This is a common question that most parents ask when preparing to start their child in speech, language and/or feeding therapy. And my answer is always the same, “it depends on various factors.”
As a parent, this seemingly ambiguous response is frustrating! I get that. But please understand this is the hardest question for us to answer.
We understand that we are asking you to make a financial and time commitment. And we recognize that it’s a lot to ask without being able to give you a definitive answer as to how long we may need to work with your child.
That said, I would warn you against working with a professional that prescribes a specific amount of time for providing speech, language or feeding therapy without getting to know your child first. They may give you examples of how long they’ve worked with other children with similar goals, but they should never prescribe a certain number of months for your child until they have enough information based on various factors.
Here is the list of factors that play into how long your child may need speech therapy.
- Every child is different. First, it is important to realize children respond to therapy differently. Second, two children with the same diagnosis will rarely have the same treatment plan. As such, we tailor your child’s therapy to them.
- No two goals are the same. On paper the way a therapist may write a goal may look similar to another child’s goal (e.g., if they are both working on similar things), but the way we treat that goal will differ based on your child’s needs. Goals also vary based on the type of therapy being prescribed (feeding, speech, language), the number of goals, and the severity of your child’s delay or disorder
- Rapport and relationship with therapist. How your child responds (and how quickly) to a therapist is important. A child is not going to begin making progress until they have adapted to working with the therapist that is helping them to achieve their goals. Often times rapport is established day one, but for some children it may take an extra session or two.
- Carryover at school and home. This is a big one! The more you practice at home (if even just 5 minutes a day) the faster your child will master their goals and the quicker they will be dismissed from therapy.
- Behavior. Behavior is a means of communication. That said, behaviors can interfere with time spent in therapy sessions working toward goals. In turn this can delay progress toward goal mastery. If behaviors arise, they should be addressed accordingly.
- A dynamic and ever changing process. One session your child may make HUGE leaps in progress, while in other sessions they may slide backwards a bit. This is to be expected and is part of the successful process of learning and acquiring a new skill.
At Little Sprout Speech, we are data driven and use research-based practices in treating your child. We provide you with updates following each session so you can see exactly what your child worked on, how they performed and what they need to work on next. This is our way of staying accountable to you while helping to look at exactly how your child performed the prior week and strategically pushing your child to the next level in every single session.
Please understand this is not the “norm” in all private practices. We offer this service as we feel it helps us maintain the highest standards of performance while showing you we are serious about dismissing your child from therapy as soon as we feel they are ready.
This is why there are no pre-paid sessions or contracts asking you to commit to a specific number of sessions in our practice. When we feel like your child is moving toward dismissal this is a conversation we will have with you. The details are laid out so you know what to expect and we can make sure upon dismissal your child is truly ready to move forward without us!
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your child’s specific therapeutic needs, please contact us here.
Hallie & The Little Sprout Speech Team
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One of our big focus points this month has been how to help your child succeed during their school day. One of the most important things that often gets overlooked is the importance of eating lunch! Why is it so important? Food is fuel! If your tank is on empty you are going to be hungry, cranky, angry (hangry?), more irritable and you lose your ability to focus.
Now think about your child. Do they eat lunch every day at school or is something preventing them from eating their lunch? You may send a lunch or lunch money for them to buy a lunch but they may just be sitting there trying to hold it together, unable to focus on eating their food.
Lunch rooms can be loud and the smells can be overbearing for some kiddos. This is true especially if your child has sensory processing disorder (SPD).
So what do you do? This is exactly what we spoke about here:
“No child should eat lunch alone”
And as a follow up, since the first video was so popular and sparked SO many questions, I did another free video answering questions and chatting MORE about helping your child succeed in school (especially during lunch hour)!
Check out part 2 here:
“When your child with autism wants to eat alone at school”
And here is that video I referenced in my Facebook Live: He Just Sued The School System
I hope you are having a GREAT day and your kiddo is having an even BETTER school year!! Sending lots of love and happy lunches your way!
So the school year is back in session. You know it’s a “labor of love” to start and get settled in but it’s been a week or two and your child seems to be have a rough time.
THIS IS NORMAL!!
For some children the start of the school year totally rocks their world. What does this mean?
Well, simply put, your child had adjusted to a different summer schedule and now they have been thrown back into a full day school schedule. We chatted this summer about tips to prepare your child for the school year but even with those tips in place, it can still be really tough.
So what can we do to ease their transition into the school year?
- First we need to be understanding. We need to understand that they are going to take time to adjust to the school year and be OKAY with this. It is straining on everyone as you deal with some extra behaviors but it’s important to know that it is not your fault, the teachers fault, or anyone’s fault really. Your child just needs some time.
- We need to implement a daily schedule at home and at school. Create some sort of a schedule and put it in a pictured or written list (tailor it to their needs) so that they can start to feel a sense of understanding and control over their environment.
- Make sure they are getting opportunities to eat snacks and their lunch at school. Often times our kiddos are SO overwhelmed during snack and lunch time that they don’t eat much if anything at all. Think about how YOU feel when you go a full day without eating…your energy is low and you are much more irritable. This is the same case for our kiddos so we need to make sure they are getting the nutrition they need to pay attention and learn.
- Pay attention to your child’s behaviors AFTER school. If they come home and go into full-blown meltdown mode, something needs to change. This is a topic that we will discuss next week (and then I will link it here, so watch out for it). You can also join our e-newsletter to receive updates so you know when the new posts come out. Grab some free tools and join us.
