Youth and Teens
In addition to providing high-impact therapy for professional adults, speech IRL provides services for school-aged children and teenagers. We believe in the same functional, in-real-life approach for kids as well as adults!
Kids and teenagers often are faster at learning and solidifying speech therapy techniques than adults. However, the challenge of carryover to real life remains. It is not uncommon for kids to master skills in a traditional speech therapy setting, but show little change in their speech outside of the school or clinic. Our goal at speech IRL is to make sure that kids and teens develop solid, lasting change in their communication.
At speech IRL, we believe strongly that the child must take ownership of their own communication abilities. It is impossible to achieve meaningful, lasting change if you don't want to (even if Mom and Dad say you "should")! Giving kids agency during the therapy process enables them to be responsible and accountable for their own progress. Self-ownership provides greater internal motivation, which in turn yields better speech therapy results!
It is important that both the parents and youth be on board with speech therapy. Motivation and goals will be discussed frankly throughout the therapy process.
Parental involvement and family support
While the primary responsibility lies with the person in therapy, parents and family members are encouraged to support their teen as they work towards their speech goals, and the therapist will provide concrete ways to do so. Open communication and accountability are another key factor of successful therapy. After all, communication goes two ways!
True to our name, we try to keep therapy as "real life" as possible for youths and teens, just the same as adults. Because school performance plays such a large role in life, teens are encouraged to bring in topics or projects from class. This is especially true when it comes to oral presentations or reports!
Because the hardest challenge with speech therapy is remembering to apply speech skills when engaged in fun, distracting environments, we try to replicate these environments right in the session! This might mean playing Minecraft, Angry Birds, or commenting on Internet cat videos together. If the weather's nice (sometimes difficult in Chicago!), we can do speech therapy with a soccer ball.
This makes therapy fun, rewarding, and challenging all at the same time. When a student is able to maintain their speech skills while playing video games, we know those skills are stable.
We are all about "levels" at speech IRL. Level 1 is in the quiet therapy room. Level 2 is playing a calm game while practicing skills. "Think you can do this at Level 3, when we're outside?" The challenge is what makes it fun.