How to Choose the Right Speech and Language Therapist for your Child
By Sholeh Shahinfar MA, CCC-SLP, RYT
When your child is first referred for speech therapy by their pediatrician or teacher, or if you just have that parental instinct that your child is delayed in their speech and language development, perhaps one of the first questions that comes up for you is “now what?” As a parent, you want to make sure you are taking all the right steps to support your little one and you shouldn’t feel alone in this process.
Choosing the right Speech Language Pathologist (or SLP) is often the most important decision you will make, as this is the person that is going to support you and guide you in empowering your kiddo’s expression. In this article, we will discuss some of the most important factors that you should consider when making this very important decision for your child and your family. At the end of the day, you should feel comfortable, confident and connected with your speech therapist as you embark on this journey together!
What exactly are you looking for?
Speech Language Pathologists are licensed by the state and most often our national board: The American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA). There are a few different types of speech therapists: SLPs, SLP’s in their Clinical Fellowship (CF) experience, and Speech Language Pathology Assistants (SLPAs). SLP’s have completed their master’s degree and required supervised clinical experience, SLP-CF’s have a graduate degree and are in their supervised clinical fellowship, and SLPA’s have completed an undergraduate degree and are licensed under a speech language pathologist.
Speech therapy covers a wide range areas, including speech disorders, language disorders, social communication disorders, cognitive communication disorders, traumatic brain injury, stroke, as well as oral motor, feeding and swallowing disorders. There are many wonderful speech therapists out there and it is important that you find one that is experienced in your kiddo’s area of need. For example, some therapists specialize in early intervention, others in adult language disorders, and some in speech sound production.
When on your search, make sure you ask the therapists their credentials, clinical competence, speciality area(s), and experience and find the person that aligns with what you are looking for and most importantly, your values.
Where do you find a speech therapist?
Pediatricians or doctor referrals: Your pediatrician will often have a list of places to local SLP’s to refer you for speech and language therapy.
Schools: Your little one’s school may have resources for outside providers that can support you kiddo’s speech and language development.
Insurance company: If you have insurance, contact them to get your benefits and ask for a list of in-network providers.
Online: Online searches for local SLP’s near you is often a great resource to help you narrow down providers in your area.
Facebook/Parenting Groups: Get on parenting groups on social media and ask if anybody knows of any speech pathologists that can support your kiddo’s communication skills.
Word of Mouth: This is one of my favorites! If you know another family that receives speech and/or language therapy , ask them about their experience.
No matter the source of referral, do your research. Call around and even better yet, ask to come in and get a tour. At Valued Voices, we always book a consultation and love for that to be in person so the family can come in, see our space and meet our wonderful team!
Where do you want your child to receive therapy?
There are two main settings in which your child can receive speech therapy: in school or in a private practice setting. Speech therapy in schools is a great service to support your kiddo in their academic setting. Due to the number of children needing speech therapy in school, most speech therapists see kiddos in group sessions, with other children.
If you are looking for supplemental care or want to provide your kiddo with more individualized care, outside what your school can offer, you can consider going the private practice route. There are several advantages to pursuing private therapy, including:
- – your child will receive individualized attention and support
- – your therapist will tailor activities to your child’s strengths and goals
- – as the parent, you have the ability to sit in on sessions and develop a strong connection with your child’s therapist
- – you get progress updates every session
- – you get to pick the therapist that you feel is the best fit for your kiddo and your family
What modality of therapy works best for your child and your family?
SLP’s can provide services in their clinic, in schools, and in home, both virtually via teletherapy or in person. Why does this matter when choosing a therapist? Whichever route you decide to go, it is important that you find a therapist who is experienced and proficient in the manner in which they deliver therapy. Just like in person sessions, online sessions require a therapist to be skilled at keeping your kiddo engaged.
How much does private therapy cost?
Private clinics generally are more of an investment, however, if you have insurance, there is a chance your benefits can reduce these costs. At Valued Voices, we do the work for you! We will call your insurance and let you know your in or out of network benefits, we even submit all the claims for you too!
What does a speech therapy session look like?
Prior to beginning services, your SLP will screen and/or evaluate your child in order to determine their strengths and areas that they need additional support. Once goals are created, your therapist will set up therapy sessions to address your kiddo’s goals. Sessions will look different for each child but it is always important that you and your therapist are aligned on goals and progress. Read more on what speech therapy looks like by clicking here.
6 Signs You Have the Perfect SLP for Your Child & Your Family
- 1. They teach YOU how to teach your child
- 2. You, your child and your SLP are together in sessions
- 3. You feel supported and guided by your therapist
- 4. You trust your therapist
- 5. You always get homework
- 6. Your child is making progress
As I mentioned earlier, finding the right speech language therapist to fit into your family is a very important decision and one that you have to feel very comfortable with. At Valued Voices, we make sure that not only are we supporting your child, but that we are supporting you too! From our administrative staff to our therapists, we all become a family!
Sholeh Shahinfar, MA, CCC-SLP, RYT
Sholeh Shahinfar is the founder of Valued Voices, and a licensed Speech Language Pathologist, Child Communication Specialist and Certified Oral Motor Therapist. She is passionate about uplifting children’s voices in the world and inspiring self-expression. In her free time, she loves going to the ocean, exploring nature with her pup Kobe, and spending time with her family and friends!
If you have any questions, or would like to set up a complimentary consultation, contact Valued Voices: