When we go into homes, a large part of what we do as speech language pathologists is to teach and coach the parents on how to use specific language strategies with their child to improve comprehension and expression, to use more words to express their wants and needs. It really is a collaborative approach and we work with the parent as a team. I actually turn part of my session over to the parent after they observe me, so they can try the strategies while I am still there, and I gently guide and coach from the sidelines. This builds confidence in the parent and empowers them to take the reigns. It shows them how they can make small modifications in order to elicit language into every routine and situation in the natural home environment. Our goal as early interventionists, whether in person or through telepractice, is to give these tools directly to the parent. After all, speech and language doesn't just happen the one hour a week when the speech language pathologist visits, it happens all the time and can be implemented from the child's best teacher: YOU. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic it is extremely difficult for speech pathologists to enter into homes to safely offer our regular early intervention services.
So exactly how can you help your child if they are experiencing language delay? Should you wait? No, because there are options! If you simply want to make sure your child is on track you can book a phone or video consultation. But if you think you would benefit from more guided support, and are keen to dive in with your child at home, the Screenless Telepractice approach (mobile coaching) for language delayed toddlers may be a great fit for you and your child.
I recently communicated with Gabriele Nicolet, a wonderful speech language pathologist from SpeechKids, who has used this approach with much success in her practice. Check out her brief article here from the ASHA WIRE, to see how this works.
To close, I have implemented this approach during "Covid Times" and I'm so excited about the benefits it can offer that I even hope to keep this in my "toolkit" as one way to help parents and toddlers all over the province, even after the pandemic is over. The other advantage is that we can be flexible with times (playtime, lunchtime, bath time, etc) so we are not tied to one day or time a week. We can practice these strategies during a variety of routines of your choice, at times that work best for you. Contact me to learn more!