Preparing for Speech Therapy

Updated on February 07, 2012
A.P. asks from Sanford, FL
16 answers

My 3 1/2 year old finally had a speech screening (hearing eval was completed at 2 with no concerns). We were referred for an eval. Results of the eval were that he has a significant delay (sigh, it makes me want to cry). Not significant enough to be enrolled in PreK full time, but he needs therapy sessions. No other developmental issues, hearing screening came back fine too. They assure me his case is straight forward (drops the final sound, l sounds like y, etc), but knowing he qualifies for the school district to perform the services makes it feel like it is so much worse. And don't get me started on how I am beating myself up over not doing this sooner, though my husband and I did everything we thought we should short of getting the eval (buying the books/games/DVDs, working with him one on one, correcting him in the home, enrolling him in private Pre-K 3, etc). We felt like we were his parents and we should do all we can before reaching outside. A part of me regrets this now (just a little bit).

So now that the tears have stopped and we have decided to do private therapy for the one on one attention and parent interaction (school district is group sessions and we can't be involved because of confidentiality), what can I expect? They will come to our home once a week for 30 minutes and will increase if needed.

What has been your experience with speech therapy? What should we expect? Deep down, I am so upset. How can I fully let go and move forward? Someone tell me it will get better and he'll be fine...

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So What Happened?

This week will be his first week of therapy. I'm actually excited as his vocabulary is expanding but he is getting harder to understand. I know this will be a good change for all of us. It's been about two weeks since we found out and I haven't cried since, but if I think about it too long, I feel like I could. Just lingering on the guilt I guess. I know its not that bad as he can say the sounds correctly when you ask him to sound the words out. However, if you ask him to repeat the word or sentence, he reverts right back to saying it incorrectly. I find "hope" in that.

I felt bad about him qualifying for services through the school district because the evaluator at the school district made it clear that they had a high threshold and only took the most serious cases when I made the appt. She was warning me to not to get my hopes up because there would have to be a significant delay in order for him to qualify. And sure enough, he ended up qualifying. So trying to back track was a little hard for me. I just needed some reassurance and to hear others experiences. Thanks everyone!

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answers from New York on

Try to relax, many, many children need speech therapy. Some receive therapy and make big improvements. Some do not receive therapy and improve anyway but I always say why risk it, get the therapy and maybe by school age they wont need any help. My son needed language therapy, after a year he had made so much improvement the school would not give him any services. He is in first grade now with a great vocabulary!

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answers from Seattle on

Speech therapy has been great for my son. Granted my son is 5, autistic and nonverbal however speech therapy has helped him to make connections. By that I mean while no my child does not talk he can and has been as of late, make more word approximations and understands the value of communicating verbally.

Definitely give yourself a break. You are doing what is important and there's no use in beating yourself up over what you didn't do. Do not worry about the school providing services for him because that is actually one of the best things they can do. There is no reason to feel ashamed or embarrassed by the services your son needs, ever.

I'm not certain what will be done at your therapy sessions but here's what happened with my son at 3: Therapist would come, games were initiated, it was all play therapy. At 3 my son didn't utter anything so these were trying times when a therapist would literally keep a toy from him until he used any type of verbal desire for said toy. Now, at the time I thought it was cruel but over the course of a few weeks my son did start to at least make a sound. It may be hard to watch your son struggle, and you may want to answer or do things for him some of the time but know that in the end he will be better off for it.

I wish you the best on this journey.

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answers from San Francisco on

My son has been in speech therapy for over 2 yrs now (he just turned 4). We did private speech for about 6mo. our insurance said they would cover it (they didn't) thousands of dollars later we went through the school dist. I LOVE IT!! and I'm one picky mama!! our son gets two 30min private classes a week. Is there a chance your child could have ?

all the best to you...

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answers from Phoenix on

I know a little how you feel. My daughter was diagnosed with a lateral lisp at age 5 after having her screened on the request of her pediatrician. I was so busy with my then almost 2 yr old and newborn, that honestly, I didn't really pay much attention to it. My husband and I decided we would wait 6-12 mos and see if it got better on it's own (the speech language pathologist said sometimes they do). Well, almost a year later, it was more noticeable and playmates were starting to make fun of our daughter occasionally. I tried getting her in to the school system for therapy, but since she is home schooled and we couldn't demonstrate poor academic performance, she didn't qualify. So we put her in private therapy last June. It's expensive, but worth every penny. Insurance finally agreed to pay for some of the cost. My daughter is doing fantastic. She self-corrects her speech without prompting and she loves going to therapy for 50 minutes 1 day a week. In just 7 months of therapy, I can tell a HUGE difference in her speech and reading.
So, don't beat yourself up. Some kids need glasses and braces, our kids just happen to need speech therapy. No one has a truly "perfect" kid, but thankfully we can help our kids reach their full potential. I'm proud of you for taking the first step and getting him in to private therapy. It really works! Nurse Midwife Mom of 3

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answers from Kansas City on

Sounds like you are on the right road now! The therapist will also most likely give you guidance on how to support progress at home- doing it naturally through daily routines works really well. Good Luck! I'm a Speech-Language Pathologist and I LOVE what I do- most likely the therapist who comes to your house does also- so it won't be something that you dread!

a little side note: actually, "fronting" is not leaving the beginning off words- that is called "initial consonant deletion". Fronting is when a sound that is made towards the back of your mouth is made toward the front- a typical example of fronting would be using /t/ instead of /k/- so "cup" would sound like "tup", or "duck" would sound like "dut". Please know that speech therapists go to graduate school and have both learned knowledge and experience- so it might be best to only take speech advice from someone who has been trained.

