Parents often come to a speech therapist expecting the Speech language Therapist (SLT) to work on speech, but of course just like how jellyfishes aren't really fishes and peanuts aren't nuts, a pediatric SLT does not work on "only" speech. They look at COMMUNICATION. Speech is the combination of sounds to make a string of words. But before you can start speaking, a lot of factors need to come together.
It needs two people, a person to initiate, a person to respond, looking at each other, being physically at a distance that you can have a conversation and last but not the least, a reason to communicate and finally the words… Phew!!!
In fact, conversations are 65% of these skills and only 35% words/speech. Just like a great musical performance needs the artist to be ready with his instrument, a concert hall, a captivating and practiced musical piece and an audience, a pediatric speech therapist needs to ensure that the child has all the pre-requisite skills for speech.
A set of good listening skills and play skills go a long way in building the steps to saying words and using speech. What we do with children in speech language therapy sessions might look like we are having fun with the child by just playing but in reality, we are building the bond and relation with the child which is like telling the child that we are equals in this activity and I respect you! That’s when the child trusts us and at the same time, we can evaluate the important pre-requisites for speech.
Parents often complain that we as therapists are not strict with the child. The reality being that, we always include the child’s interests and let the child lead the interaction by going his way wherever possible so that communication and learning is happening without the child realizing it. Being strict is like having a demanding boss in office! Would you like to be with him/her or do things for that person for long? You would be frustrated, angry and sometimes rebellious as well!!!
Speech Therapy is “more” than Speech and Play is “Serious” work...Communication, well that's the "overlooked" secret sauce in the recipe!