Psst…I’m going privately…Frequently asked questions in relation to public and private speech and language therapy

We all want the best for our children, and if they have a problem we will do whatever we can to sort it out. This article is in response to frequent questions that I get from parents about going privately while awaiting, or receiving, speech and language therapy through H.S.E. or other therapy providers.

Can I see two speech and language therapists at the same time? Yes you can, however it is in your child’s best interests if both therapists are in contact with each other.  All therapists working in Ireland are bound by the Code of Ethics by the Irish Association of Speech and language Therapists (IASLT). Essentially agreeing to this code means engaging best practice, and that decisions made are ultimately in the best interest of the child.

If I go privately will I lose my place in the public system? Parents have the right to attend private therapists and still maintain their place in the public system. Unfortunately, I have occasionally been told by parents that they were informed that they could lose their public place if they chose to go privately. Others have worried that their child may not be seen as quickly if they are seen to be going privately. I always encourage parents to express their concerns with the relevant H.S.E. staff and encourage them to find out the policy in relation to public and private therapy (dual service provision).

Does my child need a break between starting one block of therapy and another? Again, this depends on the child and what the focus is. Sometimes after a block of sessions, a child needs a break from therapy, in order to have a space to establish changes in their everyday speech, or just to have a break from the frequent focus of therapy. With other children, they need to have on-going therapy to continue to build skills in the same or other areas, and so that they don’t slip back in the progress that they’ve made.

Should I tell the other therapist? It is in the best interest of your child if the therapist assessing and working with your child has all the available information. Certain assessments are invalid if they are repeated within a certain time frame, so it is important that the therapist knows what assessments have been done. Also, for your child, it can be confusing if they are seeing two therapists and there is not a co-ordination of the service.

What if I want a second opinion? As a parent you want the best for your child, and if you feel that you would like another therapist’s opinion, be it privately or publicly, then it is important that you explore this.

Is more therapy better? Not necessarily. Each child is different, some children may need more frequent or more ongoing therapy than they are currently receiving, whereas for others, more therapy may not be of any benefit to the child, and potentially could put undue pressure on the child. Again, discussion with your child’s therapist is the starting point.

Do I need to have a full assessment?  Speech and language therapists need to do assessments when they first see a child. These assessments can be formal ones, which have been tested out on particular groups of children (standardised), or informal (not standardised). Therapists use a combination of standardised and non-standardised assessments to build a profile of the child’s communication skills. When a child has already been seen by another therapist, the assessment needed depends on a number of factors. These include: the nature of the child’s difficulties, discussion with the other therapist, how recent the last assessment was, (and whether these test results are available). The therapist will need to do his/her own assessment, as legally s/he is responsible for the decisions made in relation to diagnosis and treatment.
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