What to Expect From Speech Therapy

What to Expect From Speech Therapy
When results from a speech-language evaluation indicate that speech therapy is warranted, it is important to know what to expect so as a parent you can be actively involved right from the start. This article will discuss some general principles of speech therapy and explain what to expect if you are seeking speech therapy.

Speech therapy maybe provided in a variety of settings depending upon your preference and your therapist's flexibility. Prior to beginning treatment, the speech-language pathologist (SLP) will explain the results of the evaluation and the benefits of speech therapy. Based on the results of a speech-language evaluation, measurable goals are determined and agreed upon with your input, as areas to work on.

Therapy sessions are based on working toward and meeting these goals. Goals are broken down into smaller objectives and a time frame is established in which they can reasonably be met. For example, in a private practice setting, many short term objectives are set for a period of 6 months. In a school setting, short term objectives would likely be met by the end of the marking period or quarter.

Speech therapy sessions generally include a series of activities designed to teach specific skills that are needed to meet the goals. Data is collected during the session to determine if progress is being made. Goals must be constantly monitored for progress to determine if the client's needs are being met. If a client is not making progress, the therapist must reexamine his or her teaching methods, tools and goals to help the client achieve success.

Family participation in the therapy process is extremely important. Personal experience has taught me that a family-based treatment approach yields the greatest success. In order to get the most out of the speech therapy experience, family members or caregivers should consult with the SLP after each therapy session. It is also helpful to use a few sessions for the therapist to train you to implement techniques at home. The frequency of these training sessions will depend on the client's needs and your preferences.

"Family -Based Treatment is a systemic, family-centered, solution-focused model for providing speech-language services in which counseling techniques are integrated into all aspects of the assessment and treatment process. The family, rather than the individual, is viewed as the unit of treatment; family members are involved in assessing their member's communication strengths and weaknesses, discussing potential interventions, and using interventions in natural contexts to create positive communicative change in their member about whom they are concerned. The speech-language pathologist and family develop a partnership that increases in strength as services are provided" (Andrews & Andrews, 2000, p.15)."

For individuals with more severe communication disorders, speech therapy maybe a life long journey towards improving communication skills. Therapists and teachers will come and go, but family is the one constant in the client's life. It is vitally important that communication goals are built into everyday routines. An important role of the SLP is to help you build communication opportunities into already established routines and activities.

Note: You may choose to first seek treatment through the public school system for children and young adults under the age of 22. Speech therapy is available to your child free of charge as part of his or her right to obtain a free, appropriate public education (Public Law 94-142). Your child may be eligible to receive a speech-language evaluation through the public schools even if he or she attends a private school or is home schooled. If your child is age 0-3, the IDEA Part C Early Intervention Program provides therapy to children who qualify free of charge (eligibility through Part C is based on the degree of severity of a child's delay or disorder).

To find a qualified professional in your area go to the American Speech & Hearing Association (ASHA) website at http://asha.org/proserv/.


Andrews, J. R., Andrews, M. A. 2000. Family Based Treatment in Communication Disorders: A Systemic Approach (2nd Edition). Sandwich, IL: Janelle.

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