Originally published on Jan. 10, 2018.
There are many different types of people in the world, and your Speech Therapist is no exception.
There are Speech Therapists who are very prescriptive and will give you long detailed programmes. There are creative Therapists whose activities are amazing. There are loud Therapists, and quiet Therapists. Speaking for myself, I really enjoy the process of supporting Parents to understand their children. So that might mean explaining a complex theory, and mapping it on to what a child is doing. I believe that a Parent who understands where their child is coming from is more equipped to interact with them in ways that support their feeding and communication development, all day. And more than anything, I love the power of making small tweaks in the ways we do everyday things that produce big results.
I am all about the power of our everyday interactions. Detailed programmes with prescriptive activities are not my favourite thing to do (because if you understand why your child does things, you might well come up with better ideas than me to target goals!). I LOVE when Parents and I work things out together. Don't get me wrong, I'll write those prescriptive programmes if it is what is needed, whatever a child and Family needs.
So this is where Parents come in. When I'm doing an initial assessment, and giving advice, one of the things I am trying to work out is what kind of Therapist a family needs me to be. I'll probably start with those everyday activity strategies - I'm thinking that activities you can do without much equipment and that can be flexible are going to suit most people best. But sometimes I have been working with families for a while and I am finding that we are not progressing, or maybe we are advancing on all goals except one. I puzzle over these situations (you have no idea how much your Speech Therapist thinks about you and your child outside of your Therapy time), I try and work out what the blocks to progress are.
Please be nice to your Therapist- let them know what works for you. Therapists want to be effective. If my approach is to explain theory and make observations and problem-solve, and actually what you want is someone who'll tell you to 'do X, 5 times a day', and you don't want the explanation, then we'll we working at cross-purposes.
Equally, if I'm proposing a list of things to do that feel overwhelming to you, now is not the time to pretend to yourself that you are the kind of person who just loves to fit a tonne of sit-down Therapy activities into your busy day. Your Therapist does not expect you to be a Superhero. Or if I accidentally suggest a feeding strategy that pushes an emotional button for you, then it is OK to just say 'no'.
Sometimes we need specific types of Therapy for specific areas of difficulty, and we don't have much flexibility. But sometimes we can approach things in different ways. And we can often tweak things to fit into your life more successfully. So please let your Speech Therapist know what you need. Because the best Speech Therapy is the Therapy that gets done.