Involving Parents in Early Intervention
At our agency, we firmly believe in working alongside the parent and family to address speech and language delays in young children.
We provide speech and language services in homes, parks, and day cares if that is the normal routine location that the family participates in. It would be a rare occasion if we were to exclude the parent or have the parent wait in another location while we worked with the child.
The reasons why we do this, you ask?
Well, first, it is because I do not want any parent to feel like speech therapy is "magic" or "miraculous" in any way—because it's not.
I believe in providing and sharing the knowledge and tools that we have in our "tool box" as clinicians. Then, working alongside the parent to teach them how we do our job and how the parent themselves is very capable of learning and adapting these "tools" into everyday routines is crucial. This will, in turn, create new habits and begin to evolve the child's learning and language skills.
SEE ALSO: Treating the Family
Through this parent and therapist partnership and rapport the parent takes on an active role in the therapy. The parent is given the power to contribute to progress by watching, by modeling after the therapist, and by allowing the parent to identify areas they need more support in when teaching their own child.
Although I do believe in whatever works best for the child is the best approach. I also believe that involving the parents, and fostering parental education around the child's development can only lead itself to a natural generalization of skills in everyday routines with their own family members.
Is this best approach for all parents?
Maybe not, but if the parent is informed of the reason it is important and the benefits from parental involvement they can at least make the decision for themselves. Children may have two or three hours of therapy a week, if they are lucky. We can't make lasting, habitual changes in two or three hours a week. But on the contrary, if the parent learns the strategies and is coached on how to implement them in play and in routines, then the child actually gets daily practice and the number of hours addressed per week multiplies 10-fold.
Like the old saying goes: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."
My team believes in teaching them how to fish.