Ways to maintain your child’s progress made in speech pathology sessions
One of the most important outcomes from speech pathology sessions is seeing the positive changes in your child. After all, that’s the main purpose of a speech pathologist! However, not all of your child’s progress occurs within a clinic environment. Some of this progress is often made at home, thanks to the hard work and collaboration of the speech pathologist, and of course, the child’s parents or carers.
Approaches to maintaining skills will differ depending on your child’s presentation, but here are some general ways to help your child maintain their skills learned in clinic sessions:
- Make modelling corrections in everyday conversation
Modelling is providing a clear example with no additional instructions or explanations. It can be used when you notice a deviation in your child’s speech, or on sound or word patterns that have been worked on in therapy.
When giving the example, it is appropriate to say the sound or word “normally”, that is, not over-emphasising it. It may also be helpful to repeat the sound clearly a few times so your child notices, but it is not necessary to get them to repeat it themselves. For example:
Child: Look at all the dishies!
Adult: Wow, lots of fishies! One fish here, oh there’s another fish…
- Organise the environment to assist communication
These can include communicative temptations, for example, arranging an environment so the child is encouraged to request their wants. Another way could be reinforcing “new” vocabulary, for example, making a game by repeatedly asking questions that are likely to receive a particular response.
- Use labelled praise
This is when you are being specific about what you are praising. It can also be used to reinforce clear speech attempts, as well as when your child makes a noticeable attempt at pronouncing a word. Comments can be something similar to, “I like the way you said ‘frog’, the ‘f’ was nice and clear.”
- Make some of the therapy invisible vs. visible
Making the therapy “invisible” means making practice informal and incorporated into everyday activities. This can include following your child’s lead (for communication), narrating the world around them, and playing age appropriate games to encourage turn taking skills and routines.
By making therapy “visible”, you may like to set aside 5 or 10 minutes each day for formal practice. This practice can include naming objects starting with a particular letter, reading or writing stories. It is important to keep this time short, and as instructive and positive as possible.
- Make it fun!
Practicing skills can often be a chore for all those involved. By incorporating skills learnt into everyday activities can make it less of a bore. For example, many songs, stories, or games can be used to address certain targets and skills. There are many tablet apps available to download that may be appropriate depending on the age and presentation of your child.
Bowen, C. (2011). Information for families: encouraging speech development in children with phonological disorders.Retrieved August 31, from http://speech-language-therapy.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=99:encourage&catid=11:admin&Itemid=120
Bowen, C. (2011). Supporting speech and language progress in children with CAS or sCAS. Retrieved August 31, from http://www.speech-language-therapy.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=42:support&catid=11:admin&Itemid=108