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Convincing an Anxious Child that Speech Therapy is Positive Change

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Speech Plus notes that a child with a speech impediment may feel stigmatized at school and among their peers, so it’s natural for them to have anxiety at the prospect of starting speech therapy. However, an involved, proactive parent can play a major role in helping their child feel comfortable about speech therapy and the promise that it holds. Today, McRory Pediatric Services, Inc. invites you to learn more!

School Speech Therapy

Once it has been determined by an interdisciplinary team that your child needs speech therapy, your first step is finding out more details about your school’s speech pathologist.. Speech pathologists are required to obtain a master’s degree and must be licensed in the state where they work.

Many therapists list their credentials on their websites or business cards, making it easy to determine their bona fides. If a school is unfamiliar or is an online program, don’t let that worry you as most are rigorous and fully accredited programs. Gathering this important information is probably the best way to attain a comfort level about the therapist and will make it easier to set your child at ease.

Private Speech Therapy

In addition to the services offered at your child’s place of learning, participating in private speech therapy can help your child overcome his fears and make strides in his treatment. When researching therapists, it’s okay to ask about their qualifications, but that shouldn’t be your only concern. Finding a therapist that is a good fit for your child means locating a therapist whose personality, schedule, and intervention style meets your family’s needs. A free consultation is a great way to assess these factors early on, so be sure to ask your prospective providers if they offer one.

Explaining Speech Therapy

If your child is starting speech therapy, he’ll likely have many questions and, depending on his age, may wonder why it’s necessary. Some older children may worry that it means there’s something wrong with them.

Help your child with their feelings and fears by addressing the situation and explaining the long-term benefits. Taking an active role in therapy by working on speech homework together can help. Beyond that, explain that speech therapy is a special tool that’s going to help him develop important communication skills.

You can also try comparing speech therapy to attending exercise or art classes, which help people become stronger or develop a skill. Your presence is comforting, so ask if you and your child can visit the therapy space together so he can begin getting acclimated to, and comfortable with, the idea. Speech Buddies points out that there are many art-based activities that can encourage your child to progress. One idea is to upgrade your kiddo's room with bedding they design; you can even go online to create a custom bed set just for them.

Overcoming Anxiety

Starting speech therapy is not unlike starting school; your child doesn’t know what to expect and whether he’ll like it, which can raise fears and anxieties about the unknown. Work to overcome these anxieties by creating a soothing home environment and meeting with his speech language pathologist before your child’s sessions begin, if possible, so you can get an idea of what to expect from therapy.

If you can’t meet in person, make contact by email or phone instead. Be sure to share any pertinent information about your child, including their anxiety regarding speech therapy, with his or her provider during your initial contact.

Your therapist will likely make the first meeting with your child a “getting to know you” session to help your child feel more at ease. Just as a child is more comfortable once they meet their teachers, your child is more likely to feel comfortable about therapy once he gets to know the person with whom he’ll be working.

How Therapy Will Impact School for Your Child

Your child may be heaping a lot of criticism on themselves, and it takes time to turn that into confidence. Luckily, from a logistical standpoint, speech therapy at school will have an impact on your child because he’ll be leaving class at some point during the day for speech therapy sessions.

It may be necessary to allay any worries your child may have that he’ll be marginalized or fall behind in his schoolwork. Reassure your child that their school speech language pathologist (SLP) will work with your child’s teachers to find the best schedule to reduce missing core subject teaching or adding support during a subject where your child might be struggling.

If your child loves art, let the SLP know that this may be a time to refrain from taking him/her for speech services. Remind your child that becoming a better communicator will, over time, make all his classes considerably easier.

Speech therapy represents a change in your child’s school routine, but it needn’t be a disruptive change. Keep assuring your child that therapy is like his other classes, in that its aim is to help him grow and learn.

Do you have some additional tips that have worked for your child? If so, please share in the comments below!

McRory Pediatric Services, Inc. provides the highest quality of evidence-based therapeutic services that involve families as integral members of the therapy team. Contact us today to learn more!


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