Speech Therapy Online For Toddlers – How it Works
Many parents may find speech therapy for toddlers to be a bizarre concept. How do I get my child to sit through an online session and participate in the conversation with the therapist? It’s possible that your child is speech delayed, that they’re having trouble following verbal directions, or that they haven’t pronounced their first words like other children their age. So what are parents to do if they want affordable and convenient speech therapy sessions online but their toddler will not sit through a session?
In any case, there’s a lot to think about when starting speech therapy for toddlers, and one of the most crucial factors is where therapy will be conducted.
Traditional face to face speech therapy for toddlers used to entail going to a clinic or having a speech-language pathologist visit to your home. However, in the age of technology, things have changed. As more families seek affordable and convenient options that give the same high-quality level of treatment, online speech therapy is fast gaining popularity.
So How Does Online Speech Therapy for Toddlers Work?
It should be made abundantly clear that a speech therapist would never advise or expect a toddler to spend 30 minutes in front of a screen during a session. It is not the right way for children to learn, nor is it the ideal way for your toddler to acquire skills that serve as the foundation for speech and language development.
In this piece, we’ll look at how online speech therapy for toddlers works and why it may be so beneficial in assisting children in reaching their communicative milestones. The key is with the people who are a child’s best teacher. That’s you, the parent.
The Success of a Child’s Communication Skills determined by Parental Involvement.
The crucial question to ask is if your child is getting speech therapy at home for 30 minutes per week, what are they doing the rest of the time? How are they working on their speech therapy goals and who is working with them?
Toddlers learn language from the people they love and interact in a physical way and during everyday interaction. Not with worksheets. They watch, imitate, play, explore their world with the people around them. That’s parents, caregivers, family and friends.
For speech therapy for toddlers to work, it’s critical for families to practice and carry over strategies they learn in between sessions if genuine (and timely) improvement is to be made. No matter which clinic a parent takes their child to, they only have so much time with the speech therapist. Outside of therapy sessions, when a family uses ways to work on improving their toddler’s language development in everyday life, they are doing the most important work.
Speech therapy isn’t only 30 minutes a week when your speech therapist teaches and coaches you on how to communicate with your child in a meaningful way. From putting their shoes on in the morning to eating dinner, to going to the market, every moment with your child is an opportunity to learn and develop language.
A parent is usually not an active participant in traditional speech therapy sessions, but rather a spectator. The toddler’s attention is usually drawn to the clinician or the toys in their bag. Parents are satisfied to have their child in another room with the therapist and often only get a summary of how the session went. That’s fine, but there is another way.
Online speech therapy puts parents in control of the session and teaches them what to do when the 30 minutes are up. While your therapist is there to coach you and teach you how to actively interact with your child to elicit speech and attain language milestones, you’ll be the one putting these methods into action in the place that is most conducive to learning – your child’s home.
With this model, children make the most (and often fastest) progress, and why parent-led intervention is so effective.
What does Online Speech Therapy for Toddlers look like?
Each child’s individual speech or language goals are addressed throughout online speech therapy sessions. Therapists work with parents to teach them the speech therapy strategies and provide them with the tools, knowledge, and strategies they need to help their child communicate better.
Since toddlers learn to communicate through play-based activities, online speech therapy for them continues to use play. We frequently think of playtime as a way to unwind after a long day, this is not the case. Children learn and explore the world around them via play, which is why having good play skills is so important for their language development.
When children play they are utilizing an important tool for their learning. It enables kids to explore and comprehend their surroundings, stimulates language growth, solves problems, develops social skills. They are in a sense testing out the real world through the safe space play creates.
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How Online Speech Therapy for Toddlers Integrates Play
Parents should let go of the image that their child will be engaging with the therapist online during a session. Instead, the therapist may present a strategy and use a parent-coaching approach to teach the family how to use strategies in everyday experiences to expand language. First parents try it out with their child while playing and the therapist watching nearby.
Parents who are curious to see what an online speech therapy session for their young child would look like can watch this video online taken by the ETCA Center which supports telehealth for young toddlers.
A therapist may advise parents to bring a few toys or activities to each online speech therapy session in order to keep their child engaged. Items as basic as bubbles, toy cars, Play Doh, or crayons and paper could be used. Really anything a child likes to play with. While the therapist can undoubtedly utilize play activities remotely and replicate what is going on at home, it is critical that parents participate actively. Our speech therapists want you sitting on the floor with your child.
Here are some examples of what you might work on with your child as facilitated by the speech therapist:
- Giving your toddler 2 choices between toys to encourage initiating a communication request
- Practicing to pause until your toddler says “go” before taking a turn; again this teaches them to initiate
- Encouraging turn-taking by rolling a ball back and forth
- Encouraging pretend play using kitchen items or giving a doll a bath
- Encouraging imitation skills with actions, sounds and then words
In reality, any speech or language goal can be elicited with online speech therapy for toddlers. Throughout the sessions, the therapist will present new concepts, strategies, and provide support for the parents in real time or during a summary after the session is complete. It’s the fact that the parent, not the therapist, is eliciting language from their child that makes this kind of therapy so satisfying and so beneficial.The parent is now equipped with tools to improve their child’s speech and language skills all day, every day.
Parental involvement and home-based learning are particularly critical since they aid in the integration or assimilation of newly gained abilities for the toddler. With traditional “in the clinic” therapy even if a child exhibits a new skill, it will still take time before they are able to “generalize” or repeat the skill in their everyday life. Since this is the goal of therapy, when we can get a child to use the skills learned in their life from the get-go, a lot of time is saved.
RELATED: Speech Delayed Toddlers Who Tantrum. Here’s What to Do.
My Toddler Doesn’t Attend During Online Speech Therapy. Is that a Problem?
Parents frequently worry that their children may struggle to attend during online speech therapy. When toddlers are asked to join a family video chat, they often run away. Yet the goal is not to have the child stay focused on what is happening online but to work with parents to learn the strategies and techniques speech therapists use to improve a toddler’s speech and language. It’s like parents become therapists.
Whether speech therapy is offered online or in person, this may be the first time that a child is asked to attend during a structured learning environment. So there may be some behavioral changes that parents observe at the start, which can be in the form of temper tantrums, difficulty attending or running away from the activity.
This is normal and should not dissuade parents from continuing. Children generally develop a rapport and relationship with their therapist after a few sessions and even start interacting with them on screen.
Online speech therapists know how to follow a child’s lead and take into account their individual interests. Parents are encouraged to choose toys and activities that their toddler will enjoy for the session. If your toddler has a hard time attending, your speech therapist will make personalized recommendations for how to reel them back in.
RELATED: Halloween Speech Therapy Activities for Toddlers.
Therapy Works Together – Online Speech Therapy for Children and Adults
We care about every child and adult achieving their speech, language and communication goals. You can start speech therapy online now with a certified speech language therapist. We’ll discuss your personal needs, develop an individualized treatment plan, and schedule affordable online therapy sessions online at your convenience.