How do Valentine’s Day and Speech Therapy go together?
It is a little bit of a stretch, but I do think that there is a link between the sentiments of Valentine’s Day and speech therapy. Beyond the boxes of chocolate roses and bunches of flowers (…always welcome), Valentine’s Day is a good opportunity to reflect on who we appreciate in our lives and what we do for those that we love and appreciate. As a speech pathologist working with young children, I see evidence of this daily. In particular, I am in constant admiration of those parents who bring their children to speech therapy, week in, week out, all with the aim of improving speech and communication skills. In many instances, the speech and language challenges that many young people face require much more support than a once a week clinic visit. It can sometimes require 24/7 support and encouragement – and most often, this support and encouragement comes from parents, siblings and other loved ones.
Providing this constant support can be exhausting, both physically and emotionally (if you are interested, I recommend reading Chloe Maxwell’s book ‘Living with Max’). This offers a great insight into the daily effort (and joys) of giving all your time to help a young person learn to communicate.
I often spend about 5 minutes (or more) with parents after a session, just chatting about how things are going – and specifically, how THEY are doing. I have had parents cry just on the spot, others smile and say, “We’re soldiering on!” Both reactions are completely valid and understandable. In the end, one of the major motivators for all the time and energy parents and caregivers expend becomes evident when they simply identify that they love their child and want the best for them. What a powerful concept.
So here is to all the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandparents, carers and friends who love and support a child who is learning to communicate. As a speech pathologist, I am grateful for you and all the work you do.
For clinicians and parents interested, here are a few ideas for integrating Valentine’s Day into your speech therapy activities.
1. The Love Monster: Great for use in articulation therapy. You just need a small cardboard box, coloured paper, scissors and sticky tape
2. Love Bugs: Great motivator and reward idea – add a new heart to the lady beetle after each turn
3. The Very Hearty Caterpillar: Easy to make and integrate into speech artic/phonology therapy
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This article was written by our speech pathologist Jenna Butterworth who is a Speech Pathology Australia member.
If you have questions about early childhood communication, contact your local doctor who will arrange for you to see a speech pathologist.