How To Carryover Early Intervention Strategies In The Home
In Early Intervention, we often have the benefit of seeing the child in their own, natural environment. We can assess the hurdles they may have to overcome in their homes and we see the areas where we can educate the parent or caregiver. But how can we make sure the therapy techniques we model and educate on are being transferred over on a daily basis?
First of all, do you roll in, spread out your toys, and get to work with the little one while mom and dad scroll their phones or move to another room? Even if you’re explaining what you did for the last 10 or so minutes of that session, your client is going to receive 1 therapy hour out of the 168 hours of the week…yikes! By asking the parent to sit in on the session and actively participate, you can arm them with the unique strategies and techniques their child would benefit from. Having a parent or caregiver acting as the facilitator of change can completely change the therapy dynamics and allows for much more generalization of skills.
I know how hard this shift in therapy techniques can be! However, parent coaching is considered best practice in our field, and for good reason: parents can learn how to develop their skills during interactions with their children that support language in the home through our shared expertise and guidance. Once that relationship has been established, I use a few more tips to keep that progress going!
Here’s my tried and true tips:
- Provide resources such as handouts for the parents (this is why I provide a million handouts in The Speech Therapy Toolbox). Education allows for the family to understand the level the child is at, the goals being worked towards, and concrete, realistic examples of how to incorporate strategies and tips into their lives as well as background information on the skill. While many concepts seem simple to us, many parents are not used to the lingo and foundation behind them so make sure the wording is user-friendly for all.
- Utilize Routines and Scripts found in a Natural Environment: Regardless of their schedule, every family has certain activities that are completed everyday: bath time, meals, diaper changes, getting into and out of the car, etc. Give parents a model of how to incorporate language into these activities by scripting the routine for them and practice it!
- For example, a diaper changing script may look like:
- When parent realizes child is dirty: “Let’s go change your diaper!”
- During diaper change: “Here, hold your diaper (give child diaper)”; “Eww, this diaper is stinky! (with a waving hand over nose); “Let’s put the diaper on”; “Give me the diaper!(outstretch hand to indicate “give me”)”
- Then: “All done!” (Parents can incorporate sign for “all done”)
- The KISS Rule: My version? Keep It Simple & Silly (see what I did there?). Parents do not need fancy toys, the latest technology, or the personality of Blippi to provide their children with a language-rich home. We would not expect to have a fantastic session with a child who we never established rapport with; we cannot expect parents to bond with their children when we place a huge mental load on them. Choose one strategy or technique, brainstorm with the parent opportunities when they can use them, and check in to troubleshoot any issues that may pop up. By keeping it simple, we allow the parent and child to enjoy the interaction without having mental overload of alllll the strategies they could incorporate.
I hope these tips continue to help you succeed in your Early Intervention journey! This is an area I am passionate about, so always feel free to ask questions or comment below. I love brainstorming and developing new resources to help you meet your therapy needs!