Tips and Resources

Helping Your Child, Spouse, or Other Loved One in Speech Therapy

Having a loved one in speech therapy is often a commitment. There are therapy appointments to manage and support needed to help the person along their communication journey. That holds true whether it’s a toddler learning to talk, an adult learning to manage their stutter, or an older person recovering from a stroke.

Here are 4 practical tips you can use to help your loved one in speech therapy–whether they’re age 2 or 92!

Who can receive speech therapy?

People of all ages can receive speech therapy. When we think of speech therapy, we often picture children with a speech delay or a lisp. But these aren’t the only reasons someone may need speech therapy.

Babies aren’t too young to benefit from speech therapy. Adults in their last few years of life can also receive speech services.

Infants, toddlers, and kids typically are seen for receptive and expressive language development, speech sound development, stuttering, or feeding therapy.

Teenagers may have speech therapy to help support language growth or social pragmatics. 

Adults receive speech therapy for a wide variety of needs. These might include speech sound production, stuttering, accent reduction, cognition, aphasia, apraxia, voice problems, or even feeding therapy that may be needed after a stroke.

With that being said, the caregiver role will differ between the parent of a preschooler and the spouse of someone with aphasia. However, no matter the client’s age or specific needs, here are some helpful tips to consider.

How caregivers can support their loved one in speech therapy

1 Help them make it to speech therapy appointments

Whether speech therapy sessions are online or in-person, you can help ensure your loved one attends every appointment. They may physically need a ride, or they may need help coordinating transportation. Some people need a hand setting up and running the computer for online sessions.

Speech therapy is a time commitment, but it’s a worthwhile one! Consistent attendance in therapy is one of the key factors in how much progress a person can make. So if you need to shuffle your schedule to make everything work, try to remember how much you’re helping your loved one. Everyone deserves the gift of clear communication and the ability to connect with other people. Your support is helping them achieve that.

2 Keep track of questions for the speech therapist 

When your loved one begins therapy, plan out any questions or concerns you’d like to discuss with the speech therapist. This will help them understand how the client is currently communicating in everyday settings, as well as any goals you have for your loved one.

As therapy goes on, keep track of any questions you have. You may have questions about the way your loved one is trying to communicate, or how you can help them make more progress at home.

If your loved one is able, make sure to include them in the conversation! Encourage them to speak up for themselves and ask any questions they have. If they have trouble remembering or expressing their thoughts, help them keep a notebook where they can write down items they’d like to discuss with their speech therapist. 

3 Help your loved one practice speech and language at home

This tip applies to anyone with a loved one in speech therapy, whether you’re their caregiver or simply their partner, friend, or family member.

While speech therapy sessions are extremely important, the practice that goes on at home between sessions makes a big difference, too.

After each session, your speech therapist should tell you and your loved one what to practice for the week. This might feel a bit like homework, but the time you spend is worth it!

Practicing at home helps reinforce what the person is learning with their therapist. It can be easy for skills to “backslide” between sessions. When you practice exactly how the speech therapist tells you, this can help to not only maintain progress, but keep advancing through therapy more quickly. The person will come to each appointment in the best place they can be, ready to learn the next skill.

No matter what your loved one is in speech therapy for, there is likely something they can practice at home to keep making progress toward their goals.

4 Give lots of encouragement

We all need encouragement, especially when learning a new skill or facing a challenging task. Children can become easily overwhelmed with speech therapy tasks. Adults may feel self-conscious about their speech, or uncomfortable having to re-learn skills they used to be able to do with ease. It’s common to feel frustration.

You can offer encouragement in a variety of ways. If you are attending the session with them or practicing at home, make it a point to provide positive comments. Even if your loved one is struggling, you can still say something positive. Try, “You’re working so hard. Keep it up!” or “You only have a little bit more–keep going!” 

Even if your loved one is struggling, you can still say something positive.

Sometimes, children may need extra motivation to participate in speech therapy. Check out this article for ways to keep your child interested in sessions and practicing at home. 

Adults benefit from motivation, too! Make it a point to do something fun after a session, whether it’s stopping for a dinner out, getting ice cream or coffee, or taking a walk in a park. Motivation and encouragement can go a long way in helping someone continue with therapy and meet their communication goals.

How to find a speech therapist for your child or an adult

You may need to help your loved one find a speech therapist

You can start with searching online for speech therapists in your area. Don’t forget to read the reviews! Contact your insurance company to ask about speech therapists who are in network with your health plan. And check with your child’s pediatrician or your loved one’s doctor to ask if they have recommendations.

You can also reach out to local colleges and universities to see if they have an on-campus speech clinic. College students learning to become speech therapists treat clients under the supervision of licensed speech-language pathologists. This is often a convenient and affordable option for families who need speech therapy.

You play an important role in your loved one’s life. They may not be able to express it right now, but your support makes a difference. Never forget that you’re helping them communicate, connect, and share who they are with the world.

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