Maybe your child’s teacher or pediatrician made a speech therapy referral, or you're concerned and want to speak with the professionals. I'm here to explain what the next steps might look like. It can be overwhelming to find an SLP, but with a little research, and the right questions, your family can find a therapist they trust. Read on for five areas to consider when searching for an SLP near you.
Depending on your child, a clinic or at-home speech therapy may be best. A clinic can provide a structured setting and separation from the child’s home life. At-home therapy provides a more naturalistic environment and often uses items in the child’s day-to-day life.
Ask yourself: Would my child benefit from a new setting? Would they feel more comfortable in their home? Do we have time for travel to and from the clinic? Are the tools necessary for their therapy available in our home or can they be transported?
Therapy costs vary from practice to practice. It’s important to determine if your insurance will cover any therapy costs, to what extent, and if they accept out-of-network providers. When in contact with your insurance provider, a few questions to ask may be:
What percentage of speech therapy or evaluation does my insurance cover for both in-network and out-of-network providers?
Do you accept out-of-network providers and reimbursement through superbills?
If my insurance accepts only in-network providers, do they have a list of providers in my area?
Is there a limit to therapy provided weekly or monthly?
3. Area of Expertise
When speaking with a new SLP or when browsing their website, look for areas of service. If a therapist is an Autism specialist and does not have experience with fluency, you may choose a different route for your child who is experiencing moments of stuttering. This is not to say the SLP could not help and could be a wonderful therapist. The decision is ultimately up to the parent and SLP's comfort with the treatment area.
4. Style of Therapy
Does the SLP utilize play-based or structured table work? Often times a therapist may use both. If your child enjoys movement, pretend play, and games, play-based may suit them best. On the other hand, if your child enjoys structure and direction, they may do best with a more structured SLP. No matter what, meeting the child where they are, and including their interests, will increase motivation and engagement in therapy.
5. Immediate Need
If your child would benefit from immediate therapy, you may choose an SLP who has an opening. However, you may encounter a therapist with a waitlist. This generally increases the time before an evaluation can be completed or therapy can begin. If you are in the process of finding an SLP and if an evaluation has already been completed (e.g. by an insurance provider or another professional), feel free to share the evaluation findings and ask for tips/tricks to implement yourself prior to the start of therapy.
All in all
When starting your search to find the "right" speech-language pathologist (SLP), it is important to consider the setting, style of therapy, areas of expertise, costs, and immediate need. It can be a long process to get started, however with the “right” therapist, speech therapy is fun and effective!