Speech delay and schooling options - Mothering Forums
Learning at School > Speech delay and schooling options
honeybee's Avatar honeybee 09:39 PM 06-01-2009
My 3 yo ds2 was evaluated with a delay in articulation. He only makes about 6 different consonant sounds. His cognitive scores are very high. Receptive language is high end of normal.

We are going to try to get him into a summer speech program as well as looking into music therapy. For the fall we have a couple of options. What I want to know, is if anyone has experience with speech delays. Did you get services? Did they really help? Do you think your dc would've talked well anyways eventually, maybe just not as soon? Did anyone decline services and have things turn out fine?

I'm questioning how much intervention is really needed and how much my ds may just grow out of the problem naturally. For instance, my mom didn't talk until she was four and then started talking in complete sentences, and never had any problems at school (except for getting in trouble for talking too much). You hear these kinds of stories... but then I wonder how many other kids struggle later because of speech issues that could've been addressed earlier.

We WILL be getting him services, but we have the option between two different schools with different "levels" of intervention. One is a language-focused special ed preschool, where preschool teacher works hand-in-hand with speech therapist. The other is a Montessori preschool where he could receive pull-out services with a speech therapist twice a week, but would not have a lot of speech focus otherwise in the class. We may also be able to get him additional 1-1 time with another therapist. We would also continually do exercises at home. I think M is a better fit for him in all ways EXCEPT the speech. I'm not sure the other preschool would really challenge him or let him really explore his other strengths. But, he's only 3 and he'll still have lots of time to do his own thing at home, too. He could "graduate" from the speech program and go on to the M class the following year.

Another wrinkle is my older ds already goes to the M school, and the two schools are in opposite directions from our house, making the logistics of getting them both to school at different places a bit of a nightmare. But if the speech intensive program would be better for ds2, we'll work it out.

I'd appreciate all thoughts and feedback.

Leta's Avatar Leta 11:01 PM 06-01-2009
I am also in MI.

My DD (born 3/06) didn't speak but for a handful of words by 18 months. It took six months of pushing for me to just get her in for an evaluation. (And we have really good BC/BS health insurance. God bless the union.) What got to me was the fact that she would do these elaborate pantomimes rather than say a short, simple word.

My mom and DH both needed speech therapy. As well, I have a cousin on my dad's side who has relatively severe apraxia. So, genetically, I knew the possibility was there.

Anyway, when I finally got her evaluated, just before her second birthday, the speech therapist at the hospital said she wanted to see her twice a week. I was a little flipped out, because our insurance only covered 2x week, plus I was reeling because of the disparity in what our family doctor and the speech therapist had told us. When I first tried to get DD evaluated, I was told by EVERYONE that I had to get a referral from our PCP. Our PCP told me that he didn't write referrals until the child was 24 months with no words at all. Then, after switching docs and finally getting the eval, the speech therapist said that they like to see a 24 month old using at least 100, more like 200 words. This really upset me- that's a big jump, from 0 to 200.

At any rate, we got her going to private therapy twice a week, and we also got set up with monthly in home visits through Early On. Early On is free to everyone through the state. The combination of this was great- it was so nice to hear varying opinions from three different speech therapists. It had the effect of mellowing me out, too, since all agreed that she was making excellent progress.

DD went to speech for about a year. We are currently taking a break. Now that she's three, she no longer is covered under Early On, but if we wanted to, she could get therapy once a week through the public schools. Unfortunately, they have been extremely unhelpful, from the very beginning of this process up until now. They are "overburdened"- which I understand, and I have chosen to waive our right to pursue services via a hearing, because we are lucky enough to have good health insurance, and I wouldn't want to take the spot of some child who otherwise wouldn't get any services at all.

During the summer, speech therapy through the public schools isn't available at all, but what is available (and usually located at the school building) is the Easter Seals Summer Speech program. Once a week, for 12 weeks, costs $120 or $60 if you qualify OR are recommended for a scholarship.

