convenience factors that make it easier for families to connect with their therapist. For example, families can connect with their therapist 5 days/week through secure, HIPAA-compliant communication channels with any questions or concerns they may have.
Whether you deliver speech therapy in a clinic, school, at home, or online, it’s important to reinforce the role of parental involvement in their child’s care.
We all have the same goals – to improve speech and language skills for those we serve. And while we bring expertise in diagnosing and treating speech and language disorders, there’s no substitute for the role parents play in reinforcing and applying these skills to everyday life.