Keep Calm and Chatter On

Ruth Stoeckel, PhD, CCC-SLP

With the huge changes affecting all of our lives due to “stay home” and “shelter in place” orders, stress levels are skyrocketing and parents are rightly concerned about their children’s education and therapy services.  Some school districts and private agencies are continuing service through teletherapy, but other families report that teletherapy is not yet an option.  There are daily posts on Facebook and elsewhere from parents anxious about how to help their child while we wait for this pandemic scenario to play out.  Here are a few suggestions for handling this challenging time:

  1. Give yourself a break. Parents need to continue being parents, even as they are being asked to provide guidance and/or take over home-based learning. This situation will hopefully be temporary, so don’t feel guilty about prioritizing relationships over academics and therapy for now.
  2. Get information from your SLP about what they were doing in therapy. Doing short bits of practice throughout the day fits with the principle of motor learning of distributed practice, which is good for retention. Accuracy is important here, so SLP guidance is critical.
    1. Think about situations that happen throughout your day when you can encourage (not push) your child to practice words or phrases they have already learned in speech therapy. What words or phrases were they working on in Speech?  Can you find sneaky ways to give them a chance to use those words throughout the day?  If they say something incorrectly that you know they have practiced and can say well, give them some help – “Can you say it with me?”  — ONE time and move on.
    2. If your child has not yet achieved correct production of words or phrases, what kinds of verbal activities were they doing in speech? Look for ways to practice those things for just 30-60 seconds at a time throughout the day when you think your child may be willing.  You can even set a timer to go off for “speech work”!  Just keep it short and fun.
  3. Model good speech and accept ANY of your child’s attempts at communication without constantly feeling a need to correct their errors (except for practice targets as noted in #2 above). Gesturing and other nonverbal communication can always be encouraged to supplement verbal communication.
  4. Read or look through books! There are so many resources being posted right now for how to use repetitive books for speech practice, and authors or teachers reading a variety of books.  There is nothing better than doing it IRL (in real life), but the video readings are an option. You can encourage your child to “read” along making any sort of verbal attempts they can.  Some children may only make sounds, others may try to say some of the words, others may be able to fill in a whole sentence.  No corrections needed, just read or talk about the book over and over modeling good speech.
  5. Try silly games that involve making noises or saying words. Simon Says can move from imitating actions to imitating sounds/words, depending on what the child may be able to do.  Again, no corrections, just encouraging your child to participate.
  6. Give yourself a break! Yes, the same as #1.  Yes, it’s important to try and keep up some kind of practice and expectations.  Progress may be slowed or stalled for several months and it’s scary to have a child with significant communication needs who is getting less than what you think they need. But mental health and relationships are important too during this unusual and stressful time.  The “parent” role needs to override the “therapist” role.  Heed the advice to “change the things we can and accept the things we cannot change” by advocating for coverage of teletherapy services and taking steps like those above to manage what we cannot change.

 

About the Author

Ruth Stoeckel, PhD, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist recently retired from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. She has worked as a clinician and independent consultant in schools, private practice, private rehabilitation agency, and clinic. Dr. Stoeckel is the author of ASHA web courses on diagnosis and treatment of CAS. She is on the professional advisory board of Apraxia Kids. In addition to childhood motor speech disorders, interests include learning challenges associated with an early history of speech language problems and speech-language development in children with low-incidence disorders such as hearing loss. Dr. Stoeckel has presented both nationally and internationally and has co-authored articles appearing in the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research and Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

Ruth Stoeckel, PhD, CCC-SLP

With the huge changes affecting all of our lives due to “stay home” and “shelter in place” orders, stress levels are skyrocketing and parents are rightly concerned about their children’s education and therapy services.  Some school districts and private agencies are continuing service through teletherapy, but other families report that teletherapy is not yet an option.  There are daily posts on Facebook and elsewhere from parents anxious about how to help their child while we wait for this pandemic scenario to play out.  Here are a few suggestions for handling this challenging time:

  1. Give yourself a break. Parents need to continue being parents, even as they are being asked to provide guidance and/or take over home-based learning. This situation will hopefully be temporary, so don’t feel guilty about prioritizing relationships over academics and therapy for now.
  2. Get information from your SLP about what they were doing in therapy. Doing short bits of practice throughout the day fits with the principle of motor learning of distributed practice, which is good for retention. Accuracy is important here, so SLP guidance is critical.
    1. Think about situations that happen throughout your day when you can encourage (not push) your child to practice words or phrases they have already learned in speech therapy. What words or phrases were they working on in Speech?  Can you find sneaky ways to give them a chance to use those words throughout the day?  If they say something incorrectly that you know they have practiced and can say well, give them some help – “Can you say it with me?”  — ONE time and move on.
    2. If your child has not yet achieved correct production of words or phrases, what kinds of verbal activities were they doing in speech? Look for ways to practice those things for just 30-60 seconds at a time throughout the day when you think your child may be willing.  You can even set a timer to go off for “speech work”!  Just keep it short and fun.
  3. Model good speech and accept ANY of your child’s attempts at communication without constantly feeling a need to correct their errors (except for practice targets as noted in #2 above). Gesturing and other nonverbal communication can always be encouraged to supplement verbal communication.
  4. Read or look through books! There are so many resources being posted right now for how to use repetitive books for speech practice, and authors or teachers reading a variety of books.  There is nothing better than doing it IRL (in real life), but the video readings are an option. You can encourage your child to “read” along making any sort of verbal attempts they can.  Some children may only make sounds, others may try to say some of the words, others may be able to fill in a whole sentence.  No corrections needed, just read or talk about the book over and over modeling good speech.
  5. Try silly games that involve making noises or saying words. Simon Says can move from imitating actions to imitating sounds/words, depending on what the child may be able to do.  Again, no corrections, just encouraging your child to participate.
  6. Give yourself a break! Yes, the same as #1.  Yes, it’s important to try and keep up some kind of practice and expectations.  Progress may be slowed or stalled for several months and it’s scary to have a child with significant communication needs who is getting less than what you think they need. But mental health and relationships are important too during this unusual and stressful time.  The “parent” role needs to override the “therapist” role.  Heed the advice to “change the things we can and accept the things we cannot change” by advocating for coverage of teletherapy services and taking steps like those above to manage what we cannot change.

 

About the Author

Ruth Stoeckel, PhD, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist recently retired from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. She has worked as a clinician and independent consultant in schools, private practice, private rehabilitation agency, and clinic. Dr. Stoeckel is the author of ASHA web courses on diagnosis and treatment of CAS. She is on the professional advisory board of Apraxia Kids. In addition to childhood motor speech disorders, interests include learning challenges associated with an early history of speech language problems and speech-language development in children with low-incidence disorders such as hearing loss. Dr. Stoeckel has presented both nationally and internationally and has co-authored articles appearing in the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research and Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.



Credentials:
Hours of Operation:
Treatment locations:
Address:

,
Phone:
Email:

Overall Treatment Approach:
   

Percent of CAS cases:

Parent Involvement:
   

Community Involvement:
   

Professional consultation/collaboration:

Min Age Treated:

Max Age Treated:

Insurance Accepted:


Donate Now!
close-link