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The First Speech Therapy Session

Written By: Kaitlin Bednarz M.S. CCC-SLP

Is your child starting speech therapy? Are you excited? Nervous? Confused about what an evaluation/session will look like? To help put it into perspective, let’s say that a speech therapy session can look just like a sporting event! There’s the prep, warm-up, and big game. During the game, teams adjust and use strategies to meet the end goal. At the end, players and coaches have learned valuable information to use for the rest of the season. Speech therapy sessions have a similar format with the end goal being helping children reach their full-potential.

1. Prep your child beforehand! Just like we wouldn’t want your child to have the wrong equipment for a game (it might be awkward to bring shoulder pads to a golf game), speech therapists don’t want your child to have the wrong impression of a session. Here are some tips for prepping your child before a speech session:

  • Let your child know that he/she is going to meet and play with a speech therapist.

  • Call the clinic and ask for the name of your child’s speech therapist. Then tell your child you’ll be meeting ______ .

  • Drive by the clinic the day before your session and explain you’ll be driving back tomorrow and going inside. This will help your child feel more at ease the next day when you pull into the parking lot.

  • Explain why you are going (i.e., sounds, stuttering strategies, language, etc.). Some children may think they are going to a doctor’s office and may be hesitant to go inside. The more a child knows ahead of time, the better!

2. Warm-up! Your child is prepped for the session and is ready to go. But before the big game, it’s time to warm-up. The first session might focus on rapport building, so your child and speech therapist can build a fun and trusting relationship. This is an important step for the child to feel comfortable working with the therapist and willing to learn/practice strategies. Activities might include: play with toys, books, or ice-breakers for conversation during this warm-up. The speech therapist will gauge your child’s temperament, behaviors, and interests to use in therapy. Here are some tips for this stage of the game:

  • If your child is feeling shy about this new person, sit with your child and join in on the fun!

  • Bring one of your child’s toys to the session, but keep it hidden in your bag. Your therapist might sub it in to help your child feel more at ease.

  • Inform the speech therapist of your child’s interests and dislikes to assist in engagement.

3. Game-time! Your child has been prepped, has warmed-up to the speech therapist, now it’s game-time! For an evaluation, the speech therapist will introduce testing materials and explain the process. For a session, items (i.e., toys, books, papers, etc.) will be introduced to target specific goals. The speech therapist will adjust intervention methods to cater to your child’s learning style. The goal in therapy is to make progress towards your child’s goals.

4. Review and take that trophy home! Your speech therapist will review the game-winning strategies used during the session and ways to incorporate them at home. Home practice is crucial for your child’s progress!

You’ve got all the steps to crush the first speech therapy session. If parents and speech therapists work collaboratively it will be a championship season for all! GO TEAM!

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