Tuesday, July 07, 2009

    Speech Therapy

    So despite my initial contact with the therapist ( a garbled message left on my mobile phone from which I could not decipher a NAME to ask for ), which was then followed by some phone chasies, we actually got in a couple of really good, valuable sessions with a really good, valuable therapist.

    She leaves for Kenya this Friday ( true! ) Le sigh.

    But from these 2 lean mean sessions, she then found the time to type me up a thoughtful 3 page report which *specifically* notes problem sounds, how he's butchering or omitting them, and ages when these common 'faults' are generally resolved. Basically it's a chart in easy to see/read language, on which to plot our course.


    At 18mo, when we first were advised to see a therapist, he wasn't talking at all, he was a grunter and a pointer.
    Got the message across, as any 15yr old male will attest.
    He was verbally described then as engaged, intelligent and a great communicater - etc - and we sort of dropped off - we were moving house, I was lazy, he wasn't really talking, so 'speech' therapy was a bit difficult ( IMO ), and we were all happy.

    Fast forward to last year when he was enrolled for 1 day a week in a 3yr old Kinder Programme.
    The teacher took me aside for a quiet word.
    We enrolled agian with a therapist, weekly sessions at $100 a pop. Diagnostic tests ( super intelligent, no brain-to-tongue delays, no real probs - just articulation, which involves retraining, repetition, reinforcement etc ).
    Learning was heavily play-based, and I felt MC took advantage of the situation to not concentrate and muck around. At $100 a pop, I wanted less play and more results. When the limit was reached on our Health Insurance after the 5th session, we quit.

    And then this year, 4yr old kinder .. taken aside again, but this time a new programme - a kick start for kids entering big school next year - public, no waiting, no $$$ fees: sounds good.

    I've republished part of our therapist's findings here as I found it interesting reading:

    Oh - and tonight when I was peeling carrots for dinner - the phone rang.
    Our therapist - she got us into the full programme next semester.

    We will have to ditch a day of kinder to make the group, but I think this may be more important?

    He'll still have 2 kinder days a week to play with friends, but I think it's an opportunity and if we don't take it, it means no therapy at all next semester, and having to remember to get back on the roundabout again come Semester 4.
    I think to continue on this course would be good.
    It's very structured, and although it is play-based, it is not ACTIVE-play based like the $100/sessions ( trying to make a 4yr old say a word before he can go down the slide or swing on the rope ? ) - it's passive, involving board-type games. You say the word correctly, and you get a new tile, or get to remove a pick-up-stick kinda thing.
    He's seated, he's focused, and he's not 'adrenalised'. It works better.

    Oh, and the 17mo old said "balloon". Neat. He likes balloons.


    Stomper Girl said...

    That all sounds great. But what I want to know is, are you going to be poncing around the house e-nunc-i-a-tin-g your every syllable? Fun.

    Cindy said...

    i will start my comment with I am kind of crazy about the following and also that my son has aspergers autism so his requirements at speech are probably quite different. I so would be missing the day of kinder, I think as soon as you read the phrases "pleasant, who communicates intelligent" you know that if you can address these slight problems then he will be on the best path. I found that speech for him as early as possible made the hugest difference to him, and it was more in line with the second example that you gave. Even benefits that I didn't anticipate where he had less anxiety because he felt more in-control. Especailly since it is free I would definately be trying it out. Hope that didn't sound too opinionated and made some sense. Good luck

    Jodie said...

    Okay, I'm coming out of hiding to comment...As a Mum who has been there, done that, I would be grabbing this opportunity with both hands. Your son's story sounds almost the same as my daughters. No speech at 2 years, and when the words finally started they were quite often hard to understand. Her paediatrician advised waiting and watching. At 4 years her kindergarten teacher suggested speech therapy.Her speech therapist's report described her as "intelligent, engaged and delightful with a moderate to severe delay in articulation". We were half way through her first year of kindergarten, and she was struggling with the fact that other children could not understand her. A lot of the time I couldn't understand her.

    Speech therapy is hard work. It's boring, repetitive and often it was tedious, but the benefits are amazing. It took 18 months but she blossomed into a wonderfully articulate little girl. There are still sounds that are missing now, but they are developmentally appropriate for her age. I have never regretted the time we spent on speech therapy, I wished we had gone months earlier. I think the potential benefit of this program, would far outweigh the benefit of a day at kinder.

