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Parents’ Role in Language Intervention


By Lauren Lowry
Hanen SLP & Clinical Writer


If your child has been referred for speech therapy for a language delay, you may be asking yourself: “What is my role in my child’s therapy?” If you feel unsure about your involvement in the therapy process, you are not alone…

A new study looked at parents’ expectations as they started language intervention for their child [1]. They found that:
  • Many parents expected that the speech language pathologist would be the one carrying out the therapy directly with their child
  • While parents were willing to be involved in therapy, they were uncertain about what would be expected of them. Some parents felt anxious about their involvement.
  •  Parents were uncertain about their ability to carry out the intervention themselves at home 
It’s perfectly normal to feel uneasy as you begin the intervention process. And it can be even more unnerving to find out that you will be the focus of the therapy for your child!

A wonderfully honest father once summed up his hesitation about this process by saying,

“I’m not an expert in language delay – how can I possibly do this as well as a speech language pathologist?!”
 
“Language intervention for young children nowadays often focuses on teaching parents strategies to use with their child in everyday situations. ”
Speech therapy has changed in recent years. While parents used to watch the speech language pathologist provide therapy for their child, language intervention for young children nowadays often focuses on teaching parents strategies to use with their child in everyday situations that help their child develop improved language skills. You don’t need a speech therapy degree to help your child. The speech language pathologist can help you learn what you need to know. You are well qualified to help your child because:

 

  • you are your child’s first and best teacher 
  • you are a constant in your child’s everyday life 
  • you spend more time talking to and interacting with your child than a speech-language pathologist ever can 
  • your child is most comfortable communicating and interacting with you 
  • you know your child best and know what makes him or her “tick”
     
“Any daily activity is a great opportunity to build your child’s communication and language skills. ”

 For most children, seeing a speech language pathologist once per week isn’t enough time to develop improved language skills. In fact, it’s hard to learn any new skill if it’s only practiced for one hour per week. But if you work together with your child’s speech language pathologist, you will learn ways to communicate with him and will come up with goals and activities that will make a huge difference to your child’s language learning. When you think about it, you are in the very best position to provide language intervention every day, many times a day, as you go through your daily routines. Bath time, eating a meal, going for a ride in the car, or any other daily activity are great opportunities to build your child’s communication and language skills.

Ways parents can get involved in intervention

There are many ways that you can play an active role in your child’s intervention, such as:
  • helping set goals for your child with the speech language pathologist
  • describing your daily activities and routines
  • learning strategies that you can use at home that will build your child’s communication skills
  • reporting changes and progress you see in your child
  • determining next steps with the speech-language pathologist

By working together with your child’s speech-language pathologist, you become the primary person delivering the therapy and the speech-language pathologist’s role is to be your coach and consultant. This way of working together is called “parent-implemented intervention”.

Right about now you may be thinking:

“Is it really effective when a parent provides the intervention?”

Researchers have studied whether parents are as effective as speech-language pathologists in providing language intervention and found that the answer is: yes, they are! You can read about the research that shows that parents make a huge difference when they learn strategies to help their child here.
 

References

  1. Davies, K. E., Marshall, J., Brown, L. J. E. & Goldbart, J. (2017). Co-working: Parents’ conception of roles in supporting their children’s speech and language development. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 33(2), 171-185.