Dosage might seem like an odd word to use when discussing speech therapy. The word is usually associated with medication. But the idea of understanding the right ‘dosage ‘of speech therapy for your child is important. Just like medication, different doses of therapy can be prescribed for different challenges and can augment better results.
When it comes to understanding your family’s speech pathology journey and navigating it with confidence, you need to understand how much speech therapy is required. Of course, this can look different for all families, and the team at A Growing Understanding like to assess many factors when it comes to determining the right dosage of therapy. Read on as I discuss the concept of ‘dosage’ in speech therapy.
What Does Dosage Refer to in Speech Therapy?
When it comes to treating an illness, it is important to get the prescribed dose of medication right and there are many factors a doctor must consider when it comes to determining the right dose. This might include knowing the optimal dose for the average patient, understanding the patient’s response to the medication and any other factors that could alter the efficacy of the treatment.
This understanding of dosage is much the same in speech pathology, however we are not talking about medication. In speech pathology, ‘dosage’ can refer to the number of appointments and frequency of therapy. It can also refer to the amount of time that your speech pathologist spends within a therapy session targeting specific speech and language skills, or the number of learning opportunities your child experiences within a therapy session, at home or within an educational setting.
Just like with prescribed medications, it is important for your speech pathologist to understand the many and varied factors that may persuade the dosage and, therefore, the efficacy of the speech therapy approach. For speech pathologists, this might include your child’s specific diagnosis, how they will react to therapy and their ability to attend, the time that can be allocated to speech therapy and ability to manage the commitment, your budget parameters, accessibility to services, and previous experiences.
Considering all these factors can help a speech pathologist determine the optimal dose of speech therapy for your child. It is not always a case of simply recommending a one-hour appointment every week or fortnight. Different doses of therapy can help your child work towards and achieve their individual speech and language goals. When we consider the family unit in our dosage recommendation, we can be flexible and work within your individual funding and timetable and maximise what we can do to align with the recommended dose.
Why Does Therapy Dosage Matter?
When it comes to providing the best speech pathology services, understanding the right dosage for your child is essential. Not only will it help you understand the commitment required for your child’s speech therapy, but also helps our speech pathologists determine the intensity of your child’s therapy.
When the correct dosage is followed, the effectiveness and efficiency is maximised (i.e. 10 sessions weekly may be more effective than 10 sessions fortnightly for some diagnoses), and our speech pathologists can assess your child’s progress more accurately and adjust as needed.
By looking at the varying factors discussed above including your child’s diagnosis and the evidence associated with varying ‘treatment’ approaches, your speech pathologist can determine the optimal dosage that could:
- Help your child achieve their speech and language goals more efficiently
- Help with planning therapy sessions to ensure optimal engagement and highlight opportunities for adjustment
- Save your family time and money
- Ensure you have access to the right services and resources when needed
How Do I Know What the Right Dosage is for My Child?
Knowing how much therapy your child will need to help them achieve their speech and language goals is not always easy. After all, each child comes with their own circumstances that can impact the optimal dosage of speech therapy. They will also respond differently to the varying approaches, making it difficult to pinpoint the exact dosage.
However, our speech pathologists undertake ongoing training on various approaches to speech and language difficulties and can recommend specific doses of therapy for specific diagnoses.
Evidence suggests that some diagnoses respond better to specific interventions with a specific dosage. For example, ReST (Rapid Syllable Transition Treatment) is an intensive program designed to directly address the underlying motor planning and programming problems experienced by children with Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). As an intensive therapy approach, research suggests that the optimal ReST dose would involve four therapy sessions per week for three weeks.
Similarly, if your child is working on specific skills associated with transitioning to school, it may be advantageous to undertake an intensive program that would see your child work on specific school skills over a focused two-to-three-week period.
When it comes to determining the right dosage for your child, it is important to communicate your concerns with your child’s speech pathologists, share any information that may impact the therapy approach and trust that your child’s speech pathologist will prescribe the best evidence-based approach to help your child grow.
As mentioned above, we do not take a one size fits all approach. The right dose of speech therapy will look different for each family, and while we know that some approaches and doses are more effective than others, your family’s individual circumstance will always be considered, and we will work with you to maximise your funding and the results. That is why we offer Intensive Speech Pathology Programs during the school holidays that are designed to target specific goals that may be associated with:
- Childhood Apraxia of Speech
- Literacy Skills (reading and writing)
- Oral Language Skills (story telling)
- Transition to School
- Speech Sounds
If you have any concerns relating to your child’s speech and language development, please contact our team. No matter the approach taken, early intervention is essential when it comes to helping your child achieve and feel confident.