“You should take this as a compliment that I’m so angry!”
When I left my first paediatric private practice to move overseas in 2011, the response from parents was not exactly what I expected. Some were very pragmatic about it, others bought mugs and hand written cards from the children, while others became quite upset. My relatively inexperienced therapy brain felt a little worried and I wondered if there had been a better way to tell the parents that I was leaving and that a new therapist would receive a full hand over with a joint session. After discussing this with one parent, she became quite animated and said, “You should take this as a compliment that I’m so angry!” Up until that point, I had not considered it like that. This was by no means a testament to my skills as a therapist. As I pondered the comment in hindsight, I feel that it was simply a testament to the power of a parent as an integral partner in providing speech and language therapy for a child. When I left the practice, I left many parental partnerships that would need to be rebuilt. Leaving is part of life and rebuilding is possible. It can be an opportunity for a child to learn to adjust and take on new therapy approaches. The point of this abstract anecdote? Parents are key partners in an effective speech and language therapy program. Here is why:
How do parents feel about being in a therapeutic partnership?
Every parent will have their own perspective on this question. Research completed through Macquarie University in Sydney, examined parents’ feelings regarding their role as contributors to their child’s speech/language therapy (Mirabato & Armstrong, 2005). The study suggested that overall; parents had a positive attitude towards speech pathology interventions. Additionally, parents viewed themselves to be in a ‘complementary’ relationship with the speech pathologist. Interestingly, the parent’s view of their role varied depending on the environment. In a therapy session, they viewed themselves as learners, but in environments outside the therapy session, they viewed themselves as active teachers and therapists (Mirabato & Armstrong, 2005).
Why should parents be involved in therapy?
Most therapy programs include (or should include) parent training. A study by (Roberts & Kaiser, 2011) indicates that effective programs that involve training of parents lead to:
- Parents successfully learning communication strategies that are used when engaging with their child.
- Parents implementing strategies that results in improvement in their child’s expressive and receptive language skills.
- An overall effectiveness in teaching communicative concepts that is on par with a speech pathologist.
- Children with multiple speech and language concerns making good progress. This includes Autism spectrum disorders and developmental delay.
What does a parent training program teach?
Specific strategies will vary depending on the program or the therapist, but general targets usually include:
- Improving interaction with their child
- Using child directed play and interests
- Effective ways to respond to their child’s communication
- Emphasising key words in everyday language
- Building on words or language used by the child (e.g. if a child says “door” the parent may say “Yes, we open the door”)
Parents are ideally placed to support the communication development of their child. Therapy strategies and communication interventions are ongoing processes that do not start at the beginning of a speech therapy session and end half an hour later. It requires integration of strategies into daily tasks, preferably from an early age. If a specific parent implemented program ends, therapy needs to continue with the support of a speech pathologist to cater for the development and changes in a child’s communication skills.
Contact us for results focused speech therapy
ENT Clinic have created comprehensive speech pathology resources, that together with our speech pathologists consultation, can be used to create a customised treatment plan. This will ensure that you will experience results focused, effective speech therapy!
If you have concerns about your child’s speech and language, please call Eugene or Jenna at the ENT Wellbeing Clinic Randwick to organise a consult. As of July, Jenna will be trained in the parent trainer program run by the Hanen Centre “It takes two to talk”.
Mirabito, Kate, Armstrong, Elizabeth, . Melbourne : Speech Pathology Association of Australia; 2005. Parent reactions to speech therapy involvement. Accessed via http://hdl.handle.net/1959.14/34719
Roberts, M., & Kaiser, A. (2011). The Effectiveness of Parent-Implemented Language Intervention: A Meta-Analysis.American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 20, 180-199.