Speech Delay in Son

Updated on January 13, 2012
M.D. asks from Orange, CA
16 answers

My son just turned 2 1/2 and has a speech delay. I went through the Regional Center of OC and they diagnosed him with an expressive speech delay but wont provide services to us because we have private insurance. The problem is we have a very high deductible (5,000) so in reality we will have to pay everything out of pocket. My son is very smart, social and "normal" in every other way but he just doesnt talk much--probably only has 20 or so words in his vocab. He prefers to "act out" what he wants to tell us. He totally understands everthing. I know at 3 yrs. old, our school district will give him speech services. So, my dilemna is if we should start the process all over again --get a speech eval, hearing test, etc...and go to a private speech therapist between now and his 3rd bday when the school district can take over. Since the insurance is not going to pay for it, im wondering how imperative it is to start services now or wait a little longer (when hes 3)--and maybe hope he makes some progress on his own. Im also wondering what other moms experiences are out there w/ speech delays in kids--how speech therapy worked for their kids, etc.

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So What Happened?

Thanks to all who have responded so far. As far as I know, each state is supposed to provide early intervention FREE but i think with the state of the economy there have been many cuts in the last few years which is why we apparently aren't eligible for services--because we have insurance (not good, but we have). If this had been a few yrs ago, then yes we would be getting services. For those of you who have been to speech therapy--im not sure I understand how it "works". I think the therapist will just encourage/play with the child and try to get them to talk?? Sound out words?? If this is the case, i dont really know how that is any different than what he gets at home--i mean i dont sit and try to "teach" him to speak explicitly but he is definately around other kids, goes to preschool, reads with me at home, etc....so he is definately in an engaging environment. So how is speech therapy different? Just curious what other moms can tell me about therapy.

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answers from San Diego on

One of my dads just picked up his son and was demonstrating how he can get him to say a few words. This boy is in special school and he's not made any real progress that I can see. His dad is upset because he will try for him. But he won't for me, his mother, or any of the teachers at school. He also has other teachers on the side. The boy is almost 4. He is sweet, expressive, gets his point across, and maybe it's the woman in his life. Maybe we all need to be more tough on him. I just want to point out that you could pay for all kinds of help and it doesn't mean anything will change very fast. I'd wait if I were you.

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answers from Los Angeles on

A speech therapist typically looks at how your child forms words, the amount of time from the time a question is asked to response, etc. Some time speech delay is more than a developmental issue. It can also be a processing problem. My son is receiving ABA, but they are working on speech with him as well. They will ask him to say a word and he will pause for about 30 seconds and only say the first sound. They had to teach him to say the rest of the sounds using a motivator such as a toy, a piece of food, etc. He had quite a few meltdowns when they started requiring him to say the full word to get a his motivator as it is really hard for him.

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answers from Boston on

If you can afford it, please get speech therapy for your son now. He is at the age children really want to communicate with family and peers. He acts out, most probably not because he prefers it, but because he cannot communicate his ideas completely. How frustrating for him. So expressive speech/language delays begin to become social and behavioral issues. I'm truly sorry about your insurance deductible.

And please contact your school system now, if you have not already done so. Some will take students at 2 years, 9 months and then provide summer therapy.

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answers from Honolulu on

**Edit: I read your comments. Speech Therapist, have years of schooling and my son's Speech Therapist had a Master's Degree and various certifications etc. They do NOT just "play" with your child and get them to talk. If that is the case, why have Speech Pathologists, some of whom have PhD's.
A Speech Therapist, at least in our case, was schooled AND trained in overall child development/physiology/speech pathology/and some medical training. AND they can astutely, diagnose a child... for whatever is wrong with them. NOT just talking.
There are things like "Dysphagia" or "Apraxia" for example. Do you know what that is and could you yourself diagnose it and then, do treatment for it and occupational therapy for it and cure your child? That is why, there are Professionals.... who help the child and family. To provide hands on help and information in order to help the child progress.
My son's Speech Therapist, did not just "play" with my son. They, while doing all sorts of play therapy with your child are assessing your child like a Hawk... and observing things which even a layperson would not know.
My son, LOVED his speech therapy and our Speech Therapist was invaluable. My son had a speech delay. And the Therapist taught me a TON... about speech as well. And I myself, have degrees in child development/psychology/anthropology and sociology. But, our Speech Therapist, was of value. Very much so. It benefited my son, a ton.

My son had speech therapy through our local Early Childhood Intervention services. It was FREE. And I did not have to have a referral from our Pediatrician.

