Choosing Specialist Services For Your Child
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It is, of course, imperative that whoever you choose to teach your child must have appropriate qualifications and experience in their field. Here are some guidelines:

Speech Therapists (S.T.’s) should have a degree in Speech Therapy. This should either be an Honors or Bachelors degree. In America this is known as a Masters degree. It is also important that they are a member of a variety of speech associations. For example, if they belong to the Speech and Hearing Association of Singapore (SHAS) that means that they have fulfilled a specific criteria and have therefore a wide range of experience. Additional memberships can include Speech Pathology Australia (SPA), American Speech, Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapy (RCSLT).

Occupational Therapists (O.T.’s) should similarly have a degree in Occupational Therapy. It is also important that they have pediatric experience and any other experience that is relevant to your child’s needs, e.g Sensory Integration Therapy, Neuro Developmental Treatment/Therapy, etc. The more current courses and experience that are relevant to your child’s needs the better.

Physiotherapists (P.T.’s) must again have a degree in Physiotherapy. It is also important that they have pediatric experience and any other specialised experience and training. Again, Sensory Integration Therapy and Neuro Developmental Treatment/Therapy is beneficial. Make sure, however, that the therapist’s specialisms are relevant to your child’s needs as not all treatments will be applicable to your child.

Educational Support Teachers should have a degree and teaching qualification. They should also have a Diploma in Special Educational Needs (DPSE) or any other relevant qualification in this area. It is also important to find out if they have a specialism and whether it is applicable to your child’s difficulties, e.g. autism, dyslexia, etc. Relevant courses are also important, as well as finding out what style or method of teaching they follow, if any. For example, ‘Picture Exchange Communication System’ (PECS), ‘Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children’ (TEACCH) or ‘Applied Behaviour Analysis’ (ABA), etc.


It is also important to find out if the therapist will supply a report on your child and whether this is at an additional cost. Reports supplied can include a ‘Forecast’ involving the therapists aims and objectives for the forth coming sessions; an ‘Individual Educational Programme’ listing the child’s abilities and difficulties; or a ‘Progress Report’ listing all the skills that your child has acquired since the sessions began. Find out how often these will be supplied and whether you will have opportunity to discuss them with the therapist. Also, find out what feedback, if any, is supplied after each session.


For all therapies it is important that skills are followed up at home by yourself. Don’t leave all the work to the therapist; you must be prepared to reinforce the skills at home too. Naturally, if your child practices a skill with the therapist once a week and then experiences the same skill each day with you then the success rate will be greater than limiting it to just one session per week. Ask if your therapist will supply you with home activities to do and if they will guide you in how to teach them correctly. Again, check to see if this is at an additional cost.


Some therapists will travel to your home, whereas others have their own therapy centre or work from home. It is important to visit these places to see if you and your child feel comfortable in the environment. Remember, it might be more convenient for you to have a therapist visit your home but is it really a conducive learning environment? Are there many distractions? Do you have an area where the therapist can successfully achieve a 1 to 1? Will your child be able to cope with new demands being made on them in the familiar environment of their home where they are used to playing and having free time? Or, would they be more focused in a new environment, specifically set up for therapy sessions?


For your child’s benefit it is best not to shop around by trying out many therapists. Try not to book your child up for a month with one therapist and then, because you are not happy, try another one, and so on. This could be detrimental to your child’s learning and emotions, especially for children with autism or for those who suffer anxiety in any way. Try to make the sessions a positive experience for them rather than a negative experience. By choosing the wrong type of therapist your child might dislike the situation so much that it could cause them to be reluctant to see other therapists in the future.

As a result you must do your homework first. Ring a number of therapists to talk to and meet with, but do not make your decision until you are fully satisfied. Most therapists are happy to meet with you and your child for an initial consultation free of charge. You are then at liberty to leave without making a decision immediately.

Most importantly, make sure your child feels happy in the environment and gains a good rapport with the therapist. Also, go with your own instincts. Choose the therapist that you felt most comfortable with and one that was willing to give you their time and attention.

DATE: 22nd JUNE, 2000

Educational Support & Behaviour Consultancy
Tel/Fax: 64656982 h/p: 97584651

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