Category: Early Intervention

What to Expect from your Young Child’s Online Speech Session

What to Expect from your Young Child’s Online Speech Session

Young children from birth and up can receive speech and language services through a telepractice model by having the SLP collaborate with parents and caregivers.

When telepractice began gaining momentum over a decade ago, SLPs and clients alike began treading lightly on this new service delivery model. Fifteen years after ASHA published the initial position statement in favor of telepractice as an effective service delivery model, a majority of speech-language pathologists have been thrust into this virtual format overnight. The evidence base for the effectiveness of delivering speech services to young children was just beginning to form in the early days of telepractice. Due to the recent mandate of shelter-in-place, many providers of services to the Early Intervention population have been flexible in allowing telepractice. One of the most popular service delivery models for younger children is parent coaching.

In simple terms, parent coaching is a system of doing therapy in which the therapist will seek input from the family in developing a plan of care for the client. In order to optimize your coaching sessions, your SLP may incorporate the following components into your therapy sessions.

Realistic Expectations – Your therapist will likely have a conversation with you ahead of time to set up realistic expectations about the parent coaching session. It is important to note that there may be an adjustment period for you and your child as there is with any in person therapist. Frustrating sessions during which children may be uncooperative or throw tantrums may happen in telespeech as they do with in person therapy. With consistency and patience, these behaviors should subside as you and your child adjust to the routine.

Parent Feedback – It is very beneficial to dedicate a portion of your session to gather ideas from you as the primary caregiver and educator of your child. You should expect your therapist to ask you questions to guide you in developing a unique therapy plan with activities that will motivate your child. The therapist should also ask for feedback on how your child responded to the homework plan you discussed during previous sessions. This is the time to be honest with your therapist about any concerns or questions and be open to their guidance.

Predictable Routine – A common practice among therapists working with young children is to create predictable routines within a therapy session. There are many ways to create these routines so that children start anticipating a beginning, middle and end to therapy sessions. This structure provides predictability and security which is what young children crave. Your therapist may use a visual schedule to outline what you and your child will be learning during each session. In addition, she may begin and end each session with a predictable song to cue your child and help ease difficult transitions.

Use of Real Objects – Your child learns best with tangible objects from their naturalistic environment. Your SLP will likely have you gather favorite toys and books to use during your sessions. Even everyday objects around the house such as cups, spoons, soap, and towels can be transformed into vehicles for imaginative play and language expansion. Daily rituals such as breakfast, brushing teeth and bedtime routines are wonderful learning opportunities where parents can model language expansion and enjoy time bonding with their children.

As you can see, online speech therapy opens up a world of opportunity for your young child to hone their speech and language skills. By collaborating closely with your SLP, you will develop a successful therapy plan that will guide you as the primary caregiver to reinforce effective communication strategies with your child throughout the week.

-Karin H. Koukeyan, MS, CCC-SLP 

How to Use Everyday Objects to Elicit Language

How to Use Everyday Objects to Elicit Language

Young children have curious minds. Instinctually, they explore their environment like little scientists trying to make sense of their world. Any parent can tell you after the excitement of Christmas morning or a birthday party that they will question their purchases of expensive toys. Most children are more fascinated with the wrapping paper and boxes in which the toys are packaged than the actual toys themselves.

What if all the educational toys for your budding explorer could be found in the cabinets and closets of your home already? What if you could keep your toddler entertained for hours with a few simple items from your kitchen and pantry that won’t cost you a dime? And what’s more, what if these same everyday items could help facilitate your child’s speech and language development?

In this article, we will explore common items in your home that will peak your child’s interest and we will share how you can use these objects to support language development. Your job as a parent is to play the narrator as you model words and phrases for your child. In the beginning, your child will be absorbing all of the language they hear until one day, they speak it spontaneously.

Boxes – Boxes of any shape and size fascinate children. You can have them use these boxes to teach simple concepts such as “in” and “out”. You can have them put their favorite items inside the box and play a game of “peek-a-boo” with your child. The concept of location can be reinforced by asking “where” questions. With a simple, repetitive script such as:

“Where’s the bear?” “There’s the bear!”

You can teach your child the concepts of prepositions and answering wh-questions by using boxes. The possibilities are endless. At first, you will want to model the language for them over and over again. Then after a while, you can pause after you ask the question to see if your child responds. Then, before you know it, your child will be responding to the question spontaneously.

Containers – Why does your child head towards the drawers full of plastic storage containers and insist on emptying it? There is great fun for the young scientist to empty the contents of things whether they be drawers, containers or boxes. Storage containers provide a space for children to place their small favorite toys such as a ball, small toy or snacks. These types of containers have lids and are perfect for teaching the concepts of “open” and “close.” You can also place items in the containers and “shake” them for an instant musical toy. If you don’t have plastic storage containers, you can make your own container out of an empty can of formula or oatmeal.

Plastic Water Bottles – Babies and toddlers are always fascinated by the sights and sounds of half empty water bottles. They crinkle and crunch in your hands. You can shake them like a rattle and teach concepts such as “stop” and “go.”

Paintbrushes and Paper – If you purchase colored construction paper and some brushes from the dollar store, you can give your young child hours of mess-free fun. Your child will be fascinated by the painting they do that disappears. While they are painting you can model words for them such as “You are painting.” You can also reinforce the concepts such as “wet and dry” and comment on the different shapes they paint.

Plastic Cups – Children love playing with plastic cups. They love stacking them and nesting them. You can spend some quality time with your young child on the floor as you take turns building a tower of plastic cups and then knocking them down for fun. You can reinforce the concepts of “tall, up, high, and more” as you build your structure. Then you can say, “Uh oh!” and “They all fell down” as you throw them down.

As you can see the possibilities of using everyday objects in your home to elicit language are endless. You can use your imagination to guide you as you teach your young child language with items found in your home. It is important to note that you are the narrator and will be speaking and modeling much more than your child. Focus on having fun and listen to your child’s language emerge!

-Karin H. Koukeyan, MS, CCC-SLP