In our experience, going to the Early On classrooms and playgroups didn't work for DD. One on one therapy did. But I really think it varies by the child. For example, my cousin with apraxia started therapy when he was 2.5, and could only do one-on-one for about 15-20 minutes, he just didn't have the attention span for more. DD did 45-50 minutes the week after her second birthday. So obviously, there is considerable variation in what works best.

The most important characteristic, as far as I'm concerned, in a speech therapist, is that the therapist is willing to express in detail what the parents should do at home to reinforce formal therapy. Things like hand gestures to accompany specific sounds, how many times to repeat a beginning hard consonant, etc.

We were lucky in that our therapists were very proactive about this.

Also, our first private therapist used ASL, and that was invaluble. Truly, ASL is DD's first language. She took to it like a duck to water, and it made her understand that she was capable of communicating, and after that her speech really started to bloom. We got her some "Signing Time" DVDs to reinforce, used ASL ourselves, checked out books, and just generally made the effort. We could have done that before she started speech, and in hindsight, I wish we would have.

If you can make it work, I'd at least try two or more strategies so you can see what works best for your DS.

Best of luck, HTH.
honeybee's Avatar honeybee 11:10 PM 06-01-2009
Thanks for sharing your experiences. My ds2 is also a March babe. The Easter Seals program is what we're looking at for summer. I'm also looking into music therapy as a possibility. I should be able to talk to the director of a program nearish to us tomorrow.

I started using ASL/baby signs with my ds1 when he was a baby, and we naturally continued with ds2. So, he has been doing sign language all along and communicates really well non-verbally. So, I guess that is in our favor.

I have been really impressed with our public school so far. They have been really open to writing the IEP in different ways for him in the fall for what suits his needs best. We just have a school-of-choice option of going to a neighboring district as well.
earthmama369's Avatar earthmama369 11:13 PM 06-01-2009
DS has an articulation disorder. As I understand it, articulation disorders do *not* go away on their own. They tend to get worse over time. But caught and treated early, they rate very high on the "fixable" scale and tend not to impact a child's ability to learn to read later on. A good speech therapist was worth gold for us. We went through our state university, so that ds worked with both a qualified speech therapist and a grad student who was learning the ropes. He excelled with them, and he blossomed. Like your ds, his receptive and cognitive skills were high, and I knew he was frustrated with his speech and aware that it was different than his peers, but I didn't realize how much it was already impacting his perception of himself, his frustration levels, even his sleep. Once he started to "fix his sounds," as he called it, all these words and sentences and stories started to pour out and it was like his whole body just relaxed. He was SO happy to be able to be understood. His overall frustration levels have dropped immensely and he's a much happier little boy.

Clearly speech therapy has been nothing but positive for us, despite the weekly drive and expense. It was completely worth it. A lot of universities will offer a sliding scale for anything not covered by insurance. The one we chose charged $160/hour, which is average for our state for private speech therapy, but another one we looked at only charged $10/hour. It really varies and it's worth shopping around to find therapy you can afford and a therapist who really clicks with your son.
octobermom's Avatar octobermom 11:36 PM 06-01-2009
My DD was diagnoised with Apraxia she recieved speech occupational and physical therapy. She also recieved occupational therapy to address food and an eatting disorder. They all helped TREMEDOUSLY. Today its hard to tell she even has the diagnoisis she excelled this past year in Kindergarden.

snowmom5's Avatar snowmom5 01:23 AM 06-02-2009
While sometimes it's hard to know how much improvement in speech is merely due to the passage of time and how much is due to therapy, since speech therapy at that age is generally play-based, there is no down side to doing the therapy. On the other hand, taking the chance that a child will outgrow it may be quite a risk. So I think that in the vast majority of cases, it doesn't make sense not to do the therapy.

My three oldest kids have been through speech therapy. One of them is still in speech therapy at 6 y.o. He is not the one I would have guessed would still need it, but he still has articulation issues. His twin brother finished long ago.

All three of them are in a montessori school. Originally, the twins had IEPs for speech and developmental delays and were in special ed preschool. I wasn't happy with the speech services they were getting (which seemed minimal to me), so I pulled them out of that and put them in the montessori school with private therapy. Then when ds started K, he was able to have speech therapy during the school day because it is a public charter school.

