The Benefits Of Speech Therapy In Your Child’s Natural Environment

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Andrea Cooper

Andrea Cooper

The Benefits Of Speech Therapy In Your Child’s Natural Environment

Have you heard of the saying “Home is where the heart is”?  At Andrea Cooper Speech Pathology we believe that the best place for a child to receive speech pathology is in their own natural environments, where they are most comfortable, and where they live their everyday life.  We deliver services at time and place convenient for you.  By doing this we save the need for you to drive to a clinic and your child having to take time to build confidence and feel comfortable in a strange environment.  Speech therapy in your child’s natural environment, whether that be at their home, preschool or school has many benefits that a clinic is not able to offer.  Below we have outlined the main reasons we love being a mobile service.

More family participation

No one knows your child better than you do.  You have more detailed and specific knowledge about the way your child communicates, and the social and participation restrictions that they experience day to day as a result of their communication difficulties.

At our home visits we can coach the child’s family to deliver the therapy strategies.  Your child has the best connection with those closest to them.  By having therapy at your home, we are able to share strategies with parents, siblings, grandparents, and anyone who is part of your child’s daily life and wants to be involved.  By sharing our skills and techniques, your child has the most opportunities to get the help they need.  When you think of the number of hours in a week, compared to the time our speech pathology sessions account for, it is very little time overall.  But if we can share our knowledge and skills with your child’s family members, practice can occur every day, which is a lot more than a speechie can do alone.   To read more about parents delivering therapy, check out the Hanen article: Parents as “Speech Therapists”: What a New Study Shows

Confident and Comfortable

Children often feel more comfortable in a home environment, where they are surrounded by familiar items and their own toys.  It is a ‘safe space’ when they are meeting their speech therapist for the first time.  For many children, a formal office or clinical setting can be intimidating.  Taking your child away from what they are interested in, getting them ready for an appointment and then meeting someone new in an unfamiliar environment can cause your child to become anxious.  It can also be hard to leave the clinic at the end of session when there are so many cool and new toys to be explored.

When we deliver speech therapy in a natural environment, the children are not only more comfortable and confident in the session, but rapport often develops at a faster rate with their speech pathologist.  It often doesn’t take long before our clients are wanting to give us a tour of every room including introducing us to all of the pets and their favourite toys.  Speech therapy at home also provides an opportunity for us to incorporate your child’s toys into our language activities.  We are able to model and share ideas about how to use your child’s toys to build language and practice our speech pathology goals.  When we visit your child’s natural setting, we are able to gain a greater insight into what it is like for your child day to day.  This helps us better understand when communication breakdowns occur. 

Having therapy at home means that your child does not have to play by the clinic rules.  We can play your child’s way, focusing on helping them to be a more functional communicator right in the moment. For children who prefer to be outdoors we can model techniques in outside play activities. One of my favourite sessions was helping a client meet their goal of requesting ‘jumping’ on their trampoline.  It is very hard to fit a trampoline big enough to fit; two parents, a speechie and a child, in a clinic room.

Familiar Routines

Another benefit of in-home therapy sessions is the ability to incorporate daily routines.  Routines are activities that we do every day, sometimes even multiple times during the day (e.g. nappy change).   It makes sense to incorporate therapy strategies into daily routines, think about the countless opportunities you will have to help your child build language.  Check out our blog: ‘Using Everyday Routines As Opportunities To Develop Language‘.

Real Life Words and Practice

When we come to you, we can focus on real words in your child’s world.  We don’t always need to work on hypothetical words with articulation sheets and cards.  Instead we can use toys and items that your child plays with.  This way, we can target sounds that your child uses every day. 

What the research says

For children with autism spectrum disorder, research has shown that the delivery of speech therapy in the child’s natural environments including homes, schools and community settings is best practice and supports the generalisation of their language and social skills.

What if home visits are not an option?

If home visits are not suitable, we can also provide speech therapy at your child’s day care, preschool or school setting.  Fitting speech pathology sessions before and after school can be challenging.  It makes sense that the speech pathologist can use school based therapy as an opportunity to share goals and strategies to your child’s educators or teachers.  Our language and literacy goals regularly intertwine with the school curriculum.  We can provide support within the classroom and discuss therapy aims and suggestions with your child’s teacher to help your child succeed in their academic targets.  Your child’s teacher can also provide us with their expertise and invaluable knowledge about how your child is managing their communication difficulties at school.  When teaching social skills, we can make clinical observations about how your child is interacting with their peers and support them during playtimes or in small groups to build the social skills that they need.   For more information about our school visits check out our blog; ‘Better Together: Working With Your Child’s Teacher To Support Language and Learning At School’.

What if you live rurally or need more flexibility for sessions?

When the Covid19 outbreak occurred, we had to be flexible with our service delivery model.  We embraced telehealth and are excited to now offer it as a permanent option to new and existing families.  We can continue to bring you the same high level of service, in a way that engages your child and eliminates the need for our clinicians to travel to your home, especially if you live rurally.

There is strong evidence to suggest that telehealth works for children with articulation difficulties, speech sound disorders, language delay and disorders, literacy delays and parent training for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder or early language delays.

To find out how we are using interactive games, online learning activities and green screen magic check out our blog ‘Accessing speech therapy online’.

Contact us for more information about organising your child’s speech pathology sessions in their natural setting, to allow them to meet their goals and thrive.

Happy Talking,

Andrea 


References:

McCormack, J., McLeod, S., Harrison, L. J., &McAllister, L. (2010). The impact of speech impairment in early childhood: Investigating parents ’and speech-language pathologists ’perspectives using the ICF-CY. Journal of Communication Disorders, 43, 378 – 396

American Speech Language and Hearing Association. (2006). Guidelines for Speech-Language Pathologists in Diagnosis, Assessment, and Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders Across the Life Span Retrieved 01/04/11, from http://www.asha.org/docs/html/gl2006-00049.html