By Better Speech SLP: Amy Dearing, M.A.,CCC-SLP
If you are considering online speech therapy (also known as speech teletherapy) for your toddler or young preschooler, you may be asking yourself the following questions:
- How does online speech therapy work for such a young child?
- How will the therapist keep my child engaged and interested?
- How will I be involved?
- Does my child need to be able to sit and pay attention the whole time?
These are good questions. Read on (and watch the video below) to see how online speech therapy from Better Speech CAN work and DOES work for our youngest clients.
Watch the video with Clinical Director & Founder of Better Speech
First, let’s talk about speech therapy overall for this age group, whether it’s in-person or online therapy. We know that young children learn differently than older children and adults do. Young children learn through real-world activities, experiences, and daily routines. They learn by doing and engaging in a variety of everyday activities. We also know that toddlers and young preschoolers learn best through their interactions with family members. For these reasons, many speech therapists incorporate the following elements into their treatment plans:
- Building on the capacities of the parents/caregivers, recognizing that YOU know your child best and are your child’s primary ‘teacher.’
- Using your everyday routines and activities as the basis for therapy (snack/meal time, bath time, getting dressed, play time, household tasks/chores, etc.).
- Teaching parents & caregivers how to incorporate evidence-based therapy strategies into their daily routines and activities.
- Emphasizing the importance of play as it relates to communication development and overall learning. Parents often learn new ways to play with their child that promote speech and language development.
With these factors in mind, therapy sessions are not required to be continuously direct and “hands-on” between therapist and child. Therapy sessions often involve discussion and idea-generating between therapist and parent/caregiver; guiding parents/caregivers through implementation of strategies; practice, feedback, observation, and reflection; and developing a plan for ‘practice’ in between therapy sessions. This last part is very important, because it is the parent/caregiver’s regular use of the strategy that is going to promote progress.
This model of providing speech therapy to young children is supported by research and our understanding of child development. It also lends itself quite well to online speech therapy! In fact, I have heard many speech therapists comment that they feel online speech therapy actually enhances the therapy experience for both child and parent/caregiver. Why? It’s because the therapist is not physically present with the child, and must rely on guiding the parent in learning how to use strategies with the child. The parent takes an active role in therapy sessions, and becomes more skilled and comfortable using the strategies with the child during everyday activities and routines. This equates to more opportunities for the child to ‘practice,’ which in turn promotes greater progress.
If you have concerns about your toddler or young preschooler’s communication development, consider giving online speech therapy a try. Research shows that intervening early when there is a suspected speech or language delay improves outcomes for the child. And, you will feel more confident as you learn the best ways to interact with your child to promote early learning and communication development.
At Better Speech we know you deserve speech therapy that works.
We have experts in your needs and assign the right therapist; not just the therapist that happens to be in your area. If you want to find out more about our services, contact us to schedule a free consultation.