Engaging Adolescent Students in Speech Therapy
Working with teens and tweens can be extremely rewarding. But teens and tweens face challenges that younger students don’t. Adolescent students may be resistant to therapy after many attempts to help them when they were younger. Other students may have slipped through the cracks in their younger years and are now facing their language difficulties.
Understanding the Challenges
As children age, they become more aware of their environment and their peers. Adolescent students are also trying to figure out who they are in the world. Social pressures, academics, and responsibilities can overwhelm and frustrate an older student who needs speech therapy.
Many adolescents have a fear of being singled out or thought of differently than their peers. The pressure to fit in is immense and language processing difficulties can certainly hinder their ability to feel part of the group. Adolescents may not feel that the therapy is relevant to their age and academic level, hence feeling a disconnect and resistance to the need for speech therapy.
Finding time to schedule therapy in between an adolescent’s school and extracurricular activities can also be a logistical struggle making it difficult to achieve quality therapy time with the student.
Changing the Game Plan
To keep adolescent students motivated and successful you may need to approach therapy from their viewpoint. Teens and tweens are often self-interested and focused on how the task at hand benefits and suits them. It’s not enough to explain to them why they need speech therapy; give examples that have importance to them.
Change the environment – Adolescents who feel reluctance to therapy or struggle to find a way to fit a therapy session into their busy day may benefit from teletherapy sessions that can be tailored to their schedule.
Make therapy personal – As mentioned, adolescents are more egocentric than their younger counterparts. The more you can focus and create therapy goals that put the focus on them (such as their goals, aspirations, or interests) the more likely they will be to participate.
Forge a different path – You may have strategies that you consider to be trusty and reliable in your therapy toolbox but working with an older set of students may make those tools irrelevant and unrelatable. Adolescents are on the cusp of steering their own lives so creating a therapy plan that is student-led or incorporates the students’ input will be more valuable and rewarding in the long run.
Older students often face an uphill battle with speech therapy. They may feel jaded or embarrassed about their struggles but working with adolescents is an amazing experience. When you build a rapport with the students and open to allowing them to copilot therapy to meet their needs and goals you may create a lasting connection and successful outcome.
Supporting adolescent students takes some innovation and creativity, which is our strong suit. If you’re looking for an innovative career, consider working from home as a teletherapist! Check out our current openings here.