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