“What does your child need?”
One of the first steps in obtaining services for your child is meeting with a Speech-Language Pathologist to develop a treatment plan. Faced with the challenge of trying to summarize their child’s needs, however, parents often answer, “I’m not sure,” or “I want him to be able to talk.” While this is valuable information, it does not create a full understanding of what your child needs in order to be successful.
Thoroughly completing a Patient History form, like the one you can download here, is a solid first step in communicating with an SLP about your child’s needs. Beforehand, you can focus your thinking by answering a few basic questions about your child in these general treatment areas:
● Communication skills
● Daily Living Skills
● Socialization or Social Skills
● Academic Readiness or Academic Skill Building
● Behaviors (Maladaptive, Oppositional and/or Adaptive)
● Behaviors (Hyperactive and/or Self-Stimulatory)
Of course, not all of these questions will apply to your child. But how you answer the questions that do apply will greatly aid your discussions with your SLP as you work towards developing specific goals:
What to ask yourself when thinking about your child’s communication needs:
● Is your child able to gesture for what he/she wants? How does your child go about getting your attention? Does he/she pull you, grab you, point or guide you to what he/she wants?
● Does your child have any language skills? If so, does he/she seem to understand the meaning of the words he/she uses?
● Does your child have conversational skills? In other words, does your child understand questions in context, respond to others, ask appropriate questions or show interest in others through conversation?
● Is your child able to describe or name objects?
Daily Living Skills
What to ask yourself when thinking about your child’s daily living needs:
● What type of things is your child capable of performing on his/her own? Can your child dress/undress, groom and feed himself?
● Is your child toilet trained? Does your child have additional bathroom skills such as washing hands, face and keeping proper hygiene after using the toilet?
● Is your child aware of safety measures such as not touching hot items or not talking to strangers?
● Can your child tolerate grooming?
What to ask yourself when thinking about your child’s socialization needs:
● How does your child react to unfamiliar people? Does your child approach strangers by touching them or staying close to them?
● Is your child able to play with another child not just side by side? Does your child share toys or attention with others?
● Can your child tolerate loud noises or busy environments? Can your child tolerate physical contact? Does your child become agitated when other children cry?
What to ask yourself when thinking about your child’s academic needs:
● What academic skills does your child already possess? Does your child have math, reading, writing skills? If so, what is his/her level or abilities in these areas?
● Does your child have difficulty with attentiveness, ability to focus and sit still? Is your child easily distracted?
What to ask yourself when thinking about your child’s behavioral needs:
● What type of behaviors does your child engage in; for example, is your child aggressive towards others and/or himself?
● Does your child hit, bite, kick or scratch other often?
● How does your child respond when he/she is asked to do a non-preferred task? Does your child protest, become verbally aggressive, simply ignore you or attempt to walk away?
● Does your child engage in repetitive behaviors or self-stimulatory behaviors such as hand flapping, rocking or repeating noises or words?
● Is your child constantly moving, engage in pacing, etc.?
● Does your child throw items or destroy property?
These are just some of the questions that can help you identify specific goals for your child’s treatment plan. There are more behaviors that can be included, some of which may be unique to your child. The most important thing to remember is to be as clear and concise as possible when discussing your child’s abilities, needs and behaviors. The more information you are able to provide, the better. The more your SLP understands your child’s behaviors and specific needs, the better he/she will be able to develop an individualized service plan to help your child attain and maximize his/her full potential.