I mentioned in my Random Weekend thoughts, that I had Blake's speech evaluated and he qualifies for speech therapy. I figured it would be worth explaining this a bit more.
When we went to Blake's 2 yr. doctor's appointment I pushed for a referral to early intervention. Early intervention for those who don't know is a federally funded service provided for children birth to 3 who have some type of developmental delay or medical condition that requires extra services (physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and vision specialist, etc...). We have a very good working relationship with our Pediatrician and I knew if I pushed it she would agree with the evaluation. I decided to wait until after the holidays to call and set up the appointment.
When I called they did a phone evaluation. This is used to weed out the parents who are just searching for services, but the child doesn't really need them. When they evaluate the child he/she has to be two standard deviations below the norm in any one category to qualify, and/or have one sub-category that is two standard deviations below the norm. When they did the phone questionnaire, I was told that Blake did not qualify because his "communication" falls in the norm. I decided to push them to test him. I know his communication skills are in the norm as it is a combination of receptive and expressive language. Blake's receptive language (the understanding of what he hears) is very high! But, I also know that his expressive language (what he is able to say) is very low. Or should I qualify even more to say it's more an articulation problem (in my opinion, but I'm not an expert).
After talking to the Child Care Coordinator who will be following his services, she agreed that it would be worth doing the evaluation to see what is going on, and what can be done to help Blake. We then set up an appointment for the next available time... 2 months later! Yes, I realize that there are other cases that are a lot more severe than Blake's speech, but still it felt like a forever wait.
When we went to the evaluation they performed a standardized test to evaluate his development in communication, motor skills (fine and gross motor), self-help skills, social/emotional, and cognitive skills. Part of this evaluation was completed by asking Richard and me a series of questions about Blake's everyday abilities. The other part was actual tests they did with Blake in a play type format. There were two therapists performing the evaluation. A speech therapist was working with Blake and an occupational therapist was asking Richard and I the questions.
The assessment was reviewed there that day too, and services were set up (what he qualified for, not the where and when of the service). When we went through the assessments it was determined that he was average to above average in all categories including communication. But, when they looked at his expressive language skills he was below the norm in this one area. The speech therapist agreed that he needed speech therapy and that pushing to get him evaluated was the right thing to do.
I am just glad that I had enough understanding of language skills to push this evaluation. I'm also glad that they were willing to listen to my concerns and understand that I knew he needed help. The other thing that I feel having been a teacher helped me with is that I know that a speech issue is typical. I know that having a speech problem has NOTHING to do with intellect. I know that it is something that can be helped and overcome when provided the right type of help.
It still baffles me how many people think that getting any kind of service means that there is a cognitive problem. What is even sadder is how many people in the field of education do not understand that providing service earlier will help the child in the long run. That although some developmental delays are signs of learning problems to come, not all are. A developmental delay means that the ability is there... if you don't have the ability to perform the skill it isn't a delayed skill!
I can't wait for Blake to start receiving speech. I'm excited to see his speech blossom to match the rest of his abilities. I'm excited to help him. And more than anything I'm excited to know that at some point in the near future I may be able to hear him say Mommy.