May 23, 2011

Speech Therapy and IEP Meetings

In honor of May being Better Hearing and Speech Month, I thought I'd share a little about an issue I don't talk about too much on my blog.  I try hard to be considerate of my kids (future) feelings about having their lives exposed for the world to see and sometimes since I'm not sure what they will find embarassing and what they won't I error on the side of caution.  Unless of course its a ridiculously embarrassing photo that THEY insist I take, then it's totally fair game.  But anyway, it is because of this that I have mostly steared clear of Johnny's speech issues.  At 7 years old, he is finishing up his year in First Grade but also his third year of speech therapy.  This week I had his IEP meeting which secures these continued services for next year. 
I have come to learn that in comparisson to MANY MANY parents of children with special needs, my IEP meetings are heavenly.  I don't have to fight with anyone for these services and his therapist, teacher and principle are always super supportive.  But I have to admit that they are still hard for me.  I should use this time to soak up how far he's come in three years.  After all he has gone from being almost unintelligle to the average stranger (or even grandparent) when he was 4 to being able to form the correct sounds with cues.  So when he's working on his speech he can successfully pronounce his 's' sounds (his biggest source of problems) about 70% of the time.  The coming year will bring a benchmark of being able to get to this point in conversation withOUT cues.
I should be THRILLED that I can almost always understand him as opposed to having to fight hard to figure out a single word or sentance if it wasn't caught in context.
But this year, I asked his teacher and therapist if they were noticing that he seems to be getting progressively quieter.  Although in the morning he is CRAZY loud, once he has calmed down for the day there are many times when he can sit next to me and try to tell me something but because he is soooo quiet I have no clue what he's said.  When I ask him to say it again but to be louder he often gets frustrated.  I was hoping this was just happening at home for some reason, but found that sure enough he is doing the same thing at school.  And they agree it it likely a confidence issue.  That after 3 years (actually longer because we tried at home to work on sounds before he was accepted for therapy) of having people critic his speech, he'd simply rather not be heard than be corrected.  This is simply not something I want for my son.  I know he's healthy and otherwise a pretty happy kid and there are some many parents who'd give anything to be able to say this. But still, it hurts my heart to know that something he has worked so hard on is still such a struggle.
We have asked and he says no one has ever teased him or anything and he says he doesn't know why he's quiet, but there must be a reason.
I guess we ALL have our struggles, but it sure is hard to watch your own kids struggle, with ANYTHING!

If you have a young child who you feel is having speech issues, be sure to push for the assistance they need.  We had Johnny evaluated when he was 3 but he was denied.  Less than a year, and no improvement, later a different ST thought he more than qualified.  I'm sure those extra months wouldn't have had the problem fixed but at least he would have been that much farther ahead.  Trust your gut, moms just know!


  1. Oh goodness, yes, it's vital to push for support, the younger the better. Many people leave it till it's too late and the child has already formed words in their heads yet they can't actually voice them. To be denied speech therapy is simply wrong. We all need some form of communication and if we are capable of speech then it should be forced, no matter how long the struggle. Keep going. It could be a phase and it could be a confidence issue, but with the right people onside, there is every chance you will get this sorted out soon.

    CJ xx

  2. Luke is in speech therapy now and has been for a year. Our insurance doesn't pay for it, and it was being funded by Scottish Rite. A few months ago, they quit funding, and I was freaking out thinking he would have to stop going. Luckily, we got funding through the hospital. I have also started the steps to get him into therapy at the elementary school just so that is lined up should we need it. At only 3 years old, I don't think he's ever embarrassed by his limitations, but he does get frustrated when we can't understand him. He has come a long way, but we still have a long way to go!

  3. My youngest daughter was in speech therapy for three years through the school system. When she met all her IEP benchmarks and was released from speech I thought it was too soon. It was very frustrating, especially when I contacted her doctor to ask for a recommedation of a speech therapist and the doctor's office asked if I wanted her checked for ADD. Now my youngest will be having to go to speech.

  4. Hugs Lisa. E has been in speech therapy for 1 year (mostly... grr @@). But I've noticed now that we work on sounds if there is something I truly cannot understand and ask her to repeat she will just say "nevermind". Makes me sad because she has come so far and worked so hard, I hate to see her give up. I try really hard to correct as her therapist has instructed us to do, but unfortunately extended family does not understand this.. even with repeat reminders I have one who continues to correct even on things we are not working on.


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