As a speech-language pathologist working in an outpatient clinic you are offered a unique and wonderful opportunity to become a major influence in a child’s life. Attending therapy on a weekly basis can be challenging for families, as schedules quickly get filled with work responsibilities or extracurricular activities. The time that any therapist gets with their clients is precious and important, and you want to cram in as much work and practice as possible. Within a busy work day, full of children and therapy sessions, it is important to remember that your responsibility to your clients goes far beyond your 45 minute session. As a speech-language pathologist you are not only a child’s therapist and hopefully new friend, but you are also your therapy client’s best advocate in helping them to succeed.
- Understand your client. The first step to helping your client succeed is to gain a thorough understanding of that child’s development and his or her background – How does this child learn best? What is your family’s goal with therapy?, etc. A child is much more than a single diagnosis. By getting to know your client as an individual you will have a better understanding of how to help them reach their goals.
- Understand the treatment plan. Just as it is important for you to understand your client’s background, it is equally important for you to help parents in fully understanding your treatment plan. In the health care field there is an alphabet soup of acronyms and vocabulary. By educating your client’s family, they can be better involved in treatment and will also be more equip to advocate for their child’s needs in other environments.
- Get familiar with a child’s Individual’s Education Program (IEP) Document. This is a document required for children who are deemed eligible for special services within the school system, and will outline a child’s current level of performance, as well as direct the services and supports that are necessary for that student to succeed. Evaluate the IEP to see if it accurately reflects the needs of your client. You can act as a second pair of eyes for your families to help them ensure that their child is receiving the services and support that is necessary.
When being an advocate for your client, focus on his or her strengths. Often health care professionals rely too heavily on diagnoses that outline deficits rather than abilities. When writing reports or giving feedback, let parents know what their child is doing well at. Create a therapy plan that will build upon a child’s strengths, rather than simple focus on his or her weaknesses. Imagine how draining it would be to hear week to week what you are doing poorly at. By adding positivity into a treatment plan you are recognizing that your client has the potential to succeed and that he or she will reach their goals.
NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!