Recognizing that your child needs speech therapy is never easy for a parent. But, signing up for speech therapy is the best first step you can take in the right direction. Feeling nervous about what to expect is understandable, which is why you should research how therapy for speech progresses and come prepared. Remember that any unease you feel is communicated to the child. On the other hand, feeling upbeat and optimistic about the experience will provide encouragement to learn. Here’s what happens at the initial classes.
You Might Start Individual or Group Sessions
Each child faces their speech challenges and has individual learning capabilities. The speech and language pathologist (SLP) will advise you on the ideal teaching techniques to help your child. You may start with private one-on-one sessions or enter into group therapy with other children.
Think of the class as a play date with other kids joining in to sing, recite poems, and read books. Acting out the songs with hand signs and facial expressions helps the process along. SLPs often recommend group therapy since children learn best when interacting with peers in a fun setting.
Sounds, Pronunciation, and Articulation
Teaching the child the correct pronunciation is typically accomplished in individual sessions. The therapist will help your child make the current sounds and pronounce words correctly. Classes are designed around particular issues each child faces, for instance, pronouncing letters like “r,” “t,” and “s.”
Therapists demonstrate how to move their tongues in the right way. Tools like mirrors may be used to help the child see how their facial muscles move. In this way, you’ll teach proper articulation so your child can make themselves understood.
Exercising Oral Muscles and Swallowing Properly
Parents are typically unaware that children who cannot speak clearly and have issues with picking language skills often have trouble chewing food and swallowing. As part of the speech therapy sessions, the SLP will work with the child to perform certain exercises to strengthen the mouth and throat muscles.
Straws can be used for sucking in and blowing out air to tone facial muscles and learn proper lip movements. Other exercises like blowing at plastic balls to make them move or making soap bubbles are fun ways to hone speech skills.
Speech Therapy is a Constant Learning Experience
As with all kinds of therapy, following up and practicing the lessons at home will reinforce them. Your speech pathologist will provide updates on how the child is progressing, the number of sessions needed, and how you can help at home. You can speed up the process by infusing lessons into regular conversations and having reading sessions at home. Sing songs together and encourage the child to talk about their thoughts and activities while gently correcting their words and sentences.
Starting at a younger age gives your child a better chance at resolving their speech issues. If you think your little one needs help, get an evaluation and start sessions as soon as possible.