Society as a whole is goal-oriented; as human beings we want to have a plan for the future. The unknown is anxiety-provoking, and people want straight answers. Therefore it is no surprise that a common question when a child is first recommended for speech-language therapy is how long will my child need speech-language therapy? The tough answer to this challenging question is there is no scientific way to determine a child’s timeline for speech-language therapy. However, there are a several components to speech-language therapy that can facilitate greater progress in therapy, possibly resulting in faster discharge.
These Components Will Help Determine How Long a Child Will Need Speech-Language Therapy:
- Early identification is a key component for success in intervention. It is highly recognized that when speech and language disorders are identified and treated as early as possible, there is a better prognosis. Developmental milestones can be helpful in identifying children who may be in need of speech-language intervention.
- With any speech-language disorder there is a spectrum of severity that can occur. Often with a more severe speech-language disorder, therapy will be more intensive and may require a longer treatment period. Looking at the percentile ranking of your child’s score on a standardized test is helpful at determining where your child’s skills are in relation to the typical population.
- There are several components of a therapy plan which can affect the rate of progress. Receiving consistent and frequent therapy can both positively impact a child’s progress. The greater amount of time a child is spent working on a skill, the faster that skill is likely to improve. Additionally, completing home programs or home activities given by your child’s therapist will facilitate carryover of the child’s targeted skills into other environments.
- Lastly, every child is different in their areas of need for speech-language therapy. Therefore, each child’s therapy approach will be unique to him or her. A child’s diagnosis will ultimately affect what skills will be targeted and how many target areas there will be. Concomitant issues may also affect a child’s therapeutic approach, resulting in additional goal areas to target through therapy. The presence of multiple diagnoses does not necessarily mean slow progress, but may correlate with the reality that there may be more goals to be met before discharge.
This list is by no means all-encompassing of components which could facilitate faster progress in speech-language therapy. Overall, it is important that the child, family and clinician become a team to target that child’s speech and language needs. Then as a team, goals can be addressed positively in a variety of environments and communication situations.