Providing therapy in the home is called natural—and for good reason. It is the most natural way to provide therapy services to a child.
For one thing, home is the place the child is going to be most comfortable, surrounded by his/her own toys. And the child who is comfortable is going to get a lot out of a speech-language therapy session and learn many things that can be done with family on a daily basis.
For another thing, providing in-home speech-language therapy allows the child’s family to participate. The point is to coach the child’s caregivers and family members (parents or caregivers, siblings, extended family—anyone who is a part of the child’s daily life and wants to be involved) in techniques they can use every day to help the child take part in the activities he/she needs and wants to do. The best therapy is going to include as many of these people as possible, so that everyone understands how to help the child get the help he/she needs.
Involving the child’s family allows him/her to get more therapy. Even in the best-case scenario, the speech-language therapist can only be there a small amount of time, and family is there all the time. Not that therapy with family should take place 24/7, but if a caregiver can set aside a few minutes each day for speech-language therapy with the child, that’s a lot more than a therapist can do alone! The child whose family is involved in therapy is going to make much better progress than the one who’s only getting therapy from a therapist.
Another benefit of in-home speech-language therapy is using daily routines. With any child, but especially small children, we therapists are all about the daily routines! We want to teach caregivers about using these regular parts of the child’s—and parent’s—schedule to reinforce therapy techniques. Daily routines include: Meal times, diaper changes, bath time, getting dressed, and bed time (but there can be more). Here’s an example of what speech-language therapy techniques could look like during some routines, with a child who is only using a few words:
Meal times: At breakfast, mom encourages the child to say “More” when he/she wants another piece of banana, or another few Cheerios, or some more milk. The mother talks about what she’s doing while she’s doing it: “Ooh, this is a tasty banana. I’m going to break another piece off. Mmm! Want another piece to eat? Say, ‘more.’ There you go! I’m putting it in your hand. Good job putting it in your mouth. Is it good? Yum!”
Diaper changes: When dad puts the child down to change his/her diaper, he encourages eye contact, and talks about what he’s doing while he’s doing it: “Here we go, we need to put a clean diaper on you. I’m getting the new diaper, and some wipes, and now we have to take off the dirty diaper.” Dad could also sing a song or tell a story while changing the diaper.
Bath time: When mom is giving the child a bath, she goes over body parts with the child, and talks about what she’s doing while she’s doing it: “Let’s get in the water! Doesn’t that warm water feel nice? And we can splash—whee! Okay, I’m going to wash your feet. One foot, and all the toes, the other foot, and all the toes. Yay! They’re clean! Now I’m going to wash your legs. And we can’t forget your knees! Now I’m going to wash your belly. And your belly button! Beep! And now I’m washing your neck. Now I have to wash your arms—here’s your elbow, and your hand—and all your fingers! And now I need to wash your hair. Now I’m going to rinse you off. Yay! You’re all clean again!”
All in all, there are a lot of reasons to have home health therapy sessions. Whenever possible, it really is the best place for children receiving therapy services.
At Carolina Pediatric Therapy our expertise and experience benefit not only the child being treated, but their family as well. We strive for excellence in all forms of pediatric therapy and family support. If you have concerns or questions about your child or the services we offer, call us today at 828.398.0043.
Why We Love In-Home Speech Therapy (And You Should, Too!)
Teresa Davis, MS, CCC-SLP
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