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.
Trying to turn hearts and minds toward universal healthcare, one post at a time.