Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Right Speech Therapist

Everyone says early intervention is key, the earlier the kiddos get treatment if they are speech delayed, the better.  But then, you're put on a waiting list for a speech therapist for months.  So when your kid FINALLY makes it to the top of the waiting list, you're ready to accept any therapist you can get.

If your child is under three and speech delayed, they are eligible for a free evaluation by your state's Early Intervention program (though it might have another name, like Babies Can't Wait, Child Find, etc.)  If your child is found having a significant enough delay, then you'll get free services.  This is what we did starting at 17 months for my little man.  Twice a month a speech therapist would come to our home, play with my son, try to get him to say something, teach us a few signs, fill out some paperwork, then leave.  While I learned many things from these therapists, we weren't seeing much progress.

Cue, moving to another state.  Yeah.  Then we had to start the whole process over again.  Once we finally got going with Early Intervention in the new state we met our new therapist, who I shall call Ms. Blessing, as that is what she is in our lives.  She has been teaching us things we wished we had known sooner.  Like, "let's focus on helping him find his voice and get noisy, before we start teaching him to copy our sounds."  He was after all, pretty much silent, staring at us when we asked him to make a certain sound, and communicating only through sign language, pointing, grunting, or crying.  So began the plan to get him noisy.  This is when the little man was 2 1/2 and we finally began to hear babbling out of him.  Sounds, glorious sounds! And the beginnings of words!  He now says "uh!" for "up", "unh unh" for "no" and "ow!"

And she told us why we needed to teach him more signs.  He knew quite a few before, but she encouraged us to get him communicating in sentences so that his language isn't delayed, just because his speech is.  That he needed a way to communicate, and signing was his language.  So began the quest to learn more signs, like I mentioned in my previous post.  And it's been great!  He's become a little signing master, but I'll save that for another post.

Yes, Ms. Blessing plays with the little man, tries to get him to say sounds, teaches us new signs, fills out paperwork, and then leaves.  But she's helped us to back up to the place our little man is at and work from there.  She's given us so many tips and strategies that I hope to share in this blog.  And we've seen progress!  Honest to goodness progress!  He now tries to imitate the vowel sounds we ask him to imitate.  They're not perfect, but he's trying.  It's slow, painfully slow, but it's progress.

While all this slow progress is going on, we're on wait lists at two different speech clinics, because once little man turns three (in June) it's no more Ms. Blessing.  I think I'll cry when that happens.  But we fortunately have a therapist we meet with once a week at one clinic.  (I'm staying on the waitlist at the two other clinics because I want him to have speech therapy at least twice a week, and that may require seeing two different therapists for that).  Our new therapist also is doing much of the same things Ms. Blessing is doing with little man, so that is so encouraging.  Two great therapists working with my son.  I couldn't be happier.

A good therapist makes all the difference.  Here's a video of my little man working with Ms. Blessing.  Remember, this kid was pretty much silent before she came along!

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