Your second most important decision.
The most important decision you will make is to get help for you or your child. The second most important decision is selecting where you would go for speech and language therapy.
There are a number of criteria you will want to address in order to find the best place to have your child treated for his/her speech and language challenges.
A complete package
We consider the best choice of treatment to be a combination of all of the elements that address this specific question: “Where will your child most likely benefit from the therapy he or she will receive?”
Let’s take a look at some factors to consider in your effort to find the best services possible.
The personal connection
First and foremost, we believe there needs to be a good personality fit between you, your child, your clinician, and the organization or clinic you choose. The medical profession involves a “personality-plus-competence” combination. This is an area where being “referred” to a provider by someone you know, and trust is a plus. If you have no referral, it is up to you to seek a provider with whom you and your child feel comfortable.
The bond between a child and their therapist is an essential ingredient to a productive therapeutic relationship.
When you first meet a clinician, watch to see if he/she “comes down to your child’s level” and establishes a direct rapport with him/her. This is one of the ways a therapist will try to connect with your child and make them feel comfortable.
Additionally, you and the rest of your family must feel very comfortable with the primary case manager, if there is one (as there is in our clinic), as well as your clinician. Remember, these people are going to become a very important part of your family’s, and specifically of your child’s, future.
It is also important to feel your child is receiving individualized therapy specific to his/her needs and learning style. We feel we specialize in individual care and therapy. At Children’s Speech Care Center, you are a part of our family. Lynne Alba, our founder, participates in personal management of the therapy of every child who is entrusted to our care. You can feel comfortable knowing that she is available to discuss issues with you at any time.
Credentials and references
We feel that the organization and its staff should have an industry-wide reputation. They should be both state and nationally certified Speech and Language Pathologists. You should check carefully to make sure your choice has their Master’s Degree in communicative disorders, is fully licensed/credentialed by the state of California and is a current member in good standing with The American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA). However, a therapist may have their MA/MS, a temporary license, be completing their required supervised traineeship, and be fully qualified to provide treatment. Completion of one’s MA/MS ensures that the clinician has had direct clinical experience with multiple populations and disorders in more than one setting. If the therapist, in this situation, is in what is termed their CFY/RPE year (Clinical Fellowship Year/Required Professional Experience), you should be certain that they are receiving direct and adequate supervision by a fully licensed speech/language pathologist.
Look for the initial MA (or MS)/CCC-SP (or SLP) after the clinician’s name on their business card. This way you will know he/she is fully licensed and certified. Our clinic’s staff meets the above standards.
There are exceptions to the above rule about licensure and ASHA certification. Some therapists have a license but do not have ASHA certification. This may be sufficient for certain settings, and you may simply ask the therapist about this.
Our clinic is also listed with The Better Business Bureau. Many organizations feel that this is just an extra expense, but we feel it is important for your peace of mind.
Our clinic is NPA certified. This means that the state of California has certified the clinic to treat children from any public school. Not all clinics or clinicians have met these rigorous certification requirements.
It is also good to know whether the therapist that sees your child has had both state and federal Department of Justice (DOJ) finger printing and background checks. This is just one of the many requirements for NPA certification.
Past Patient Referrals
Ask for references from parents who have had their children treated at the clinic you are investigating. The organization should have these on file. You will find our reference library on this Website.
Experience and specialty
Make sure the clinic has experience treating your child’s specific disorder(s) (which may be labeled with ICD Codes—International Classification of Diseases). Ask the clinician you interview to discuss the diagnosis (when it is available) and the written therapy plans he/she would use to treat your child.
Ask questions that will let you discover the types of diagnostic methods and tools that are used to help plan your child’s assessment and therapy. At Children’s Speech Care Center, we are fortunate that Lynne Alba, our founder, has a notable reputation for her keen and insightful diagnostic skills.
You should inquire whether the clinic you choose has a specialty in speech and language therapy. We feel our clinic is devoted to pediatric speech/language from parent education to patient treatment, and from a wide variety of diagnostic tools to multiple and diverse intervention materials and techniques. It is our opinion we can offer highly individualized and focused intervention programs with the number of treatment strategies, tools, and teaching styles that we have acquired across time.
Lastly, you will also want to know if a therapist has specific knowledge and experience with your child’s issues. Ensure that he/she is knowledgeable about your child’s disorder and understands his/her particular learning needs and styles.
Do local pediatricians and other professionals recommend the clinic? Ask for the names of professionals that have recommended the organization in the past.
Does the organization’s size matter?
We have worked very hard to achieve a delicate balance between maintaining a small, personal atmosphere while having a moderately sized clinic. To that end, we have elected to restrict the size of the clinic to under 200 children.
