Your child just received a recent diagnosis of a speech and language delay, and is recommended to receive early intervention in speech and language therapy. You’re confused, and perhaps feeling like you made some sort of mistake. You walk into your first session, and have no idea what to expect.
While early intervention in speech therapy is meant to improve your child’s speech and language skills, it is also meant to equip and empower you to teach and help your child as well.
In the past, Early Intervention (EI) involved speech therapists conducting the sessions, while parents would mainly observe. Today, EI puts more emphasis on coaching parents to be the primary conduits of their child’s speech-language development. This shift occurred for several reasons:
Speech therapists are with the child, at most, 1-2x a week for 30-60 minute sessions
Parents are frequently with their children, and have more opportunities to teach and implement strategies throughout the week
Children are constantly learning from the people around them
Parents serve as their child’s first models and teachers
Parents know their child best
What are the benefits of this shift?
Your child would receive continuous reinforcement of strategies during the week, which often leads to generalization of skills
You get to build a deeper relationship with your child in the process
Speech therapy becomes embedded into your daily routines
Here are some ways your speech therapist will help in early intervention speech therapy:
Explain developmental norms
Explain what your child’s plan of care will look like
Assess your child’s current speech and language skills
Create functional goals that will make a difference to both you and your child
Expand upon your child’s skill
Teach you how to meaningfully play with your child
Give you the tools and strategies you need to support your child’s speech and language development
The process can definitely be overwhelming, but your speech therapist is on your side, and by your side, every step of the way! Be open-minded, come ready with questions, and ready to have some fun with your child! It takes time and effort, but the end results will be worth it!