Today I write as the mother of Thomas, who has an awesome speech-language pathologist named Phuong Palafox. Phuong has been Thomas’s speech-language pathologist for the past five years and in those five years he’s made tremendous progress. Phuong is presenting at the Texas Speech-Language Hearing Convention (TSHA) soon on Family-Centered Practice and will share some of her experiences with Thomas and other families she’s worked with.
While Phuong shares the SLP perspective, I want to share the MOM perspective. “Ms. Phuong” (as Thomas calls her) has done such an incredible job of making us a part of Thomas’s communication journey, as well as some magical things to make Thomas love, and I mean LOVE, going to speech therapy.
Sharing the love in Family-Centered Practice
Ms. Phuong hones in on the things Thomas loves. Those things have changed a bit over the years and Phuong adjusts right along with Thomas. She listens to the things he talks about and gets excited about, then she incorporates those things into his intervention.
She plans special events. Thomas loves Target. It’s his favorite store and he often says he wants to work there one day. Ms. Phuong called Target, talked to the manager, and arranged a special VIP tour for Thomas and his social group friends. They got name tags, and Thomas got to peek in the back room where the loads and loads of Nerf guns are stored.
Addressing Emotions in Family-Centered Practice
One day in speech therapy Thomas shared that his twin sister got lost at the million woman march their mother (yes, me) dragged them to with homemade signs in tow. It made him (even more) scared to go into crowded places for fear of getting lost. His sister found her way back by asking someone if she could use their phone to call her mom. Thomas shared with Ms. Phuong that he didn’t know his mom’s number by heart. She drilled it and drilled it, rapped it and rapped it, chanted it and chanted it, danced it and danced it, until Thomas got it.
Understanding the Balancing Act in Family-Centered Practice
Ms. Phuong knows that we are a busy family with three kids and two working parents. She gets that because her family is also a busy family with three kids and two working parents. For our “home” program, she created a “car” program. Thomas has words and sounds to practice on a key ring that we keep in the car. He can get his drill-drill-drill done there.
Keeping Everyone in the Loop
Ms. Phuong communicates with Thomas’s school-based SLP to share his successes. She also finds out what he is working on at school so she can support those efforts as well. She includes all of us, mom, dad, and school SLP on those emails.
Ms. Phuong gives us frequent quick updates. Sometimes it is just a sentence or two, sometimes much more but either way, we know what Thomas is working on. We can ask him about his successes and see him shine.
Ms. Phuong sends home things Thomas works on in speech to share with the family at home. We like to use dinner time to get out the paper Ms. Phuong sends home and let Thomas share what he did. He always does it with a smile on his face.
These are just a few examples of awesome things Ms. Phuong does to provide great family-centered practice. We are thankful to be included in the process and thankful that Thomas loves going to speech!
For more information about family-centered practice, catch Phuong’s presentation at TSHA. For those of you who are SLP-Impact members, February is Family-Centered Practice month!
You can also find resources at ASHA.org.