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The Benefits of In -Home Speech and Feeding Therapy

Often, parents do not realize there are a couple of different options when it comes to speech or feeding therapy services for your child. They simply get a referral from their doctor, schedule an evaluation, and get the therapy ball rolling. However, the question regarding the therapy setting is an important one to ask when deciding on a therapist/therapy agency. Therapy services can be received in a clinical setting, meaning an outpatient setting or private clinic, or they can be provided in the home or in one of the child’s natural environments. This is often called home healthcare. There are benefits to both! In fact, I am going to give the opinion that a combination of both is ideal. I have treated clients in both and today I am going to tell you why I believe incorporating in-home services to your child’s speech or feeding therapy can have a big impact on outcomes and progress.


Home setting for speech and feeding therapy

First, I believe in a family centered approach. Most of the time, parents may picture the therapy session happening one on one with the therapist and the child. The one-on-one intervention is important but incorporating family members into the session along with the natural environment is equally important.


Why?


When the therapy session has ended, the child and family will need to be able to carryover strategies and therapeutic interventions into the family’s daily routine and environment. When techniques and interventions are modeled in the home environment, the transition is easier and more relatable for the family and child. For instance, if there are siblings in the home, it will be difficult for the child and parent to get therapeutic one-on-one time. If therapy is being conducted in the home, the speech therapist can model for the parent how to incorporate the siblings into play AND show the sibling how to effectively interact with the child. I have even incorporated pets into therapy before!


Next, it is very important that the therapist establish relationships with the family. To create effective functional strategies for the child, the therapist needs open communication with the parents/caregivers regarding daily routines. The family needs to feel comfortable coming to the therapist with things that may not be working or concerns they may have that the therapist has not yet addressed. For a successful therapy outcome, it needs to be understood that therapeutic interventions are a team effort, and the family is part of that team. Often, this comes more naturally in the home setting.


Lastly, the environment itself! The family wants to see progress at home. Incorporating the toys, books, activities, and rooms that the child is familiar with makes for consistent carry over. For instance, if I see a child at a clinic in a booster seat for a feeding therapy session but then they go home and sit at a different table without a booster seat, the mealtime could go completely different at home vs. the clinic setting. If the activity I perform one on one cannot be carried over to the day-to-day routine and/or environment, it will be difficult for the parents/caregivers to provide consistent carryover.


A bonus reason for considering an in-home environment for your therapy sessions is convenience. Whether your child has special or medical needs/equipment, is a younger child, or a child that has trouble with transitions, therapy in the natural environment removes an element of stress from the family and child when it comes to transporting and transitioning.


These are just a few reasons to consider the natural environment for your therapy setting. Remember, when consulting with various speech/feeding therapy providers to determine the best fit for you and your child, to ask about the setting. Your provider is your choice, and you want to know what to expect before the initial evaluation is conducted.

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