Edit: yikes, just re-read my answer- did not mean to sound snarky! I wanted to explain fronting since Brandi had mentioned it and it wasn't quite accurate ;-) I love that people take an interest in what a speech pathologist does- and when they use the lingo it is so cool! Just wanted to make sure I helped give accurate info. Thanks!

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answers from Austin on

The important thing is that you ARE getting help..... he will do just fine, and now that he is getting the therapy, you will also learn how to properly help him.

The school district will also be able to easily monitor his progress through the grades, which is another big help.

Please don't keep beating yourself up on this.... 20/20 hindsight is so easy.. we always know WHAT we should have done... what is important is what you are doing now to help in the future.


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answers from Kansas City on

My oldest (now 6) was in private speech because of speech delay. He started at 2y 3m and "graduated" at 3y 6m. I felt guilty because we just thought he was a late talker--didn't realize that he had 100% fluid blockage in one ear and 50% in the other. He needed tubes and speech. Don't beat yourself up, though! Just get your son the help he needs and he'll be talking non-stop in no time! Our son is in 1st and has an outstanding vocabulary. You would never know he was in therapy. Kudos to you for getting help. It's much easier to help him at age 3 than at age 6 or 7.

When our speech lady came to the house she would work with both of us (me and my son). She wanted to teach me how to teach him. He viewed it as playtime! He never minded having her here.

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answers from Washington DC on

Relax. He will be fine.
My oldest - now in college on a scholarship - had speech therapy when he was younger. He did speech therapy while in part time pre-school and finished up during Kindergarten. He didn't start until age 3.5 and finished up at age 6.
Just do what they tell you and RELAX.

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answers from Los Angeles on

The therapist will be in a room with your child and basically play games. The games are geared towards their recognizing sounds associated with the thing they are seeing/saying. Sometimes you may have a hard time understanding how these games will help your child, but they do work. Keep an open dialogue with your therapist so you know what's going on, what he/she thinks of your kid's progress/problems, and what each exercise is geared towards. We also were given homework with flashcards.

My son had therapy starting at about 19 months until he was 3 (aging out of the early intervention system). I did fight to get him preschool, 3 half days a week. But our school district didn't offer that option. If you can afford it, put him in pre-k so he's around other kids who talk.

I will tell you... it will get better and he'll be fine.

I had a lot of people tell me not to even bother getting him evaluated at 18 months. Boys talk later, blah blah blah. I'm glad I did it, but my son wasn't talking at all. Now, I can't shut him up! It's not the end of the world that you're starting later. Stop beating yourself up. Therapy will be fun for him if he has a good therapist. Don't be afraid to change therapists if you need to, but give the exercises a chance to work.

EDITED: I should add, if the delay isn't significant to get him preschool, it's not that bad. Dropping beginning or end letters is standard stuff. At the beginning, it's called "fronting." And, if it makes you feel any better, I just spent a full minute of repeating to realize my son was asking for his "magic mirror" and not "max a meal."

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answers from Miami on

I am a speech therapist. It sounds to me that you did all the right things, so please don't beat yourself up over his delay. With therapy and you working with him on the home program, he will improve and be ready for school.
:) S.

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answers from Chicago on

Hi A.,

This is not a catastrophic situation. Many, many kids need speech therapy. Two of my children needed it. My oldest was in it for just one year, and my middle child has been in it for four years now starting when he was age 2. We had a lady come to our house once a week, but I don't feel like he learned much from her. When he turned 3, he aged out of Early Intervention and started going to a preschool program through the school district where he received speech therapy. He's been gradually improving and now just needs it to work out a few sounds.

Please don't cry about this. Your son is going to be fine. You didn't do anything to cause it, and no matter how hard you try, it's really hard to teach them yourself. With my oldest, her pediatrician kept telling me to wait and see, but she made no improvement. I tried working with her every day to say her 's' sounds correctly to no avail. She went to her first speech session when she was 4, and came out saying her s's perfectly. Speech therapist's have some kind of magical powers.

As for what to expect with home therapy, my son's therapist came with a large bag of learning tools and toys. She would have him say a sound, then he'd get to put a marble down a chute or something like that. They use the toys as a reward for saying the sound. Some therapists prefer that you're not in the room with them, but my son was very attached to me and he was only two yrs at the time, so I stayed in the room. At first I had to sit right next to him, but gradually kept moving away so he could concentrate on the therapist.

