Parents no longer play the role of the ‘observer’ in speech and language therapy of their child but act as ‘partners’ to the therapist in their child’s therapy process. Parent training for the parents or caretakers of children with delayed speech and language development has become an important feature of interventions offered by Speech Language Pathologists.
Recent studies have shown that parent involvement in the course of a child’s therapy helps accelerate the recovery progress and gets quicker and long-lasting results from therapy.
Why is parent involvement critical?
- Early intervention
When it comes to speech difficulties early intervention is very important in determining the effectiveness of therapy. Early engagement in learning activities with parents such as shared reading and story-telling can improve a child’s vocabulary and encourages language growth and positive attitudes toward literacy. Therapy programs that provide training and consultations to parents usually make a significant difference in a child’s learning outcomes.
- Primary role models
Parents are a child’s first teacher and serve as a primary role model for them. Multiple studies have shown that the quality of interaction with parents plays a formative role in a child’s early learning. The way parents or caretakers converse with their children is one of the strongest predictors of their child’s speech-language development.
- Everyday therapy
Speech-language therapy shouldn’t be confined to a therapy session only. With proper coaching from an SLP parents can also enhance a child’s communication skills and language development at home.
- Relationship Enhancement
When parents become an active part of the process, they are better able to understand and relate to their child. Frequent consultations with the therapists keep the parents educated and updated about the process and improves the patient’s recovery progress.
Parent consultations and increased involvement can also empower the parents and the patient. Parents can also learn about the ethical considerations and policies of the program. Once they get to know about the confidentiality policies and reporting procedures, parents are better equipped to protect their child from any maltreatment.
How can I get started?
Specially trained SLPs will be able to coach and train you through the process or form a personalized therapy plan and introduce PCIT (parent-child interaction therapy) techniques to support your child. However, you can adopt some of the following basic strategies at home to help you get started:
- Rather than correcting their mistakes, act as a role model for your child i.e. converse the way you want them to interact.
- Show interest in what they have to say and praise them.
- Repeat what your child says, while adding new vocabulary to make the sentence more accurate.
- Focus on the content of your child’s conversation rather than the quality of interaction.
- Encourage interaction with family as well as outside of the house with a variety of people.
- Face them when they are talking and try to speak clearly.
- Encourage them to ask questions.
Traditionally, speech therapy involves only an SLP and the patient. However recently parent involvement has proved to be very effective in enhancing a child’s progress in speech-language development. The more involved and connected you are to the process the better would be the results of your child’s therapy
If you are worried about your child’s speech-language therapy program and want to learn more about your role in the process please do get in touch with our speech language pathologists.