1) Family centered, parent-led training model
Our children spend most of the time at home. So home is the place where therapy has to be done. We must use every moment in our daily life to develop language and intellectual development in our children.
The therapist is a guide who can deeply understand the child’s problem, his/her emotional level, guide the parents and monitor the progress of the child. The therapist will analyse the child’s issues and direct the parents to the solution. But, no one can empathise with your child better than the mother. For the best possible outcome, the mother should believe in her child and trust in their abilities.
At home, parents must set behavioral limits on their children. If we do not set behavioral limits, children would often take advantage of this. Beating children may work in the short term, however it will have a drastic impact on the child’s psyche and thus we do not recommend it. Parents should know when to say ‘no’ to their child. By setting behavioral limits, the children will ultimately learn to behave themselves. They should also create an emotional bond with their children, but this should be balanced by the behavioral limits.
The Parent should also limit media exposure, prioritize play and develop social interaction. Now, TV cartoons, online games, and mobile phone usage have sky-rocketed. Sometimes, Speech and Language issues occur because of over exposure to media. There are parents who think that such immense exposure is beneficial to the development of the child’s mental capabilities. But,communication requires a minimum of two people, which is not the case with children who watch cartoons alone. This may lead to autism in some cases. However, this need not happen to every child.
2) Meaningful speech requires language, attention and understanding, which takes time.
Do not expect a quick result. Speech therapy requires a retraining of the mind of your child. That takes time. It is just like a seed that you sow. Expecting it to grow and bear fruit within a week is just wishful thinking. Therapy outcomes may not improve just by making it more intensive. More therapy sessions need not automatically improve the child’s condition. Our brain requires a ‘processing time’. Sometimes, a word that a child learns would be uttered only after a month or two. But, do not despair. The effort that you put in will surely not be wasted. For this, parents need to first accept and understand their child’s condition. Then put consistent effort, and work towards well laid goals even if you don’t get results in the beginning.
Usually, when parents bring a child to a speech therapist, they would only state: “the child doesn’t speak”. What exactly is ‘speech’? Speech is just a mode of communication. Sometimes, a child may speak a lot, especially in case of children with autism. But, this speech may not fit the situation. They may fail to answer particular questions on time. They may not even look at the listener. This is not meaningful speech. Meaningful speech requires language, attention to the listener, and he should be able to understand the context. So, skills like attention, language development, cognition, reasoning, and pragmatic skills must be given priority over just ‘speech’. Teaching just some nouns and verbs like ‘apple’, ‘orange’ will not be enough.
3) Need for a Multi-disciplinary Approach (in case of issues like Autism)
Sometimes, delayed speech may be due to some other issues like Autism, sensory processing disorder, global development delay etc. Without understanding the underlying issue speech may not develop. A child’s ability to think, to understand , to focus and speak, are interlinked. All these abilities must develop together. When cognition improves, their speech & language also improves. Similarly, an improvement in speech & language would be reflected by a corresponding increase in cognition too.
So, in some cases, Speech Therapy must be given along with other related therapies like Occupational Therapy, Behavioral Therapy and Special education. But, this does not mean that a child must complete all this before starting Speech therapy.
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