Worth Repeating: Parents as “Speech Therapists”: What a New Study Shows
By: Lauren Lowry, Hanen Certified Speech-Language Pathologist
Traditionally, speech therapy with preschoolers involved parents bringing their child to a speech-language pathologist at a clinic. After an assessment, if the speech-language pathologist recommended it, the parent would bring the child for regular speech therapy. In this case, the sessions would be conducted by the speech-language pathologist, who would use specific techniques and strategies to improve the child’s communication. The parent would sit and watch the therapy, either in the room or behind a 2-way mirror. After the session, the parent would be given activities to practice with the child at home.
Changes to the Parent’s and Speech-Language Pathologist’s Role
Over the last several years, the roles of the speech-language pathologist and parent have changed a great deal. Parents are no longer observers of the therapy; they are an essential part of their child’s intervention. This shift in roles is based upon the following:
- Children learn to communicate during everyday activities and conversations with the important people in their lives – mainly their parents
- Parents have many more opportunities to interact with their child in meaningful everyday situations than a therapist does
- Parents know their child best and are her/his first teacher