A speech therapist only sees your child for 30 minutes a week…in a structured clinical environment. You and your child’s teachers see your child every day in the places important to your child’s life: home, childcare/kinder/school, the playground, friends’ homes etc. Therapy is only useful if the achievements made in the clinic translate into the real world. This is what we mean by ‘carryover’.
Here are some tips to give your child the best chance of success:
Work with your speech therapist. We are trained professionals and can assess your child’s speech, language and social communication skills. However, you are the expert on your child. Help us by describing the communication breakdowns in your daily routines and in your child’s learning environment. Does your child throw tantrums because she can’t tell you what she wants? Speechies can work on requesting skills which will assist in reducing your child’s frustration. Does your child get in trouble at school for not following instructions? We can help your child understand concepts like first, next and last and before/after and recalling instructions.
Do your homework. Not just at home. Do it in the car, at the shops, walking around the park, playing games. Incorporate short practice sessions into activities that you are already doing so you don’t have to squeeze another task into your hectic day.
Children love being the teacher. If appropriate (check with your speechie), swap roles and let them tell you what to do! If you’re working on speech sounds, let your child hide the flashcards in Hide and Seek. When you find and bring them back, ask your child to say what you found. If you’re working on following directions, have your child tell you what to do then recall what you just did.
You don’t need expensive toys or big rewards. It’s not the toy that makes the magic happen, it’s the speechie and you, working together and practising in different settings that makes the difference. We have lots of ideas about how to make practice fun – just ask!
Use visual schedules. These are particularly great for kids with autism but can help all children. Visuals help children know what to expect, help with transitioning between activities and reduce anxiety and fear of the unknown. Other benefits include improving vocabulary, learning sequencing, time concepts and organisation, following directions and so on.
By Nicola Anglin (Speech Pathologist)