You're doing the right thing, and it's not too late. There are kids in my daughter's 4th grade class that should have had speech therapy, and didn't. One girl finally started last year after her parents figured out that it wasn't just going to come to her.


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answers from Detroit on

This is not a big deal.. You need to get over this..

At age 3 my sons day care teacher mentioned that there were a couple of sounds that he still couldnt make correctly.. Of course I heard him talk daily.. but I thought that was just how he talked.. We went to the school district for an evaluation. They agreed that he couldnt make the sounds correctly but it was "age appropriate" They recommened waiting 6 months to see if his speech corrected. After 6 months I took him back to the school for a retest. He still couldnt make the sounds. So he was enrolled in speech therapy. He went for about 8 sessions and made tremendous progress. The sessions were at our local school and I was in the room with him until the last several sessions.. (he was scared to go without me).

My kindergarden daughter had a lisp.. I asked the school to evaluate her. They said they do not treat lisps... and we do not live in the school district so we are not eligible for speech I took her to our local hospital for speech therapy at our own expense. She did a total of 6 sessions. Her lisp is totally gone. I waited int eh waiting room as my daughter was almost 6 when she did her therapy.

So... speech therapy is not a big deal. The therapists play games with them.. my daughter played candy land and chutes and ladders.. my son (3 at the time) played games where they reach in the bowl of beans and pull out a hidden object and say the name..(all of objects have the letter sound the child is working on). they covered the table with picture cards and got to pick a card and say the picture name.. the therapist read books to the kids and had them say workds from the book that had the sound they were working on...

Both kids loved therapy.. lots of individual attention. I dont think you should be crying over this. This is the right age to correct these problems. Just because your son is having his therapy through the shcool doesnt mean it is a big problem.. The best tiem to correct these things is when the kids are young.

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answers from Richmond on

Speech therapy is *awesome*. My son is 2 now, but has always grunted and growled... with the in home therapy, he can now put 2 words together, which is HUGE!! He still has the vocabulary of a 12 month old, but he's doing so much better! He doesn't have temper tantrums as often, since we can actually kind of communicate now.

You're doing the right thing! Better late than never! Don't be upset! This is a POSITIVE thing!! Please, please feel free to PM me if you'd like more info.

After having 2 'super speakers', the speech thing with the 3rd was totally unexpected. But we're making it, and your son will too! :)

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answers from Milwaukee on

BEEN THERE DONE THAT. Including the guilt feelings.

Take a deep breath and it's gonna be FINE!

We've seen therapists since my son was 19 months old. He'll be five in April.

Honestly the therapists are there for YOU and your child. You'll learn a LOT from them and it seems like you're not making progress because you're LIVING IT. Just wait until someone that doesn't see you child often and they comment how great they are progressing will be a HUGE indicator.

We've been at this for most of his life and so much is just a blur but just keep up with things and your child will do great.

ONCE AGAIN--forget about the GUILT. It's not going to help but I can say that NOW. I remember how bad I felt when they suggested therapy. You'll meet other parents and find much WORSE cases than yours.

Good luck.

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answers from Tampa on

All the other answers are great! And mine is similar I am so thankful for speech therapy! They truly are amazing! My son who began therapy at about 2 is now 4 and getting ready to finish up-he does so great! He could only say 15 words at age 2 and now he wont shut up! LOL! My daughter is 18 months is going next week for her eval (crazy both my kids need therapy) she only says 2 words but I have all the confidence she will do fine. Why do you feel so guilty? Your doing what you can. I too tried the DVD' s books, flashcards but they way they work with the children is really great and they do things I couldnt do. Plus all kids have different needs. My heart would break when my son was younger and playing with other kids and they couldnt understand him. And I think now he is confident and I am so proud of him. They conquer this "delay" and he will be fine. There are worse "delays" to have and you will be amazed how much they talk and learn to form the words and you just help by reinforcing the work and practice at home. Everything will be ok..Just focus on the positive and the progress that is yet to come. You will feel better when you know HOW to help them rather than feeling lost and worried if they will catch up.. Speech therapy is a blessing! Good Luck!



answers from Miami on

the speech concerns should usually be addressed as soon as they develop. thats what i learned and i am glad i did. my son took his share of time to even say 4 or 5 words clearly 2 years of age, he had a very limited vocab, within two months however it had increased somewhat where i cud see him actually using words instead of aa oo sounds. but since he wasnt very clear or making sentences yet, i was concerned enough to seek early intervention services..i am glad i did..but i also enrolled in preschool..just to make sure he had all the help he might need and not to mention i was praying for him everyday... things are great now.. he is talking soooooo much better and in complete sentences.. i couldnt be happier. speech therapy with early intervention ppl was a good experience...nothing that u shud be upset or anxious abt... and please dont beat urself abt this.. i did everything u did too to help him talk.. only i didnt want to wait till he was 3 ...but i know someone who did and honestly, didnt take her son to start talking very soon....he is now as good as anyone ,..:)

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