by Lucy Windevoxhel
That must be one of the most common questions parents ask me. I truly wish I could give them and you an answer. However, do not stop reading yet. Even though I cannot tell you how long your child will be in speech therapy I can tell you how to make the most of the time he spends in therapy.
First of all, there are many variables that affect how long your child will need therapy. Number one will be the type of disorder. Some disorders are lifelong conditions, such as Down syndrome or Autism therefore your child may need therapy throughout his or her life. The severity of the disorder is another factor. The age of your child (the younger children receive therapy the better the outcome), and of course your therapist skills and your own participation in the treatment process. Now some of these things you simply cannot control; so let's talk about the things you can control.
- Early Intervention: I will dedicate an article to this topic, but for now, please if you think your child may have a delay or disorder in language or speech development, the earlier you find out and begin treatment, the better.
- Parent participation: I tell the parents I work with the following: if your child received 2 hours of therapy a week, and is awake 12 hours every day, your child spends 2% of his awake time receiving treatment. However, if you are either in the room participating in the therapy session or observing or listening to the therapy session, you can try to spend 20 minutes a day with your child on follow up activities, in addition to the therapy he receives and this way you double up the therapy he is receiving. Your therapist may be able to tell you how to use strategies during your everyday routines to address therapy goals and objectives and that can add up to more than 20 minutes a day, without doing anything extra, only changing your routines a bit. This is particularly true of language therapy with young children. If you cannot be present during the therapy then make sure you talk to your child's clinician on a weekly basis so that you know how to help your child at home.
- Finally, when you are working with a speech-language pathologist it is OK for you to find out about her credentials and watch how he or she works with your child. DO you see them making progress? Do they have rapport? In my experience, even the best clinicians will occasionally find a child that they cannot establish a rapport with her and that may mean your child will not work for her. Therapy does take time, so you need to give them time to trust each other, develop rapport and show progress before you decide that it is not working. Please, if you feel therapy is not working, change therapists but do not stop therapy altogether.