How long will my child need speech therapy?
By Hallie Bulkin
This is one of the most popular questions I get asked and one of the hardest to answer! Since all therapy is unique and developed for each child based on their specific goals and needs, no two sessions ever look the same (even for two children with the same goals). So many factors play a role in each child’s therapy program, which complicates putting a timeline on it. These factors may include age, maturation, willingness to cooperate, imitation skills, accuracy of imitation at the start, level of functioning for other speech and language related skills, motor speech development, and more!
All that said, based on the number of goals and skills that need to be addressed for a particular client, I may be able to give a range (a wide range!) of how long therapy will last but this is always a guesstimate as a result of the various factors that can come into play and the fact that as therapy continues other age appropriate goals may surface with a need to be addressed prior to dismissal.
Here are some examples, keeping in mind therapy does not fit into a “one size fits all” approach (and therefore neither does the prognosis or treatment time for your child).
- 4-6 months in therapy: This may be a child who is very responsive to imitating sounds and sounds in word with only 4 sounds to address in therapy.
- 6 months to a year: Children with more complex sound patterns to correct are generally in speech therapy for closer to a year and sometimes longer. Again, it depends on a variety of factors that come into play throughout the dynamic therapeutic process and often times is highly dependent on the child’s responsiveness to therapy.
- More than a year: A child who is expected to take a year or more in therapy may have a variety of language-based goals (with our without speech goals) to address. For example, this may be a child who is not yet following directions and/or speaking at 2.5 years of age. If the child has a variety of skills to address to close the gap before Kindergarten, I generally tell parents to expect at least 12 months of therapy, if not more.
While all of those guidelines sound like a nice roadmap to follow, just remember this does not hold true for every client because it is often more complex that what is described here. There is also not a “one size fits all” approach to treating any given child, which also results in a more vague response to the most common question asked, how long will my child need speech
therapy? Just remember it is a dynamic therapeutic process and by staying involved on a weekly basis you as a parent will start to gauge how well your child is doing and when they may be getting closer to dismissal!
Until next time!