Early Intervention (0-3 years): Typically early intervention therapy is conducted in the home. This is the perfect way to stay involved because you are there! However, don't stand back and think that only the therapist can do the work. Make sure to observe the therapist. Specifically watch how she interacts with your child, what he/she is saying, and what toys he/she uses. You can (and should) replicate those same activities throughout the week. If you observe the therapist and think that he/she is simply "playing", then ask the therapist what goals he/she is working on and specifically how to approach that work at home. Chances are there is a method to his/her madness! If your therapist brings in toys and you don't have the same ones at home, then ask your therapist what might be a good toy you have at home to replicate the same activity. Then ask your therapist to show you using your toy. Trust me, speech therapists like it when parents offer to work on the same things throughout the week!
Therapy Clinic: If your child attends a therapy clinic and there is an observation room, please take the opportunity! It is a great way to observe your child's therapy without being a distraction to the child. However, you will see exactly how your clinician is working with your child and what to do at home. If your child attends a clinic that does not have an observation window, then ask the therapist if you can observe in the room when she is beginning a new goal. This way you will know how to work with your child. If the therapist thinks you might be a distraction, then you can ask if you can come observe one activity where she can be teaching you what to do. If you don't feel comfortable asking if you can observe, then simply ask the therapist if he/she can end 5-10 minutes early that day so that he/she can give you some pointers of how to work at home and you have time to ask questions. Please don't try to cram it all in (especially if you have lots of questions) after an entire therapy session is done because he/she has a full schedule and will start to run late. You can also ask for homework or photocopies of worksheets to work at home!
Walk-in Therapy in the schools: If your child is over age 3 and qualifies for speech therapy, but not for early pre-school, then you may be the rare case of a child who "walks in" for speech therapy. Your situation is much like the therapy clinic. Read above for more information.
School-based SLP: Interactions with your speech therapist really start to dwindle as your child reaches school-age and he/she is seeing his/her speech therapist during the school day. However, take heart! There are great ways to stay connected. You can send in a note explaining that you like to know what your child is working on in speech therapy so that you can work on it at home. Again, most SLPs will be OVERJOYED to hear that! You could always call your speech therapist and leave him/her a message. You could also try to get his/her email (for me, when I was working in the schools, that was a quicker form of communication) to ask questions. If you really enjoy face-to-face contact then utilize the parent-teacher conference days that your school sets aside and set up a conference with your SLP! I have worked in 4 public schools (remember, I'm an Army wife and I move around a lot) and I have NEVER had a parent-teacher conference with a parent. However, I would have LOVED to have held one or ten or fifty! I loved to try to keep my parents connected. I typically saw the parents once a year at the IEP meetings and that's simply not enough.
If I missed a category, then PLEASE let me know and I'll add to my blog!