- 1-4 Speech and Language clinicians are considered a small practice. The ideal ratio is 1:1
- 5-15 Speech and Language clinicians are considered a medium practice. The ideal ratio is 1:1
- Over 15: Speech and Language clinicians are considered a large practice. The ideal ratio is 1:1
Most of our students are seen 1:1 in the treatment setting with the exception of social skill group therapy, or small speech/language group therapy. Therein, the intent is to integrate the child with other children to help him/her apply the speech and language and/or social/pragmatic skills learned while interacting with peers. In these scenarios groups are lead with a speech pathologist and, with groups over three, a speech aide. Groups run from 2-6 students depending on the focus and the student’s needs.
At Children’s Speech Care Center, you can always feel assured that we offer flexible scheduling to meet your needs. By having multiple clinicians for staff make-up lessons, days off, sick days, and vacation days, your schedule can often be accommodated. We feel this helps in protecting the continuity that is so important to your child’s therapy. Since our therapists share a common philosophy and therapy style, many children have no problem transitioning to another therapist if needed for a make-up. Their therapy remains the same, of course, for goals, objectives, and materials and methods used during their therapy.
The last word about competency
The single most important question you should ask a prospective service provider is simple and direct, and it should be answered both convincingly and articulately:
Please tell me why I should choose your organization and clinicians over all others.
As stated above, we believe the best place for your family and your child must incorporate a combination of many elements. Ultimately, your clinician must be able to explain to you the components of an effective therapy plan and how he/she will apply his/her skills with your child. Since each child is unique, no one can answer this question without first meeting your child, gathering a complete patient/family profile, and understanding (at the minimum) the basics of your child’s condition.
To answer these questions fully, your child will need a full speech/language evaluation. However, we would be happy to answer general questions regarding your child’s communication, speech and language development, and possible resources through a personal consultation with Lynne Alba, our founder. During this meeting, you will be invited to tour the clinic and discuss all pertinent issues regarding you and your child. She will engage your child in informal conversation/play and observe him/her carefully. She will be able to explain the various elements of speech/language treatment, in general, and our clinic’s specific treatment philosophy.
Our guarantee to your family is that your child will have the very best, most comprehensive, individualized, and up-to-date care and treatment possible, and that you will be able to see your child’s progress. At any time we feel that for whatever reason therapy is not effective, we will consult with you to determine the best course of future action.
The facilities and equipment
You may take an on-line tour of the clinic now (click here to view video tour) or you can come back and tour it later from the “Videos” section navigation bar.
You will find a spacious and comfortable lobby with leather seating, worktables for your convenience, and private computer terminal stations equipped for Internet use while you are at the clinic. Complementary beverages and cookies are provided. Also included is a play area for brothers and sisters, periodic “story time” readings, television for your relaxation, and children’s videos.
There are two “Big rooms” that are used for multiple purposes including “Social/Play Skills Group” programs, representation play, and use of motor/sensory techniques to facilitate speech and language. Another specialized room is a dedicated computer lab. We also use our big rooms to offer and complementary seminars and in-services (provided bi-monthly for parents and professionals on speech and language issues.)
We have five executive/treatment offices. These are used by senior clinical staff and often double as therapy rooms. All are computer learning equipped.
There are eight private treatment rooms. These are used for private therapy and are designed (as is the rest of the clinic) for your child’s safety. They are designed to be very child-friendly and very flexible so that we can provide total customization for your child. Computers and video stations can also be moved to these rooms.
At your request, we are equipped to produce specialized treatment and informational videos. These are produced in our Audio/Video room. We can produce custom video for your child to be used in home training, IEPs, or for viewing by and/or education of other professionals working with your child, such as teachers and other therapists.
All materials are housed in our clinical materials room and managed by a full time staff member. In order to maximize your child’s clinical time, our clinicians prepare their treatment plans in advance and choose materials from a computerized materials list. These materials include hundreds of toys, games, and specialized treatment materials. These materials are cleaned and sanitized after each use, and unsafe/broken toys are replaced.
The clinicians’ choices are loaded onto special carts that are delivered to your child’s treatment room and are safely secured to the wall so they won’t provide a tipping hazard.
This room also contains over 1000 children’s books, children’s CDs, computer programs, and games. We are constantly updating and adding to this resource and will often purchase special materials just for your child at no additional cost to you.
You will also find our combination Information Technology room where our computer network hub and interactive phone system is housed. When you access our clinic via your phone, the system will reach your targeted contact’s phone. If they are at their station, they will take your call, or if not, you can leave a message. In urgent situations, you may also page your clinician through the front desk or have the front desk try to contact them if they are off grounds. You are always assured of a call back.
Next is our kitchen area. Here, we can use the setting to teach skills or generalize your child’s skills in a practical day-to-day “real world” environment.
Finally, we maintain a modern, private “Clinicians” room. This is a private area for all our staff clinicians which is used for report writing, follow-up calls, research, etc.
This article by:
Lynne G. Alba M.A.,
CCC, SLP Children’s
Speech Care Center