Will my DIY speech therapy at home work?
A lot of parents and adults need to consult SLP for various reasons. However, I have seen that after a few sessions they discontinue. They carry out DIY speech therapy at home. I also get asked a lot of time, can my DIY speech therapy at home work? Before I go into this, many of us know that May is a better speech and hearing month. So, let me take this moment to give a brief about my profession.
We all know about medical courses. What it entails. But, very few people have heard about paramedical courses. These courses support medical work. For instance, a medical professional gives medicines to a stroke patient. Paramedical or allied health professionals support muscle strength, movement, and communication. They improve the quality of life of the person. With medicines, the person will get better. But, he/she needs to talk and walk to get back to his/her premorbid life. Physiotherapy, Speech therapy, and numerous other courses come in allied health professions. Most people I have come across do not know what is speech therapy?
What is Speech Therapy?
An SLP or SLT treats different kinds of communication and swallowing disorders. We require a bachelor’s or master’s degree in speech and hearing to practice. Along with this, a local or national body registration or license is required to practice. We work at hospitals and also have private clinics.
People who require therapy
As young as 6 months old to 90 years old can need speech therapy. Kids who have a delay in talking, or difficulty swallowing require speech therapy. We also help with pronunciation issues. ST also treats specific disorders such as cleft lip and palate, autism, and cerebral palsy. In adults, we treat stroke patients who have difficulty speaking and swallowing; namely, dysarthria and aphasia. Other than these SLPs also treat various kinds of voice disorders. In addition to this, we help communicate in Parkinson’s disease and various other syndromes. We help communicate with hearing loss patients as well. In conclusion, we help anyone with voice, speech, language, or swallowing issues.
What goes into therapy and why DIY speech therapy won’t work?
A lot of planning goes into giving therapy. Let’s have a look at each sub-section.
- Evaluation: Doctors give you some tests before prescribing you medicines. Similarly, we need to evaluate to understand the problem thoroughly. The course of treatment is based on these results. Based on self-diagnosis if you take a medicine, you will end up with more problems. I have seen many parents and adults ‘Google’ the signs and treatment. Remember, half knowledge is more dangerous than ignorance. A software engineer can program and baker bakes. We cannot be DIY computer engineers or bakers. If that was the case, everyone could do everything.
- Treatment: Every patient has a tailor-made plan. This keeps changing after they have made certain progress. The therapist decides the goals. It is based on evaluation and observation. Progress tracking is done through formal testing and observation. Parents and adults play an integral part in this. Through interview and their input, we also modify these goals. An example of a goal is for the client will use his fluency techniques at word level with 80% accuracy. He/she will do this with minimal prompts on 4 out5 trails. Another example is the child will develop the intent to communicate. He/she will use pointing or gestures to communicate. This will be done with prompts 4 out of 5 times.
- As you can see, a lot of specificity goes into planning these goals. This kind of tracking and modification will be difficult without professional guidance.
- Specific techniques are used based on the specific disorder. One technique fits all does not apply to speech therapy. Each child is different. Each adult is different. What works for one may not work for the other. Rome was not built in a day. It takes years of clinical practice to perfect these techniques.
Some more points:
- If parents or adults start DIY speech therapy at home. You will not know when to change or modify the goals. Same goals will stunt the progress; In addition, you will frustrate yourself and the child. What to observe and how to interpret that observation needs guidance from SLP. For example, your child may say tave for cave. You keep telling say cave, cave. This kind of observe me and repeating will not work. A specific technique with the use of tools is required to correct this error.
- Most often, there is an underline cause of communication problems. For instance, muscle weakness is not visible to the naked eye. Parents or adults cannot self-diagnose this and treat it.
- You see us doing a lot of talking for stuttering therapy. But, that is based on careful planning of what are the triggers for the patient. Those topics and tone are chosen for the session. There are different levels to talking such as narration, interrupted conversations, and debates. Various factors decide how to move from one level to another. Reminders and regulations are important in stuttering therapy.
- A lot of playful activities are done with children during therapy. Parents when administering speech therapy at home, do it based on school learning patterns. This is too rigid for the child. You will often see your kids becoming more stubborn for not talking. Some parents who apply play-based techniques at home, forget to use the specific techniques of expansion, allowing talking. They keep talking and there is no waiting.
- A perfect combination of play-based with the use of techniques is essential for therapy with children.
To conclude, doing DIY speech therapy at home will lead to a relapse of the problem. There will be stagnant or no progress with yourself or your child. It may also lead to additional behavioral issues or problems. Having said all this, I do not mean that you should not practice anything at home. You should take up the home program from your therapist. Take a video or perform bits of it in front of your therapist. They would suggest necessary changes. You can implement the same. Perfect progress will be shown by taking therapy sessions. The frequency of therapy can be as suggested by your therapist. Lastly, you practice the home program under the guidance of a speech therapist.
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