As the pandemic evolves, we all remain focused on keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe: monitoring symptoms of illness, testing, and practicing social distancing and mask-wearing when it makes sense. We continue to recommend visiting the CDC’s website for up-to-date information on the virus.
COVID's impact on speech therapy services
The ongoing spread of the coronavirus continues to disrupt many aspects of daily life. Many adults and children who receive speech therapy in a school or clinic-based setting have been unable to consistently access these vital services.
Healthy and safety are important. At the same time, improving speech and language skills requires consistent practice. When speech therapy is disrupted, it can delay or halt progress toward your communication goals.
If you’re currently unable to access speech therapy services, we’ve provided a few tips and considerations below.
The option of online speech therapy
As opposed to speech therapy delivered in person, teletherapy provides treatment online via video conferencing software. You connect with a speech therapist through your computer, and receive face-to-face instruction from the comfort of your home.
Numerous studies have shown that teletherapy is just as effective as traditional, in-person therapy, so you don’t have to worry about sacrificing quality or reliability of care. Many parents also prefer the flexibility of teletherapy, as it allows them to be more personally involved in their child’s progress.
If you receive speech therapy services in a school-based setting, ask your school administration whether online speech therapy is available. Many schools have the technology and capabilities for teletherapy. This also holds true if you receive services at a specialized clinic or if a therapist travels to your home.
If online speech therapy is an option, it’s important to confirm that the online delivery tool is HIPAA-compliant. HIPAA is a federally mandated law that provides data privacy and security for safeguarding your medical information. Not all online video conferencing options are HIPAA-compliant, but it's important to use one to protect your confidentiality.
Practicing speech and language at home
Regardless of whether online speech therapy is available, there are many ways parents and caregivers can integrate speech exercises, corrections, cues, and support into their child’s daily life. This type of parental involvement is essential in your child’s development of new communication skills. Here are some easy tips to try:
Encourage repetition: Encouraging your child to practice repeating words, sounds, or syllables they struggle with is a great way to overcome speech and language problems. It can help sharpen sentence construction and expand your child’s vocabulary.
Narrate your daily life: Expose your child to language by narrating everything around you. If you’re getting some fresh air, try saying: “I’m putting on my jacket and we’re going for a walk.” You can sing songs in the car, describe what’s for dinner, or chronicle what’s happening on the television. This will help your child begin to make connections with the world around them. Speaking with--and to--your child may seem simple, but it’s a great way to aid in language development.
Read lots of books together: Reading out loud with your child, and encouraging them to repeat what you're reading, is a powerful strategy that shouldn’t be overlooked! Start with books your child already enjoys, and ask your child questions along the way.
Fun speech and language exercises to practice at home
In addition to everyday practice, there are more therapy-focused exercises that can improve specific speech and language skills. If you’re working with a speech therapist, ask them for tips and advice. We’ve also compiled a list of helpful online resources here: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) While ASHA is mainly known as the professional accreditation for speech-language pathologists, they also provide a series of tips and activities parents can use with their child at home to expand language comprehension.
Home Speech Home This article offers twenty 5-minute speech therapy exercises you can do at home. These fun, skill-building games can be practiced nearly anywhere, require minimal prep time, and will help you frequently work with your child throughout the day.
Expressable Video Series: We’ve created a YouTube series with a range of videos that teach caregivers common techniques to improve their child’s language development, whether the focus in on learning to talk or improving a stutter, lisp, or speech sound disorder. Here’s an example on natural language modeling. This involves finding opportunities throughout the day to teach your child proper pronunciation by mimicking good speech patterns.