Speech therapy provides many manageable goals for our clients but it’s the every day experiences that I would like to highlight this month so that others can reflect on the benefits of therapy beyond the clinical session or the therapeutic environment. Progress can be viewed in many ways, which helps others see the carryover and the ability to generalize what is done in a 30 minute session to everyday life experiences.
Personally, I tend to start out my therapy sessions by asking my clients how they are doing, what they did at school, what they did over the weekend etc. to engage them in conversation. I may start with leading phrases or multiple choice answers but eventually I notice that they are volunteering, sharing, initiating, and giving their own answers without help or prompts.
The favorite part of my job after working with a child for awhile, is when I start to see their personalities develop and they are engaging more socially and joking and understanding more. Sometimes parents are hearing their child’s voice for the first time in therapy since all they used to do was grunt before therapy started. Another example is when I choose toys to use with a given child and realize that I get to use different toys based on the progress that we’ve made whereas in the beginning it needed to be very simple toys/games.
Other examples may include: building confidence in situations, having family/relatives notice a difference in their ability to communicate, engaging in conversation more, learning a skill they couldn’t do, being able to participate better in PK as a result of 1-1 therapy, being more interactive, playing a sport because they were more willing to engage, not being frustrated, tantrums being reduced, and the list goes on….!
I remember a mom telling me once that ‘before’ therapy her son was behind his peers in their playgroup but after he had been doing therapy for awhile he was suddenly ahead of those same peers when he started PK as a result of working on letters, letter sounds, shapes, conversation etc.
A mom of 2 year old twins I work with has shared with me that they use new words and are saying my name attached to it as in telling mom that I taught them that word! She continues to be amazed at the fast pace at which their vocabulary is developing as a result of the interactions in therapy!
Recently I had a 3 year old child that wanted to be the teacher for the day (reverse roles), so he was asking me the questions with the WH question cards! This is a big change from when he needed help to say his words and answer questions, now he is sharing and engaging so much more independently.
A child with CP on my caseload was recently observed to initiate conversation with another child in the waiting room at a doctor’s office. He introduced himself and shared with the other child. This same child has started to share about his dreams – something he never did before.
Another 6 year old child on my caseload always called his brother “Eddie” instead of his given name “Aaron”. Since he couldn’t say it he just gave him another name. When Mom brought this to my attention in one session we were able to get my client to call his brother by his given name that he had not previously been able to do and has been doing ever since!
One of the most insightful real life examples, I have heard recently is a mom saying that her son has improved his speech as a result of having to talk to “SIRI” on his iphone. It required him to speak clearly and slowly in order for her to understand him better. Who knew the iphone and iPad’s artificial intelligence app would help with articulation?
Other testimonials from parents themselves….
Case 1: Our son has been doing speech therapy with you for about a month. It has been a short period of time, but my husband and I can tell a difference already in his ability to communicate. He has been counting clearly from 1 to 10 totally unprompted. He is so proud of himself – he smiles and says “yay!” at the end. He also has said “all by myself” several times this week for the first time. I was so excited when he first said it going down the stairs because he rarely uses three words together. I think one of the neatest things is that he lets me help him with his words. I’ve seen how you break down words into syllables and then have him repeat the syllables to build the word. He will say each syllable after me and then we’ll try to say the word by putting the syllables together. This takes a few tries, but he is so proud of himself when he can say a word. We make sure to praise him and celebrate with a big high five every time! And surprisingly, he seems less frustrated. He hasn’t laid down on the floor and cried in weeks. The only thing I can attribute it to is that he can tell us better what he wants now i.e. juice, crackers, Elmo TV – all the important things in life. If this is what a month of working on his words can do, I can’t wait to see what 6 months brings. Thank you!!
Case 2: I would like to thank Robyn for coming into our home to help my son with his autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Having ASD has made making friends and navigating social complexities an impossibility for my child. Watching his struggle to maintain friendships has been heartbreaking. Living with a breakdown of communication between me and my son has also been a stressful and draining experience. Speech therapy we have attended before, in the schools and in clinics, have been exhausting for us and have shown little transference into the real life situations we face at home. Having Robyn come into our home and hold River accountable for his goals in his home environment has made such a drastic difference already after only a few sessions. I can remind him of his goals and he immediately has an “aha” moment. Before, I was not included in his therapy as much and he would disappear into a room and come out an hour later as I waited in a waiting room. Robyn makes the family a part of therapy and it really has given me peace of mind to have a plan to go by and someone else to help me with my own ability to communicate effectively. I feel that sometimes as a parent I have gotten used to the way River communicates and unknowingly enabled problem behaviors and communication with others not familiar with my son. Robyn is helping us all target communication blurbs and smooth out the wrinkles in the flow of our family.
These are only a few of the many examples that I have come in contact with as a result of therapy. I love hearing stories of how children are using what they learn in our sessions to their every day lives! Sometimes it takes stepping back and looking at the big picture to realize how much your child has gained in order to see the real progress. Short, yet structured, therapy sessions are very effective and reveal big gains in children’s lives. Every child is different as there is no ‘set’ amount of time a child will need therapy. What you are able to do and how you are able to help them carry over the skills to their natural environment and everyday situations is what makes all the difference! The more people you can get on board to help you – the better! Be sure to include grandparents, peers, neighbors, teachers, siblings etc. The more people helping your child reach his/her goals, the more change you will see!
Speech therapy makes a world of difference!!
Thank you for taking the time to read our monthly newsletter. Please feel free to share it with anyone that you think could benefit from learning about Speech & Language Therapy. Feel free to reach out to Brook or Robyn with ideas or suggestions for future topics you would like to see covered. Looking ahead…May is Better Speech & Hearing Month!!
*Additionally, a previous newsletter about technology highlighting our Favorite Apps has been updated and the new list can be viewed at www.advantagespeech.com (Robyn’s website) under the Newsletter link at the top of the homepage and/or www.childrenstherapygroup.net (Brook’s website) at the bottom of the homepage.
**All pictures were used with permission from the parents. The pictures do not match the testimonials they were paired with for confidentiality reasons.**