Parents, especially those paying out of pocket, don’t want to watch their child play for a 45 minute Speech Language Therapy session. What are we paying for? I will tell you exactly what you are paying for. Children who have speech and language deficits – especially young children – have a hard time attending to “drill and kill” trials for 45 minutes. Heck – even 15 minutes! I know that it LOOKS more like therapy, but truly, it is not motivating nor does research support generalization of skills learned in discrete trials. If a child is to learn to use verbal communication to express his/her wants or needs, it needs to happen in an activity that is natural and motivating so that the experience is meaningful and applicable to real life situations. If a child is to learn to improve the way they say words, it is more impactful if they are met with the real life effects of their inaccuracies. If they want to say “blocks” to play with blocks, but they say “ba”, they don’t get the blocks. The child will be more motivated to repair the communication breakdown if the payout is getting what they want! A therapy session should be a balance of play, drills, and reinforcement for success.
Donna Rowan Culley is an SLP and the founder/owner of Reaching New Heights.