Be it speech or language or many other issues such as stuttering, feeding or autism, you might be in search of a speech pathologist for your child. Where do you start? How do you find a good one?
Here is a list of things to consider:
- First of all, we are supposed to be ‘communication experts’, so expect extremely good communication with your speech pathologist!
- Like any professional, there are the good ones and the ‘not-so-good’ ones. Always keep that in mind
- Before forking out, consider government services, generally through a community health centre or maybe a hospital. These are free but might have a long waiting list so don’t delay. The government provides funding for professional development and good conditions, so it does not mean that you are getting less of a service because it is free! I prefer to work in a government service than privately because of the conditions!
- But! Many very passionate speech pathologists choose to work in private practice to do it their own way (and avoid government issues!), so you can certainly find some fantastic ones there too
- If looking into a private speech pathologist, have you looked into an Enhanced Primary Care (EPC) plan? (this entitles you to a maximum of five rebated sessions – you’ll surely have some gap fee, per calendar year). Ask your GP about this or the speech pathologist that you have chosen
- If you sign up to a private speech pathologist, do you know roughly how long you’ll need to be going for? I used to have families thinking they would solve their child’s speech delays using their five EPC sessions when in fact, it would probably take years of therapy
- If a speech pathologist has the letters CPSP after their name, this means ‘certified practicing speech pathologist’ and they have chosen to sign up to seeking out professional development each year
- Consider the difference between those that offer 30 minute sessions versus 45 minute (or even 1 hour sessions). Sometimes short and regular sessions are good, but other times the child will only just get into the 30 minute session right when it is finishing
- Another thing to think about (if you get a choice), is to do ‘chunks’ of therapy. You might go for a term, then have a term off. Sometimes kids do have ‘spontaneous recovery’, so at least you can assess this while you have a break. Regular, ongoing therapy can also be draining and monotonous for some kids (even though we do make it pretty fun!) and also the parents/siblings.
- Ask around for recommendations. Every second person know someone who has needed speech therapy before.
And once you have started seeing a speech pathologist:
- Do they encourage you to sit in on the sessions? (this allows you to see if your child is truly progressing and to take ideas for home) – I don’t feel there is any good reason for a parent to be asked to sit outside of the session. This just makes it easier for a speech pathologist to be a bit ‘lazy’
- Do they listen to you? Do they encourage you to make goals with them? If not, do they tell you of their goals? Do they explain what and exactly why they are doing it? Are they well-prepared?
- Do they give you ideas for home? A take-home scrapbook might be fine for a school-aged child, but generally ‘real life’ situations are better practice for pre-school children which will encourage more generalisation
- Remember to constantly assess if you are making progress and if not, move onto a different speech pathologist. I am constantly surprised to talk with families who have been seeing other speech pathologists that can barely tell me what they are working on and when questioned they sit back and realise their child has made NO progress after continued therapy. Of course there are the good stories too though! 🙂
- Always ask questions if you are unsure of anything.
When in doubt, please ask a question through this blog. 🙂 Heidi