Summer, Time to go to Speech Therapy

If you were to ask a child if he or she would like to go to the beach or speech therapy in the summer, speech therapy would not be the choice.

Well, this is a post about a child named Bobby* who was not given a choice. His parents, Brenda and Bob, elected to bring him to speech therapy 2 times a week in this summer. Bobby, who gets speech therapy through his school, took the last summer off and he regressed. His parents did not want to make that mistake again so they brought him to Kidmunicate.

Over the last two weeks, Bobby has progressed tremendously. Brenda must have been pleasantly surprised because she asked us this question, “How did you do it? How did you get my son, who has been so disinterested in improving his speech, to respond so well?” That question inspired this post.

I am not going to bore you with the clinical aspects of the case, but I will share with you our approach to connecting with Bobby to get him to engage.

We needed to connect with Bobby, so we found out the following:

  • The foods he likes and doesn’t.
  • His favorite games / toys.
  • The books he enjoys.
  • The teams he follows.
  • The movies he has seen and liked.
  • His favorite activities / hobbies.
  • Etc.

We like to get this type of information directly from the child, so the child knows that we care about his wants, needs and preferences. It’s not a gimmick, we do really care and the information helps us relate. It’s really no different then establishing a relationship with anyone.  People want to be heard and understood. They want to others to care about them. And they want to talk about things that interest them.

Prior to the initial visit, we also asked Brenda the questions above. We wanted to be able to relate to Bobby during the very first session. Brenda told us that Bobby is a big fan of Spiderman and that his favorite treat is Sour Patch candy.

We did not have any Spiderman toys or books in our supply room, so we went to the store and bought a Spiderman action figure and a book. We also bought a package of Sour Patch candy to give as a reward with permission from Brenda.

During the first session, I discovered that Bobby does indeed like Spiderman. When I confirmed this, I brought out the action figure and had a nice conversation about Spiderman. During this free flowing conversation, I started to build trust. Then I slowly added some therapy into the conversation, but to Bobby it was a conversation about his favorite superhero and not therapy. Bobby has been happy and engaged ever since.

By the way, Brenda and Bob, have plans to bring Bobby to Ocean City, New Jersey for a week in late August, so he will not have to miss out on the beach.

Finally, if you were to ask a child if he or she would like to go to recess or speech therapy at school, again speech therapy would not be the choice. There is a good chance that Bobby will be able to reduce or eliminate speech therapy sometime this fall if he continues to progress, so he will not have to miss out on recess either.

The Kidmunication Point

The job of a pediatric speech language therapist is not easy. We need to help children to do something that they find challenging and frustrating. We need to help them to do something that they often avoid out of fear or embarrassment. In the summer, we also have to help them to concentrate on speech therapy when they could be at a beach party with friends. We make the job easier by relating to their interests and building a rapport with the child from the very first session.

  • Bobby, Bob and Brenda are not their real names.