I'll tell you why I think Montessori is great for them. Two of them are very much visual-spatial learners, which kids with speech delays tend to be. (See e.g. www.visual-spatial.org ) And I think montessori is fantastic for that learning style, since it's so hands-on, having learning in small groups, with minimal sitting-and-listening that can be harder for visual-spatial learners. Plus, it allows the children to be ahead or behind in any particular subject. For example, ds with the artic issues started K way ahead in math but not even knowing the sounds of all the letters. He was able to make great progress in both areas, and finished the school year recently well ahead of grade level in both math and reading. Remembering how K was for dd at the traditional public school, I am certain he would not have been able to make such progress if he had been there instead. I think it's very important to allow a child to develop their strengths, even while simultaneously supporting their weaknesses.

that's my two cents!
LauraLoo's Avatar LauraLoo 01:46 AM 06-02-2009
Hi Honeybee!

We did speech therapy with ds starting when he was about 3 yo through last year until the end of 1st grade. He also had an articulation issue.

Originally Posted by earthmama369 View Post
It really varies and it's worth shopping around to find therapy you can afford and a therapist who really clicks with your son.
This is very important. The better the relationship, the better the therapy.

I will say this -- by far, our best services came from private therapy. I'm sure that school therapy varies, but I felt that every school ST we had (and we had 4 of them - a new one every year!) were always overloaded. ST through the school was always in a group or small group situation, and ds just didn't want to participate like he did with his private therapist.
Geofizz's Avatar Geofizz 01:31 PM 06-02-2009
Subscribing because the drop-down "thread tools" subscription tab doesn't work right now.

We're awaiting diagnosis (eval was last Wednesday), but it sounds like we're in the same boat, and we'll have similar care/preschool options.
crl's Avatar crl 01:48 PM 06-02-2009
DS had articulation problems and shortly after he turned two we began speech therapy once a week through early intervention. It helped some.

Then we put him in preschool when he was just over 2 1/2. In addition to weekly speech therapy, his regular teacher happened to have an undergrad degree in speech pathology (masters in special ed). There were only 7 kids in the room and three adults full-time plus whatever therapists were floating through. By the end of the semester his articulation issues were resolved. It was truly astounding. I really don't think he would have made that kind of progress without the intensive help. And his improved abiity to communicate also helped with his frustration level.

honeybee's Avatar honeybee 02:10 PM 06-02-2009
Thanks so much for all the replies. It helps to hear everyone's experiences.

Has anyone tried music therapy or have any experience with it?
Geofizz's Avatar Geofizz 04:34 PM 06-02-2009
Originally Posted by honeybee View Post
Thanks so much for all the replies. It helps to hear everyone's experiences.

Has anyone tried music therapy or have any experience with it?
We haven't done music therapy, but we started group music lessons this spring, and I can certainly see how it might help. DS is learned to mimic rhythms and sing simple tones sequences. The rhythms might ultimately help him find a better pace of speech, and the singing tone sequences (C-E-C, for instance) are good at getting him to move his mouth and vocal chords in ways he hasn't previously.

We did the class because he *loves* music, and we found a great teacher. I'm not sure my other kid would have responded nearly as well had we been in the same speech boat. So for the right kid, I can see why you'd be looking at something like this.

Not very helpful, I'm sure. We expect our full eval in the mail in a few days. After that I might be able to say more.
snowmom5's Avatar snowmom5 06:09 PM 06-02-2009
By music therapy, are you talking about listening therapy? Then yes, we have. Two of my kids did it in conjunction with OT for SPD (see e.g. http://www.starcenter.us/services-treatment.html ). I also got the home program (from the same place as the program the OTs used), http://www.integratedlistening.com/ .

I think there were a couple of posts about listening therapy in the past couple of months on the special needs board.