My son had it from when he was about 19 months old until close to 3 years old. The program is for kids UNDER 3 years old.
Then after that age, then you have to get your own services and pay for it.
Your current speech therapist/organization... SHOULD be providing you with information sheets.. .on what happens next and where and the options. That is what they did for us, once my son turned 3. If we wanted to continue speech services after he was 3 years old. But he did not need it.

My son is now the most talkative one in our family! And he is bilingual. Fluent in both languages.
He prospered, even after speech therapy.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I have a 2 1/2 year old son who is speech delayed and gets services through Regional Center. i second the last two responders in their assessment of what a speech therapist does. What I would do if I were you is to pay for private speech services for your son for a month or two and if money is really an issue for you have the therapist instruct you on how you can best help him at home. I think that with some instruction you can help him at home on your own - it may not be as extensive as meeting with a speech therapist every week but it would be better than nothing until your child turns 3. Because Regional Center has already done an evaluation I would think that you could have them forward that evaluation to a private speech therapist and that person would not have to do another evaluation on your son which would also save you some money. Good luck.

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answers from Charlotte on

Let me give you some advice because I am a mom of a child who had a child impediment too. He is 16 now, so I have the benefit of having gone through a lot of experience having a child with special needs.

It is January. You have started a new deductible year. Get the speech therapy. Use a therapist who has a good amount of experience. Sit in or watch through a 2 way mirror during all the lessons. Work hard on your home program - twice a day. Be 100% consistent at home in what the therapist tells you to do to help your child learn to TRY to communicate with you so that he is not so frustrated.

I will tell you that my son had 60 words - 3 times as many as your son, at 24 months old. I had a team evaluate him. It was a sinking feeling for me, M., when I "caught" what was happening (and my husband did too). They stopped talking, "looked" at each other at a critical point in working with him, and I realized that my little guy had a real problem. I mean, I KNEW there was a problem, but this kind of shook me.

Sure enough, a few hours later when they came to us, they told me if I waited until he was 3 to have the school work with him, he may never have normal speech. They told me that we needed to get him help NOW.

We bit the bullet and paid ourselves. That started in May. In October my son said his first real sentence in the car while we were driving. I cried. It meant so much. Truthfully, the small little victories at first made such a difference in helping him with his frustration. The words "help me" (the therapist taught him to say 'ep me because the "l" sound is too hard) made a big difference in him realizing that I knew what he was saying. Even the word "wah-wah" when he wanted water was a blessing.

Speech is hard work. Sometimes kids don't want to do it. The thing is, if you start now, they are more pliable and fight it less.

Early intervention is one of the most precious things you can give your child. I had no idea when I embarked on this with my son, where we would end up. There were problems that I had to face with him that I never would have imagined - including the fact that he has a hidden submucous cleft palate, the reason for his speech problems. We didn't know when we started. If we had not gotten help for his speech, waiting would have done NOTHING but delay him longer. That evaluation team was certainly right, even not knowing about the cleft.

I promise you that by getting speech help for your child now, your lives will be easier overall. Drop whatever non-necessary expenses you can in order to afford this. Research what you read in the evaluations so that you learn about your son's issues. You are your child's best advocate and no one will help him as much as you. My research about my son's unusual speech pattern (velopharyngeal insufficiency) led me to find medical providers who were willing to give him diagnostic testing that led to finding his cleft. (He was 4 when we found the cleft.) If I hadn't done this, we may have missed this and I might have allowed a surgeon who wanted to remove his adenoids to have his way. It turned out that it would have been the worse thing that I could have allowed to happen to my son - it would have made his problem permanently worse.

I hope I am making sense here. The point is, please don't delay. Working with your son now may prevent real problems later. The sooner the better.

All my best,

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answers from Champaign on

First, have you talked to your insurance company? Sometimes a speech delay is classified differently and you might not have to pay a deductible like you would for a doctor's visit. I'm not sure, but I do know that we have HMO (so co-pays) and we pay nothing out of pocket for our son's speech therapy. I called the insurance company because I wanted to make sure the therapist we were referred to was in network and that I was doing everything they required. I found out that our insurance will pay for 60 hours in our child's lifetime with no out of pocket for us. It might be worth investigating.

Also, call the therapist's office and see what the charge is for the initial evaluation. If it's reasonable, you could then meet with the therapist and find out what he/she things. My guess is that waiting for him to turn 3 is not ideal, but probably not really going to effect him too much. It would probably make you feel a lot better if you had more of an ideal of what you're really dealing with.

