Speech pathology home visits: Why we do therapy at home

I have been asked why I set up my speech pathology practice to see children in their homes, schools and day-cares and not in a clinic.

I used to work from a clinic in Brighton. I loved the children and the families and the range of difficulties that you are able to help with in private practice – from toddlers with limited/no language, school aged children with Autism, 4 year olds with severe language disorders, 5 year olds with a ‘lisp’, right up to secondary aged children working on their literacy skills.

However, I could see that the parents weren’t always ‘relaxed’ as they came in as they had been stuck in traffic, or had to put 3 kids in the car then out again at the clinic – which I know firsthand, is no mean feat sometimes! The parents were worried about the siblings making too much noise or touching things, the child would ‘clam up’ and be overwhelmed by the new environment.

When speech therapy is at home, none of the above happens! The child is more comfortable and calm in their own environment, therefore building a greater connection with the speech pathologist. Parents are relaxed (especially those that are time poor) and in the right headspace for some speech therapy fun.

We are able to involve other siblings as this is functional, however when the option is there for them to go off and play on their own the parents can concentrate on the therapy. We are also able to model therapy techniques with their own toys and books, thus making it easier for parents to practice within the session and then replicate on their own. For active, outdoorsy types, we can work in the sandpit outside or in the cubbyhouse.

From a clinical point of view, it also helps to diagnose children as we are able to observe how they communicate in their own environment, how they request familiar objects, drinks, food etc. and how they interact with their family. I also love the connections we make, not only the parents and siblings, but the grandparents who have them that day, the aunt that popped over for a coffee. We can then explain and model the child’s targets to a greater range of caregivers. We always make the time to speak to kinder and school teachers, and any other health professionals involved to ensure a holistic approach to therapy.

For children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), research has shown that “the delivery of these interventions in natural everyday environments including homes, schools, and community settings is currently indicated as best practice”.  For further reading please see:

www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au/library/Clinical_Guidelines/ASD_EBP.pdf

If home visits aren’t an option due to schedules of parents and children, then school and kinder visits are fantastic way to intertwine language and literacy goals with the school curriculum. We are able to see what the children will be working on and pre-teach new vocabulary, reinforce concepts or literacy areas. We are able to discuss therapy aims and suggestions with teachers, as well as gain their expertise and knowledge of their student.  If a child needs to work on their socials skills, we can use their peers (supporting them at recess or lunchtime or within small groups)

I am also lucky that I live on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula. I can provide speech therapy in Mornington, then drive along the beach front to Mount Martha, or Rosebud and Rye. Jess and Cailey are also Peninsula residents and service children from Portsea to Frankston.

Megan services Mordialloc, Aspendale, Mentone, Brighton and surrounds whilst Rebecca and Claire (the ‘city girls’) are out and about in Caulfield, South Yarra, Toorak, St Kild, Oakleigh, Hawthorn, Kew, Williamstown, Port Melbourne and surrounds.

Lastly, home and school/kinder visits allow us and our clients more flexibility with the location and time of sessions. Locations can be alternated and times tweaked to suit the families needs that week.

I for one, love the way the ‘clinic’ is set up, and our loyal and lovely clients do to!

Janelle