In order to be actively engaged in the treatment process, it is important for parents to understand how speech-language pathologists make treatment decisions and assign interventions.
Speech pathologists adhere to an evidence-based practice (EBP) model in order to provide the best possible treatment for clients. ASHA’s EBP triangle highlights the 3 distinct areas that, in combination, comprise evidence-based practice: scientific evidence (systematic research reviews & empirical research), clinical expertise (the SLP’s clinical knowledge and skills), and client/caregiver perspective. This last part, while perhaps the most important, is sometimes overlooked.
The client/parent/caregiver perspective is a critical component and should not be underutilized during any part of the treatment process.
In my practice, I recognize my client’s (or his family’s if the child cannot make his own decisions) right to play a major role in his treatment. In fact, without client and family buy-in, the likelihood of success is limited.
Generalization in all contexts is the gold-standard of treatment—if a client can only perform in the clinic, there is really little point in treatment. To achieve generalization, the SLP must have buy-in from all communication partners.
This means individualizing treatment to honor the goals, interests, values, and needs of the clients and families we work with.
- Goals: Goal writing and treatment planning should be a collaborative process. Families are much more likely to work toward achieving goals that they believe in and have set for themselves.
- Interests: We all work harder when motivated. Before beginning treatment, the SLP should inventory the interests of the client: favorite toys, games, music, places, etc. As much as possible, speech and language services should take place in motivating contexts. Treatment that is delivered during meaningful activities is usually more successful.
- Values: Language goals should reflect the cultural and religious values of the client and family. For example, I recently worked with a parent who wanted her son to be able to recite his prayers. While this would not have typically been my initial goal for him, the recitation of prayer is a very meaningful activity for the family.
- Needs: Often, language deficits can impede the daily functioning of families. Language goals that include meaningful daily routines or that help to replace maladaptive behaviors have a real impact on life function.
It is incredibly important to involve the client and family in the treatment process. Please contact me with questions.