6 Strategies to Do Speech Therapy at Home During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Was your child or loved one receiving speech therapy before the coronavirus pandemic? It’s important that they continue with this therapy so they don’t lose ground.
Today, telepractice provides an option for face-to-face therapy sessions. One study compared therapy provided in-person to that provided through telepractice. They found that both groups of students made significant speech sound production improvements.
Continue reading to learn about tips for speech therapy at home. Don’t let the pandemic cause regression.
What Do Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) Help With?
SLPs have extensive experience in treating people with speech, language, and swallowing problems. They treat the following problems:
- Articulation problems: trouble speaking clearly and often making incorrect sounds
- Fluency problems: trouble maintaining a normal flow of speech, such as stuttering
- Resonance or voice problems: difficulty with pitch, volume, or quality of their voice
- Oral feeding problems: trouble with eating and swallowing and with drooling
- Receptive language problems: difficulty receiving language
- Expressive language problems: trouble speaking or expressing themselves
- Pragmatic language problems: trouble using socially appropriate language
Speech therapists develop individual plans of care according to each person’s needs. They use different strategies and techniques that will work best for the individual.
Speech Therapy at Home
The coronavirus pandemic has forced everyone worldwide to practice physical distancing. This has led to the closing of all activities where people gather together. This includes school and non-emergency therapy appointments.
In today’s world of internet connectivity, people can continue with speech therapy during this pandemic. Online services such as Face Time, Zoom, and Skype provide a great way to have appointments and do therapy.
If your child was working with an SLP at school, contact them and ask for a copy of your child’s IEP. The IEP is the Individualized Education Program developed by the school SLP. This shows the target goals and activities your child practices with the therapist.
Home Activities for Speech Therapy
The following is a list of ideas and activities to work on at home. Try to find ways to weave some of them into your normal routine.
1. Short Bursts of Target Sounds
Have your child practice their target sounds for short periods throughout the day. This will provide a greater benefit than a one-on-one hour-long session.
If the person has trouble imitating a sound, break it down for them. One example is having trouble with the “th” sound. Tell them to put their tongue between their teeth and blow.
Keep practicing until they can correctly make that sound. Homeschooling includes many distractions. Ease into speech therapy.
2. Take Care When You Correct the Individual
When working on speech therapy at home, take care when giving corrections. Avoid saying, “that’s not right” or “say it this way”. Instead, ask the person to clarify what they said.
For example, “did you say wabbit or rabbit?” Always make sure the person is looking at you when you speak so they can see your mouth. This allows them to watch you make the incorrect version and then the correct word.
3. Oral Motor Exercises
Practice simple oral motor exercises to stimulate the lips and tongue. This is a great, fun way to start a session. Examples of oral motor exercises include:
- Wag your tongue from side to side like a dog
- Make kissy faces
- Lick your lips
These exercises increase the range of motion and strength of the tongue and lips. They also isolate muscle groups to strengthen those that may have a weakness.
Licking up and down on a popsicle or lollipop without moving the head is beneficial. You can involve other siblings by making a fun contest.
4. Gradually Add Sounds
If the person you are working with had recent success with a certain sound, start there. This helps increase their confidence. Next, move to another sound. Allow time for mastery in a supportive and positive atmosphere.
Use the following progression. Begin by isolating the sound, then move to syllables, and then the whole word. From there, put the word in phrases, sentences, and conversation.
5. Working on Receptive Language
Receptive language refers to the ability to understand the information they’re receiving. When working on this problem, use “wh” questions. For example, if you’re playing a game, like Candy Land, ask questions such as:
- What color is your playing piece?
- What number did you roll?
- Why are you sliding to this spot?
- What kind of candy is this?
Include “wh” questions in your daily routine. Read books and pause to ask questions throughout the book. Make sure the questions fit with the person’s learning level.
Work on a gradual progression of difficulty.
6. Working on Expressive Language
Expressing language problems manifest as difficulty putting thoughts into words or sentences. This involves spoken and written language as well as gestures. They may also have trouble labeling things in the environment or describing actions.
Activities that you can practice at home include:
- Making choices: offer two options and ask them to verbally request one without gestures
- Discuss activities: after finishing many tasks, discuss, draw, and act out what you did
- Look at books and discuss what they see
- Ask questions about things that happened in the story and why they think the story ended that way
- Sing songs
- Read stories to them to model the correct use of language
- Write letters to friends
- Place pictures or drawings in the correct sequence of events to tell a story
All these activities keep the person using and working on their language skills. If they sit and passively watch TV, their progress can regress. When they resume therapy, they will have to backtrack.
Are You Looking for Help with Speech Therapy During the Pandemic?
Great Speech has technology and web content ready to fill the void left by the coronavirus pandemic. Our individualized and interactive programs are ready to go. You can start speech therapy at home today.
Telepractice allows us to deliver professional services from another location. We are excited to have the ability to provide services during this time. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more about our virtual speech therapy services.