A sibling can be an effective ally in therapy if appropriate and beneficial to their sibling receiving speech and language services. It is particularly effective if one sibling is feeling left out when the other sibling receives their therapy. Sibling participation creates a win-win situation for both the sibling and the child who needs the services. Sibling participation can motivate and make sessions more fun for the child receiving the services. Here are five practical ways to involve a sibling in speech-language therapy sessions.
5 Ways to Include Siblings in Speech-Language Therapy Sessions
A Model for Speech and Language
Siblings, older or younger, can serve as fantastic speech and language models. During games or conversations, a sibling serving as a model can facilitate the child receiving the services. Share your speech and language goals with siblings in a simple manner and ask them to help you. A sibling can be very motivating, which can benefit all parties involved, including the therapist.
During those times when your family is playing a turn-taking game, try to get the sibling involved with taking turns appropriately with their brother or sister. Appropriate turn-taking helps siblings get along better during their therapy and outside of treatment. Be sure to share the strategies with the parents to enforce them when you are not present.
A Sibling Can Help Set Appropriate Goals
Children are enormously honest, and they can help you create functional goals within their home. You can ask children about the speech challenges their brother or sister has at home. You can ask children directly why it is hard to understand their sibling’s speech and expect an honest answer. It can help you create goals and give you strategies to improve their speech and language abilities at home. Share this strategy with a parent and encourage it to be done together.
A Social Skill Practice Partner
Siblings make excellent partners for practicing social skills because they are closer in age and tend to be non-judgmental. Siblings can help you role-play various situations and practice appropriate conversation.
Siblings Carry Over Goals
When a sibling is in a session with you, they can help carry over the speech and language goals at home and school. Siblings are around each other a significant amount of time and spend many hours per day together. Use this fact to help their brother or sister meet their speech and language goals.
Here are suggestions to help you involve siblings in speech therapy:
- Set rules for sibling participation
- Model what you want, and give praise for being good helpers
- Teach siblings to reinforce new correct sound productions
- Use game playing and turn-taking
- Set limits for the siblings
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