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Pediatric Speech Therapy – Involving Siblings
As a parent of one child who received pediatric speech therapy while the other child did not, I know firsthand that some issues can arise. My older son has always had crystal-clear speech, but when we were struggling to understand my younger son at three years of age, we decided to get him evaluated for pediatric speech services. No surprise, he needed them and the progression of his speech and language has been incredible since starting! What did surprise me, however, was how fun the therapy sessions looked to my older son. Luckily, our pediatric speech therapist recognized right away that (with my permission) my older son could be really beneficial in helping my little guy learn.
One of the most obvious ways to include an older or younger sibling is to use him/her as a speech and language model. Explain the goal to everyone in the session (we are working on the correct pronunciation of the letter “s” today), and facilitate games and conversations to focus on the task at hand. Involving the sibling in these activities is not only motivating, but will likely make it more fun, too.
Another way to include siblings in the overall speech therapy process is to involve them in goal setting. Children are brutally honest, which can be really helpful when asking questions like “when is it really hard to understand your brother?” The feedback you receive from a sibling might be different from that of a parent/caregiver, but it can help paint a clearer picture of areas to focus on.
Siblings can be ideal for practicing social skills, which was one of my favorite ways to involve my older son (both in the pediatric speech sessions and in everyday life). Lots of siblings love to play make-believe with each other, so role-playing different scenarios became less of a chore and more of a game. Additionally, siblings tend to be less judgmental which can take so much stress out of the situation.
Lastly, my older son was excellent at helping my younger son not only in the pediatric speech therapy sessions, but also throughout the week until we saw our therapist again. Sometimes, a simple reminder is all it takes to make a long-term correction, and because siblings are around each other for many hours of the day, they can often help!
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