Your child’s school may have suggested speech and language therapy for him/her, or you may be self-referring for your child or yourself. What are the next steps?
- Doctor’s referral: paediatric speech and language therapy is best-covered by health insurance when you have a referral from your family doctor. It is also important that your doctor is aware of any health issues related to your request for speech and language, such as hearing issues, possible developmental disorders, voice problems, etc.
- Contact: You contact the speech and language therapist by e-mail or phone. If you haven’t obtained a doctor’s referral yet, Laura will instruct you to request one.
- Appointment: An initial appointment will be made for discussing your, or your child’s needs and developmental history. The therapist will also explain her terms and conditions and give you a copy to sign and return.
- Permission: You return the signed terms and conditions, thereby giving permission to the therapist to start assessment or therapy.
- Assessment and report: If you or the child have/has not had therapy before, had therapy a long time ago, or have/has transitioned from a previous therapist without much information, the therapist will start by doing an assessment. For adult therapy, this can usually be completed within one session. For paediatric therapy, the parent will be asked not to be present for the assessment, since most children talk and behave more freely without their parents there. Assessment usually takes between one and three sessions, and occasionally longer in complicated cases. It may also include discussion with the child’s teacher, discussion with other therapists, and classroom observation. Following the assessment, the therapist writes a report and sends this to parents, school, family doctor, and other therapists (where applicable). You can also send this report to your insurance company. On the basis of the report, you and the therapist decide whether therapy will take place.
- Or: diagnostic therapy: Where it is felt a formal assessment and report are not necessary, or you have / the child has transitioned from a previous therapist with a report, therapy may be started straightaway. Therapy always has a diagnostic element, meaning that your/the child’s response to the therapist is itself a source of information regarding the issues and the best strategies for future therapy.
- Delivery: Therapy may be one on one or in a group, and take place in the therapy room or in class, depending on the child’s needs. For some types of therapy, it is important that a parent is present for some or all of the sessions. The therapist will discuss with you when this applies. The frequency is once or twice per week. Adult therapy is usually individual and once a week.
- HOME PRACTICE! For any therapy, it is very important that adult clients practise at home, or that parents also practise with the child. The new skills need to become automatic, and this will not happen with only one or two 30-minute sessions a week. Home practice is most effective when done daily, even for a few minutes each time. You / your child will improve much faster, which is motivating to see or experience – not to mention cheaper!