Back in February of this year when our youngest was two years old, we came to the realization that he was experiencing some hearing loss and was in need of ear tubes. He had the procedure done in early March and has since passed his hearing test. We’ve seen quite an improvement in his speech, but still felt like he was behind where he should be.
We started looking into our options as far as speech services were concerned. Having been in public schools as a teacher, I vaguely remember some 3 year old children coming to our campus for speech services. I contacted our local school district to see if they offered speech services for 3 year olds. I was delighted when finding out that they do service 3 and 4 year olds as long as they qualify. I was told beforehand that the process would probably take a few months, so one month before Charlie turned 3 we had him tested for a speech delay with the school district. We were told that he would most likely be qualified to receive services based on their assessments but it would be a few months before the admission process was complete.
We started the process at the end of last school year in May. He was evaluated for about an hour (mostly through play) by the school speech therapist . They determined that he had a speech delay. He was very difficult to understand and his communication skills were lacking. We were told that we would be contacted at the beginning of the next school year to set up his ARD (which is the official meeting to determine what services he will be receiving.) Since we knew the process of getting him serviced through the school district would be a long one, we went ahead and enrolled him in private speech therapy over the summer until he was able to start with the school. From the time we started the process until he was actually enrolled was a 5 month span.
Insurance will sometimes cover speech services, but some may not. Even with insurance, services were about $40 a session twice a week. As you can imagine, that can add up pretty quickly. Over the summer we received about a 10 page report going over the results of the initial evaluation with the school district. We were finally scheduled an ARD at the end of September and he was able to start receiving services the very next day.
At first I just assumed that Charlie would be receiving walk on services. That is where depending on his needs he would go to the school for one or two thirty minute sessions each week. I was unaware that there was another option for him which the specialists recommended. It’s called PALS which stands for Preschoolers Acquiring Language skills. This program is 5 days a week for two hours each day. The best part of this program is that it’s absolutely free. Not only are we saving close to $400 a month by not paying for private speech services, he’s receiving not just one hour total a week, but 10. I was told the walk on program is more for not being able to produce certain sounds or for omitting certain sounds in words. The program Charlie qualified for is the one that focuses on language and building vocabulary.
He’s been in the program for a whole two weeks now. It was a tough transition at first because he’s not used to being in school everyday but he’s adjusting well. I’ve already seen improvements with his communication skills and he is attempting to speak more.
Charlie doesn’t start kindergarten for another couple of years, but we are trying really hard to get him all caught up with his speech so it’s not a bigger problem later. He’s a very bright, and funny little guy, but we just knew he needed a little extra help. If you have a child that you think might be struggling with speech, I highly encourage you to check out what resources are available through your local school district. You might be surprised what services they have available to those who qualify. Early intervention is so important in these crucial years of development. You are your child’s biggest advocate so don’t be afraid to seek out professional help for your child. It will help them be successful in the long run.