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Location, Location, Location

Updated: Dec 3, 2022

How to Choose Your Speech Language Pathologist (SLP): You Guessed it... Location

Part 2 in our ongoing series How to Choose Your SLP.

During the first installment of this series we talked about Setting, where we discussed Early Intervention (EI), school-based therapy, and private practice. For EI and schools, there is typically a predetermined location (e.g., EI will usually come to your home, while school-based therapy takes place, well, at school).

If you are pursuing therapy with a private practice, however, there is a lot more to consider in terms of location.

So, knowing this, let's look at some possibilities. Your child needs help, and you've decided to pursue speech therapy at a private practice. But...

  • You live outside of the city, an hour or more from the closest speech practice.

  • You're down the street from your nearest SLP, but getting the kids out of the house on time is impossible.

  • Your SLP has been traveling to you at your home, but your child is just too distracted and is running amuck every session.

  • Your child has been receiving speech therapy in the clinic and is doing great, but they aren't generalizing any of their skills to outside of sessions.

  • Your child communicates great with adults, but is struggling to communicate in school or on the playground with peers.

Finding the right location for speech therapy to take place is hugely important to a child's success. What works for one child might not work for another. A family might have different needs or capabilities based on where they live.

If you have a situation similar to the above, you might feel stuck - what can you do to make things work?

Read on for suggestions from us at Talk Time (based on my experience working across many different locations with patients and their families).

Find Your Fit

Not every SLP is the right fit for every family. And not every family is the right fit for every practice. But the right fit is crucial for your child to make progress in speech therapy.

Let's look at some of the factors to consider when choosing an SLP:

  • Setting

  • Location

  • Philosophy

  • Price

  • Knowledge

  • Communication

This post will walk you through the second of the six factors: LOCATION.

What Are Your Options?

Whether you already have an SLP or you're just starting the conversation with a new private practice, make sure to ask about your options. Every practice's capabilities and level of flexibility will be different. You want to make sure to find someone that is able to provide a good fit for your child and your family.

But in order to start that conversation, you need something to go off of. So let's take a look at some different location options that a private practice could potentially offer:

At the Clinic

Many private practices have a brick-and-mortar office space where you can meet your clinician for sessions. Usually these have a separate waiting room where you might be greeted by a receptionist. At your scheduled appointment time, your SLP will meet you and walk you to a private room where the session will take place.

Basically, it works the same as a pediatrician's office - except the sessions are hopefully more fun for your child!

Going to a clinic may be extra work for you depending on travel time, how difficult it is to get your child into the car, etc. But it can also be helpful for establishing a routine. Your child knows that it is time for speech. They travel to the clinic. They get excited to see their SLP and to pick out toys and games from the game closet. When it's time to leave, your SLP cleans up the mess.

The clinic can be a very peaceful, quiet place to conduct therapy. It is a controlled environment. This might be great for your child, because it allows them to focus on their work without distractions. But sometimes this can make it difficult for children to generalize their learned skills outside of the speech room. Make sure your SLP is working with you on a home program to encourage carryover of skills across environments.

Some clinics will have additional benefits. For example, if the private practice includes occupational therapists (OTs), there may be a shared gym area where sessions could take place. This would also give your SLP the opportunity to consult with OTs about your child's sensory and motor needs. A clinic also has the opportunity to offer group or dual sessions, which are especially handy if your child is working on communicating with peers. Plus, you'll get the chance to meet other parents whose children have needs similar to your own.

One thing to watch out for -- make sure that your clinician is inviting you back into the clinic room to give you regular updates on your child's treatment and progress. If your child is under 3, we would most likely recommend that you're present for the entire session. For older kids, y