The Benefits of Joint Speech Pathology and Occupational Therapy Sessions (SPOT)

I have been offered joint speech pathology and occupational therapy sessions for my child. What does this mean?

The term interdisciplinary practice can sometimes be used to describe when a team of health care professionals (such as speech pathologists, occupational therapists, psychologists, doctors, and others) work together in a coordinated manner to achieve common goals for the child. Often when working towards goals there are areas of overlap with regards to the clinician’s role when working with that child.

At Talking Matters this interdisciplinary team may be observed when your child’s speech pathologist and occupational therapist see your child at the same time together to ensure that the goals are being targeted in the most efficient way.

How are joint speech pathology and occupational therapy sessions beneficial?

For Children:

  • Working with both clinicians at the same time can assist with facilitating attention and participation in the session.
  • Two clinicians increase the number of people your child is required to interact with at one time. Often working 1:1 for social skills can be challenging, however with the addition of another person, the child is better able to work on skills such as winning and losing, waiting and sharing.
  • Speech pathologists working alongside occupational therapist can support with increasing language and communication in a more functional way. Many activities and tasks planned by the occupational therapist can incorporate speech pathology goals. In day-to-day life we do these together all the time!
  • Strategies used and shared with parents are consistent, which ensures the children are learning and being supported in the same way from all who are involved. The child is not confused by being taught many different strategies to achieve the same goal.

For Parents:

  • They can save time. Often individual speech pathology and occupational therapy sessions run for 45 minutes each. This means that you would be attending sessions for up to 1.5 hours each week or fortnight (depending on the frequency of your regular therapy sessions). If you have been offered joint therapy sessions, this can be halved to only 45 minutes because you will be working with both clinicians at the same time.
  • Joint sessions allow both clinicians working with your child to hear the same information from you. You won’t need to repeat any information and this makes it easier to remember who you have told new information to! This also means that the information shared is consistent.

For Clinicians:

  • Joint speech pathology and occupational therapy sessions allow one discipline to learn more about the other and vice versa. Therefore various strategies can be shared to target various goals and areas of concerns not only with your child, but the clinicians can then use their learnt knowledge and transfer it to other children they see as well.
  • It allows clinicians to brainstorm ideas together for how to approach therapy for your child and how to interpret various behaviours that may be observed or of concern to you.
  • Due to the support from another clinician, there can often be a greater response observed from the child in a more functional manner and goals are more efficiently targeted.
  • Communication between clinicians is more effective and allows them to be on the same page for your child’s therapy and future goals.

How does this affect payments for therapy sessions?

Sessions are charged for each clinician’s time with your child – you will still be charged the same amount per clinician as what you would if your child is having speech therapy and occupational therapy as individual sessions. Therefore if your child’s session is 45 minutes in length with both the speech pathologist and occupational therapist in the room at the same time, you or your child’s NDIA plan will be charged as 2x 45 minute therapy sessions.

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