Parental Involvement In Online Speech Therapy
Online speech therapy has gained popularity in recent times and become a necessity for many parents and children, since the pandemic in particular. Parental involvement is crucial to the success of any therapy and when it comes to online speech therapy, it is non-negotiable. Let’s talk about why.
Traditional Approach to Speech Therapy
The traditional approach to speech therapy consisted of the child sitting with the Speech and Language Pathologist, for an hour or more, a few times a week, where the therapist would use specific techniques and strategies to help improve the child’s communication, while the parent observed the session in the background. The parent would then be encouraged to practice certain activities with the child to encourage repetition and mastery of certain speech or communication goals. This would be followed by a limited exchange of information between the therapist and parent and occasional discussions that were scheduled once a month or more. While there was nothing wrong with this model, recent research has provided helpful information on improving the efficacy of speech therapy by changing the way it is executed.
How Online Therapy Encourages Parental Involvement
While traditional therapy heavily involved only the child, online speech therapy gives more opportunity for parents to be actively involved. Here’s how:
Therapy is in line with the parents’ schedule
One of the key benefits of attending speech therapy online is the flexibility and convenience it offers, especially with its schedule. Children can avail therapy on weekdays, weekends and on a schedule that makes it easier for parents to attend them as well. Parents can schedule therapy at a time that they’re available or beyond their work hours. When it’s done remotely, they don’t need to spend time travelling to the clinic or in the waiting room. This allows parents to actively and fully participate in their child’s therapy session without losing out on time in their busy schedule.
Online therapy encourages parent participation by default
With online therapy, especially with younger children, parents are required to be with the child to help them log in and set up the online meeting with the therapist and stay close to help the child with any technical difficulties that arise. This allows the therapist to also closely observe the communication between the parent and child, helping them identify opportunities for teaching and learning.
Integration with daily life
This is what makes parent involvement so crucial to the success of speech therapy for any child. While an SLP has all the experience and training to teach your child research-based techniques, it pales in comparison to the time and experience you have with your child. If a child has the opportunity to practice new speech and language strategies for a few hours a week only during therapy, their progress is likely to be limited and slow. Integrating speech and language training techniques into day to day life and events makes a huge impact on the child’s learning as they receive practice in natural settings and situations. It also provides real contexts making it easier for the child to understand and apply what they are learning.
Why is parental involvement important?
With recent research, it has become clear that parents are no longer just observers in speech therapy but they play a larger role in implementing speech therapy techniques. When your child is newly diagnosed with a speech and language impediment, it can be a whole new world, between assessments and evaluations, technical terms and therapy sessions. While an SLP is trained to use specific strategies for your child, nothing can substitute for the time and influence that parents have on their child especially in strengthening the skills practised in therapy. Active participation from parents is essential to the success of speech therapy. Here’s why
- Children spend more time with their parents, compared to just a few hours a week with the therapist.
- Children and parents interact all throughout the day in various settings, that occur naturally thereby providing many opportunities for communication and interaction, instead of practising these in only simulated settings at therapy. Eg; at mealtime, playtime, dressing up.
- At home or in other social settings with their parents or caregivers, children also feel more comfortable practising new skills.
- Learning needn’t happen only at therapy in a structured environment but whenever the parent and child are together
- Parents know their children best, by understanding their needs and how they learn.
- This way, speech therapy is extended to all parts of the child’s day, in a continuous manner, in surroundings the child is most comfortable
This doesn’t mean that parents can implement speech therapy on their own. Only a trained SLP can understand and assess your child's speech skills and goals while planning a structured intervention plan. However with active participation from the parents, while also receiving intensive training, outcomes can be far superior for the child.
When parents are actively involved in their child’s therapy, it makes a tremendous difference to the progress of the child. Parent-implemented intervention under the guidance of an SLP ensures that therapy is an ongoing process, giving the child plenty of opportunities to practice new strategies and skills. If you’d like to know more about how you can participate in your child’s speech therapy, get in touch with our specialists. We are here to help.
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