    Kiki said...

    Definitely do it H&B, you only get once chance with speech and it's best to sort it (well, the beginnings) whilst he's not yet at big school.

    The report is very interesting, you must feel very lucky to have .

    M+B said...

    I agree with Jodie, grab this opportunity with both hands. I think this is way more important than an extra day at kinder.

    I wish my nearly 5 y.o niece's kinder (or someone outside our family) would suggest speech therapy for her.

    Frogdancer said...

    Kinder is only kinder. The speech therapy is by far more important. Grab it!

    Anonymous said...

    This is my day job. I read and interpret these reports for teachers. You MUST MUST MUST give speech the priority over kinder. Oral language is the basis for written language. All literate behaviours begin with talking. His problems are articulation which is purely muscle training. Think of it like swimming lessons where they spend the first lessons pulling their hands and legs into the right movements to train their muscles to move in the right way. This is the easy stuff in terms of potential speech language problems, but VERY important prior to formal school learning.

    email me if you want to talk more.

    jorth said...


    I had speech therapy as a child, and although I remember very little of it (some sort of board game involving frogs, which I loved!) my Dad said it improved my speech beyond words. I can, like, you know, totally communicate like fine now (bwahahah!) - nah, seriously, apart from a very very slight lisp my speech is perfect, except when I am really tired, then I tend to stumble over words, but that only happens once in a blue moon.

    So go for it!

    Anonymous said...

    Silly question, but I assume they've recommended getting his hearing checked? If not I'd be doing that too to make sure that he is actually hearing all sounds properly.

    Anonymous said...

    Take the opportunity while its there and give him the chance to improve his skills in an environment specifically designed to address his issues with speech and with other children who have similar issues. I believe it will far outweigh the day lost at kinder and put him in good stead for school next year. It seems the classes are hard to get into, you are lucky there's a position for him. Tina O'D

    Christie said...

    I'd ditch one day if kinder, but that's just me.

    Ryder was a pointer & grunter too, in fact i don't think he even said 'mama' until after his 2nd birthday. Funny nobody thought to suggest ST, but I had a pretty slack MCH nurse at the time.

    Anyway, the program sounds great, glad you got a spot for next term.

    meggie said...

    Go for it! I am with the others.

    •´.¸¸.•¨¯`♥.Trish.♥´¯¨•.¸¸.´• said...

    Sometimes the 'pay for play sessions' are over the top.
    I took my eldest to speech therpay for auditory processing not so much pronunciation ... it was $45 for 30 mins 8 years ago interesting not much has changed.

    I agree with everyone else grab this opportunity with both hands & ears.

    I think ST is way more important than a day at kinder.

    I need to look into ST for one of my twins I think, we have another assessment for his NF end of July so I'll see then.

    It is so hard to access free programs in Sydney.

    My cousin's almost 3yr old only says two words together - she is getting some ST organised through a GP plan essentially because
    her daughter has a chronic condition not because of her severe speech delay ...otherwise in Sydney it is still an 18 month wait even for severe delays.

    Goodluck and thanks for sharing the report.

    Shel said...

    We've been speech theraping for 3 years and only this year stopped because he was age appropriate. Riley was a typical grommets kid and your report sounds vaguely similar.

    What we found worked well too, was correct playback. So, MC says something (or implies even) and you say 'oh, MC, you would like a drink? then we need to say 'I would like a drink'. No forcing the speech, just modelling it IYKWIM.

    R is now 6 (we held him back because of the grommets at 3yo kinder) and is on par with every other 6yo. We also did a social group (basically that helped him to learn to use the speech he had learnt) in Camberwell which was AWESOME.

    Good luck!!

    Liesl (Hoppo Bumpo) said...

    What an ace opportunity. I think all the work we can do before primary school to help our smalls on their way, is worth its weight in gold. I'm a big fan of the work speechies do.

    Alby Mangroves said...

    All so serious.. you're doing the right thing ditching a day at kinder in favour of this, it really sounds like he does great at kinder anyway! The Ratbag says 'boob' for 'baboon' and Peanut says 'boob' for baloon.. maybe I need speech therapy.

    h&b said...

    or maybe you just need to put your boobs away, Alby ! ;)

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