“Move your mouth closer to the camera.”
I cannot tell you how many times I hear this phrase during our new Zoom speech therapy sessions these days.
Therapy used to mean getting my son up 30 minutes earlier than normal for school to get in his speech session before classes start.
Oh how I miss that!
I am so grateful that his speech pathologist is willing to keep up his therapy over Zoom, but it is certainly creating its challenges.
So here’s how we deal…
Most of the country is trying to stay safe at home amid this outbreak we like to call “the sickness” in our house. All of us are trying to adapt, create new schedules, and, if you are anything like me, keep our kid’s lives as normal as possible.
But those with children in therapy know that kids can regress if therapy stops. I am so grateful that our speech pathologist has been trying to adapt to all of this and keep up with all her students via online platforms.
Right now we are using Zoom for all our therapy sessions.
She has even figured out how to get game boards up on her screen and let my son roll the dice on our side of the camera so they can still play their speech games. (Which by the way, you know you’ve found a good speech therapist when you walk in their office and it is floor to ceiling board games!)
But this new method requires some work on our end too.
I have to
- Make sure my youngest child is taking a nap during speech sessions so the house is quiet
- Finish schooling in time for therapy
- Figure out how to incorporate his speech practices into his schooling (which his teacher did so well!),
- Check that the internet is working
- Make sure my son is sitting in the right position so his therapist can see his mouth to ensure he’s making the proper sounds and placements.
All these factors create challenges.
Adapting Your Goals
OK, so you are probably going to have to look at what your child’s goals are for therapy (most of you probably have some sort of IEP plan worked out to help you with this) and decide if those goals are still looking realistic.
Be sure to talk with your therapist to see what their thoughts are on current goals and see if they have input (I’m sure they do). I have also realized (through the wonderful world of homeschooling) that maybe I should create some new goals.
Right now, my son is learning to read. Maybe it’s just me, but I am guessing anyone with a child in speech that is learning to read is crying sometimes (you, or your child, or both) because you think, “How can a child READ a sound they have a hard time SAYING?”. That gets exacerbated by the fact that, now, I am his teacher and am the only one working on this with him.
So, guess what? We are adding new sounds into speech goals because we have to figure them out to do our phonics homework.
“TH” sound here we come!
Ideas for Creative Speech Therapy at Home
Reality has hit, I need to be more proactive than ever if my child is going to be hitting the goals he is supposed to. And ideally we could even surpass them.
So we have gotten creative with our speech therapy. Most of you with children in speech therapy know the pattern: learn sounds, put those sounds into words, put those words into sentences, get to the place where those sounds become used correctly in everyday speech.
So here’s some great ways to work on those sounds or words.
Play board games! Kids love to play games, and they will like it even more right now because it will mean individual attention from you. What we do is work on three words. Then, we each take a turn at whatever board game we are playing. It helps break up the process so they don’t get burnt out and allows you to work on speech for longer periods of time because they have something else keeping them excited. If they are like my kids, they want to beat mom!
Go outside and toss a ball around. Ok, I realize I have boys and if you have girls they might not be as into this, but my son loves to play catch with a football (and is always begging to). So every time we throw the ball, we have to say one of our words. As you get better with the words, throw the ball faster to speed it up.
Play a Matching Game or Go Fish. Print out all the words (2 of each word) your child is working on and make them into cards to play matching games, Go Fish, Old Maid, etc… When they flip one card or get a card they have to say the word. When they get a match they have to use that word in a sentence.
The ideas go on and on, but you get the point. Be creative!
Speech Therapy Apps and Websites
Ok, so if you are still overwhelmed, there are some great tools out there that will help. My favorite site to use is www.mommyspeechtherapy.com . There is literally a TON of free resources on there including games, word lists, print out cards, etc… for each sound and combination.
Articulation Station is also an amazing app that has a lot of material. The app is a little bit pricy (about $30 one-time fee for unlimited access), but it has all the sounds, blends, words, phrases, stories, listening comprehension, EVERYTHING! It’s definitely worth the download and has no monthly fees like many apps do.
Another app that is great, especially for young kids that are just working on sounds and easier words, is NACD Speech Therapist Apraxia App. This one is a bundle of about 4 different apps and I think runs about $5 per app.
Remember, take things one day at a time, try to have fun, and you got this momma!