Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Perils of Peech

After Diddles' third birthday, she aged out of the state birth-to-3 program that provided speech therapy for her an hour each week.  We've missed her speech therapist, Betsy ever since, and Diddles still asks "Going...Bets?" After turning three, children who qualify for special education (as Diddles does with a language delay), are then placed at their neighborhood school, and they work with the school's speech therapist from that point on.  Since school started, we've been making a bi-weekly walk over to school to meet with "W", the school's speech therapist.

She's a kind, older lady, but she's a very different personality than we were used to experiencing with Besty.  She likes things very orderly and structured.  A no-nonsense teacher, for sure.  She has an enormous student load, and often seems overwhelmed.  She wants Diddles to always remain seated in her little wooden chair for the entire session.  "W" seems to have a hard time adjusting to the short attention span of a preschooler, and their need to move and go quickly and sometimes abruptly from one thing to another.  They often read a short picture book together and talk about the pages.  Diddles will move to turn the page, as she does at home, and "W" kindly, but firmly say, "Excuse me?"  (oh, gosh) She does much of the talking, and when I consciously count how many words I head Diddles say, it's only around five, and most of those are repeated words like "fish" "dog" or "pumpkin".  "W" often has to pause and think about where to go next, or what direction to take, and with a 20-minute class, it's over before we even get started!  

This wouldn't be as discouraging if I saw progress in Diddles' overall communication ability.  It seems to have regressed even from the summer!  She often resorts back to her old ways of whining and pointing to get what she wants, melting down crying instead of using her words, etc.  What I'm having a hard time figuring out, is how much of it is due to a language delay, and her struggle to express herself, and how much of it is her being a baby in the family, used to getting her own way, and knowing all of us will just fill-in-the-blanks of both her words and behavior.  I wish I knew the answer.

Right before Thanksgiving, we were informed that another little boy, "J" would be joining our speech therapy group.  This concerned me initially, mostly because that would mean an already short session would have to be split between two children.  Knowing how Diddles behaves in nursery with her class of mostly boys, I worried she would feel a little threatened with suddenly having to share the teacher and the small space, and the attention, which manifests itself with a puddle of attention-getting tears and crying on the floor.

The first class went okay.  The boy is bilingual (which, pardon me, but isn't ESL different from speech therapy?), and seemed to be able to chatter just fine in whatever language his mother spoke, and he could say phrases I still dream about for Diddles, "This is a fish!"  "It swims in the water!"  Whaaaaat!???  "W" had them sitting on a carpet, and they each took turns at a flannelboard, sticking ocean animals in the sand/water or sky.  I could see Diddles' body tensing, as she had to wait her turn, but she held it together.  The kicker came when they were taking turns putting together a fish puzzle.  She hesitated in placing her piece and "J" took the piece from her hands and placed it for her.  MELT.  DOWN.  Class dismissed.

Today was worse.  Diddles wasn't having any of it.  She eyed the boy the entire time, and any turn that he took resulted in her doing something disruptive:  taking off her shoes/socks and tossing them aside, arching her back, throwing away her turn, etc.  I had to remove her from the room twice because she was crying and yelling.  It was embarrassing.  "W" didn't know what to do, but was nice and said, "We'll 'problem-solve' and work this whole thing out."

I don't know whether I should wait it out, fight for a longer solo session, toss her into a den of preschool boys and let her learn to share, bag special ed and just try to find a way to afford private speech therapy, or become a speech therapist myself.  I just don't know.   I feel like I should really make this a matter of prayer.  It's a big deal, and I want to make the right decision.

She's worth it, you know.  


Sarah said...

That is a BIG deal!
Could you consistently do sessions of your own at home with her - following the methods you saw Betsy using previously?
While ALSO STILL trying to get through the short sessions the public school offers? How very frustrating...and almost a waste of time...but you'll want those connections for the years to come, I'm thinking.
Good luck figuring this out. No overnight fix for this one. :/

Sally said...

What about making a stink and getting the Betsy back?

Trish and Matt said...

I wish the lady at the school was more understanding! If you can't work things out with her (i.e. getting private time) maybe you could talk with the school district administration?

Does your health insurance cover any speech therapy? If not, you could call around and ask if any local places could cut you a deal. When we did OT/PT with our oldest, it was out of network so our insurance didn't cover as much, but it was enough that the company didn't charge us for the remainder.

You could also ask said companies if they know of any programs for people w/o insurance coverage.

Here's another thought ... if your insurance covers occupational therapy, you could try that route. I know there's a lot of overlap between the disciplines and it sounds like the help would be beneficial. Early intervention makes such a difference!

One last thought ... what about at the university where Josh works? Is there a speech pathology major? Maybe you could find someone there to do private sessions.

Sorry Diddles is having such a hard time.