We were happy with it, but it's very controversial (doesn't work for everyone).
crl's Avatar crl 11:02 PM 06-02-2009
Music therapy is different from listening therapy. Music therapy is therapy done through music. It can be aimed at a variety of issues. We tried music therapy to help with social skills. It was not helpful for us. But I think that was primarily the therapist, who was very sweet, but young and unable to gain DS' cooperation. You might search in the special needs forum and/or post there as I have seen conversations about it there.

honeybee's Avatar honeybee 10:50 AM 06-03-2009
Thanks! I'll post for more info in the SN forum.
quaz's Avatar quaz 04:20 PM 06-03-2009
In either case you will be getting speech therapy, correct?

I think this is hard, because you will only know the right answer several years from now.

I tend to think you should go with Montessori this year.

My oldest at 2 1/2 was diagnosed with "severe phonological delay". After the initial evaluation, the therapist asked if dd could speak in any sentences. Uh.... she's been speaking in 6-8 word sentences the entire time she has been here?? The therapist told me that probably any other parent would have brought their child in saying that the child could speak.

We only got speech once a week for 30 minutes. Considering you get MORE than that at the M school, then you are doing better than us.

I had to translate everything my daughter said until she was 4 1/2. At that time, people finally starting being able to understand her. About that time, I also taught her to read. She is very V-S, and I felt seeing that blends in words, might help her be able to pronounce them. This is one of the few things I felt helped her speech.

In the time between 2 1/2 and 4 1/2, we did do speech, but I honestly believe it had very little impact on her. Would I not do speech? No. I would do it again, since it is impossible to know if it would help or not, BUT if it came down to two schools, both of which would supply speech, then for me it would come down to best fit. My only concern would be would they understnad my child? I did not put her in any pre-school until she was nearly 5 (fall birthday, so misses the K cut-off).

I doubt any teacher would have understood her before then, and my child was/is a talker. NON-STOP.

In addition to her poor articulation, she is gifted. (She is 6 1/2 now, and tested as gifted by the school district). When a 4 year old is saying the world Googol, it is hard on the best of days for a teacher to understand what they are saying, but add in an articulation delay, her advanced vocab really did make things worse.

The items that have helped her speech the most over the years....
a) time
b) teaching her to read
c) I do think speech has helped her more now that she is OLDER, but did next to nothing for her when she was younger.

I would go with the MOntessori school.
Can you do the other school the following year, if you feel that her speech is not improving??
Hatteras Gal's Avatar Hatteras Gal 11:09 PM 06-03-2009
My dd2 has severe phonological delays. She is 2 weeks from being 5. She had them all along but at age 2 or 3 she would never have been comfortable with therapy. And I thought maybe she would outgrow it. I also had to translate for her and I still do at times. She started speech therapy through our local university's communication disorders clinic- 2 50 minute sessions a week. It has made SUCH a difference! She can make almost all the sounds now (except R, Q and X) and some but not all blends. Most of her consonants sounded like a D. So "candy" sounded like "dandy." She can now say "candy" correctly. It's so awesome. She needs further therapy, of course, and next year in kindy she'll get it through the school as well as at the university (we take our older dd out of district for school and the travel logistics of dd2 getting speech through our district while we had dd1 in school at another district was going to be a nightmare). I can't say enough about how wonderful it is that she is getting these sounds and is more intelligible. If it was me making your decision, I'd go for the speech intensive school. Part of the decision, logistics aside, for choosing the university was the guaranteed one on one 50 minute therapy 2 times a week as opposed to 2 30 minute sessions that may or may not be one on one and even the 30 minutes wasn't a guarantee.
honeybee's Avatar honeybee 01:59 PM 06-04-2009
Thanks so much, everyone. We are going to send him to the Montessori school in the fall. However, we're writing up an IEP in district A for 1-1 speech services. The speech therapist at the Montessori school will also work with ds in an unofficial capacity, using the goals set by the IEP, and they will stay in contact on ds2's progress. I feel so blessed that these two public-school teachers are willing to go above and beyond for ds2. :

We will still have the option of looking for a private ST in the fall if this doesn't work out. Plus, if music therapy goes well this summer, we may continue with it in the fall as well.