Beware of Mythology: It’s Hazardous to your Health
As a conscientious parent concerned about your child’s apparent speech or language problem, you most likely have done some research into speech or language disorders, and how online speech therapy could help. And your research has probably led you to either incomplete or incorrect information.
Take, for example, the quite common belief that face-to-face speech therapy is superior to online speech therapy, or that meeting with a speech therapist online isn’t much more than playing computer games with the therapist, or that the therapeutic relationship between clinician and client will be sacrificed.
If any or all of the above are making you anxious, know that you aren’t alone. You could save yourself a lot of unnecessary anxiety by speaking with an expert speech therapist. Voice your concerns and get complete, accurate information from someone credible. In the meantime, let’s debunk some of these common myths.
A Myth About All Speech Therapy
Before tackling myths germane to online therapy, let’s first debunk the big one irrespective of the delivery mode — be it onsite or remote. Many people believe that, since in certain instances children will outgrow their speech development or language issues on their own, you can assume this will be the case for your child as well.
There is no evidence to support this wishful thinking. Don’t compare your child to the other kid, and don’t assume your child will overcome his/her language impairment without intervention. Seek help from a professional speech therapy provider, and get that evaluation if warranted. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
It seems that everyone has a distant cousin or has heard of someone who wasn’t talking before his fifth birthday- and now everything is just fine! While it is undoubtedly true that there are late talkers who catch up by the time they begin school, this isn’t necessarily the case with every child. And if you are concerned, don’t push things aside.
The study titled, “Profiles of Toddlers With Slow Expressive Language Development” showed that about 40-50% of children who are late to begin talking (and aren’t lagging behind in other areas) fail to catch up on their own. And the children who are late talkers, using few or no gestures, are at greater risk for long-term language problems.
Talking aside, many of those late talkers are at higher risk of reading difficulties even after they verbally catch up to their peers. This all points to one thing. A parent who is concerned about the child’s language delay should not be too “chilled” by adopting a “wait and see” approach; but instead, act upon the instinct that there may be a problem.
And while girls generally begin talking before boys of the same age, this doesn’t discount the fact that a late talking boy may not necessarily be free of a language disorder. If the young boy is behind the developmental timeline of his male peers, an evaluation is definitely in order.
Online Speech Therapy Myths
Myth 1: Online Speech Therapy Only Helps Stutters and Lisps
Stutters and lisps are probably the most famous speech disorders. But that doesn’t mean that they are the only ones. And the notion that online speech therapy can only be helpful with these disorders isn’t true. It can be helpful for a broad range of speech and language disorders such as:
- Fluency — cluttering and stuttering
- Speech — articulation and phonological disorders
- Language — comprehension, and production of spoken and written language
- Cognition — capacity to solve problems; attention, and memory
- Voice — vocal tone and its various characteristics
- Auditory Rehabilitation and Auditory Habilitation — recovery techniques connected with speech, language & hearing disorders; cochlear implants
- Swallowing disorders — either congenital or caused by stroke/disease/aging
- Miscellaneous — accent or dialect modification, vocal hygiene, voice development, professional voice coaching, literacy (reading/writing)
Myth 2: In-Person Therapy Is Certainly Better
No one ever said that online speech therapy was optimal for everyone. Although face-to-face therapy may be better for some clients, online speech therapy provides a number of benefits that just can’t be matched, including:
- More scheduling options mean children can meet with their speech therapist at a more convenient time for the family.
- Children love tech and the online world. Online therapy is a more enjoyable experience where they can participate in fun, game-based activities.
- Parents tend to be happier with the results and services because they love to see the progress being made and all the fun their children are having.
- The digital system facilitates both quicker and easier communication between patients and therapists and makes it easier for parents to track progress.
Myth 3: Speech Therapy is Just Playtime with the Therapist
Every dedicated online speech therapist has one goal: make remote speech therapy work and facilitate the child’s continuous progress! Since children love to play, an optimal strategy to realize that goal is to integrate playing and fun into the therapy itself. What better way to facilitate the child’s full involvement and engagement in the session?
When you appreciate this fundamental fact, you understand that what seems to be nothing more than playtime is in reality highly effective therapy. And playing and having fun need not be relegated to the speech teletherapy session alone. Parents should duplicate this effective strategy by integrating play and enjoyment into homework and other speech-related activities in the home.
Myth 4: Children Can’t Connect with an Online Therapist
Creating a stimulating learning environment is critical in creating that essential bond between client and therapist. Online speech therapy has proven to be very effective in this regard as well. Aside from engaging the child verbally, the therapist has a rich and continuously expanding inventory of resources to draw upon to keep the child engaged.
And there is no reason the face-to-face communication between client and therapist needs to suffer. With online therapy, the child can see their therapist via state-of-the-art videoconferencing. And kids think that it is “cool” to connect with their therapist online, which will give additional impetus to “stay connected.”
Be Critical and Open-Minded
So don’t believe everything that you hear about the problems of online speech therapy. When you analyze them one at a time, those problems and the “angst” that they cause melt away one by one. And then what remains are the many and growing benefits of online speech therapy. It would behoove you to give it a try!