Can I, (the parent) be the “therapist”?
In the previous blog post Language All-Day Everyday we talked about integrating speech and language practice within your daily routines. In doing so, the learning that happens during speech-language therapy is extended into every part of your child’s day. When you use strategies taught to you by your child’s speech-language pathologist (SLP) in the home, you are actually doing something called parent-implemented intervention.
What is parent-implemented intervention?
Parent-implemented intervention is an approach where parents take on an active role during therapy sessions. SLPs teach parents specific strategies to carry out in the home, so that “therapy” happens whenever you are with your child. Parents are taught:
1. What to say (language models)
2. And how to say it
There are so many benefits to this type of therapy.
One is that it creates more language opportunities than a traditional treatment setting. Think about how often you see your SLP and where you usually see them. Now think about all the hours of the day you spend with your child and all the different places you go. You might be at the park or doing some outdoor play which does not always happen in therapy sessions. By implementing the strategies taught to you by your SLP, your child is getting SO many more opportunities to practice! You get the benefit of practicing with them in a natural, real life setting.
Next, your child will be motivated to communicate because the therapy occurs during meaningful routines, such as mealtimes and bath times. Your child will learn to communicate during everyday activities with the most important people in their lives, their parents!
Last, you as parents know your child best, making you their first and best teacher.
What does the research say?
Researchers by the names of Roberts and Kaiser (2011) did an investigation of multiple studies consisting of clinicians who provided parent-implemented intervention.
Participants included in this study were:
- Children with language impairments
- Children with autism spectrum disorder
- Children with developmental delays
The participants of these studies ranged from the ages of 18 months and 5 years with a variety of language impairments.
Results showed that parent-implemented intervention had positive effects for all children, including children with autism spectrum disorder and developmental delays. Improvements were shown in areas such as expressive and receptive language skills, vocabulary increase, sentence structure, and rate of communication (fluency). In general, parents with training were more responsive to their child’s communication and modelled more language to their children compared to parents who did not receive any training.
What does this mean?
This means parents make a difference! Some parents might think that they cannot help much because they are not a trained professional like SLPs are. However, research shows that parents who receive training on strategies to help their child’s language development are just as effective at helping their child as SLPs are.
Overall, intervention plans that focus on parents supporting their child’s language development are highly effective. Parents who take on a more active role in therapy and are taught how to use general and specific language strategies can see improvements in their child’s language. As your child’s language changes, your SLP can guide you in helping you learn new strategies for this ongoing process.
Roberts, M. Y., & Kaiser, A. P. (2011). The effectiveness of parent-implemented language interventions: A meta-analysis.