- Pay attention to their sensory needs. How are they doing in the classroom? Are they having meltdowns there? Are they covering their ears in the classroom or exhibiting behaviors like spinning, hand-flapping or anything of the sort? If they are, LET THEM! They need to do this to regulate themselves and it should NOT be discouraged. It may, however, mean that they are overstimulated, in which case they should be given an outlet (e.g., a walk in the hallway, a chance to bounce on a trampoline 5-10 times, a quiet or calming room, etc) to decompress and “reset” themselves.
How is your child’s school year going so far? Let me know how I can help!
It is okay for your child to come home from school and feel tired, occasionally have had a rough day and need to let off some steam or have a little cry (not that we want to see our babies cry…) but this should not happen every day. And it certainly should not be in the form of a daily post-school meltdown.
So what do we do?
First, take a look at the length of your child’s school day. How long is the school day? Are they used to being in school for this long? If yes, give them a few weeks to adjust. If this is all new to them, it may take a month to adjust.
Second, count how long they have been in school. When did school start and how many weeks or months are they into the school year? By rule of thumb (my rule and my thumb 😉 they should be out of meltdown mode within a month of school starting. So if you started middle to end of August, by the middle to end of September they should have adjusted.
Third, take a look at their placement. Do the staff members understand your child? Do they know HOW to work with your child and what your child needs in order to succeed in school? Do not assume that just because an individualized education plan (IEP) is in place, they have reviewed it in its entirety or know exactly how it applies to YOUR child. It takes time for a teacher to KNOW and UNDERSTAND a child. You can speed this up a bit by asking to have a meeting with the team to share information about your child and propose working together as a team to help them understand how to apply the IEP to your child’s current needs.
Fourth, consider whether or not they are eating in school. If they are not eating the lunch you are sending or ordering for them, what changes can be made so that they DO eat? Every child needs nutrition to make it through the school day, special needs or not! It’s a long day and it’s quite demanding academically and socially. So be sure they are given opportunities to eat (e.g., even if that means outside of the regular lunch hour and cafeteria).
Fifth, look at how much homework they are being given. Can they handle that much right now? It may be a good idea to work out an agreement with the teacher to limit homework during the week and/or extend the due date so they can do it when THEY can handle it and not just because it is due tomorrow. As they adjust to the school year, this can be adjusted to meet your child’s needs and the academic demands, but try to start out slow and build-up to help lessen those after school meltdowns.
Let me know what tips have worked for your child to limit after-school meltdowns. I bet they would help others so comment below and let’s discuss!
- Prepare your child. Some airports offer programs where you can do a “run through” or a “dress rehearsal” of what it will be like to travel to the airport, go through TSA (security), travel to your gate, and board the plane (including where you board – inside or outside?). You can find 15 airports in the US that offer programs and more resources here.
- If you have a hard time preparing your child through a local program/if one doesn’t exist, try some of these other suggestions…
- Explain what will happen and show it in pictures so your child has a visual of what the actual airport and airplane will look like. Talk about what they will see but also what they will hear. If you cannot go live, pull up youtube and find some videos to show your child of people in airports/on airplanes.
- Read a story or watch a movie about traveling to the airport and taking an airplane to a new place.
- Bring ear plugs, head phones, ear muffs/ear defenders,
- Pack a carry on bag of your child’s favorite snacks and toys (electronics included…this is a GREAT time to break out the iPad!)
- Think ahead. You may not have access to internet at the airport and/or on the plane. Download favorite TV shows/movies ahead of time so your child can watch them when needed, even if wifi is not available!
- Have your child sit in the window seat so they are less visually overstimulated once on the plane. That seat will allow them to focus on YOU and help keep them calm and regulated on the plane.
- Make a schedule for when you travel. Put on times for leaving and arriving at airport, boarding airplane, taking off, landing, etc. Keep in mind that you may need to change these times so leave that as an option on the schedule you make!
- Let the gate attendant and flight attendants know that your child has autism and whether or not this is their first flight. They will be able to assist you better if they know! They may be able to make some accommodations for you and your child as well (e.g., board first, deplane first, extra walks around the cabin, drinks/snacks once on the plane, etc)
- Call ahead. Call your airline and find out what they can do to help. You may be pleasantly surprised!
As promised here are some additional resources:
A new national initiative in the US via The Arc “Wings For Autism”
15 Airports in the US that have a Autism “flying rehearsal” program
For you all in the UK: Manchester Airports resources for flying with autism
What message have you been told (eh hem…lied to) about your child or children in general, that have autism? Have you been told they will never speak? Never ride a bike? Never play a sport?
No two children are the same and many are ABLE. At times, they just need to be taught how to do certain things, like ride a bike. This is not THAT different from you and I. The concept of teaching a skill is something that varies for ALL of us. Some of us pick up on things naturally while others have to be taught.
In my opinion, the sky is NOT the limit and I encourage you to pay attention to the word ABLE and what your child CAN do. Then build from there. And don’t let others limit this for you or your child. Here’s a message on this topic… be sure to listen and follow us over on our facebook page where I go live weekly to discuss topics related to autism. Join us over here: http://fb.com/halliebulkinbiz
Have a GREAT day!
Hallie (and sleeping Lily)