Starting speech therapy with a new speech-language pathologist is the start of something new for you and your family. Getting a good understanding of the child’s interests and strengths before speech sessions starts is important. As a speech-language pathologist I always start my speech therapy sessions with something that I know the child can do. This is the beginning of a positive therapeutic relationship. By starting a session with something a child can successfully do it empowers the child to feel competent, confident and engaged in the session. It also invites them into therapy in a warm way.
As an example, when working receptive or expressive language therapy with a toddler, I start off with working on a skill that the child can already do. For example, I start with imitation games and then work on a skill they may have a little harder time like initiating a gesture. By starting with something that the child can do at the beginning of the session it builds confidence for the child and gets them engaged and motivated. Then I can begin to work on receptive or expressive language and figure out what motivates this child to keep going – the key to speech-language therapy. It is a fine balance of modeling, testing and patience!
These concepts loosely follow Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which can be explained below in the photo. His theory is based on understanding the motivation for human behavior and one need must be fulfilled before moving on to the next. By understanding these needs, the speech – language or feeding session will be off to the right path.
These are just a few of the things that I do to start a speech session with a child. If you have any other ideas feel free to let us know!