Participant or Partner?

Auditory Verbal Therapy takes place with both the child and parent (or parents, or grandparents, or caregivers, etc.) present.  But is just being in the room enough?  What is the true role of the family in AVT?


It’s easy to think that once you have the parent through the door of your therapy room, you have instantly transformed your session into “Auditory Verbal Therapy.”  But maybe you’re even better than that.  Not only is the parent sitting in the room, but he even takes a turn at Candy Land and plays the game with you and the child.  Are we doing AVT yet?  Not quite…


We talk often about parent participation, and yes, parents participating in sessions, being engaged in the activities, taking turns in the conversation, playing games with us, is all important.  That’s participation.  But true Auditory Verbal Therapy is not just about parent participation, it’s about parent-therapist partnership, a powerful relationship that can match the therapist’s expertise in speech, language, and listening development with the parent’s unique knowledge of his or her child to produce amazing results.


What does this partnership look like?

A parent who conducts the Ling Six Sound Check at the beginning of the session is a participant.  A parent who shares with the therapist what she’s noticed about the child’s responses over the course of the week is a partner.

A parent who takes a turn at a game is a participant.  A parent who listens to his child’s response and can model a correction is a partner.

A therapist who gives the parent a puppet to play along in the game is creating a participant.  A therapist who asks the parent what she thinks will help her child improve a new skill is creating a partner.


It’s easy to give parents a block and let them help us build a tower and call it a day on including parents in our session.  It’s certainly much easier from a professional’s perspective.  But though we may have a short term gain from not having to take the time to be deliberate about partnering with parents, we lose big in the long term because we are leaving a huge source of knowledge untapped.  When I partner with parents, I want that parent to know exactly what I do about their child’s assessments, strengths, and goals.  I want to put my head together with the parents to figure out how to help the child grow and what needs to be changed when we hit a rough patch.  I want that parent to feel as comfortable as I do implementing and monitoring goals throughout the week so that therapy happens all day long in the family’s normal routines, not just “Mondays 9-10AM.”


It takes a mentality shift for all of us: families and professionals, to go beyond just “parent participation” to truly partnering with parents, tapping into their knowledge of their family and their child to fine-tune our approach and help each family succeed.  So in your next session, ask yourself: Is this parent a participant or is this parent a PARTNER?

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