Individual vs Group Therapy with Average intelligence

By Pam Marshalla

Classroom of Kids StudentsQ: My 5-year-old son has average intelligence but speaks in 3-5 word utterances. He had hearing problems earlier. The SLP at school wants to put him into a group. Can he be affected by the modeling of the other students who also have poor articulation? Isn’t a 1-to-1 setting better?

I work in private practice because I always prefer the 1:1 situation, but a group can be useful for many reasons.  Group work can be more motivating and fun.  Language work often is more do-able in the group because of the rich communication situations that emerge.

Children virtually never regress from their present skills unless they have serious illnesses like seizures, degenerative diseases, or long hospital stays.  Otherwise they pretty much use what they have gained.  If a child talks in more simplified ways because of the children they are with, then this actually indicates that your child can “code switch” and this is a very sophisticated skill.  It means he knows his language well enough to adjust downward and upward.

I might ask the therapist WHY she wants your child to switch to the group. If the reason is only because she has a large caseload, or she doesn’t know what to do with him, then that is not a good reason.  But if it is to make the language experiences more rich and functional, then that may be just what he needs.

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