What to Expect: First Speech Therapy Lesson
Your child has been diagnosed with a speech impediment or speech disorder. Whether she suffers from the common types of speech impediments such as stuttering, apraxia of speech, a speech sound disorder, cluttering or a lisp, early speech therapy intervention is crucial to successful treatment. But what happens in your first speech therapy visit? What can you expect? Here is a brief run-down of your first visit with a speech-language pathologist (SLP). Planning ahead and being prepared will help you make the most out of your first visit with a speech pathologist and set you on a successful course of speech therapy treatment.
What to Expect: Speech Therapy for Speech Impediments
Be prepared: If your child’s teacher has made any suggestions, bring them along to discuss with the speech therapist. A medical history is necessary so the therapist can determine any developmental concerns that she needs to be aware of, and also helps her select the appropriate testing materials for your child. Many times, the SLP will mail you a detailed checklist or medical evaluation form prior to your visit. Fill out these forms and send back to your speech therapist prior to your visit so she is fully prepared before your appointment.
Location: Generally, speech therapists conduct lessons in a setting where your child functions best. Often this means you’ll get speech therapy at home, especially for younger children. Other times, speech therapy will take place in an office setting, specially designed to make a child feel relaxed. Feel free to work out setting details with your therapist and find the place that your child feels the most comfortable.
Evaluation:The speech therapist will first look to establish a rapport with your child. This could include games, toys or a series of questions and answers. While it may take a period of time for your child to get comfortable, the speech therapist will seek to make the experience pleasant for your child, rather than feeling like a “test” or doctor’s appointment. Rather than looking for correct answers, the therapist will be gathering information about your child’s attention span, language use and overall oral motor skills. Sometimes therapists choose to perform this evaluation stage without a parent in the room, as children often look to their parents for the correct answer. However, if you are allowed to be in the room during the evaluation, take care not to jump in and help your child answer questions. In order for the therapy to be truly effective, the therapist must glean a complete and accurate picture of your child’s particular speech impediment, without parental interference.
Review of Results: Following the evaluation, the SLP will write a formal report with his diagnosis and findings. This report will include recommendations of types of speech therapy, frequency and duration of treatment. Your SLP should be able to describe the severity of your child’s speech impediment or disorder, and give you her opinion on how treatable the impairment is. She will also outline specific, measurable goals. Feel free to discuss these goals with your therapist. Remember, no one knows your child better than you do, so if the SLP’s goals do not seem realistic, talk through what you think would be more attainable goals for your child. There are also several recommended books and games that you can practice with at home.
Remember, early intervention is a key component to successful speech therapy. No matter what type, length or duration of speech therapy you choose for your child, the earlier your child can learn proper language skills, the higher likelihood that that your child will overcome her speech impediment.
For an example of a detailed evaluation form, check out:
- Evaluation Checklist from Special Needs Resource Project
- Watch how Speech Buddies work in a Speech Therapy setting
- Find a local Speech Therapist on Speech Buddies Connect