I'm so sorry you might be faced with this dilemma! I do know how hard it can be when you're child cannot talk to you and cannot really tell you (with words) what he needs. Good luck!

My son was evaluated at 18 months, 24 months and 30 months (or 2 1/2 years). It was then that he began to go every other week for about 30 minutes. For the first couple months I was very discouraged and felt like we weren't making any progress. I knew I just needed to be patient, but it was hard. After 3 months, something clicked. He is really trying to speak and communicate, and I am really able to understand most of what he's saying. Wow! I can't tell you how great that feels!

He will be 3 in March, and I will have him evaluated by our local schools sometimes before his birthday.

I do realize I am very fortunate to have the insurance I do, but I just want to encourage you to call them and ask just in case. Also, call the therapist your ped recommends. They might know of other resources that you haven't explored.

Again, good luck!

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answers from Springfield on

I just read your SWH. To answer your question about how Speech Therapy works, the therapist will play with your child but will be listening carefully to what he is saying, try to pinpoint specific errors, gaps, etc., encourage very specific words be said correctly, ask child to repeat, sometimes offer rewards (usually the toy the child wants) if the child trys correctely, have the child look at the lips and mimic, etc.

If you child is delayed, working one on one with a therapist who has studied speech, knows common errors, how sounds develop, etc. is invalualbe.

My SIL is a speech therapist. I have seen her working with students and discussing our kids and nieces and nephews. She say things like, "Oh, he's trying to say 'go.'" When all I hear is "cah." Our 5 year old was sent home with a note saying he needed to work on his "th", "zh" and "r" sounds. I showed it to her, and she told me that these were all developmentally appropriate for his age, but no harm in working with a speemch therapist. Our niece was saying things like "bord" instead of "bird," and she recommended some excersises her mom could do with her to try and help her work on it.

I'm babbling, but my point it, speech therapy is a very specific skill. Speech pathology is a very competetive field. Students accepted to a masters program in speech pathology usually have a high gpa, and a masters degree is usually required to work in the field. If your son is delayed, he will benefit from being around other kids, but working with a speech thereapist would benefit him greatly!

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answers from San Francisco on

Call your Pediatrician again tell them whats going on & I'm sure they can point you in the right direction. This was my story to a T. We have private insurance
& my son needed help. If you need extra help please inbox me & I will ask around my son just turned 4 and we have been in speech for 2 full yrs... and he is doing AWESOME!!!

good luck...

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answers from Kansas City on

every state has early intervention that will free of cost to you- it is part of IDEA- which is free special education services from birth through 21 years of age. After a child turns three it is through the school district, from birth til 3rd birthday it is through state agencies- it is called something different depending on the state/county. If you are not sure what your early intervention services is for you area- just call the local school district for guidance on how to contact them. Most likely they will be able to come to your house and give you speech services til three- and then help you transition to the school district services if still needed. As a speech pathologist myself- I work for my local Infant-Toddler services- and early intervention is research-proven to be beneficial- and better for the kiddo in the long run. They can give you ideas on how to work with him at home- in your normal daily routines. When he turns three- the school district will most likely serve him at your local school- and his goals will be education-based. So I would start now so you can benefit from some suggestions/help for at home.

hope this helps ;-)

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answers from New York on

Hello. I have 5 year old boys that had a speech delay and have articulation problems. We started therapy around 2 years through a free county program called early intervention. I believe we heard about it through our local health department. Once they turned 3 they received help through school district. I would try to get help now because they may not offer summer services. So if you start now you will learn ways to help him that you can use during the summer. If you want details on ways to help him at home feel free to send me a message and I will give you ideas. sorry just read your response. There is no way I would have made so much progress without a therapist. They work with kids daily and know what works. My therapist got my boys to talk twice as much as I did in a month and I felt like I was trying everything possible. I guess to sum it up...yes a therapist made a world of difference.

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answers from Portland on

speech therapy is very directed. The therapist doesn't just play and have the kid talk. I cannot describe what she does in any detail because I've not had the training but I've sat in on some sessions. There are combinations to words that the therapist focuses on thus training the tongue and mouth to form those sounds. She knows how to shape the mouth to form the sounds. She also does exercises with the mouth to strengthen and train muscles. Blowing bubbles is one that my grandson loves.

I urge you to get him into therapy. It is well worth it. The earlier he gets started the better chance he has of being ready for school.

