As the coronavirus outbreak continues to rapidly evolve, we hope you are taking every precaution to keep you and your loved ones safe; stocking up on necessary supplies; washing your hands often; practicing social distancing, and closely monitoring common signs and symptoms.
If you haven’t already, we strongly encourage you to visit the CDC’s website for up-to-date information on the virus.
Impact to Daily Life
The steady spread of the coronavirus continues to disrupt many aspects of daily life. In hotspots across the country, schools and public space have recently closed. As a result, many adults and children that receive speech therapy in a school or clinic-based setting have been unable to access these vital services.
For the safety of our families, we must all be ready to adapt to this growing crisis. At the same time, improving speech and language skills requires consistent practice, and sudden disruption to services can have the unfortunate effect of delaying or halting progress towards your communication goals.
If you’re currently unable to access speech therapy services, we’ve provided a few tips and considerations below.
Access to Teletherapy
As opposed to therapy delivered in person, teletherapy provides treatment online via video conferencing software. If you’ve ever used Skype or FaceTime, it’s essentially the same thing. You connect with a speech therapist through your computer, and receive face-to-face instruction from the comfort of your home.
Numerous studies have shown that teletherapy is just as effective as traditional, in-person therapy, so you don’t have to worry about sacrificing quality or reliability of care. Many parents also prefer the flexibility of teletherapy, as it allows them to be more personally involved in their child’s progress.
If you receive speech therapy services in a school-based setting, ask your school administration whether teletherapy is available. Many schools have the technology and capabilities to enable teletherapy. This holds true if you receive services at a specialized clinic or if a therapist travels to your home.
If teletherapy is an option, it’s important to ask and confirm whether the online delivery tool is HIPAA-compliant. HIPAA is a federally-mandated law that provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding your medical information. Not all online video conferencing options are HIPAA-compliant - yet it’s imperative that you use one to protect your confidentiality.
With school and work cancellations becoming the new normal, you may find yourself spending a lot more time with your child at home.
Regardless of whether teletherapy is available, there are many ways parents can integrate speech exercises, corrections, queues, and support into their child’s daily life. This type of parental involvement is essential in your child’s development of new communication skills.
- Encourage Repetition: Encouraging your child to practice repetition of words, sounds, or syllables they struggle with is a great exercise to overcome speech and language problems. It can help sharpen sentence construction and expand your child’s vocabulary.
- Narrate Your Daily Life: Expose your child to language by narrating everything around you. If you’re getting some fresh air, make sure to repeat: “I’m putting on my jacket and we’re going for a walk.” You can sing songs in the car, describe what’s for dinner, or chronicle what’s happening on the television. This will help your child begin to make connections with the world around them. Speaking with - and to - your child may seem simple, but it’s an effective way to aid in language development.
- Reading Books: Reading out loud with your child, and encouraging them to repeat what you are reading, is a powerful strategy that shouldn’t be overlooked! Start with books your child already enjoys, and ask your child questions along the way.
Fun, At-Home Exercises
In addition to everyday practices, there are more speech therapy-focused exercises that can improve specific speech and language skills. If you’re working with a speech therapist, ask them for tips and advice. We’ve also compiled an easy-to-follow list below of helpful online resources.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
While ASHA is mainly known as the professional accreditation for speech-language pathologists, they also provide a series of tips and activities parents can use with their child at home to expand language comprehension.
Home Speech Home
This article offers twenty 5-minute speech therapy exercises you can do at home. These fun, skill-building games can be practiced nearly anywhere, require minimal prep time, and will help you frequently work with your child throughout the day.
Mommy Speech Therapy
This is another wonderful resource for parents to learn at-home speech therapy exercises.
Expressable Video Series:
We’ve created an YouTube series with a range of videos that teach parents common techniques to improve their child’s language development. Here’s one example below called natural language modeling. This involves finding opportunities throughout the day to teach your child proper pronunciation by mimicking good speech patterns.