Forming your child’s TEAM – the recipe for success! And when to “break up”

It is critical, in my opinion, to setup a strong, consistent team for your child. Regardless if they receive public or private services (or both) and if they attend one type of therapy or several. Everyone should be in communication and speaking with one another in order to provide the best therapy and minimize any gaps in your child’s development. It is important that each therapist and parent / caregiver fulfill their role to achieve measureable result. I will talk more about how to know when to “break up” with your SLP or OT below.

Do not underestimate your role in your child success. Do the homework. Everything you do can be an opportunity to engage in your child’s speech and occupational therapy progress. I know, it sounds silly, but think about it….. When you are coloring together, you are working on fine motor, add in the speech component and try to talk about what you are coloring. This same model can be used for something as simple as carrying the groceries, walking through the store, playing out back, wherever you may be, you have an opportunity to help expand their skills. Remember your child is only with their therapists a combined couple of hours a week – you have them the rest – use it!

In an excerpt from the CASANA website Founder, Sharon Gretz, says

“Parents can support the work of speech pathologists and teachers by following through on home activities that are suggested. For young children, these include nursery rhymes and rhyme games; making games with syllable beats in words; drawing attention to the printed word while reading to children; using books with rhymes and word patterns. Most importantly, parents need to be proactive by knowing what is happening in their child’s school program. Developing effective communication with teachers and therapists will help promote skill development and also help to identify potential roadblocks at the earliest possible time, before a significant problem has developed” http://www.apraxia-kids.org/library/literacy-and-children-with-apraxia-of-speech/

You do not want to be the parent that shows up late, doesn’t stay tuned into what is being worked on and work to carry that through at home AND expect big results. Chances are that it just won’t happen, at least not very quickly. I relate it to the basic math concept.... junk in = junk out.

On the other hand, you should have expectations from your therapists as well. Do not become attached to the idea that you are “stuck” with a therapist or that you “really like her” so you cannot move on to another one. Remember, even if your child was making progress and has stopped or significantly slowed, ask yourself, have outgrown your therapist? As your child progresses you may outgrow their skill set, its more common than you may think. Here is a list of a few things to keep in mind when looking for a therapist or when you are contemplating “the breakup.”

  • They should be professional – always
  • On time
  • Prepared
  • “Invested” in your child’s progress - if you and your child are giving 100%, so should they
  • Be able to show true progress in a reasonable amount of time. 6 months with no progress but staying because your child likes them is not a recipe for success.
  • Provide feedback to your child and to you
  • Dedication to continuing education
  • Multiple tools in their “toolbox” not just using one method
  • Happy to be part of your “team” and work with the other members
  • Be willing to share tips and techniques for at home
  • Ideally they will have a “Peer Mentor” to whom they can refer when they have questions
  • And hopefully they participate in community events (showing their investment)

**The following paragraph is from the CASANA website Sharon Gretz is discussing the SLP’s role (http://www.apraxia-kids.org/library/literacy-and-children-with-apraxia-of-speech/ ) I have included it because I believe children are discharged under these circumstances frequently, it happened to us. However, I knew he wasn’t ready, not even close. The reality was he had outgrown his therapist, used all of the tools she had, and it was just time to move on. She is a great therapist for many people and I still recommend her to people but you must know when it is just time to “break up.” **

The Role of the Speech and Language Pathologist:

“The literature and studies reviewed for this paper indicate that there needs to be awareness and vigilance to the literacy development of children with spoken language problems, especially those who have apraxia of speech. “There is a danger that as intelligibility reaches an acceptable level, the child is discharged from the speech therapist’s care only to be left struggling with residual speech difficulties and related spelling problems,” concludes Joy Stackhouse. (Stackhouse, 1985, p.115) While the role of the speech and language pathologist is not to teach reading and spelling per se, Snowling & Stackhouse indicate that, “the role is one of identification and promoting the underlying skills that contribute to literacy development.” (Stackhouse, 1997, p.190) It is hoped that by receiving early, intensive communication therapy for apraxia of speech or phonological deficits, these children may, in fact, heighten their phonological awareness and, in part, strengthen a potentially intrinsic weakness.