Did you check with your local school district? In my experience and from reading I suggest that the school district will provide services but may ask you to pay a set amount which would be less than private therapy.

Early Intervention provides more services but must be obtained before the age of 3. If you truly can't get services before he's 3 then you can't but we found that earlier intervention is best.

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answers from Lincoln on

I agree with Nadine that you should call your school district. My son had an IFSP (Individual Family Service Plan) and then at age 3 it goes to an IEP (Individual Education Program). Nadine is also right that according to IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) that they should be providing services from birth to 21.

Call them... my son was verified from the time he was 9 months old and he still is at the age of 6. You should get services that are federally mandated b/c early intervention is so important. Good luck!!

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answers from New York on

I assume they said his receptive language was fine? and his other skills? I'm surprised you cannot receive inexpensive speech services. My son had therapy for a very low price. Can you work with him at home for the next six months and get him started immediately at age 3? Most kids who learn sign language learn to speak quickly. My two yr old son learned the signs easily and within two weeks or so of learning a sign he began saying the word as well as using the sign. You could get the Baby Babble videos, they teach sign and have ideas for working with children who are learning to speak. The therapist will really push him to use sounds and signs by bringing him toys and puzzles and games that he doesnt have at home and making him ask for things. Therapy was great for my son, and very inexpensive.
When you play with him are you making lots of fun sounds animal sounds for plastic animals, car sounds, airplane sounds etc. I assume you are singing songs with him and reading toddler books with him and encouraging him to point to things. Also could your son be stubborn??? Since you say his sign language is good, could he be refusing to use language? . Start with cookies or some other treat and he only gets them if he makes an attempt to say cookies please. Have your older child model this. When he sees you are going to hold on this maybe he will start using his words. OR Does your son have trouble with pronouncing certain sounds? My son would not attempt to say words that were difficult for him to pronounce. For instance he would not say his sister's mame because it started with a C and he couldnt say C. When I started calling her Sissy he quickly started calling her Sissy.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Your deductible may be a portion (what is not covered at 100%).
My son got OT privately at about age 4 and it was 100% covered by our private insurance--no co-pays, not balance due bills.
Please don't wait to get him help.
Read what Dawn wrote again. Take it to heart.
Good luck.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Early intervention is the best you can do for your child, regardless of what type of delay he may have. It is precious time that can make the difference in getting your child caught up or at least pushed in the right direction, because every little step counts, and the earlier problems are detected and addressed the better. I took my now almost 4 year old to the regional center, despite having been told to wait and watch by our pediatrician. He initially did not qualify for services thru the regional center (because of funding problems they had changed the degree of delay to be eligible), but they assigned me to a preventive services person within the regional center and she was awesome. She got us into individual speech therapy at Tichenor, which is in Long Beach, one hour a week. He was about 20 months old then. As a technicality, they wanted a doctor's note saying he had a speech delay, even though it had been diagnosed thru the regional center. We have Kaiser, and that prompted us to be referred by the pediatrician to their speech department, who diagnosed him with a moderate to severe expressive and receptive speech delay, which I think was overdiagnosed, but I didn't care, since it was providing us with the speech therapy we wanted (even though he was already receiving it at Tichenor by then). Funny thing is we finally never even brought the doctor's note to Tichenor, but received services for about 2-3 months. Furthermore, Kaiser does not provide speech therapy for developmental reasons, so with evaluation in hand we went to the reginal center and were assigned a speech therapist in Torrance, which was closer to us. We went for 10 sessions a month. Then he was evaluated and transitioned to LAUSD once he turned 3, and the progress since starting school has been amazing. A friend, who has a boy a few months older than mine, was going thru the same, but they also had private insurance, so did not receive services thru the regional center, and her copay for each speech therapy visit was $40. She was trying to get him evaluated to see if he qualified for less expensive therapy thru a local hospital, Torrance Memorial, not sure what finally happened. They did pay for a while the expensive speech but then he turned 3 and he is going to LAUNCH now.
At any rate, since you live in OC, Long Beach is not too far away, I don't know how it works, but it can't hurt to call Tichenor, I think they are a nonprofit organization, and see if that is an option. I would also talk to your pediatrician about them as well, he/she might be able to refer you to them, and you could start getting the needed speech therapy at less or no cost (I think we only had to pay a one time $5 or 10 fee). I don't remember the number, but you can Google them, coincidentally, they are close to a Kaiser facility in Long Beach. Good luck.

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